What is a back yard breeder?
The back yard breeder is the single greatest cause of pet overpopulation (67%). Back yard breeders usually do not have bad intentions, but the results of back yard breeding are devastating. The majority of purebred dogs come from this category in many popular breeds, as well as the majority of purebred dogs in rescue, or destroyed in pounds. 25-30% of dogs in shelters are purebred. Most are sold locally through newspaper ads - the responsibility ends when the purchaser's tail lights disappear from sight. Many backyard breeders do not have the knowledge to properly plan or raise a healthy, socialized litter, or to help the new owner with any problems that might arise.
Back yard breeders may act on a desire to make extra money, or simply out of ignorance. Sometimes back yard breeders will breed so their children can experience the "miracle of birth" (if this is the case, they should also witness "the miracle of death" in your local shelter), or they mistakenly believe "every dog should have one litter." They may think their dog is so cute/pretty/handsome, he/she would make wonderful puppies, with little or no thought for the homes to which their puppies will go or the actual quality (OFA, CERF, PennHip, etc..) of the respective parents. Other back yard breeders see how much money legitimate, responsible breeders charge for pups and figure they could make some "easy money" too. Or, a back yard breeder may have a completely unplanned litter by accident with the Lab next door.
Back yard breeders usually bring two breeding animals together regardless of their quality and color. They are not interested in scientific, knowledgeable, planned breeding. Their aim is to fulfill a personal need or goal, not to improve the breed and bring excellent quality dogs to the world. Since breed excellence is generally unimportant, the breeding dogs generally will not have been tested for genetic and health problems.
Back yard breeders are not necessarily bad people, they often come from middle to upper income families, and their dogs can be well loved and kept. However, getting a pup from a back yard breeder is a gamble:
- The parents likely have not been screened for health problems
- Puppies usually are not sold with contracts or limited registration
- The breeders are not in it for the long haul or not extremely knowledgeable of the breed
- They will not be available in five years when your pet has a problem and you need help or your pet needs a home.
Although you might pay less for the breed of your choice from a pet store or backyard breeder, it's almost a given that in the long run, you'll pay a good deal more in vet bills and perhaps emotional bills (if the dog has to be euthanized due to a health or temperament problem), than you would from a reputable breeder.
Of the 52.9 million dogs who live in the United States, approximately 2.9 - 4 million of them are killed in shelters annually (AVMA, 1998, and AHA, 1998). Where do all these dogs come from? Puppy mills churn out 20% of the total number of dogs whelped yearly, and roughly 1% are the results of feral dogs reproducing on their own. Less than 12% come from breeders who actively test their stock in conformation, obedience, and field trials. Backyard breeders, or people who breed their dogs without testing and certifying their stock, produce nearly 67% of all the dogs born annually in this country (Gardner, 1994). You will not pay more for a pet quality puppy from a reputable breeder than one from a backyard breeder. Unfortunately, there are backyard breeders everywhere: in kennel clubs, advertising in the newspaper, and also in dog publications. The difference is that the ethical breeder has spent time and effort developing the healthiest, soundest, and most representative of the breed possible.