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What Is A Responsible Breeder?

What Is A Responsible Breeder? First let’s define what a breeder is: A breeder is simply a person who owns the dam of a litter at time of whelping. This dam could be a top winning quality health-tested show dog owned by a responsible person; or it could be the owner with a mangy female mutt running the streets while in season. Both produce puppies; both owners are breeders. The only puppies who truly don’t have breeders are street dogs as they have no owners. The word “breeder” is simply a noun—it does not indicate whether the breeder is good, bad, or indifferent. To qualify what type of breeder, one must add in the “good, bad or indifferent” descriptions. Frequently, there is much misconception among the public as to what a breeder is. For example, a person purchased a puppy from a one-time breeder. When asked where they got their puppy, they may reply “Oh, it was just a private person, they only had one litter and they were not a breeder”. The animal rights activist considers all breeders bad and wants to ban any breeding of dogs. The average Joe Public thinks if someone is a breeder of AKC registered dogs that makes them a good breeder of quality dogs. Of course those can all be incorrect. The term responsible is used frequently among us dog breeders, especially with those of us active in the showing and breeding of our Great Danes. But what exactly IS responsible? Does it simply mean someone is providing the minimum basics of shelter and food? Or does it mean we do all we possibly can to assure happy and healthy puppies? One of the definitions applying to responsible closely is “having control over (we caused the breeding to happen) or care for someone (we raise the puppies), as part of one's job or role”. We cause these puppies to be so therefore we are responsible for them. When a potential purchaser asks "Can you tell me about your AKC Great Dane puppies?", we are quick to tell them about all that we do as a breeder. How we go about creating and developing that special puppy, that they are hoping to welcome into their home to love and cherish. We discuss the dam and the care she has received; how research was done to try and determine the best pairing; the expense and complications of doing the actual breeding. As we all know, extensive work and expense goes into our planned litters without us even knowing if we will be successful. Then, the puppies are born needing 24/7 supervision and countless sleepless nights; the supportive care of mother and babies, the raising in interactive surroundings and beginning housebreaking and crate training—and of course, the endless cleaning because we all know a puppy raised in clean surroundings is going to be so much easier to housebreak. Finally between 8 and 12 weeks the babies are ready to go into their homes, and more hours are spent doing paperwork; contracts, pedigrees and AKC litter registrations, preparing puppy packets, getting pre-sale vet checks and making sure purchasers have a good handle on getting ready for their puppy. Doing it right is a lot of work, but as they say, it’s a labor of love. Once our babies have gone into their homes the “breeder support” begins. THIS is a huge part of being a responsible breeder and entails much more than the average person is even vaguely aware of, and it continues for the life of that Great Dane. So, what does this “breeder support” entail and why is it something someone should look for when researching a breeder? What are some of the breeder support services a good breeder offers? A Guaranteed Home

