| WINDROCK LLC |
Recognized by the AKC as a
BREEDER OF MERIT
We take dog ownership very seriously and are often frustrated and saddened by the public perception of the disposable nature of dog ownership. It is our sincere hope that the information that follows will help you to determine if acquiring a pet is the RIGHT thing for you to do.
What are the characteristics of an ethical breeder?
~Ethical breeders HEALTH SCREEN their breeding stock. They have no problem showing proof of such testing by providing copies of the results of health testing or by providing links to on line websites. Health testing for breed specific issues is recommended by the American Veterinary Association and the AKC. There is absolutely no reason for a breeder not to preform health testing. Health testing IS expensive, but the results of mating dogs that have not been properly health screened can be disastrous, especially to the people who acquire a puppy from such a mating. WINDROCK LLC greyhounds are subject to rigorous examinations for eyes, heart, thyroid, dentition and neuropathy.
~. Most reputable breeders are active in dog sports as a means to evaluate and prove breeding stock. AKC Champion titles don't come cheap and competition can be fierce, especially at the National level. An indication of a breeder's dedication is often gleaned by a quick glance at the pedigrees of their dogs. Chances are, most of a pup's pedigree from a reputable breeder will reveal that he/she is the proud descendant of mostly champion stock. Beware a three generation pedigree that doesn't reveal several champions. Reputable breeders are most often members of their breed's AKC parent club and are active and participate in club activities.
The Unethical Breeders are the majority. There is no known hard data to account for them all - mostly because people who insist it's "just one litter" deny that they are breeders - but going off of anecdotal evidence it would be safe to say the numbers are around 4-1 at a minimum (and some fear much higher.)
The Unethical Breeders have two main varieties - what is commonly called a Puppy Mill and what are commonly called Backyard Breeders:
- Puppy Mills are characterized by a large-scale operation of dozens and even hundreds of dogs, purebred and mixed, kept in close quarters, often with cages stacked. There is no grooming, little veterinary care or access to normal things such as grass, fresh food and clean water. These facilities often boast of being USDA-approved. Dogs are bred until their bodies are literally worn out and they are then killed. In a puppy mill, a dog's only purpose is breeding to create cute puppies that pull on the heartstrings of potential families.
- Backyard Breeders are characterized as an individual or family breeding a dog or dogs (not in the same quantity as Puppy Mills) with no regard to quality or true temperament. The dogs are purebred and mixed and are bred based on the anticipated monetary value of any resulting puppies in addition to being bred for anthropomorphic qualities; "Oh, Muffy is so sweet and timid, she wouldn't hurt a fly!" or "Bruiser is an excellent guard dogs, barks at everyone because he wants to keep us safe and loves us so much!" Backyard breeders tend to think that Responsible Breeders - those who show and/or work their dogs - are silly and pretentious and over-the-top when it comes to dogs. Backyard breeders believe that the phrase "shots and wormed" equals the true health testing that is necessary for breeding healthy dogs; they tend to insist that their dogs are healthy, have never been sick and produce beautiful healthy puppies, all the while ignoring what the actual deciding factors for true health are. Any illness the dog develops that a Responsible Breeder would recognize as congenital (inherited) is explained away as "old age" or some other common, normal cause.
How do puppies from these situations find their way into unsuspecting buyers' hands?
Dogs from puppy mills are generally sold to middlemen - brokers who buy and sell to pet stores. To be clear - when you see adoption groups in pet stores, those are dogs that have been rescued and rehabilitated and are being offered for adoption/sale to a new family. They are not from a puppy mill; at least, not directly. What we are discussing are the traditional pet stores with big, inviting windows and discount price stickers, enticing people to gaze at the cute little puppies. Employees are told lies and further encouraged to lie regarding the origin of these dogs. Papers are often falsified and because many of the dogs from puppy mills cannot be registered with the AKC, they are registered with a fake, made-up registry such as the Continental Kennel Club (CKC) or the American Pet Registry Inc. (APRI) or some other baloney registry that will happily register your plaid couch as a border collie if you send them money.
Some brokers will sell to people who operate out of their house. These people will advertise litters often through Craigslist and often the newspaper, can never show you the parents or any sort of reputable paperwork, and often use throw-away cell phones so that their activities cannot be traced by humane organizations. In the case of the now-famous Amish puppy mills, they are sold through brokers and often directly to the public. Come to the farm, they'll bring up the pups and you pick one, never seeing the actual conditions these animals are raised in.
Backyard breeders operate primarily through Craigslist, the newspaper, and any other free avenue they can find. A free hosted website is popular for displaying the puppies and using SEO (search engine optimization) to their advantage. Since it is thought 'traditional' to find a new dog through the newspaper, potential families still don't think anything of opening Sunday's edition and searching for a new best friend that way.
So what exactly is so terrible about buying from a Backyard Breeder or a Puppy Mill?
If you are still not understanding why puppy mills are horrendous, we advise you to not take our word for it but to continue searching the internet for examples and photos from puppy mills. We also advise you to not view these before eating. There are organizations devoted to shutting down puppy mills, often child groups of the ASPCA and the HSUS (Humane Society of the United States.)
The issue of backyard breeders is multi-faceted. The worst thing about backyard breeders is, frankly, the ignorance. Ignorance of how their actions help to keep rescues and pounds in business. Ignorance of how their actions contribute to spreading disease and ill health in the dog population. Ignorance of how their actions contribute to ever-increasing instances of poor and unstable temperaments in dogs, dooming them to death when they never had a chance to begin with.
Consider the following situation:
You have young children and you want to add a dog to the family. You decide that a puppy could grow up with your children and you begin looking for one. You've settled on, let's say, a golden retriever. You always thought that people got dogs from the newspaper so, without doing additional research, you check the paper. You see this advertisement:
"For sale! AKC Golden retriever puppies. 6 weeks. Shots and wormed. Boys and girls, cute and snuggly and ready to go! $400 males, $550 females. Call 777-777-7777."
You think, "Excellent, there's our new puppy!" You visit the breeder, who has the mother as well. The puppies are indoors and cute and fluffy. You're handed the AKC paperwork and as you drive home with the puppy, you mentally pat yourself on the back for picking out a cute, happy little AKC registered purebred puppy that you just know your family is going to love.
