Is it Cruel to Breed Dogs? (Solved & Explained!)

While some breeders get into dog breeding with the right mindset and experience, due to the pet overpopulation, genetics, and overall procedure of dog breeding, it is cruel to breed dogs.

The rest of this article will answer common questions on how and why breeding dogs is cruel and how specific dog breeding will not result in the perfect dog that you may picture.

Should bloodlines be kept pure?

Pure bloodlines with desired coat patterns, size, or possible temperaments are sometimes achieved through limited breeding pools and possibly in-breeding.  Certain dog breeds were significantly inbred in the past which can lead to significant or rampant health problems, such as the Labrador Retriever and the German Shepherd with Hip Dysplasia.

What about breeding for specific traits?

Many people flock to Pugs, Bulldogs, and Boston Terriers because they find their short faces visually appealing, despite it being quite apparent that these dogs often struggle for every breath they take. This shortened-head look is called brachycephaly and is generally considered a desirable trait in the dog breeding world, thereby placing their appearance as more important than their health.

Does breeding provide a guarantee on breed standards and personality?

Intentional breeding can give the breeder better odds on the offspring inheriting their parent’s physical traits and personality, but this isn’t always the case.  As mentioned above, dogs may be more prone to their parent’s disposition, but there are important environmental factors as well, such as how much the puppy is interacted with at the breeder’s location.

Are bred dogs more susceptible to disease?

Because of the limited breeding pool mentioned above, some dog breeds are much more susceptible to certain diseases.  For instance, Cocker Spaniels are known to have a variety of issues ranging from epilepsy, heart disease, and liver disease, while Golden Retrievers more commonly suffer from hip and elbow dysplasia, cataracts, and allergies.

Is it ethical to breed dogs?

According to the ASPCA, approximately 390,000 dogs are euthanized each year due to pet overpopulation, yet people still continue to breed dogs.  While some breeders truly care about breeding quality, well-adjusted dogs, others are looking to turn a profit with little regard for the animals they breed, let alone the overpopulation of dogs in general.

How common are puppy mills?

The ASPCA defines a puppy mill as a “large-scale commercial dog breeding operation where profit is given priority over the well-being of the dogs” and say that there are approximately 10,000 puppy mills in the United States.  Puppy mils are particularly atrocious because the dogs are often kept in despicable conditions with little vet care.

Do bred dogs receive appropriate care?

Often in puppy mills, mother dogs are usually bred back-to-back and then abandoned or killed when they are no longer able to produce puppies or if they develop severe medical issues.  Similarly, backyard breeders often don’t have the funds or the desire to ensure that their dogs have routine, emergency, or preventative vet care.

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Are bred puppies taken care of?

Not surprisingly, puppy mill puppies and back yard breeder puppies receive care similar to that of their parents.  Puppy mill puppies are often confined to dirty, overcrowded cages with inadequate or unsanitary food and water, while back yard breeder puppies suffer from the same lack of affection and vet care.

Do designer dogs have the same problems?

Being that there’s less in-bred lineage, designer dogs tend to have less congenital health defects; however, the resulting designer dog is unpredictable and the breeder cannot assure what type of dog you will have.  Being that these dogs are randomly bred together, backyard breeders may turn to this more in order to make a large profit, mindless of pet overpopulation.

Since they cost more, do bred dogs receive better, long-term homes?

Despite a much higher initial purchase cost, being purebred does not make a dog more likely to receive better, long-term homes.  It is typically agreed upon that about 25% of animals in shelters are purebred dogs with a much higher number in rescues, while on average only one in ten puppies receive a lifelong, permanent home.

Do movies with specific dogs help their breed?

Many people adored the spotted puppies in the 1996 movie 101 Dalmatians and this led to a large overproduction of dalmatian puppies in the pet population.  Because dalmatians are associated with being high-strung and willful, this led to an increase of 35% in dalmatians returning to animal shelters in the year following the movie.

Does having certain traits help bred dogs receive good homes?

Many people see the ways that police and military utilize German Shepherd, Australian Shepherds, and Dobermans, then decide that they would like a protection dog as well.  Civilians then acquire these dogs or American Pit Bull Terriers or Rottweilers, who receive insufficient training with poor ability to control excitement, which has led to many people being mauled.

Do breed standards hurt certain dogs?

Some dogs are associated with being tough or aggressive, which leads to all dogs of that breed suffering from a bad reputation as a result.  For instance, American Pit Bull Terriers are currently banned in 30 countries worldwide and they are euthanized with no temperament test.

Why is it more ethical to adopt from a shelter than buy from a breeder?

Every year shelters receive more than 6.5 million animals that need new homes, while breeders contribute 2.6 million puppies to the United States dog population. Pet overpopulation leads to euthanized dogs in shelters, so by opting for adoption over a bred puppy, you save a dog from the shelter, while also leaving a space for another needy or homeless dog to be taken care of.

What are ways you can help advocate for bred dogs?

Now that you know why breeding dogs is cruel, you can help dogs that are being bred.  According to Main Line Animal Rescue, you can help by:

  • Not buying puppies in pet stores or over the internet
  • Adopting from shelters or rescues
  • Choosing to spend your money at pet stores that no longer sell puppies, but work with local rescues