Although lengthy and, in some
dated, we believe Peggy Adamson's description of a Breeder is as
today as it was 30 years ago. For the most part, the philosophy found
is our guide at Bralex. If you are looking for a well-bred family
companion, we think reading this is well worth your time to learn more
about the benefits of buying from a Breeder. If you are thinking
of breeding your dog, reading it is worth your time to learn how to
down the path of becoming a Breeder rather than simply a Puppy
If you are a Breeder, reading it is worth your time to remind yourself
why you do what you do.
What Is A Breeder?
Written by Peggy Adamson
Adapted from text of a speech given
before the Annual Symposium of the "National Dog Owners and Handlers
in Feb. 1969; and published in their
breeder is the mainspring of the dog world. Without the breeder, there
would be no dogs. Without the dogs, there would be no kennel clubs, no
dog shows, no judges, no handlers, no trainers, no dog food companies,
no dog publications.
their importance, breeders represent a very small segment of the dog
which in turn, creates the dog business. Furthermore, they are the ones
who seldom, if ever, make a profit, even in the most popular breeds;
since they cannot take a livelihood from their breeding activites, they
must be able to rely on some other source of income.
Why then, do people ever become
breeder has, in her mind, a perfect dog that she someday hopes to
She presses on to breed her ideal dog, unfettered by desires to be a
or to pander to the buying public. Like the artist or sculptor, she is
activated by a creative, inner drive which is totally unaffected by
of what will sell or what won't. Unlike the sculptor however, she is
with living flesh and is constantly fighting time. She can never put
work away and come back to it later. The raw material on which she
is constantly changing - sometimes for the better, sometimes for the
sometimes as a result of her efforts and sometimes in spite of them.
and Time are her greatest adversaries, yet when she least expects it,
may prove to be her greatest allies. The sculptor can use the chisel to
chip away at her mistakes, but it may take years for the breeder to see
where she has made a mistake - a mistake which in some cases may never
speak the same language, whatever their breed. Without the slightest
communication, they discover that they think the same way, they have
same ideals and goals and standards of behavior and the same awareness
of responsibility. Like the Beautiful People in the social world, they
immediately recognize each other - not because they know each other's
or who they are, but because as kindred spirits they realise what they
Just WHO and What IS a
Technically, anyone who owns or
leases a bitch and produces a litter out of her is a breeder of dogs.
is of no matter what considerations were involved in the choice of mate
or what the puppies were like, or how they were disposed of--perhaps to
the nearest pet shop. This person has bred a litter, the minimum
to becoming a Breeder. She is now on the lowest rung of the
ladder. How far upward she goes will depend on many factors, some of
are under her control, and some of which are matters of luck. Some
paint all their lives but never become real artists; some people raise
hundreds of litters of puppies, but never become true Breeders.
us consider how people buy their first pure-bred dog. It usually comes
about in one or two ways. In the first case, the person passes a pet
with a litter of puppies, frolicking in the window, lingers to watch
impulsively decides to buy one of them. Presto! She has now become a
In the second case, a person sees a dog in the street, in the movies,
on television, likes its looks and makes up her mind to have one just
it. How does she go about it?
She picks up the newspaper, sees a litter advertised, goes to look at
and comes home with a puppy. Few people in either group have ever seen
a dog magazine or been to a dog show. They want to buy a dog (and I say
this in quotes)"with papers" although they have only the foggiest idea
what they mean. The dogs that these people buy are like children who
up with no family.
A much smaller portion of pure-bred dogs are bought as a result of
in dog magazines and other trade publications. These are the dogs which
form the bulk of our dog shows. For the most part, they are bought from
Breeders. They are not usually the result of impulse buying, but of
searching, looking and even waiting. Many of these dogs are the second
pure-bred dog for the owner, the first having come from one of the two
groups first mentioned.
How does a dog-buyer move from the first or second group to the third?
Some never do. But if, by sheer luck --and it is often just that--the
gets a reasonably good breed specimen, she may become interested in the
breed and want to find out more about it. She may attend a dog show,
books and magazines, seek out training classes and dog clubs and by her
own efforts become what the cognoscenti regard as a "Dog Person."
But she has to do this all on her own.
Had she bought her dog from a real Breeder, everything would have been
much easier for her. Just what does she get from the Breeder --or let
say, what can she expect?
First and above all, she gets a pride of ownership, not only in a breed
but in a family. The pedigree she gets with her dog will mean
real Breeder will see to that. It will come alive to her --if not
immediately, certainly eventually! There is magic in a name which
for something, and it will rub off on all that possess it.
see this in the case of our great families in the social and political
world, the Rockafellers and Roosevelts, the Astors and the Kennedys. In
the dog world we find it in illustrious kennel names. These names do
become illustrious overnight, nor are they illustrious merely because
are familiar to people through aggressive advertising. A name which is
synonymous with quality in the mind of the public is that of a great
"Tiffany's." How long would it retain its aura if we began to hear
commercials shouting its' prestige, or urging "Rush to Tiffany's this
for the greatest sale of the year"? Thus, because a name is known to
public is no assurance that it is a great name. Only years of high
and good taste will create a name that is an asset to a human being, to
a product, or to a dog.