The puppy is boisterous and happy and your children love him. You think he's growing normally and when he's around 11 months old - after he's a solid member of the family and you love him to pieces - you notice that while he still loves running, he's being a bit cautious about putting weight on his hind right leg. You decide to take him to the vet, thinking that he's likely sprained something from bouncing around.
You notice that the veterinarian is quiet and thoughtful during the examination. After deliberation he insists on performing an x-ray and some bloodwork to check further. You're a bit worried but you think, 'I bought from a breeder who breeds AKC purebred dogs, I'm sure he's fine.'
Except he's not fine. What your vet discovers is that not only does your precious puppy have moderate hip dysplasia, he also has osteosarcoma. Hip issues and bone cancer is most decidedly what you did not want to hear. You are distraught and wonder what this means. Is it treatable? Will he live? He's not even 1 year old - will this affect him the rest of his life? And then you start thinking about money. How much is this going to cost you? After all, your dog is a member of your family and you all love him to pieces and you would do anything to make him feel better. The vet comes back with an estimate of $2,500 to correct his hip dysplasia and he recommends a specialist that you can talk to regarding the cancer. Your heart sinks when you realize that you either need to sell some stuff or get a 2nd job to pay for this . . . . or let this fuzzy member of your family live in medicated pain until his quality of life diminishes, and then have him put to sleep.
Think this is a far-fetched situation? We wish we could say that it is. We wish we could say this sort of thing doesn't happen, and that it doesn't happen with increasing frequency. But we're interested in talking about the truth, about tough issues and irresponsible behavior. Only by exposing these things can we ever hope to educate and move forward.
But in the situation you just described, the breeder sounded like an average breeder!
Then let's discuss what is representative of a Responsible Breeder. To put it plainly, a Responsible Breeder breeds to preserve and improve the breed. At a minimum, you can expect the following:
- Breeds purebred dogs that are registered with a reputable registry.
In the United States the all-breed registries are the AKC (American Kennel Club) or the UKC (United Kennel Club.) For rare dogs not yet recognized by either registry that would be the FCI (Federation Cynologique Internationale). In the UK that would be the KC (Kennel Club) and in Canada it's the Canadian Kennel Club (CKC). Keep in mind that these are the original all-breed registries, not breed-specific. For many working breeds, there are breeders who prefer to register with their breed club and not an all-breed registry due to the disconnect that can be found between primarily show breeders and primarily working breeders.
There are a lot of fraudulent registries that serve no real purpose other than to accept dogs and breeders who have been banned from the reputable agencies, generally due to unethical breeding practices, outright lying, and other fraudulent behavior. A few examples of those registries are the NKC (National Kennel Club), UKCI (United Kennel Club International), APA (American Purebred Association), in addition to the CKC and APRI mentioned above.
- Be involved with the breed at some level, whether it's national or local.
This means that they are a member in good standing of their breed club (each breed has a parent breed club with regional and often local chapters.) Responsible Breeders work, show, or are otherwise involved with their dogs. This further means that they communicate with other breeders and are aware of what's going on with their breed as a whole and within the nation concerning showing, working, health and temperament.
- Is able to talk your ear off about the breed.
Not only are they intimately aware of every one of their own dog's intricacies, but they can speak at length about temperament issues, health issues and training. Getting a puppy from a Responsible Breeder is every bit them interviewing you as it is you interviewing them. They should be able to satisfactorily answer any question you throw at them and will not hesitate to show you any paperwork on their dogs.
- Speaking of paperwork, they will talk with you and show you in their contract how they deal with health issues.
This is vital for several reasons. All Responsible Breeders aim to breed healthy dogs first and foremost. They screen their dogs for diseases known in the breed and even some that are rare. Any Responsible Breeder will have their dogs checked, at a minimum, for hips, elbows, and eyes, and most go beyond that and check thyroid, hearing and heart. These are not tests performed by your local vet, though some of the data used in determining the health status will be. What these tests do is determine the dog's likelihood of developing things such as juvenile cataracts, cardiomyopathy, hip and elbow dysplasia, retinal dysplasia, portosystemic shunt, hyper- and hypothyroidism, and so forth.
Responsible Breeders furthermore have a clause in their contract stating precisely what they cover and for how long; this can range from a year to 5 years for congenital disease, and the length of coverage generally depends on the breed and how afflicted that breed is as a whole. As you can see, the list of possible hereditary disease is quite extensive, as we've only covered the tip of the iceberg here, and this is a major reason behind our pleas to only buy dogs from tested parents. The alternative, as demonstrated in the story above, is heartbreaking and expensive.
- Breeds with a purpose.
Responsible Breeders are breeding for the whole package - good looks, a good brain, and good health. Responsible Breeders breed to produce terrific working dogs and terrific companion dogs. There does tend to be a division in many working breeds - you'll see things like 'working line' and 'show line', which really just means that the breeder is choosing to emphasize certain aspects of the breed standard. You can find breeders who breed 'dual-purpose dogs' and that is becoming more popular. Regardless, the nice side effect of breeding for the best is that in any given litter, you'll have a few star pupils who are the well-rounded type that exemplify the future of the breed, and the rest of litter are healthy, happy and good-looking pups who perfectly fit the pet niche. Please understand that we're not saying that companion dogs are somehow less worthy than a dog who has excellent form and drive. Every dog has a purpose and in any litter you'll have fine examples of all personality and drive types and therefore the dogs will be happier playing to their strengths, just like people do.
That is what you can expect from a Responsible Breeder, and many go beyond even that. There is much discussion about mandatory spay/neuter, mandatory diet requirements, and a lot of other details that some Responsible Breeders feel the need to dictate. It is our viewpoint that those are extraneous details and that the most important points are listed above. The desired end result is to produce a well-rounded dog, fully capable of performing its duties, genetically healthy, and physically representative of the breed.
So what can we ascertain from that ad? We'll go point by point.
"For sale! AKC Golden retriever puppies. 6 weeks. Shots and wormed. Boys and girls, cute and snuggly and ready to go! $400 males, $550 females. Call 777-777-7777."
