The reputation of dog breeding as a profession has suffered in recent years. And despised, even by most professional breeders, are the lowly backyard breeders.
Backyard breeders are badmouthed… a lot! An (admittedly bias) article in Wikipedia defines it this way: Backyard breeding is “substandard”, small scale breeding, normally done at home with the breeders’ own pets. Welfare groups rightly blame some of them as the source of most shelter dogs. And “responsible breeders” accuse them of not striving to “improve” the breeds they work with, nor screening for genetic diseases.
And yet, backyard breeders also have the potential to offer society the best pet puppies money can buy. And backyard breeding can reap tremendous benefits to the breeder’s own family wealth and well being.
So here are five things I LOVE about backyard breeders:
- Just because their operations are small doesn’t mean backyard breeders don’t care about the quality of their dogs. Many small breeders run high-quality “boutique” operations with just as much attention to bloodlines, genetic screening and improving the breed as show breeders.
- Larger breeders often rear their puppies in kennels outside the house. The puppies that result don’t have a clue about how to live with people in a family home environment. Because backyard breeders’ puppies are raised as part of the family, they have a great chance of being well socialized to life in yours at adoption. And there are proven health and psychological benefits to the breeders’ families, especially children.
- Unlike registered breeders, backyard breeders are free to cross different breeds. The “designer” puppies that result have less risk of suffering from inherited genetic diseases. And when the breeds used are chosen wisely, they can be very well matched to the needs of the people buying them.
- Some registered breeders are motivated to achieve glory in the show ring. A popular strategy to achieve this is through the mating of closely related dogs (they call it line breeding, I call it inbreeding). Unfortunately, while some of the puppies will indeed be exceptional examples of the breed, genetic disorders are also multiplied by incestuous breeding. Backyard breeders are free of this motivation. While the less sophisticated of them might unwittingly be inbreeding, at least they’re not doing it deliberately.
- Backyard breeding offers the opportunity for stay-at-home Moms and cash-strapped-retirees to earn extra income from the pets they love. Done right, it’s a win:win for them and their owner customers. Have one or two breeding dogs takes hardly any more time to manage than normal pets. And it can boost income enough to free new Moms from having to leave their babies while they go out to work, and help retirees survive on their pensions.