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Responsible Breeders


The Difference Between a Responsible Breeder and a Back Yard Breeder

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Responsible Breeders

The responsible Breeders whole motivation is to breed exceptional quality dogs of the breed they truly know and love. Primarily for companion/working homes, but for show as well.

They care more about the dog's welfare and happiness than they do about money from the sale. They only sell to the most responsible homes. If one cannot be found, they would rather keep the pup forever, rather than just unload it to the next person with cash.

These breeders make every effort possible to research their breeding stock lines. They screen these lines for signs of genetic diseases and temperament problems. See: Medical Testing Defined . They understand that theses genetic traits CAN and WILL come out in future litters, and this they want to avoid at all costs!  They only breed two dogs with excellent temperaments, health, and with a conformation as close to the standard as possible.

Their driving force is to the betterment of the breed they promote. NOT just to have puppies for sale. Most only specialize in one or two breeds, and only have a couple of litters per year. Be very wary of a breeder with 4,5,6+ breeds, they are most likely commercial breeders, and do not follow the same Code of Ethics as responsible breeders do.

A responsible breeder tests for common genetic problems, and have their dogs certified as to such. Do to this painstaking research and medical testing, they can offer their puppy buyers, guarantees on the pups they sell. They rarely, if ever, make a profit off the sale of puppies after all the expenses incurred.

Only a responsible breeder will be available to help you with questions and problems for the lifetime of the dog.

All responsible breeders will have a sales contract to sign. This contract is more for the protection of the puppy then themselves or you.

They pledge to be responsible for any pup that is born for the rest of their life. And they will always take back one, at any time, for any reason, to keep them out of shelters and rescue.

All responsible breeders have and follow a Code of Ethics  set forth by their breed clubs.

                              Backyard Breeders

What is a Backyard breeder?

No, it does not mean someone who breeds dogs in their backyard or their homes! Most responsible breeders, don't have what one thinks of as large "Kennel", although some do. Most, have their pups in their house with their family, as part of their family. Some even have them in the backyard

The term "backyard breeder" was created to define someone who breeds dogs, not always out of greed, but more with ignorance.  They usually lack the proper necessary knowledge or consideration for genetics. Some do see that they could make a quick easy buck, and that may be their motivation, but most are well meaning. They just do not understand that they are being "irresponsible".

Most plan on only doing it once. The reasons behind breeding their two dogs often include.....

  • "Every dog should have one litter"
  • "I want an offspring from my dog to remember them by when they go"
  • "My dog is beautiful, she would have such cute puppies!"
  • "My children should see the miracle of birth"

Theses are all the wrong reasons to have puppies. By doing this, they have no guarantee of how the pups would turn out. They either have no idea of the genetic problems they could be carrying, or the temperament problems this the dogs linage. Or they just don't care.

For example;

  • Anyone who breeds a litter of crossbred dogs is a backyard breeder.
  • Anyone who takes two none pedigreed dogs and breeds them, is a backyard breeder.
  • Anyone who takes two Registered dogs, with no idea of the genetic history....i.e.: health and temperament problems of the dogs in their pedigree.  AND does not test and supply a guarantee against genetic defects. AND does not follow the Code of Ethics set by their breeds a backyard breeder.

Essentially backyard breeders are not interested in the "genetic science" of breeding.

They breed, because they want too, for extra money, to have fun with pups, etc....They have no interest in improving the breed. Nor do they think about if these pups will grow up to be healthy, good citizens and family pets.

Once they are sold....that's the end of their involvement.

Their dogs will not have been tested for genetic health problems. Do to this, a pup from their lines have a questionable future at best. And any problems that may arise in the future, is the problem of the new owner. 

So purchasing a pup from a backyard breeder is a huge gamble. One, if you loose, you will have no recourse but to swallow hard, and deal with the problem yourself.

Do to the fact that most are not trying to make a career out of breeding they only have one or two litters.... and never have one again. They do not have contracts, therefore they will not be there for support for their puppy owners.

Most people who fall into the category of a "backyard breeder", do not even know they are doing wrong. Theses are not bad people, and I truly believe that most DO love their dogs.

They just do not have the knowledge (or desire) to do it right, and protect the breeds. 

Believe me, I too did not understand how wrong this was. Until I had to live with major problems, and watch my "backyard bred" dog die WAY too young....Until I was armed with the heartbreaking knowledge of the magnitude of homeless pets. 

With the knowledge that the millions of dogs in shelters euthinized each year for health and temperament problems; or because the shelter has ran out of room.....are ALL products from BYB's, pet stores and puppy mills. 

Yes, I can say all, as any responsible breeder will take back their dog or puppy at any time for any reason. Thus keeping them out of shelters. Most importantly.....NO responsible breeder would EVER sell to a Pet Store, puppy mill, auction or the like.

Why is it extremely important to get your pup from a responsible breeder?????


Why would I want to pay $400-1000 for a breed of dog from a reputable breeder, when my neighbour down the road has the same breed for $150???    

(Keep in mind that pet store puppies carry a much heftier price tag, then from a responsible breeder.)

 I will try to answer that question here....

Yes, your neighbour down the street MAY have the same breed of dog......I have to stress the word MAY, as without registration from an official, legitimate registry, like the CKC (Canadian) And the AKC (American), you have NO guarantee of the lineage of the pups. 

Be careful, there are alot of non legitimate registries out there. They do not care where the dog came from, or even if it is purebred. 

One even states that if you cannot provide proof, such as a pedigree, they will still register your dog if you have a friend write a letter stating that it is purebred! Now that's a guarantee.....geesh!

Please see the list of some of the non legitimate registries, to watch out for at the bottom of the page.

So lets say for the sake of argument, they ARE registered. That's a start, but should not be a deciding factor.