AKC ~ Being AKC registered is just the starting point. The AKC takes it on good faith that you are breeding responsibly and generally only investigates if it notices problems with your paperwork or notices too-close breedings. Tons of dogs are AKC registered and it is not indicative of quality at all. It is simply verifying that the dog is purebred with a verifiable purebred lineage.
6 weeks ~ In many states it is illegal to sell puppies under the age of 8 weeks. Many working breeds are sold before that mark because they are sold to people who know how to mold a puppy from that young an age; they would rather the pup associate with them instead of their litter, to help form a stronger bond. It is not a popular stance with many companion breeds and dogs in general if they are not used for working purposes and since pups do require some extra care during those 2 weeks the age regulation was enacted. Check your state to see if the 8-week regulation is in place. Regardless of the law, 8 weeks is still the accepted time that a pup goes home with their new family, in the majority of situations.
Shots and Wormed ~ This is added to give the appearance of stellar veterinary care. A dog receiving inoculations and being wormed is the bare minimum of care, it is not 'good health care.' A veterinarian cannot look at your dog, feel him over, take his temperature and announce, "Yes, he's got cataracts and a heart issue!" There are specialties that vets go to school for and complete continuing education in and beyond that certain tests have to be undertaken. What you want to see in your dog's paperwork are acronyms like OFA, CERF, BAER, PennHip. These connotate actual health screenings.
$400 males, $550 females ~ If nothing else seemed off to you, then this certainly should. Why are females more expensive than males? Hint: Males and females from a Responsible Breeder are priced the same. Females from Unethical Breeders are sold for more money because the ignorant assume that the buyer will behave like them and use the female's genitals for monetary gain. Dogs are not ATMs to Responsible Breeders, despite what the anti-breeder groups claim.
We hope the breakdown of this seemingly common ad makes sense to you. You always need to read between the lines in life; yes, even when it comes to adding a cute puppy to your home.
But why keep breeding if there are dogs dying in shelters? Don't breeders care about those dogs??
We would advise you to speak with any Responsible Breeder to learn their view on rescue efforts. In our experience, Responsible Breeders are intimately involved with rescue, not only by personally fostering dogs but by networking and helping with events as well. The mark of any well-rounded person is that they don't have blinders on - and so as heartbreaking as it is that not every dog has a home, Responsible Breeders understand very well that their contributions to their breed is very valuable.
With over 400 purebreds today, and each one filling a very real and specific need, it would appear that we have more than enough dogs to go around. There is pressure from anti-breeder groups to stop breeding completely; some vote for completely and let dogs die out, some say for a few years until we get the overpopulation/mass euthanization issue under control. The fact is - dogs are valuable in our lives and it would be irresponsible to stop breeding healthy specimans, even if only for a few years. A few years' time would be very detrimental to the advancement of several breeds and could spell the demise of some rare breeds. It is not practical and not a solution. The solution is to figure out how to change the cause-and-effect. The cause is Unethical Breeders selling to irresponsible, capricious people who throw dogs away, and the effect is the problem that all of us, breeders and anti-breeders alike, are distraught over.
Let's frame the question a different way: Where does the farmer, the rancher, the military, the special needs, hunters turn to get healthy, stable dogs? You can make the argument that anybody needing a serious working dog can simply go to the shelter and try different dogs. But what a waste of time, money, and energy on getting a dog’s hopes up and then setting him up for failure, and possibly injury to himself and others if things don’t work out. Dogs crave stability. That’s not sensible or even ethical. Since the vast majority of shelter dogs are bred by Unethical Breeders, neither of whom care about temperament or health, it’s pointless to try random dogs from shelters instead of getting a known reliable dog who can fill their need perfectly. When you get a dog from a Responsible Breeder, you know what you're getting - health going back generations, temperament going back generations, drive and ability going back generations. For people with a serious need for a working dog, that is extremely important.
So working folks aside, why is it wrong to desire a healthy dog? The addition of pet insurance helps those who have dogs with serious issues, but there is nothing wrong, ethically or otherwise, with wanting a well-bred healthy dog with a known lineage. There will always be people who prefer the reliability of a dog with a known history, going back generations, and there will always be people who prefer certain traits found in a particular purebred. That is their right to feel that way and make buying decisions based on those preferences.
Well-bred dogs very rarely end up in shelters. Responsible Breeders maintain relationships with their puppy buyers and have clear wording in their contracts that their dogs are to be returned to them - no ifs, ands or buts - if the dog can no longer live with the original family. These dogs are often microchipped or tattooed so that in the unfortunate instance of a strenuous divorce or a death, a dog which ends up in a shelter or rescue despite precautions can be reunited with the breeder.
The flip side to rescues and shelters existing due to Unethical Breeders is the simple fact that there will always be some people who do not appreciate and respect dogs as valuable, sentient beings. We cannot ban and regulate people from owning dogs or even breeding them (except perhaps at the Puppy Mill level), so there will always be some need for shelters and rescues. We propose that with education and encouragement of good breeding practices, that need will be severely diminished.
How can breeders justify charging so much for dogs?
Simple - raising dogs responsibly isn't cheap. The claims of Responsible Breeders making "tons of money" off of their dogs can be easily squelched with a little education on what a Responsible Breeder actually spends on their dogs.
Think for a minute about what being a Responsible Breeder entails:
$1,000-$1,500 - Pre-breeding health testing
$500-$1,000 - Actual breeding expenses (stud fee, boarding if necessary) **greyhound stud fees are much higher and figure in cost of surgical implant--$3000.00 or more.
$300-$800 - After breeding (whelping box and supplies, extra food for the b*tch)
$125-$500 - Whelping (dew claw removal, vet check for b*tch and litter)
$400-$800 - Puppy Supplies for a minimum 6 weeks / avg. 8 weeks (food, toys, cleaning, veterinary care, playpen, etc.)
That's $2,325 - $4,600, on average, for raising a litter, depending on the size of the litter and your local costs. And this assumes that everything has gone well and there are no emergencies. In large breed dogs you can expect to spend an extra $1,000 or two. For the record, we have NEVER gotten off this cheaply on a greyhound litter. About right for a litter of English Springer Spaniels--but NOT greyhounds!