The Influence of the Real Breeder
is Far Reaching
invests the people that buy her dogs with the desire to become breeders
themselves and an appreciation of all this entails. From her, they
a philosophy of showing, a code of ethics in sportsmanship. They learn
how to train their dogs, or where they can be trained, how to handle
dogs and where and when or whether to show them. The breeder encourages
them to go to training and handling classes, read books and dog
advises them how to breed their bitches, raise their litters, take care
of their old dogs. She answers innumerable questions and gives
emergency advise when they can't get a veterinarian. All this, a good
attempts to do. Unfortunately, as the years go on, she realises she has
created a Frankenstein, which grows constantly bigger and threatens to
devour her. For this reason, all Breeders eventually reach a point
the more conscientious they are in recognizing the demands on them, the
more difficult they find it is to take care of all of them.
The Breeder is Like the Head of
gives those who buy her dogs a sense of "belonging." This is of the
to people with their first or second dogs. They develop an interest in
the dog's ancestors, about which the breeder can give them a wealth of
information, and in the dog's relatives. Thus is built up a great
pride--in their own dogs and in all the other dogs that carry the same
kennel name. They learn from the breeder more about their breed and
constitutes a good specimen of it than they could ever find out from
book. The breeder, in a good many cases, is also a specialist. This is
to say, she is an authority on her own breed and can be expected to
more about it than any judge who is not a specialist. She teaches those
to whom she sells her dogs to evaluate their own dogs, many times
and training these people so that some day they may be able to become
real breeder disciplines herself not to expect gratitude or
for her services-- which is well, because those who benefit most will
give public recognition to the fact. The real breeder does what she
because of what she is. She can not do otherwise.
have a great deal to say about their Breed Standard. They give
of their time to the national Breed organization and it is through a
of the breeders that the Standard is arrived at, or changed.
The Breeders are the Aristocracy
of the Dog World
If there is a
caste system, they are at the very top. Each breeder has a great sense
of her own worth. Individually, that is. She is proud to be what she is
and what she stands for. However, she rarely thinks of her worth
with other breeders. That is because Breeders are independent and
Therein lies their strength - and also their weakness. It is why their
importance as a group is constantly overlooked in the hierarchy of the
dog world. There are many more women Breeders than men Breeders, yet
American Kennel Club , which could not exist without breeders, allows
women to be a part of it's governing body. (NOTE: Remember, this was
in 1969. Women are now represented through the AKC.) Even an
club which is a member of the AKC must be represented by a man.
this discrimination on the basis of sex is a matter which advocates of
equal rights for women have not as yet taken notice of!
advances made by any breed--and I am not here referring to registration
increases - have all been brought about by the Breeders.
distinguishing between the Breeders in the best sense of the word and
who fall short of it, I shall refer to these people as "puppy
The "Breeders" and the "Puppy
between the Breeder and the puppy-raiser is the awareness of
responsibility to her breed, to her goals, to the dogs she has bred and
to the dogs she hopes to breed. She also has a never-ending
to the people who have bought her dogs, to the people who are about to
buy her dogs and to the public image--not only of the dogs she has been
producing but of the breed itself.
are essentially givers. They give to their chosen breed much more than
they will ever receive. Their rewards are intangible rather than
Here again is the great difference between the Breeder and the
The latter produces puppies in order to sell them, getting them off her
hands as quickly as possible before their cost has eaten up her
profit. The breeder, on the other hand, has an entirely different
She breeds a litter only when she can devote the necessary time, money
and work to it. She never breeds when she knows she will be up against
a deadline; that is to say, a time when she knows all her puppies must
does she breed a litter unless she plans to keep something from it,
hopefully will bring her one step closer to producing her ideal dog. If
the litter is disappointing, she may sell the whole litter; but the
the breeder, the less often she will find it necessary to do this. The
Breeder is constantly selecting and pruning her stock, sometimes
she no longer needs it, and sometimes because she has discovered a
why she does not want it. The two reasons are very different. In the
of a dog she no longer needs, the reason may be that she has gotten
that dog what she wanted in order to further her breeding plans. In the
case of the dog she no longer wants as breeding stock, she may have
a reason why this dog would be detrimental to her breeding
The Breeder is Constantly Faced
with Difficult Decisions
latter are her breeding cast-offs. Yet they may be delightful as
They are not so faulty that they should never be bred, yet they fall
short of the Breeder's standards. They are like the so-called "seconds
of sheets and towels by Famous Makers" that stores advertise as
The breeder does
her best to put these dogs in the homes of people who are not primarily
interested in breeding, but all too often they turn up later with
advertised in newspapers and magazines, trading on her name and
to help sell the puppies. Though the dam and/or sire may carry her
name, the puppies are not of her breeding, a distinction that the dog
public seldom realizes. Sometimes this causes the Breeder
Much more often, it fills her with annoyance. Many years ago, this
occurred in one of the dog magazines with a Collie Breeder, who
to feature the following statement in all her advertising: "The purest
water is at the well."