I have to stress that registration with the AKC and CKC, FCI etc, only provides proof that the dog is purebred. It also allows you to trace the pedigrees. 

It does NOT however, guarantee the quality, health or temperament of the dogs it registers!

Farmer Joe, could have acquired two registered Pyrenees dogs from a pet store (See why this is BAD

Both his dogs could be riddled with genetic health problems, aggressive temperaments, and have the conformation of a greyhound, for all the Registry bodies know.

The dogs could be mated, and the pups registered as purebred....they are after all! Just not the kind of dog any one of us would want as a family I right?

Here is an EXCELLENT account from the GPCA Rescue Chair, about temperament problems seen in Pyr's bought from pet stores and backyard breeders.

Rescue Thought's by Janet Ingram, GPCA Rescue Chair  

So let's talk about the may be think to yourself, that you are willing to take the chance to save a few hundred dollars. As his dogs LOOK fine.

Well first off, most genetic disorders do not show up till after the dog matures. Which in a Pyr is between two and three years of age. Some things like hip dysphasia can stay somewhat hidden much longer....and who can see cancer, tumours, epilepsy etc. Get the point?

A responsible breeder chooses their breeding stock from lines that are as clear from these genetic problems, as humanly possible. With excellent temperaments and working ability. Their dogs are proven to be as close to the standard as possible, by being judged against other dogs in the breed. 

Once their dogs have been proven a good example of the breed, it does not automatically mean they are worthy of breeding. The next step is that they have their hips x-rayed and OFA Certified.  Other defects that alot of breeders screen for include; eyes, cardio, hearing, thyroid etc.

And only when their dogs pass these tests, will they consider breeding.

After all the care, medical clearances and expense, that responsible breeders put into their breeding stock...BEFORE they breed, they rarely, if ever make a profit from the sale of pups.

Why would they do it then? Most breeders are in love with their chosen breed. Their motivation is to produce and promote only the best examples of the breed, and to serve for the betterment only.

Something to consider, these breeders look for the best combination of the breeds qualities. They strive with their breeding, to produce their own next champion, working stock and breeding prospects. So they can not afford to breed dogs with health, conformation or temperament problems.

They hope that somewhere in this litter is the next star of their kennel. So after they have chosen the dog they hope to promote, they can offer the rest of this quality, well bred, litter to wonderful permanent homes.

*They also will provide a Guarantee to their puppy owners. Which states that the puppy they have purchased, is free from these genetic health problems. Some guarantee for at least two years. If the pup does develop any of these problems, then they have in their contracts that they will either refund your money, take back the dog, and or give you a new pup.

They also have a life time guarantee, that at any time they will take the dog back, if you can no longer take care of it.

If Farmer Joe cannot offer you the same guarantee, then look else where. You will not be saving any money in the long run.

Yes, the initial investment was only a $150, but that could quickly run into the thousands, with vet bills, behaviourists, trainers etc. Believe me I know. :(

Not to mention, if these illnesses are life threatening as with my dog Zeus. You've not only lost your initial investment, but the pain and heartache alone, is more devastating than words can describe.

If Farmer Joe CAN offer you all these guarantees....GREAT and Congratulations!! You have just found yourself a responsible breeder.

Yes, alot of us have had dogs or mutts from back yard breeders. My Sheppard X is 15 years old! She has a wonderful temperament, and has had very few health if I've had such good luck with her, why shouldn't I go back to Farmer Joe???

Because after alot of pain and heartache, I know now that I just got lucky. The outcome could have been very, very different. All...and I mean ALL of her 12 siblings died at younger ages...mostly from some form of cancer.

I hope anyone reading this, heeds my warning. Do yourself, your family, your dog, AND your pocketbook a favour, and only buy from a responsible breeder!

Please see " Evaluating a Breeder"  for things to look for in a perspective breeder, and questions you can ask the breeder. Also check out  "Choosing a Puppy"  for information on how to evaluate a litter and individual pups.

It is also VERY important for you to familiarize yourself with the "GPCA Code of Ethics" on their web site, that responsible breeders must follow. The code not only serves to protect the future of the breed, but you as a purchaser as well! You can also view the Official breed standard and they have a great illustrated standard as well!

For more information about registries see this article at: 

About Dog Registries and Kennel Clubs

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The Legitimate Registries include: 

  • CKC: Canadian Kennel Club
  • AKC: American Kennel Club
  • KC:  The Kennel Club of the UK
  • FCI:  Federation Cynologique Internationale
  • UKC: United kennel Club
  • AFDSB: American Field Dog Stud Book

Non legitimate registries:

**Beware of a company also calling themselves CKC, which stands for  (Continental Kennel Club)....I believe it was deliberately to confuse puppy buyers that they were associated with Canada's Legitimate Registry...CKC (Canadian Kennel Club)....they are NOT!


**If you have a Great Pyrenees site and would like it added to my Links page please email me. (educational, personal or breeders pages welcome) 

I have created a "Breeder Referral" page. Breeders If you would like to be available for consultation with puppy buyers, please fill out this form

The goal of the Breeder Referral page is will not be intended for the solicitation of puppies for sale. 

But to put people looking for a puppy in contact with the ONLY reliable source....a RESPONSIBLE breeder.


Sariena Foley

Regalia Great Pyrenees

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The comments in this article are solely and completely the "opinion" of the author. It is based on her experiences and information she has gathered from other reputable sources over the years.

***Anyone thinking about buying a puppy of any breed, are more than welcome to print this article, for future reference.

Furthermore, this article in its entirety may be reproduced and used anywhere, for educational purposes. So long as proper credit is given to the author. I would appreciate an email notification***

{TM} and Copyright 2002  by {R&S Foley Farms}. All rights reserved.
Revised:  10 Apr 2002 11:43:29-0400

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