Emergency C-section - $1,000-$3,000 (depending on clinic and your area)
Mastitis - $300-$600
Supplements if b*tch won't nurse - $150
Euthanasia for deformed pups - est. $50 each
Parvo and loss of puppies - $2,000+ loss
Other difficulties - $$$$$$$
Of course, this just accounts for the actual dollar amount of goods and services. Many Responsible Breeders take leave from work the first week or 2 that their puppies are born or otherwise arrange for and pay for supervised care. Time is money and the loss of other income and simply what your time is worth is not accounted for here.
This does also not take into account the loss accrued via gas money, entrance fees, boarding, flights, food, hotels, and other costs associated with traveling and showing/working dogs to their Championship. It takes a few years to reach that top level of performance, and that adds up to a pretty penny itself.
Compare this to a puppy mill or backyard breeder. A puppy mill will spend the minimum it needs to spend to keep their dogs alive. Simply being alive does not equal a good quality of life. Backyard breeders can range from bare bones to paying for the minimum veterinary care of shots and deworming. It's important to keep in mind that dogs from either a puppy mill or backyard breeder are disadvantaged from the start, from their very conception, and their environment just simply isn't ideal for shaping a healthy, happy and stable dog. Love doesn't produce a healthy dog - being informed and loving your dog to want the best for them does.
What about mixed breed dogs? What about the claims of crossing poodles with other breeds to make a hypoallergenic dog?
This is a very contentious issue today and we'll do our best to lay out the facts.
Wally Conron, breeding manager of Royal Guide Dogs of Australia in 1988, received a letter from a blind woman in Hawaii, asking if they could breed a dog that wouldn't inflame her husband's allergies. Conron immediately thought of a standard poodle as a good choice and set about training them - 33 in total - only to discover that they just didn't have what it took. He decided to mate one of his star labrador retriever b*tches with a standard dog and only 1 of the resulting puppies proved to be non-allergenic. Since the rest of the them weren't selling because they were mongrels, they were dubbed 'labradoodles' to the public. This bit of PR genius worked and the 'oodle' craze began.
However, Mr. Conron has this to say about his brainstorm so many decades ago:
"This is what gets up my nose, if you'll pardon the expression. When the pups were five months old, we sent clippings and saliva over to Hawaii to be tested with this woman's husband. Of the three pups, he was not allergic to one of them. In the next litter I had there were 10 pups, but only three had non-allergenic coats. Now, people are breeding these dogs and selling them as non-allergenic, and they're not even testing them. Get on the internet and see. All these backyard breeders have jumped on the bandwagon, and they're crossing any kind of dog with a poodle. They're selling them for more than a purebred is worth and they're not going into the backgrounds of the parents of the dogs. There are so many poodle crosses having fits, problems with their eyes, hips and elbows, a lot have epilepsy. There are a few ethical breeders, but very very few. Whatsisname, Obama, the American president, announced he was thinking of getting a labradoodle. He didn't get one in the end, but I wrote him a letter saying what the pitfalls were. I said, if you're going to buy a labradoodle, check both parents, make sure they have a certificate. A lot of them are untrainable."
He further stated, "I opened a Pandora's box, that's what I did. I released a Frankenstein. So many people are just breeding for the money. People say aren't you proud of yourself, and I say, no. Not in the slightest. I've done so much harm to pure breeding and made these charlatans quite rich."
That's quite a statement!
Anecdotally, there are a lot of surprises with poodle mixes. There are claims of hypoallergenic qualities not being present despite assertions to the contrary. There are claims that a specific type can be produced with so-called F1 and F2 generations, but we have yet to see that happen. What we do so see more often than not are dogs growing in massive size, much larger than either parent. We see accounts of excessive hyperactivity and a general lack of self-control. We see accounts of unruly hair that not only sheds like crazy but tends to mat more easily due to the nature of curly hair. These are the known issues with the standard poodle mixes and they are so prevalent that hearsay is now becoming the accepted qualities.
There are different triggers to the term "allergies" in people. You can be allergic to the dust and dander that is normal in a dog's coat, and you can also be allergic to the proteins found in their saliva and urine. Without a proper allergy panel, you'll never know for sure what the triggers are. Unethical Breeders don't bother with that information and are quick to slap the titles "hypoallergenic" and "low-shedding" on anything with curly hair and it is a great disservice to not only the dog but the owners as well. Since ALL dogs shed hair and produce dander, there is literally no breed of hypoallergenic dog. The best you can do is control the coat with frequent, sensible grooming.
The development of a guide dog with a low incidence of aggravating allergies is a very noble venture, but the reality of what this idea has spawned is a very sad reality altogether. Very few breeders are trying to continue Mr. Conron's work in a responsible manner and they're not having success in developing a type, any more than he did. The rest of the breeders have dollar signs in their eyes and have realized that they can sell a mutt - the exact same that is in any shelter or pound - for 3 and 4 times the amount simply by creating a name that has "oodle" or "poo" in it. It's simply shameful.
Even beyond the massive amount of deliberate poodle mixes are the other creation that have garnered a lot of attention, especially when a celebrity buys one of these mongrels. Chihuahua x dachshund mix (chiweenie), Cavalier King Charles spaniel x bichon frise (cavachon), beagle x pug (puggle.) There are a lot of health issues with these mixes, particularly when you breed a brachiocephalic dog with a different breed. You create a dog that generally has more desire to run and be active but it cannot due to the shortened snout and subsequent breathing difficulties.
Now all of this being said, there is a class of mixed breed dog that has a solid place. We're talking about working dogs, bred specifically for a serious need. These dogs are represented by lurchers (sighthound/herding dog cross) for hunting, Belgian shepherd/German shepherd dog/Belgian Malinois crosses for precise police and military work, American bulldog x Catahoula Leapord dog/Plott hound mixes for hunting traditionally in the southern states of the US. There are other mixes but these are the most common. These types of dogs are bred from healthy, tested stock by working people and are sold to working people. With the exception of Unethical Breeder getting on the bandwagon and irresponsible people throwing the dogs away, these sort of dogs have a great life, doing what they were bred to do.
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Treat me kindly, my beloved master, for no heart in all the world is more grateful for kindness than the loving heart of me.