The Breeder's Greatest Problem is
to Hold Down Her Dog Population
The better the
breeder, the more difficult this becomes and each time she breeds a
she increases it. For this reason, the breeder does not, and cannot,
often. She keeps more dogs than she should, not because she wants to
because she will not part with a dog unless she is sure it will be for
the dog's best interests. As a result, many of these dogs live in her
to the day they die, as treasured pets, even though they are no longer
used in the breeding program, either because they have already
or because they can not make the contribution she wants. Occasionally,
in the case of the one who has already contributed, she may either sell
or give this dog to someone else, who will indeed be fortunate and can
thus benefit from the Breeder's handiwork. This person may be another
or she may be a novice. In the case of the dog she does not wish to use
in his breeding prgram, it may be sold or given to someone who is not
in breeding and who wants just one dog as a lifetime companion.
The one-dog owner
who gives a dog her individual attention for the duration of its life,
loving it, training it, perhaps showing it, can do for the dog what no
Breeder ever can. Because the breeder is so well aware of this she
parts with her very best dogs, often to the surprise of others. If this
dog happens to be a male, there will be no loss to her breeding program
unless the dog goes to a distance place, but in the case of a bitch,
usually reserves some breeding rights. Where a sizable sum is involved,
this usually is a right to select the stud and chose a puppy from the
litter. In this case, the Breeder is taking a calculated risk, and one
which she frequently finds disastrous; namely, the gamble that there
be a bitch in that litter that she can select to carry on with. If
is not, she has lost far more than the one fine dog she has sold, and
is really no way of estimating the full extent of her loss.
The breeder is
always thinking in terms of the past and the future, while the single
owner is concerned with the present.
The Puppy-Raiser does not Care to
Whom She Sells Her Dogs
objective for her is to get them sold, and as quickly as possible. She
is like the gardener who scatters her seed all over the ground with
regard for its subsequent growth and cultivation.
on the other hand, has deep concern for the ultimate destination of
she has produced. To her, a dog is not an over-the-counter commodity to
be sold to anyone who wants it and has the money to pay for it. This
of attitude is another one of the great differences between the breeder
and the puppy-raiser.
When the Breeder
sells or disposes of a dog, whether very young or grown, she is parting
with something that is much more than what it looks to be in the eyes
the prospective buyer. The buyer sees a beautiful specimen of the
-healthy, sound and a look of quality. The breeder sees all these
but a great deal more. To her, the dog represents years of hard work--
often menial work-- years full of excitement, exultation and
She does not merely see the beauty in the individual dog before her,
a long line of ancestors, dogs that she knew and loved and that went
the making of this particular individual. When the Breeder looks at an
animal she has bred, her view has an extra dimension-- she sees that
The Breeder Carefully Screens
that changes of ownership can have a traumatic effect on a dog,
if there are several of them. The dog becomes confused and loses his
of security, an absolute necessity if he is to have confidence. This
is as disastrous to a dog as it is to a child, in fact more so because
there is no way to explain to a dog what is taking place.
standpoint of the breeder, the ideal one-dog owner is a pearl beyond
The more such people she can enable to possess her dogs, the more
she will become as a Breeder, and the more successful she is as a
the more likely she is to have more good dogs than it is practical for
her to keep. Unlike the puppy-raiser who breeds her bitches every
and often has several litters at a time, the breeder rarely breeds her
bitches more than three or four times in a lifetime, and some times not
even that many. The expenses of maintaining her dogs year after year
exorbitant, and coupled with this never-ceasing drain on her resources
is the gnawing awareness that even though they get the best of food,
care, and love, she cannot possibly give them the advantages which
be theirs in the case of the ideal one-dog ownership. For this reason,
she is usually reluctant to sell to other breeders, feeling that the
would not be bettered by the change of homes where it would still be
of many. She can give each dog she owns everything that money can
by and her limitations of space can allow - she can literally give the
dogs her entire house, and all her furniture - piece by piece! But the
only thing she cannot give is the important feeling of being # 1 dog in
the household, and the chance for constant exposure to the outside
The Puppy-Raiser Rarely Asks
buyer wants a dog and has the money to pay for it, she has met the only
requirements necessary to take possession of the dog.
