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Dog FAQS and Myths

What is a responsible dog owner?

A responsible dog owner is a person who gets a dog for all the right reasons, researches the right dog for them and takes the time to find that right dog. They take their dog to the vet annually for health check ups and vaccinations. They spay and neuter their pet. They feed a quality dog food. They spend time with their dog and do not expect the dog to fend for themselves. They will be concerned about the dog's health and safety. They will not allow their dog to run free where it may be hurt or killed. They will keep and take care of their dogs in sickness and in health.

What is a responsible dog breeder?

A responsible breeder is a breeder who has developed a breeding program and is breeding to improve their dogs. They are not interested in making money, they rarely even cover their expenses. They ensure that their female is healthy, free of parasites and disease prior to breeding. They also make sure the same is true for the male they intend to use at stud. They spend considerable time studying the planned breeding by looking at pedigrees and getting as much information as possible on the two dogs they plan to breed together. They would make sure that their puppies have health checks and vaccinations prior to going to their new homes. They will vet all perspective homes carefully to ensure that the puppies go to the best homes available. They will make themselves available to answer questions and address any concerns that their puppy buyers may have along the way. They will take care of their old dogs despite the fact that they are no longer useful as breeding dogs. This is just a small list of what goes into the making of a responsible breeder. For a little more depth on what it involves to be a breeder go to

What is a puppy mill?

A puppy mill is a commercial breeding operation where the sole interest in breeding dogs is to make money. Dogs are considered cash crops as if they were wheat or soya beans. For the most part the dogs are kept in appalling conditions and they have little human interaction. In general they would have no or little veterinary attention throughout their lifespan. Nor would the puppies that are to be sold. The only plan that they have in their "breeding program" is to produce as many puppies as cheaply as possible. They have no interest in the health or disposition of those puppies. They are like toy manufacturers who hope their products fall apart quickly so that you will buy more.

What is a backyard breeder (byb)?

A backyard breeder is a person who has one or two females that they breed from time to time to get a little pocket money. Generally speaking the dogs that they are breeding were sold to them as pet quality and they usually breed to the dog down the road who is also of pet quality. They rarely understand about the genetic health problems of the breed nor do they know anything about proper breeding practices. They will generally sell their puppies between 6-8 weeks sometimes younger and the puppies are only occasionally vaccinated or health checked before going to their new homes.

Reasons to get a dog

For the children - No, no, no! the children are not a reason to get a dog. These are little people who can't take care of their toys. They are not ready for the commitment. The dog should be as much for the primary caregiver in the family as anyone else, as this is who all the care of the dog will fall on.

I saw it in the pet store and I couldn't leave it - This is what the pet stores and puppy mills hope for. Impulse buyers usually base their decision on sympathy for the puppy. However, by buying from a pet store, you are really contributing to the continual suffering of dogs in puppy mills, as more dogs purchased from the pet stores, the more that will be required to be produced. It is supply and demand. You supply the demand.

Mixed breeds are healthier

Not necessarily. Dog that are of no discernible background can often be healthy where the role of hybrid vigor plays a part. However often in cases of two breeds that have been mixed such as the Cocker Spaniel and the Poodle if both parents carry a gene which may be common to those breeds (e.g. epilepsy, heart problems, allergies, etc) then the likelihood is that the resulting offspring will have doubled up the gene and have the disease.

Reasons to breed a dog

The children need to see the miracle of birth - only if you are willing to show them the possible end result of breeding for the sake of breeding. Be balanced take them to the Humane Society on D Day.

Friends and family would love one - let them buy one from a proper breeder! Why should you do all the work, have all the expenses, no sleep for weeks, all that mess, etc, so they can have a puppy? Also are you ready for the lifetime responsibility of what happens to those dogs? Suppose your dog has 8-10 puppies do you have that many friends wanting them?

It is better for the female to have a litter before she is spayed - better for you or the dog? There is absolutely no health benefit to a dog having puppies. The minimum age that a dog of any breed should be bred is approximately 18 months or after their 3rd season. Optimum is after 2 years for many breeds as they require certain health tests to be done, such as x-raying for Hip Dysplasia, prior to breeding which is not done until 2 years of age. By spaying a bitch earlier than later, you lessen her chances of developing mammary tumours later in life. There are also other diseases that unspayed bitches are prone to, such as pyometra which is potentially life threatening. Also you may find a bitch that has had puppies may become more dominant and aggressive. They can also become inclined to mark (do little pees all over the place, like males that lift their legs) Nor will not spaying your bitch keep her from getting fat, a correct diet and exercise will do that.