Do not break my spirit with a stick, for though I should lick your hand between the blows, your patience and understanding will more quickly teach me the things you would have me do.
Speak to me often, for your voice is the world's sweetest music, as you must know by the fierce wagging of my tail when your footstep falls upon my waiting ear.
When it is cold and wet, please take me inside . . . for I am now a domesticated animal, no longer used to bitter elements . . . and I ask no greater glory than the privilege of sitting at your feet beside the hearth . . . though had you no home, I would rather follow you through ice and snow than rest upon the softest pillow in the warmest home in all the land . . . for you are my god . . . and I am your devoted worshiper.
Keep my pan filled with fresh water, for although I should not reproach you were it dry, I cannot tell you when I suffer thirst. Feed me clean food, that I may stay well, to romp and play and do your bidding, to walk by your side, and stand ready, willing and able to protect you with my life, should your life be in danger.
And, beloved master, should the Great Master see fit to deprive me of my health or sight, do not turn me away from you. Rather hold me gently in your arms as skilled hands grant me the merciful boon of eternal rest . . . and I will leave you knowing with the last breath I drew, my fate was ever safest in your hands.
--Beth Norman Harris
Dog Ownership is a decision entailing great responsibility. This particular greyhound was born the healthy, happy puppy you see pictured on the above left. As she aged, she was diagnosed with CRD (Chronic Renal Disease), a life-shortening affliction that often requires veterinary treatment, special dietary and lifestyle changes. A Dog Is For Life. Upon you, he depends for everything. Make sure you are up to the task of providing for your friend in health and in sickness. If you cannot honor such commitment, PLEASE do not acquire a dog!
High volume breeders are now raising greyhound puppies!!
A curious phenomenon has presented itself--one that has raised genuine cause for alarm. With the closing of several tracks in the US, Ex-racing Greyhounds, once plentiful and readily available to the consumer as pets have now all but disappeared. Reputable AKC breeders owing to the expense of properly raising a litter and the time it involves, rarely have puppies available. Sadly, greyhounds are now being targeted by high volume breeders and puppy mills as a new cash cow.
How can this be? Thanks to the efforts of people in the racing industry and the efforts of a huge network of greyhound adoption agencies, people welcomed these graceful and loving athletes into their homes and discovered what Greyhound fanciers world over have long known--that the Greyhound is unsurpassed as a companion. Over the decades, thousands of ex racers were readily available and approved adopters had the opportunity and large numbers from which to choose their new best friend.
Now for the first time ever, there are not enough dogs to meet the demand. Far fewer racing greyhounds are available for adoption as tracks are closing down for the final time all over the country. This has resulted in greatly reduced numbers of greyhounds made available to greyhound placement services and many prospective adopters find themselves placed on waiting lists. Greyhound racing in the US is uncertain.
Before you jump for joy at this thought, you better look at the big picture. Because of Greyhound racing, these beautiful athletes were plentiful and hounds were available for a fraction of the cost that it took to raise them. The huge network of Greyhound adoption organizations and generous donations made the ex -racing Greyhound relatively cheap to acquire. However, the proper raising of Greyhounds, as with any dog, is EXPENSIVE and reputable breeders rarely have litters owing to expense and time constraints.
Enter the Puppy Miller or Mass Breeder. A Mass Breeder is generally the person you find advertising in newspapers or on internet puppy sales sites. What defines a Mass Breeder of dogs? These are persons who have more than one breed of dog advertised, and often SEVERAL breeds of dogs or cross bred "designer dogs" They rarely perform any kind of health screening and will have a million excuses why they don't want visitors knocking. They are exactly the sort of person you DON'T want to buy a dog from. Often they raise large amounts of dogs, livestock, chickens, etc., on tiny tracts of property. This kind of over crowding lends to all kinds of problems with socialization and disease. A particularly troubling situation is that these high volume breeders are acquiring substandard dogs from NGA breeders (National Greyhound Association) registering them with the AKC and BREEDING THEM. This is an alarming trend with some real inherit problems.
So, how does one go about finding an ethical greyhound breeder? By going straight to the AKC web page and contacting the parent club, the Greyhound Club of America. That is a good place to start. A reputable breeder does HEALTH testing as is recommended by the AKC and the American Veterinary Association. A reputable breeder should be able to produce copies of proof of OFA testing upon demand. The OFA (Orthopedic Foundation for Animals maintains a website where breeders can list their dogs and the results of the testing is available online. Beware of the scam story, "Oh, I had by dogs checked by my vet, he said they were ok." Don't buy that nonsense, a vet cannot tell the structure and potential issues in a greyhound heart like a board certified cardiologist using an echo cardiogram. Most vets cannot determine the presence or significance of eye issues like a specialist. These are just two reasons why reputable breeders test their breeding stock.
Of upmost importance, a potential puppy buyer should ABSOULTELY go to the breeder's residence to pick up their puppy. For many reasons. If there are multiple breeds kept, high numbers of dogs, goats, rabbits, etc., just how much care and attention was paid to the puppy you are about to acquire? If you are buying a puppy as a companion, it goes with out saying it should have been RAISED IN THE HOME, and not in a kennel or outbuilding. It should be leash broken, highly socialized and not skittish with strangers. It should be clean and nails nice and short. It should stand for exam on a table and allow even strangers to go over it and examine the bite. A puppy such as this reflects lots of one and one socialization and handling. Too many are now being raised by high volume "breeders" raising dogs in substandard conditions with little socialization. Some are touting "rare colors" and other such nonsense. All colors are acceptable in the greyhound.
A wise buyer will ask to see the pedigree of a puppy. A reputable buyer will have one for examination and the pedigree should boost of many AKC champions and performance title earners.
A good breeder usually has one, at most two breeds of dogs that they are involved with.
- Federation Cynologique Internationale (FCI) Group 10 - (Coursing Hounds)
- AKC Hound Group
The National Clubs in the United States in order of number of dogs registered:
National Greyhound Association (NGA)
- PO Box 543, Abilene Kansas, 67410, 913 263 4660
- e-mail mailto:firstname.lastname@example.org
- Adopt a Greyhound the National Greyhound Council greyhound adoption information site.