Breeder's attitude is very different. The Breeder not only asks many
to which she must get the right answers or she will not sell the
must also know something of the buyer's background. What dogs did he
before? How old were they when he got them, and what eventually
to them? What were the things that he liked about each one and what
the things that annoyed him? From these answers, the Breeder will have
to determine what kind of dog-owner this buyer has been, and what kind
he is likely to be. Did he have only one dog who lived to be 13 or 14
more, or did he have several dogs, each of which he disposed of for a
of reasons. Obviously, the latter buyer is going to be a bad risk. He
like the car driver who has many accidents, none of which he believes
be his fault.
a buyer, the breeder must project her thinking into the future. She
decide whether the germs of future trouble are lurking in the buyer's
situation and thinking. If a young man, is the buyer likely to go into
the Army, or to college? If an older man, does his wife want this dog?
If a bachelor, who will care for the dog if anything happens to him?
attitude does the buyer have toward his past disappointments? Does he
everyone except himself? Is he the type of person who is always trying
to get as much as possible for as little as posible? Would a really
dog be wasted on him?
extent that the breeder can make these evaluations successfully, she
save herself many future complications. No matter how many dogs she
as long as her money and health hold out, her dogs are a problem to
but only a problem. The problems of keeping them well fed and
housed may seem difficult at times, but they are not serious. In the
of the wrong buyer, however, the dog becomes a hostage. Why?? Because
breeder cares. It could not matter to the puppy-raiser because she
not concern himself about such matters.
of how carefully she screens the buyers, the Breeder will still have
disappointments. Human nature being what it is, this is inevitable.
will be returned to her-- and she will accept them-- not because of any
fault in the dog, but because the buyer himself, or the conditions of
life, have changed.
What happens to These Dogs?
realize the number of older dogs that live to the age of 13 or 14 in
homes of Breeders. In the business world, these dogs would be
obsolete equipment and destroyed. But the Breeder's world is
She recognizes a responsibility toward anything that she has brought
the world and takes care of it it until the dog is dead-- or she is. If
she can find the right person to sell or give it to, she does; but if
can not, she continues to keep it herself. The drain on the breeder's
and finances is merciless. Occasionally, when faced with severe illness
or drastically reduced income, she may have to decree that some or all
of her dogs be put to sleep. And even this costs money. When a breeder
makes this decision, few people understand it.
public and those who have never known the responsibility which goes
more than one or two dogs will probably regard this as cruelty. But, as
previously stressed, the Breeder has a responsibility for whatever she
brings into the world until it goes out of it. If the dog is in the
hands, she must try to get it back, and then either keep it or see that
it is put into the right hands. If the Breeder is no longer able to do
this, there is only one way she can be sure her dogs will never know
or abuse. That is euthanasia. To the breeder who loves her dogs, there
is no more tragic decision she will ever have to make. When she
is faced with incapacitiating ill health, or even death, she must
the cold hard facts regarding the future of her dogs. Without
hand and sense of responsibilty, the dogs are much better off dead. A
will make any sacrifice to avoid this situation, but when it arises,
will do what she knows is necessary. Why? Because she is a Breeder and
feels responsibiltiy towards her animals.
Now, what of the Breeder's Responsibilty
to Her Breed?
breeder usually becomes something of a public figure. She may be
to write about her breed, to speak about it, to judge it.
to her breed is something very different. As a judge and as a writer,
must be completely objective. Indeed, she must bend over backwards to
responsibilty to her breed does not permit him to use opportunities
in judging or writing to exploit her own stock. She is abrogating this
resposibility to the breed, not to mention considerations of good
if she uses a magazine's breed column to promote her own breeding, or
judging to favor the same. She can make known her bloodlines and her
through the paid advertisements, providing they are honest and factual,
but never uses the public space to get free publicity. When the breeder
writes for the public, she is representing her breed, not herself or
stock, and it is this broader perspective that sets apart the true
with a sense of responsibility from the commercial one whose only
is to promote her wares.
A Breeder has Great Care for the
Public Image of Her Breed
to inoculate these values in the people to whom she sells her dogs, and
in everyone with whom she comes in contact. She is reluctant to
what he considers the shortcomings of other Breeders, or to fault the
of their handiwork. She scorns high pressure salesmanship and the
techniques of Madison Avenue. Giving straightforward answers to the
who have bought, or are about to buy, her own stock, she neither
over the faults nor makes exaggerated claims or predictions. She is
in her thinking, her talking, her actions. People instinctively trust
not because she asks for their trust (which she does not), but because
of what she is.
real Breeders are the heart and soul of the dog world. They stand proud
and often alone, resisting commercialism, undeviated in their search
perfection and idealistic in their code of ethics.