Besides wearing a hat as a breeder, I also have been involved in Great Dane foster care for as many years as I have owned Danes. I can tell you, if the vast majority of Danes going into rescues/shelters had a responsible breeder with such a clause they would be returned to that breeder and not end up in the shelter limbo. Huge numbers of dogs come into rescues where there was no interaction between breeder and purchaser after the sale and the purchaser no longer even remembers where the dog even came from, or that person is no longer breeding, or the “breeder” has a “nope, nada, ain’t takin’ that dog back, take it to shelter” attitude. Some breeders even take their return policy a step further by providing instructions as to what to do in the event that if they, (the owner) becomes ill, incapacitated or dies. Nobody knows what life will throw at them, and having a breeder who has a return clause should give some peace of mind in case of an unfortunate event causing the owner to have to give up his dog. A good breeder will caringly rehome said dog and again offer breeder support to the new home. If you cause a puppy to be, you are responsible for its entire life. A Resource Networker A long-term responsible Great Dane breeder can offer many resources to their purchasers that perhaps would not be available otherwise. The Dane-savvy social network is huge, and we all know (or know of) each other so it’s easy to find recommendations and referrals if outside of our area. Items a good breeder can help with are: · Help with locating a Dane-savvy vet in the purchaser’s area. Frequently a simple call or email can locate a vet for an out-of-area purchaser. · Help finding a specialty vet should a major or unusual problem present itself. · Help assist with training questions and classes. Because of their size, “one size fits all” training rarely works for Danes. Owners may have questions or difficulties with certain training methods. Based on the dog and the owner, a good breeder can offer tips to solve problems and refer to appropriate classes. May even be partnered up with training program that they feel works well with Great Dane Puppies. · A good breeder can frequently assist with getting good deals on dog supplies, having access to dog supplies at sale prices. · Breeders may be able to assist with relocation issues, or know who to ask. (how to ship a Dane when moving). · Breeders help with problem solving, whether it be training issues to what type of vehicle is best. Years of experience living with Danes will help them give insight to the best choices. · Breeders can offer advice on proper age to alter and information on preventative pexi’s. A Clairvoyant Based on their knowledge of the breed in general, their intimate knowledge of their own Great Danes and that of their individual puppies, breeders can make a guesstimate as to which puppy will best suit a purchaser. They can assist with matching each of their Great Dane puppies with the right home—the quiet home needs a more laid back puppy while the active home wants one with “get up and go” to keep up with their lifestyle. They can assist the exhibitor in choosing a puppy destined for the obedience or rally ring. Their decisions are based on not only their knowledge of the all the Danes involved, but their close interaction with the puppies during development, early socialization and desensitization skills training.. Frequently, tools such as Volhard's puppy aptitude tests are used to help reach decisions. An Empath The good breeder understands how you feel—from frustration on a training problem, to distress with a sick dog, to grief when a beloved Dane passes. These puppies they caused to be are a permanent part of their lives, and they feel, understand, and empathize what purchasers are going through during each of these difficult times. I think this can be one of the most difficult aspects of being a caring breeder. While we feel and understand an owner’s distress and grief, we have to “suck it up” to be strong for them. We DO care and we DO feel that same pain and concern but sometimes we just don’t show it for the simple fact we want to “be there” for our people. A Vet Advisor It goes without saying that a Great Dane needing veterinary treatment need to go to the vet; but a good breeder can help make suggestions on treatments, which veterinarian to go to, and when something needs immediate attention. They can also assist on helping to identify problems and send their purchaser in the right direction. A breeder can help make a decision on whether the dog has some dreaded skin ailment or is simply doing the puppy molting; if the slight limp needs to see a ER vet or can wait through the weekend; how to deal with that pesky puppy acne and a range of other topics. Sometimes a quick call to the breeder can alleviate fears (especially with growing pains or the mangy-looking molt-y coat thing some Danes do!) A Mentor For purchasers who have a serious interest in competing and breeding, nothing is more valuable than a good breeder. Competing in any of the show rings; obedience, conformation, agility, dock diving, or even a rally, can be quite daunting, and the breeder can assist in all aspects such as explaining how a most-confusing system works, how to train for, find shows, get entered, ring procedure and presentation. When the time comes to consider breeding, a mentor is key in helping with information on OFA health tests, Color tests, choice of a stud dog, applying for litter registrations, drafting puppy contracts, and assisting with the raising and responsible placing of puppies. A Dietitian

With so much different information on feeding, it’s a confusing world out there. Raw or kibble? Puppy food or adult? Giant breed or specialty formula? Grain based or grain free? Supplements or not? While there will be as many opinions on feeding as there are people to ask, the experienced breeder will be able to give recommendations based on their personal experience, their Danes' bloodlines and how their puppies grow. In fact, most good breeders will provide the purchaser with what food is recommended (or in some cases, required!) for their new puppy.

In closing, the hidden benefits of choosing a breeder who offers “breeder support” will help give the purchaser peace of mind both in the short term and the long term. Those starting out with a breeding program should strive to do the best they can to send their owners out into Dane ownership as prepared as possible. Sometimes it will be an uphill battle with very rocky roads, but one that always pays off with the knowledge you did the best job you could—and with the next litter you will even do better. (Originally Written By Georgia Hymmen, altered and tweaked along the way.)

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