Greyhound Club of America (AKC Member Club)
- Corres. Secretary, Margaret Bryson, 15079 Meeting House Ln., Montpelier, VA 23192
- Breeder Contact, Margaret Bryson, 15079 Meeting House Ln., Montpelier, VA 23192 (804)883-7800
Other Registration Organizations
- International: Federation Cynologique Internationale (FCI, Puerto Rico, South America, Morocco & Europe)
In Canada recognized by the: Canadian Kennel Club (CKC)
In the United States - Recognized coursing and racing competition by:
- NGA registered dogs - these are the greyhounds used in the United States in "professional" racing - that is racing with pari-mutual betting.
- National Oval Track Racing Association (NOTRA) - amateur - no betting oval track racing.
- Large Gazehound Racing Association (LGRA) amateur - no betting straight track racing.
- American Sighthound Field Association (ASFA)
- National Open Field Coursing Association (NOFCA)
- North American Coursing Association (NACA)
- Original purpose and special abilities:
- A dog for high speed pursuit of sighted game in open country (coursing). These dogs possess great speed. Used to course small to medium sized quarry: fox, hare, coyote.
- Breed History:
- As with other Sighthounds, fanciers attempt to trace greyhounds back to those slender hunting dogs depicted by the Ancient Egyptians in their tomb paintings. There is good documentation for the folded ear (rose ear) greyhound in Europe from the middle ages on. They were traditionally associated with the hunting sports of the nobility.
- The breed was fairly popular in England in the 19th century and was used in the sport of open field coursing as well as participating in first dog shows. When track racing was introduced in the 20th century a schism appeared in the breed between the animals maintained primarily for show and those that were raced and coursed. Separate studbooks are maintained for the racing and coursing dogs in the United Kingdom and the United States. World wide there are many more dogs registered with the racing registries than with the show registries (36,000 NGA registered dogs in 1996 as compared with 220 AKC registered dogs, for example).
At this time racing registered greyhounds can be registered with the AKC and other show registries as the breed is still considered as a single breed. With their very small gene pool the AKC registered dog population might suffer in the long run if the breed was officially 'split' and the AKC studbook closed to NGA originated dogs.
- Region of Origin:The smooth coated greyhound as we know it is also called the English Greyhound. Breeding records can be traced in England prior to 1770.
- Breed Registration Statistics:
- AKC - 1996 - 218 individual registrations.
- NGA - 1996 - 28,719 individual registrations.
- Weight (AKC breed standard) 65 to 70 (pounds): (dogs); 60 to 65 (bitches)
- Height 25 to 29 (inches): (dogs); 24 to 27 (bitches)
Among racing fanciers little attention is paid to height and the AKC breed standard does not list height. Racing greyhounds tend to be a bit shorter and broader for any given weight than the show dogs. However weight, which definitely affects performance, is recorded in advertisements for performance dog studs and discussed in the AKC breed standard.
In the 1890's advertisements for American bred coursing greyhound sires listed weights running from 55 to 65 lbs. In 1997 dogs advertised in the NGA Sires book range from 55 to 85 lbs, averaging 65 lbs.
- Eye color: Dark, bright and intelligent. (AKC standard)
- Ear type:
- Rose (folded) ears, small in size and when unfolded, triangular in shape. Emphasis is put on ear form because a major cosmetic trait distinguishing the types of Sighthounds is in the form of the ear. Some show breeders who emphasize the conformation ring are quite intolerant of dogs with stiff upstanding ears.
- Disqualifications: Breed disqualifications can lead to a dog be offered as a pet animal. One should never pay more for a dog with breed disqualifications because it is rare or unusual!
- There are no breed specific disqualifications specified in the AKC Greyhound standard.
- In most registries absence of two apparently normal, fully descended testicles in the scrotum in males is a general conformational disqualification.
- Cosmetic Surgeries (to establish 'breed look') None
- Both solid and particolor markings, with or without black mask; with or without black mantle (overlay). Red, fawn, cream, with or without black overlay. Black and blue dilution of black. Brindle of all colors. Eye rims, lips, nose can be quite dark to black. Black and tan is not found, neither is merle. Particolor greyhounds may be so extensive in their white markings that the base color of the dog is apparent only on the ears or in the ticking and flecking on the white coat.
- Coat Type:
- The coat is soft, very short, and dense, the skin is fine and tight. Dogs habituated to cold winter weather will develop a thick soft winter coat rather like moleskin. When this sheds in the spring, the dog appears quite moth eaten for a while. People desiring to keep the shiny short coat typically seen in show greyhounds need to blanket them in cold weather to prevent the growth of the short double layered winter coat.
- Correct appreciation of the temperament of Greyhounds is of major importance because of the highly successful retired racing greyhound adoption programs in the United States. Adoption organizations do a fairly good job of educating the public as to the personality of these dogs. They also screen the adopters to eliminate obviously psychotic animals (and would be owners!)
- Although there is a range of temperaments in Greyhounds, these dogs typically have the western sighthound type personality. They are friendly and fairly outgoing and can adapt to new ownership situations without much difficulty. They are, however, hunting dogs and can become quite focused on the pursuit of small animals that they perceive as legitimate game. Up to three or four dogs generally get along well as a social unit but when their numbers get greater, caution needs to be taken to ensure that the pack does not decide to severely persecute one member (called "packing up" or "mobbing"). There is a real reason why greyhounds turned out to exercise in large numbers wear turn out muzzles.
As with many hunting breeds strongly selected for a specific quarry, these dogs, even when strongly focused on hunting are unlikely to be aggressive to humans. Care should be taken with them around infants and small children, who are sometimes not recognized as human by the dog due to the child's high pitched voice and rapid, erratic motions.
As with other Sighthound breeds they "get along well with children taught to respect them." (direct quote of Dominique Crapon de Caprona, Ph.D.'s excellent article relating to Sloughis). However it is important to remember that the emphasis is on children taught to respect them. This means the dog behaves in a safe fashion when in the presence of children who do not tease or mistreat it. This does not mean that the parent can allow the child to manhandle the dog as if it was a stuffed toy.
These are coursing hounds and require adequate exercise. They will use a crate as a personal cave. Retired racers will tolerate crating as a means of housing for fairly long periods of time. However anyone contemplating ownership of a large dog who finds that they need to crate the animal more than 10 hours in 24 should reconsider owning the animal.
