by Dorothy Kendall, Orlane Lhasa Apsos
I read an article in The Lhasa Apso Reporter about
dog auctions in the Midwest, with anger, sadness and a sense of resignation
or futility. Growing up and living in the Iowa during the first half
of my life, I'm well aware of dog auctions, the dealers, the wholesalers,
puppy mills etc. that traffic in purebred dogs. I've fought the good
fight, and am still fighting against exploitation of our dog in filthy
commercial kennels ... but I've come to realize that what we're fighting
is greed, hunger for power and the attitude of those breeders who think
if everyone else is doing it, why shouldn't they? This attitude is hosted
by many breeders, from the neighbors with their one pet
female bred once a year for pocket money, to some of the most respected
"show" breeders advertising their wins in national magazines!
So where do I place the blame for outrageous situations like those Robyn
described? Squarely at your own door, dear reader, go look in the mirror
- stop shedding those alligator tears for the poor little Lhasa wretches
pictured in last months issue and ask yourself if it isn't possible
that some of your own dogs are behind those pictured (and the thousands
that suffer terribly across
this nation that AREN'T pictured)?
Oh, I can see your astonished looks and open mouths now - but let me
ask you a couple of questions before you start sending hate mail, OK?
1. Have you ever had someone that you didn't know personally ask to
breed to one of your stud dogs; they seemed nice enough and their little
bitch was of decent quality, and you felt your stud was so good that
they would get a really quality litter - if you didn't breed her, someone
else would - and it might not even be to a good dog? Did you go ahead
with the mating after Vet tests, etc.? Did you offer to help sell the
2. Now, can you tell me what happened to every puppy in the resulting
litter? Multiply this occurrence hundreds of times across this country,
and what do you get? Lots of pups, raised by amateurs, quickly tired
of, hastily sold - with AKC papers, of course. Can you guarantee me
that none of these pups ever wind up in commercial breeding situations?
3. Have you ever sold a female puppy as a pet, with AKC papers and no
breeding restrictions, because the buyer thought he/she "might
like to have a litter someday, didn't believe in spaying - it's unnatural,
thought it was their right to have an `intact' dog since they were paying
so much, etc.", even though he/she assured you that was the last
thing in mind in purchasing this dog? You
just knew this buyer would never breed his little pet, right?
4. Have you ever sold/placed a Champion, top producer or other adult
dog to someone you didn't know personally who wanted to "upgrade"
their line with one of your quality dogs, and then you kind of lost
track of what happened to all (not just the winners) of the puppies
from that dog?
5. Have you ever sold a "show" puppy to a potential show home,
and found out later that it wasn't going to be shown, and was producing
puppies that were sold with no restrictions?
6. Have you ever sold a "show" puppy to a show home because
you knew the dog would be finished quickly, even though you knew the
buyer was careless about where they sold their dogs? After all, one
or more puppies to chalk up as winners for your name, right?
Listen, I made those mistakes starting out, but I wised up when I saw
what was happening. That was in the Sixties, and it wasn't difficult
to find out what was going on ... there were dogs turning up in puppy
mills with my name behind them, and it made me sick! I vowed that I
would be responsible for the dogs I loved and raised, that I would make
sure this situation would not happen again. Sure, I got "taken
in" a couple of more times, but it just doesn't happen any more,
at least, not with the restrictions I've put in place on sale of puppies.
So, I'm pointing blame at those who DO know what they're doing, but
do it anyway -
because they're afraid the pups might be around too long, and they don't
want to be bothered. Because they're afraid too many restrictions might
put off potential buyers ... and they might have to cut down on breeding
as the pet market just won't support it. Breeders who are anxious to
rack up statistics, "numbers" of Champions, Top Producers,
records of all kinds, may be a little less than careful when they sell
their puppies. It might be for profit for some breeders, but I don't
think that's the principal reason for most. Puppy sales do help support
showing our dogs, but breeding is not a profitable business unless you're
a commercial kennel with 100 dogs, and pups sold at 5 weeks to dealers
- I'm not suggesting that.
I guess I'm talking about the hobby breeder, working diligently out
of his home, who's trying to build a win record of quality animals to
be proud of. Nothing wrong with that, is there? But - if you answered
"Yes" to any of the above questions, there is something wrong,
whether you admit it or not. You've got a good pet puppy market, and
no problem selling pets - but what will happen in a couple of years
when those little females you sold with papers start producing, and
you start seeing the classified ads for "Lhasa Apsos, AKC champion
lines - $150.00" in your local newspaper? Or someone calls you
about a puppy they purchased from someone local, and they're having
problems with (housetraining, grooming, temperament, you name it), and
they called you because one of the parents came from you (and once the
pup is sold, the seller wants nothing more to do with the pup).
You say, that can't happen to me, I sell all my puppies on spay/neuter
contracts - but how do you enforce those contracts? Is it even possible
to do so? Well, you say, all AKC papers for pet puppies are signed as
non-breeding status ... and I say Good For You! You are being a responsible
breeder, and I commend you - but did you answer yes to any of the other
questions above ... come on now, be honest. If so, you're part of the
What can you do to avoid these bad situations? I can only tell you what
I've done that works 90% of the time, and I modeled this after two Yorkshire
breeders, Anne Serranne and Barbara Wolferman of Mayfair Kennels and
authors of "The Joy Of Breeding Your Own Show Dog".
1. Absolutely no public stud service. None. Period.
2. Only females owned by people we know personally are ever bred to
one of our dogs, and we insist any resulting puppies are either kept
by them, or will be sold on non-breeding papers.
3. We don't even register pet puppies, only those we keep and show.
These pet puppies are sold without AKC papers, but a copy of the full
pedigree is given, along with a written contract stating our guarantee
of purebreeding, and a lifetime health and temperament guarantee. (PS
- don't tell me this can't be done, people won't buy puppies without
AKC papers! Hogwash, I've been doing it
for years, and when buyers understand we are doing this to protect our
beloved breed, we've had no problems whatsoever!)
4. Any adults (champion or not) are sold with the understanding that
they are for the buyer's use exclusively. No puppies from them will
ever be sold with breeding rights to a third party, under any circumstances.
If the dog cannot be kept by the buyer for any reason, we will take
them back, and hold them until such time as they can go home. And, again,
if these people are not known
personally, all this is contained in a written contract, with appropriate
I've been told these are "unreasonable" restrictions, and
no one will want to deal with me. Well, be that as it may, if we (Linda
and I) never sold another puppy, we know in our hearts that we are not
responsible for the waifs pictured in Robyn's article. We love our dogs,
and know that we are protecting them from the "profiteering"
going on all around us.
So, where does the blame lie? Ask yourself, dear breeder.