My male is getting antzy and needs to be bred - no he doesn't, he needs to be neutered. Breeding him will just make him harder to manage, he will become more inclined to lift his leg, he may become more aggressive. Also an unneutered male is more prone to problems later in life such as testicular cancer or prostate problems.

I don't want a showdog, I want a pet

Showdogs should be pets first, showdogs second. All responsible breeders breed with that foremost in their minds. Breeding dogs of sound minds and bodies who after a very short show career are able to become loved pets. In most litters there is usually only one or two dogs that would be qualified for the showring so all dogs in that litter must be suitable as a pet.

Females are easier to housebreak than males

Whether male or female, some dogs are easier than others to housebreak. In fact one more often sees problems with dribbling in females than in males. Males after they reach a certain age may start to lift their legs to mark territory, however if they were correctly housebroken in the first place it should not occur in the house. Dominant females may also have a tendency to mark territory by doing a little leg lifting. Also certain breeds may be harder to train.

Females have better temperaments than males

In certain breeds you may find a tendency for females to have an easier to manage temperament especially where there may be problems with aggression. On the whole, of the breeds I have had involvement with, I have preferred the male temperament slightly over the females. This is a very individual taste but one should never rule out a dog on the basis of sex. My own males have had a tendency to be very soft and cuddly.

Mixed breeds have better temperaments

Absolutely not. There are many reasons for bad temperaments. Partly genetic and if the dog's parents have termperament problems then there is a good chance the resulting offspring will as well. This goes for both purebred dogs and mixed dogs. Also environment plays the largest part in developing temperament, so if the puppy did not have a correct upbringing, it is likely to have a poor temperament.

Purebreds are too high strung

Not true. Certain breeds may be more high energy depending upon their breed purpose, but other breeds can be extremely laid back. Hyperactive dogs can occur in mutts as well. If you want a laid back purebred dog get the appropriate breed. Also make sure you buy from a responsible breeder who is concerned with their dogs' temperaments.

It is safe to pat a dog that is wagging its tail

Dogs are unpredictable animals and nothing is written in stone. A wagging tail can mean many different things, sometimes it can mean "I want to be your friend" but other times it can mean "I am not at all sure of who you are so it might be better if you just leave me alone as I really don't want to bite you". It is better to never approach or touch a dog that is unknown to you no matter how friendly it looks.

My dog will go blind if I cut the hair over its eyes

This is a myth. He is more likely to have eye problems if the hair is left growing in his eyes causing irritations.

My dog can't have fleas, he isn't itching

Not all dogs are affected to the same degree by fleas as others. The reason that dogs itch from fleas is because they are allergic to the flea's saliva when it bites. Some dogs are so allergic that one flea can make them itch and bite themself sore, whereas other dogs barely notice a flea bite despite having many little friends crawling around. To see if your dog has fleas the best way is to check the skin around the back end area above the tail. If you see little specks of dirt this is usually from fleas. If you take a few specks of that dirt and place it on a white surface such as a paper towel and just lightly wet the dirt it will turn reddish colour. That is because it is the excrement of fleas whose diet consists of blood from dogs. Also if your dog has fleas you will have to watch for tapeworm by checking the dog's stool. If you see what looks like rice in the stool it is a good bet that your dog has tapeworm.

My dog has tapeworm, will my family get them?

Most likely not. The type of tapeworm that dogs have commonly, require an involved cycle to reproduce, the final process being that a dog will ingest a flea which carries the tapeworm larvae. So generally speaking for a person to get this type of tapeworm they would be required to eat a flea. There are other forms of tapeworm which one can get from such sources as undercooked meats and fish. So it is best to well cook your food for both the family and dog.

Crating a dog is cruel

Crates for dogs can serve their purpose. They make an invaluable tool for the housebreaking of a puppy. They can be used as a place to keep your puppy safe while you are away. When transporting a dog in the car a crate can be the equivalent of a child's safety seat keeping the dog safe in case of accidents. What would be cruel is if dog is crated for large periods of time without recourse to adequate exercise and quality interaction with its owners.

Please feel free to add to the Dog FAQS and Myths list by leaving a note on my discussion board as this will be added to from time to time. Or if you have heard one that you are not sure of, please ask there.

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