Greyhounds are a short coated breed and must be provided with warm shelter in cold weather. As a guideline my greyhounds are generally happy to be outside in the daytime hours in Western Colorado during the winter. They will put on a dense winter moleskin type coat in temperatures below 40 degrees F. However they must have warm sleeping quarters that are above freezing. Greyhounds exposed to very cold weather without a warm retreat can develop frostbite of the ears in winter climates in such places as Massachusetts. During cold weather they are happy to play and run in the cold, but they must have resting areas that are maintained above freezing temperatures.
Typical Competitive Activities for this Breed:
All forms of Sighthound field sports: Lure coursing, NOTRA racing. LGRA racing, open field coursing. Growing participation in obedience and agility events by owners.
- Among the Sighthounds, the Greyhound has a stronger level of food treat motivation than breeds such as Borzoi and Saluki. However individuals can still show stress anorexia. Obedience work is pleasant and quite possible with them but a patient instructor who knows how to motivate dogs that (1) do not readily take food rewards and (2) that become inhibited by rough corrections - is needed. They love being petted and massaged so vocal praise can be associated with petting episodes in much the same manner as it is linked with food rewards in more typical operant conditioning training techniques.
Genetic problems commonly encountered in this breed:
- This is a healthy breed. Racing greyhounds are unique as the breeding programs of the NGA breeders concentrate on dogs that have had a successful racing career. Many dogs and bitches are not bred until they are over 4 years of age. In addition , they are strongly selected for physical fitness and vigor. This phenomenon of selection of breeding stock almost exclusively from successful athletes is quite different from the norm in pure bred dog breeding.
- Normal sized, muscular animals are unlikely to have hip dysplasia. Bloat is rare. Older dogs may be prone to kidney failure. These dogs may be quite sensitive to toxins, pesticides and anesthesia so care needs to be taken in applying general pesticides to them. Seek out a veterinarian with experience with greyhounds and other sight hounds.
The AKC registered show bred greyhounds are also resistant to hip dysplasia and generally long lived. Reputable breeders of greyhounds employee health screening tests, no matter what the registry.
Non-genetic health problems commonly encountered in this breed:
- Greyhounds are prone to an number of traumatic injuries associated with the high speeds they can achieve. Animals running full speed on rough terrain frequently injure toes (not life threatening) and inexperienced owners must seek out knowledgeable advisers on proper techniques of conditioning if the dogs are going to be lure coursed.
- Breed Pluses:
- A healthy breed with little odor and few reported inherited problems. They are more outgoing than the oriental sight hounds. However people whose dog owning experience has been with sporting breeds will still find, in many cases, them to be a bit stand-offish or distantly friendly. As with other sight hounds these are not dogs for people who feel a dog should be free to roam at will, they have to be carefully introduced to small, scurrying pets. In general they are relatively long lived (12 to 16 years) for their size.
- They are lovely to look at and are generally clean as house dogs. Puppies and adolescents can be very destructive, the adult retired racers are used to quiet time in the crate. Some can be vocal watch dogs and afford a sense of security.
- Breed Minuses:
- They like to chase things. However they are more likely to find their way home if they get out by accident than some of the other sighthound breeds. In large numbers (ie more than 4 or 5) they can be prone to "packing up" (mass attacks on a single underdog). When frustrated and confined they can be destructive chewers.
- As with other Sighthounds, these are hunting dogs with a full set of hunting dog instincts. While protective of the home they do not feel a strong sense of property boundaries. They need protection from cold.
- Who should own a Greyhound?
- People who are willing to understand and enjoy the nature of sighthounds. Along with the whippet this breed is a good beginner sighthound breed for a person new to sighthounds. People who own cats and appreciate the independence of the cat often find sighthound quite pleasant to own. However any dog needs training and socialization into the household social order at a much higher level than a cat, a dog cannot be allowed to just grow up.
- Who should not own a Greyhound?
- People who expect a high degree of obedience and compliance to rules will find Greyhounds frustrating to own. People who have problems owning a hunting breed of dog with the need for adequate fencing and supervision in unfenced areas will be dissatisfied because the dog is always running away to hunt.
- Aesthetic Deficiencies: Often these are also the breed disqualifications and are legitimate reasons for a dog to be sold at a pet price on a 'neuter contract'. These should not detract from the health of the dog or its suitability as a pet.
- Tail Deformed tail, Spitz type high curled tail carriage.
- Eyes Very light, staring eyes or blue eyes.
- Ears Ears habitually carried erect or hanging by the side of the head.
- Dentition Undershot or overshot occlusion or many missing teeth.
- Do not buy a puppy that is 'sold as a pet because it' is/has:
- It is excessively fearful or excessively aggressive.
- It has a really exaggerated posture - front feet flat on the ground to the stop pad, hind feet flat on the ground.
- Chronic lameness is a 2 to 5 month old puppy.
- The unhealthy scrawny pup in the litter. This pup may have any one of a number of life threatening congenital illnesses such as a major heart anomaly, pancreatitus, severe food sensitivities.
- An extremely large puppy for its age with very large, tender or hot to the touch "growth knobs" at the wrists and ankles. Very rapidly growing puppies are much more likely to have joint problems later in life. This is in part a management problem. These dogs can be feed to rich a diet as pups and pushed to grow too rapidly. Too rapid growth is generally an error made by novice owners and breeders.
- Article based on original writing by - Bonnie Dalzell
"Adorable mixed breeds" get cancer, epilepsy, allergies, heart disease, and orthopedic problems just like purebreds. I see it every day in my veterinary practice but mixed breed dogs aren't tracked like the purebreds so they have a reputation as "healthier" that is actually undeserved in many cases."
It is so sad that a lot of folks, including young veterinarians these days, buy into the "hybrid vigor" baloney. The vet schools have been infiltrated by the Animal Rights Extremists, who are teaching them this junk science in order to push their agenda.
All animals have a certain amount of genetic load, which is to say there is absolutely no animal without some genetic problem of some sort of another. Know anyone who wears glasses? Has allergies? Thyroid problems? Weak knees? Flat feet? A skin condition? Arthritis? A gap between their front teeth? These are all genetic imperfections.
