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What Is A Hobby Breeder?

Hobby breeders are responsible breeders, committed custodians of their chosen breed. Their goal is to further a particular bloodline or purpose, such as service and support dogs, carefully selected breeding stock, and quality companions. Responsible breeders generally do not produce a lot of puppies, and breed for the paramount reason of keeping quality animals to continue a particular lineage.

Careful and responsible hobby breeders spend thousands of dollars on testing for genetic diseases, X-rays to detect bone and joint problems, and tests like echocardiograms to detect heart abnormalities. Dogs that are found to have any of a number of defects are not used for breeding, and instead are neutered / spayed and placed in loving homes. Many of these dogs can lead long and productive lives as someone’s pet, even if they should not be used for breeding.

Breeding purebred dogs responsibly is a heartbreak hobby, and only undertaken successfully by those whose love for their breed and commitment to its quality far outweigh the setbacks and disappointments inherent in this hobby. Certainly, it is a non-profit hobby, as all of the expenses associated with raising and screening breeding stock and nurturing quality puppies generally far exceed any proceeds from the sale of puppies.

Good breeders believe that they are responsible for a dog’s life from the day they decide to breed and throughout a dog’s days. Responsible breeders use a contract, whether placing or selling a puppy or adult dog, stating that if at any time in the dog’s life the owners can no longer keep it, it must be returned to the breeder as a first option. Responsible breeders will stand behind the health and fitness of the dogs they produce and strive to only produce healthy puppies that will be a tribute to their breed and provide service and companionship for years to come.

Hobby breeders fully support the closing of “puppy mills” and all unscrupulous breeding practices where people mass-produce puppies, usually in terrible and inhumane conditions, for the sole purpose of profit. These facilities usually contain dogs of a number of breeds and the dogs are bred as often as possible so as to maximize the production of substandard, and often very unhealthy, puppies.

Demand for quality dogs is high in California, and most hobby breeders have waiting lists because they do not breed their dogs often. The general practice is to breed only after all DNA, X-ray, and other clearances have been obtained, usually after the age of two years. In addition to testing, responsible hobby breeders consider “type, temperament, and soundness” in their breeding stock, and screen for dogs that exhibit the strongest and most desirable attributes of the written AKC standard for their breed.

--By Catherine Lewis, Oceanview Labrador Retrievers


Irresponsible Breeders vs. Responsible Breeders

When you decide to add a puppy to your family, choosing the right breeder is just as important as choosing the right breed of dog. Our guide lists the pros and cons--important issues to discuss with prospective breeders of your new puppy. Above all, don't be afraid to ask questions!




Motive for breeding: "fun," "good for kids," "to make money." Doesn't screen buyers and seldom refuses to sell, even if buyer is unsuitable. Dedication to producing quality dogs is a serious avocation. Has so much invested in dogs that breeder struggles to break even on a litter, no profit. Will sell puppies to approved buyers only.
Breeds family pet to any convenient pet of same breed just to have purebred puppies. Has no concern for genetics, bloodlines, or breed improvement. Can explain how planned breeding should emphasize specific qualities through line breeding, outcrossing, or, more rarely, inbreeding.
Dogs bred have not been screened for genetic diseases. Breeder has little knowledge of the heritable diseases the breed is prone to, or of the recommended health clearances. Has breeding stock screened for genetic faults particular to their breed, such as hip dysplasia and progressive retinal degeneration. Can produce certification to prove claims.
Offers no health guarantees beyond proof of vaccinations (if any). Does not sell puppies on a contract. Paper work is often disorganized or unavailable. Unqualified to give help if problems develop. Lifetime commitment to puppies and their buyers. Sells puppies on an oral or written contract which outlines both the breeder's and buyer's responsibilities to the puppy. Usually includes a health guarantee and may offer to replace a dog with genetic faults or refund purchase price.
Seller has little knowledge of breed history or breed standard. May claim that this doesn't matter for "just pets." Loves breed and can talk at length about its background, its uses, and the ideal specimen of the breed.
Pups raised in makeshift accommodations, indicating lack of long-term commitment to breeding. Does not instruct novice in equipment needed for properly raising a puppy. Has a serious investment in dog equipment such as puppy pens, crates, and grooming tables, customized vehicles, etc. Will instruct the novice on equipment needed to raise a puppy.
Seller does not participate in local or national breed club or other dog clubs. Does not participate in organized tests of breeding stock such as dog shows, hunting tests or obedience trails. Belongs to a local or national dog club, indicating a love for the sport of dogs. Exhibits own dogs in conformation, hunting tests, obedience, tracking, etc., to show quality of breeding stock.
May be unwilling to show buyer entire litter or to introduce dam of litter. Can't or won't compare or critique puppies or help the buyer choose a puppy. Shows litter and dam in sanitary environment. Helps buyer evaluate and choose pup. Provides early veterinary care. Provides information on feeding and continued veterinary care.
Prices at low end of local ranged, since must move puppies quickly. Puppies will be available when you call. No waiting list of potential buyers. Prices will be at high end of local range, not cut-rate. Even so will usually have a waiting list of people wanting their puppies. Rarely have puppies available when you first contact them.
No concern for the future of individual puppies or breed as a whole. Doesn't use AKC's limited registration option or ask for spay/neuter contract to guard against breeding of mediocre dogs or dogs with genetic diseases. You can't return your puppy -- breeder has no interest in its future. After purchase, will help with grooming or training problems. Will take back pup you can't keep at any time in its life rather than see it disposed of inappropriately. Sells pets with spay/neuter agreement or limited AKC registration.