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The Future of Dogs in an Animal Rights America

by Walt Hutchens

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The Importance of Home Breeding of Dogs

American dogs come from four main sources. Half or a bit less are accidental breedings. Except in farther out rural areas, these dogs are no longer in surplus and they are the main source of low cost puppies. The remaining half is divided roughly equally between farm-based commercial breeding, home breeding, and 'other' – a growing volume of imports, police, and other specialized programs.

Of all four-legged wild animals, wolves are the most like humans in their social arrangements. They live in extended family groups, must work in teams in order to survive, are 'wired' to follow orders from a leader, and when times are good, the young set out on their own to start new family groups.

As with humans, much of what a dog becomes depends on the care taken with his early health and training.


In domesticating the dog, man tapped those similarities and a number of practical talents to produce not only a valuable helpmate but a wonderful companion. Even today when our meat comes in a plastic package and electricity turns our roasting spits, 44% of American homes have dogs and most owners can hardly imagine life without one.

As with humans, much of what a dog becomes depends on the care taken with his early health and training.

Commercially bred dogs are whelped and raised as livestock, then sold to owners who begin helping them fit in to a human family eight weeks or so from the start. Most of these dogs do become satisfactory pets, however, those of us who have known many dogs believe that the best pet dogs are whelped and raised within a human family, handled and cared for as family members from the first hour. This way, each lesson can be started as it is needed, and the step from the breeder's family to a lifetime owner is small – a change of names, faces and style, but nothing like going from 'livestock' to 'pet' status after some wrong lessons have already been learned.

Personalities develop early; the home breeder knows them all and can match the two-fisted active tomboy with a human family that wants that type and the quiet "I just love you" pup with a soulmate.

Home breeding can be a hobby into which you pour more money than you can ever hope to get back. Hobbyists often compete to produce the best possible dogs; while there are many ideas of what 'best' means, they all involve top quality breeding stock, health testing, preventative vet work and sometimes treatment, and huge amounts of time. Competition sets a limit on prices: If you do the accounting carefully, it is almost impossible to make money breeding as a hobby.

If you do the accounting carefully, it is almost impossible to make money breeding as a hobby.

The money goes out year-round for maintenance of breeding stock, it goes even faster as you prepare for and do the breeding and when the puppies are whelped. It continues to flow with vet work done to get them ready for new homes. Then a few thousand dollars comes in as the puppies are sold.

Deduct some for breedings that produce no puppies, more for those that require expensive vet care, and a bit more for a puppy that is returned at a net cost to you – it happens to all breeders. Divide that money by the number of hours work needed to produce and sell that litter plus a few extra hours helping the new owners by phone and email to calculate your hourly wage.

In a few years when you sell your home you can take the cost of repairing the damage done by generations of breeding stock and completely untrained puppies and spread it over all your hours. If you have anything at all left, you're doing better than 99% of the home hobby breeders we know.

By trimming the most expensive inputs, it is possible to convert hobby breeding to a small scale home ‘extra money' business. These dogs may not get everything they would from a good hobby breeder, but they are often excellent pets.

Home breeding has another significance: It is where purebred dogs come from. Because home breeding must be small-scale, individual dogs are rarely bred over a few times; often just once. Home breeders, moreover, are the keepers of what the breed 'is': Should a Pomeranian weigh 40 pounds? Should a whippet be built like a pig? Should a collie chase and kill small animals or try to bite a stranger?

These questions and thousands of others are answered in a 'breed standard' kept by the clubs for each breed and expanded in the hearts of the home breeders of that breed. Large commercial breeders may use purebred stock, but they make little effort to breed according to the standard.

Mixed breeds offer a never-twice-the-same variety that appeals to many people but the down side is that your puppy might not grow up to be a dog you can live with. Carefully bred purebreds often make better sense for busy families, especially those with young children.

Most hobby and many other home breeders offer lifetime help if you have problems and have a lifetime ‘take back' guarantee if you can't keep your dog. These policies benefit the public.

One of the most important cost-saving measures for commercial breeders is using the same breeding stock as much as possible. This is the reverse of the policy of the usual hobby breeder and because home breeders are small-scale, hard to do for even the for-profit home breeder.

On the present lawmaking road, home breeding of dogs is about to be wiped out in our country and as this occurs, purebred dogs will all but disappear.


The deepest significance of home breeding is that it is the main storehouse from which the genes that produce each breed are drawn, generation by generation. Home breeders keep and use to produce the next generation perhaps ten times the genetic material as an average large commercial breeder, thus preserving the genetic diversity needed to keep our breeds alive.

Because hobby breeders and nearly all other home breeders care about their pups as individuals, they must cast a wide public net in order to find homes. When laws are passed that make home breeding illegal, home breeders are easily found and eliminated.

The one sentence picture of the future of dogs in America is this: On the present lawmaking road, home breeding of dogs is about to be wiped out in our country and as this occurs, purebred dogs will all but disappear.

Other essays in this booklet discuss the trends and forces that could make this happen and describe the situation that will result.

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