No human is genetically "clean." Neither is any individual of any species on earth. So this idea that dogs should not be bred because they might have a genetic problem, and that breeders are somehow "evil" for breeding them, is ridiculous. Every single individual of every single species has at least a few genetic conditions.
To use PETA's logic, all breeding of all kinds (including having human babies) should halt immediately. And to be honest, Ingrid Newkirk (the woman who founded PETA) does believe exactly that. She thinks that humans should become extinct, along with dogs, cats, etc. This ridiculous scenario is precisely what she would like to see happen.
So folks, if that is what you want...if you agree with Ingrid Newkirk's wacky views, send your hard earned money to PETA. They will help to ensure you are not able to own a dog or cat or hamster or any other pet in the future. They will see to it that you can't eat meat or fish or eggs or any type of animal-based nutrition. They will work to shut down places like Sea World, the zoos, etc. so you cannot observe the many wonderful animals on the Earth. Eventually, once they accomplish these things, they may turn their efforts to making it illegal for humans to procreate.
If you don't agree with their extremist views, wise up and start supporting those who truly do love, care for and enjoy interaction with other species here on our little blue planet.
The fanciers of the breeds, those you see exhibiting their dogs at Westminster and other dog shows, work very hard to eliminate serious genetic conditions. They screen their breeding stock with every available test. They research pedigrees before breeding into other lines, to check for similar clearances in those animals. They contribute money to research organizations to further the work being done to track down genetic problems. They contribute blood, cell samples, etc. from their own animals to help with DNA and genome studies. They have made great progress so far, and they continue to work hard at it.
Are there unethical breeders? Certainly, there are. Just as in any group of humans, you will find the good and the bad. United States VP Elect Joe Biden, for example, managed to find a not so good one when he got his new German Shepherd puppy. I don't know who did his research for him, but they obviously didn't do their homework if they were looking for a responsible breeder. Joe has the right to get his dog from whomever he wishes, but if he was trying to set an example of purchasing from a responsible hobby breeder he went off the track this time. That's too bad, but it was his choice.
Unfortunately, breeders like that may be a lot easier to find because of their high volume and high profile. If you are looking for a nice family pet from a breeder who will be there for you forever, you need to do due diligence. You won't get that from a pet store. You won't get that from the guy selling dogs out of his pickup truck in the WalMart parking lot. You won't get that support from a high-volume breeder, either. Yes, it takes a little more time and effort to find someone who really cares and does all the work to breed the healthiest, happiest puppies possible and then stands behind those puppies.
This is a living being that will be part of your family, hopefully, for many years. Isn't it worth a bit of effort to find a breeder who will be there for you and that puppy forever?
And guess what? Shows like Westminster are a very valuable resource for finding breeders who do care and who use the best possible practices, as well as for learning more about the various breeds.
Bravo to USA Network for broadcasting the Westminster Kennel Club show all these years. May they enjoy continued success through the ongoing inclusion of such programs. I will be eagerly watching this year's show!"
Dr. Libbye Miller
- How long have you had greyhounds?
- Do you have a written contract and puppy guarantee?
- What guidance would you offer in the areas of socialization and training?
- Do you plan to keep a puppy from this litter?
- What is your purpose for breeding this litter?
- How did you choose your breeding stock?
- What titles do you seek for your breeding stock?
- What health clearances do you get for your breeding stock?
- What do you consider proper Greyhound temperament?
- What health problems exist in the breed?
- What would you consider characteristics of an ideal Greyhound home?
A visit to the Breeders home to see first hand how the greyhounds are kept should be manditory. Beware the party that wants to meet you at a local other than where they live.
What to look for while visiting (to be continued)
- "Health guaranteed!"
- This "reassuring" platitude is how pet shops and irresponsible breeders seek to get around the expenses of genetic testing. Don't fall for this con!
Let's look at it from the PUPPY'S point of view. Guarantees don't help a puppy at all. You get your money back--maybe--engaging the services of an attorney and a court appearance may be required-and face it, many unethical breeders are betting that average consumer will not go to the expense and just walk away. Most do. However, the puppy still has to live with the genetic health problems that could have been avoided -- if his breeder had been seeking to produce healthy lives rather than seeking to keep his expenses down by avoiding genetic health testing.
We're talking about quality of life here. Don't support any breeder or pet shop who cares so little about the future life of their puppies that they do not require genetic health testing of the parents.
Not just HEALTH problems
Obedience instructors and canine behavioral consultants will be happy to tell you about the temperament and behavior problems that develop in many pet shop puppies as they grow up.
Most pet shop puppies start out playful and friendly, but as they mature, their genes begin to assert themselves. If their parents or grandparents had shy or aggressive or hyperactive temperaments, those genes will show up during adolescence and adulthood.
Many pet shop puppies are nippy. Some were removed from their mother before 7 weeks of age, a critical period of time where she teaches them "bite inhibition." Some have learned to nip from interacting with so many potential owners wandering through the pet shop, including kids who tug and play roughly. Most of these potential owners thought the nipping was cute, didn't correct the puppy for it, and so the habit becomes entrenched.
Finally, raised in a small cage in which they're encouraged to eliminate freely, pet shop puppies are notoriously difficult to housebreak.
The major reason not to buy -- supporting the industry
You may wish to "rescue" a pet shop puppy. That's completely understandable. We all feel sorry for them.
But your good intentions will backfire, because you are feeding the industry by rewarding it with money.
You've emptied one cage, yes -- which creates demand for yet another litter to be produced to fill that cage. Even if you're very, very lucky, and your one individual puppy turns out okay, a large percentage of the others will not -- and YOU provided the incentive for them to be born by buying the one who came before them.
So what seems like a simple, isolated purchase actually contributes to:
The misery of adult females who spend their lives in a cage, being bred again and again to provide puppies that you and others can buy
The misery of these future puppies born with health and temperament problems
The misery of future families who buy these puppies and then try to cope with the health and temperament problems
The misery of animal rescue groups trying to deal with the flood of pet shop puppies dumped on their doorstep because families gave up on the health and temperament problems. A high percentage of dogs abandoned to shelters are the sad products of puppy mills.