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When A Breeder Retires A Dog

Amanda Hedderick, Darknyte Labradors and Shar Pei


Animal rights groups have painted a picture that if a breeder retires a dog it's because it is no longer useful to the breeder! This couldn’t be more WRONG!!!


Over time I have retired dogs before I ever bred them because they failed my personal tests. I have retired dogs after one litter, not because I was disappointed, she could have gone on to have more litters and as the AR nuts would put it "make me loads of cash dude" but I chose to retire then to live out their lives as pampered pets.


Start doing research. Talk to breeders. Visit if they let you. Don't be offended if they don’t. A lot of breeders have had some crazies do some crazy things. Be respectful, open-minded and use your common sense. Someone who has 8 dogs that all look beautiful and healthy and happy, and running free around their house is not the same as someone who has 300 caged, dirty and scared dogs.


If a breeder can rattle off anything you need to know about their lines, can name and point out each dog, can provide proper vetting health tests and show records, that breeder is not the same as the puppy mill with 300 dogs whose names are numbers!!


Most of the females I have retired have done just that, they have 1 or 2 litters and then go on to be couch warriors! People need to understand that breeders are not pet owners. Breeders are proving their dogs to represent the breed. Most breeders are working and proving their dogs in obedience, hunting, herding, field trials, or showing, doing the jobs we created dogs for.


A breeder must make the choice whether or not the traits their dogs have are acceptable for society. A puppy with health or temperament issues means the breeder has failed.


So, retiring dogs who would not create sound puppies is what a breeder should do, it’s not because the breeder is greedy, it’s quite the opposite. It would be impossible for a breeder to keep every retired dog until it passes. Right now, I own a dog I have owned since it was a puppy. She is 11 and will live out her days here with me. She gave me 3 beautiful litters and was retired many years ago.


But we have to keep a level head. You can’t show, breed, work and train dogs and have 30 retired dogs too. In order to provide buyers with that perfect puppy and continue to better the next generations of dogs, breeders must work hard with their dogs. If all I was out to do was make cash, my 11 year old dog would have had more than 3 litters. In fact, I would have bred her every heat until she didn't give me any more puppies.


We need to stop linking breeders with puppy mills. Puppy mills are just that, a mill to produce puppies. They ARE NOT breeders. Stop confusing the two. Puppy mills breed dogs only for the money and they euthanize or dump dogs that don't make money for them.


Breeders care about their dogs. They study health, genetics, daily care and do everything they can for their dogs. A breeder’s dogs usually eat before they do. Most of the time their dogs eat better than the breeder because their diet is so precisely calculated and planned to provide maximum health, proper nutrition and ideal weight.


When I retire a dog the new owners are given the same contract I give my puppy buyers - spay/neuter, keep in touch, return if things don't work out, etc.


Retiring and rehoming a dog is one of the hardest choices a breeder must make. I have had to retire dogs I’ve spent tons of money on. They had fantastic lineage, but failed temperament or genetic testing. Talk about a hard pill to swallow!


Here’s an example; I retired my Chinese Shar-Pei, “Sprite”, because her anxiety was not a trait I wanted to pass on to puppies and her conformation was not correct. After spending thousands on this dog, I took over a year to find a perfect home for her. I didn't charge anything for her rehoming. She went for free. So as a breeder looking to "make wads of cash" I was out over $3000 for her. But… she now has a wonderful home. The sad thing is she's not the first I have lost money on and certainly won't be the last.


Everyone wants a puppy but a well-bred purebred adult saves money, training, and you know what you get. Look for a priceless, vetted, beloved retiree. EST 1998 © 1812



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