What’s Best for the Dogs? Breeding Bans versus Reasonable Rules for Dog Breeding

By Ron Sturgeon, NADBR Sr. VP.

Every time NADBR posts about dog breeding, we get a chorus of comments from people who want dog breeding banned. They feel strongly that breeding should stop because the world has too many dogs in shelters waiting for homes.

Banning breeding does not make sense. Are the majority of dog breeders treating animals inhumanely? I don’t think so. Not by a long shot. Many dog breeders breed dogs for the love of them and are very selective about what kind of homes they will allow to have one of their dogs.

The best are genuine experts. They provide dogs that many people willingly pay to have as family pets because they want a carefully bred and properly socialized dog. They may want a family pet that has a known pedigree and has the characteristics of a particular breed.

Is it right to put the many excellent breeders who are providing a valuable service to buyers of puppies out of business because shelters are full because some dog owners get dogs without thinking about the work involved in caring for them?

I think breeders should be judged individually and that those who are responsible stewards should be recognized for providing a valuable service in preserving breeds that dog lovers care about.

We applaud those who rescue dogs. I founded NADBR because I love dogs, and because I do, I rescue and foster them. Nevertheless, I don’t condemn those who do not choose to get their dogs from rescue. They are not killing a shelter dog by getting a dog from a breeder who has carefully bred and socialized it. They are making a choice that ought to be permitted in a free country.

Leaving aside the immorality of taking away the livelihood of responsible breeders, think with me what would happen to breed-specific rescues if a breeding were suddenly banned. Breed specific rescues would be busier for a time. Everyone who wanted a particular breed would have only rescue groups to turn to. However, before long, breed specific rescues would run out of dogs.

If breeding stopped, how would the United States meet the demand for dogs? Numbers are hard to come by, but my best estimate is that the current supply of dogs in shelters might meet 6-9 months of demand for dogs. That presumes that people would be willing to adopt whatever dog they found in a shelter, instead of a dog of the breed they wanted, a doubtful proposition.

At that point, assuming people preferred a shelter dog to no dog, a ban on breeding would begin to produce a dog shortage. Maybe there would be a black market for dogs and breeding would go underground. Would that produce better, more humane treatment of dogs? The breeder most likely to quit in that scenario is the one who is scrupulous about following the law and about caring for his or her dogs.

Maybe it would be legal to import dogs so that breeders based in other countries could do the work now done by American dog breeders.  Would that produce better, more humane treatment for puppies and parents? I doubt it.

Accurate numbers about the source and number of dogs that come into U.S. homes from shelters, breeders, rescues, pet shops, friends, etc. are hard to come by. However, Americans buy millions of puppies every year from breeders and meeting that demand without breeders is not realistic.

Dog breeding is going to happen to meet a market demand. If dog breeding is going to happen, what can we do to ensure that breeding dogs are shown kindness, treated humanely, and bred using only medically sound practices? That what NADBR is committed to working on.