Dog breeding is a widely debated practice not only in the US, but also in other countries. Those who support it argue that healthy breeding helps to retain some breeds for various ethical uses such as herding, finding lost people, police service, and companionship. However, opponents claim that breeding practices such tail-docking tail and ear cropping not only stress the dogs but are also unethical. Dogs that fail to meet the required standards or develop defects are kept in filthy structures, euthanized, or even killed to reduce the cost of breeding.
Dog breeding also leads to overpopulation. As a result, a large number of dogs stray from their owners and end up in dog shelters or remain homeless. According to ASPCA, more than 78 million dogs are owned in the US (para. 6). However, there are still about 70 million homeless dogs living in the country. Nearly 6-8 million of these 70 million needy pets enter shelters every year (ASPCA para. 2). Although they take only a small fraction of homeless animals in the US, most of the shelters are filled to capacity as breeders try to make them function with limited funds.
Despite a large number of homeless dogs, only “less than 20% of Americans adopt their dogs from shelters” (“Why Breeding Dogs is a Problem” para. 1). This implies that the rest which is about 80% come from breeders, mainly in puppy mills. Nonetheless, given the poor conditions of the mills, the increasing number of stray dogs, and unethical practices involved in dog breeding among others issues, the practice is not only harmful but also irresponsible regardless of the reputation of the breeders hence it should be banned and people encouraged to get dogs only from local shelters.
The Population of Sheltered and Stray Dogs in the US
Nearly 6.5 million dogs and cats in the US enter shelters countrywide annually (ASPCA para. 2). The population comprises of about 3.3 million dogs and the rest are cats. However, ASPCA estimates that the number has declined from about 7.2 in 2011 (para. 2). Dogs account for the biggest decline from about 3.9 million to nearly 3.3 million. This implies that there are more than 600,000 stray dogs in the country. Further research indicates that more than 1.6 million animals in shelters are adopted annually (ASPCA para. 4). The dogs do not get proper care thus forcing them to escape from their owners, thanks to owners of dog shelters who protect the lonely pets from mistreatment and killing by strangers and irresponsible breeders.
Dog breeding leads to overpopulation. Those supporting the idea of dog breeding argue that some reputable dog breeders have a passion for dogs and truly protect them. Although this argument might be true, this does not address the real problem of what the practice of breeding dogs does to the already existing issue of pet overpopulation. Research by Henn indicates that more than 1.2 million dogs are euthanized in shelters annually due to lack of resources, space, and an adequate number of people trained and willing to adopt the animals (“Why Breeding Dogs is a Problem” para. 12-13). Therefore, regardless of how people understand the issue, the notion of breeding dogs for sale while there already are thousands of dogs kept in congested shelters is unbelievably irresponsible.
Overpopulation makes many dogs escape from breeders to shelters while others remain homeless thus exposing them to mistreatments. A survey conducted by the Dog Rescuers across 1,038 facilities in the US indicates that about 55% of puppies and dogs that enter shelters in the US are killed (The Dog Rescuers para. 14). Like other pets, dogs deserve comfortable and loving homes. However, when people turn them to commodities bred for profit, it does not matter the qualification or well-meaning of the breeders. If people want to end the issue of gross overpopulation and provide lovely homes for dogs that really need them, there is no justification for the dog breeding.
Dog Breeding Causes Stress
Although all dogs can be trained, they will always show certain behaviors. Unfortunately, most people stress their dogs by punishing them for behaviors that they might not change. For example, dogs chew, bark, dig and get dirty. However, they might not differentiate between a toy and a shoe thus they can chew any. A dog might also not know whether it is bad to play on a flower bed. Most owners often get stressed by these behaviors and stress out the dogs by punishing them unfairly for such behaviors. In this regard, supporting dog breeding exposes them to unfair punishments hence causing stress on their minds and body.
Moreover, some owners lack professional skills to train their dogs on what they should do. As a result, the dogs attempt to rule the whole house by jumping on people and surfing the counter to steal food. The owners might perceive the dogs as disobedient, get annoyed, and punish them for such behaviors. In turn, the dogs get confused and stressed. For instance, an untrained dog might urinate in the house. If such dog is punished it will not understand the reason for the punishment and will not stop the behavior. Therefore, adopting a dog and not train it or even train it might not prevent some behaviors. Punishing them for the actions leads to unnecessary stress which damages their relationships with the owners.
Ear Cropping and Tail-Docking
These practices are inhumane, painful, and unnecessary breeding practices. Some people are used to particular dog breeds looking certain ways. As a result, they rarely give cropped ears and docked tail a second thought. Nonetheless, the practice of cutting animals’ body parts should not be taken slightly. Unlike the US, most countries have illegalized or restricted ear cropping and tail-docking (“Why Breeding Pets is Irresponsible” para. 10-12). Most dog breeders perform the two practices without anesthesia thus causing unnecessary pain. Although some people claim that tail-docking prevent injury of the tail, there is little or no reason to carry out such procedure.
In addition, the American Veterinary Medical Association prohibits the practice. The association says “Performing a surgical procedure for cosmetic purpose… implies the procedure is not medically indicated” (“Why Breeding Pets is Irresponsible” para. 11-12). Dogs do not show to drive any pride or self-esteem in appearance in having their ears cropped or tails docked. In this regard, there is no benefit of performing the procedures.
However, there are some considerable claims for healthy breeding. For example, the practice helps to retain some breed characteristics (PETA para. 4). This is a sound idea especially if such dogs are bred for ethical uses. However, it is also important to consider a number of things; first and foremost, focusing on a particular gene not only leads to the overpopulation crisis, but also leads to genetic diseases in nearly all the breeds. In other words, a limited gene pool leads to more hereditary canine diseases than the dog breeds.
Nevertheless, dog breeding is important for appearance characteristics which do not have anything to do with the dog’s health. For example, pugs have difficulties breathing because they have short snouts (PETA para. 4). Therefore, if these dogs are not carefully bred or left on their own, they might not keep their flat faces. However, not all dogs from this breed meet the standards. Therefore, breeders are also forced to kill some of the dogs, sell them to pet stores, or euthanize them. This implies that nearly all the dog breeding practices lead to issues that need to be addressed.
Ethical Issues Associated with Dog Breeding
Dog breeding supporters claim that there are various ethical reasons for dog breeding. Some of the reasons include the use of dogs to find lost people, help the blind, herding, and for companionship (ASPCA para. 3-6). In other words, some dogs are bred to help people. However, most puppy mills engage in unethical dog breeding practices. According to ASPCA, there are more than 10, 000 puppy mills in the US (para. 3-4). Unfortunately, nearly half of the owners of the mills house the dogs in unsanitary and overcrowded conditions. Dogs deserve proper treatment including training, feeding, hygiene, and veterinary care. ASPCA found that most of the puppy mills in the country lack adequate veterinary care, safety, water, food, and socialization (para. 3-6). Such practices are unethical.
Dogs in mills are cross-bred to produce dogs with desired features. For example, bulldogs from the US and Germany are cross-bred to produce dogs with extreme physical traits. The face of the mixed breed has become flatter, the head becomes larger, and legs have shortened (Gabbard para. 9-10). The changes are made to give the animals expensive faces, emulating the image of a human child. Nonetheless, such practices are unethical because the bulldogs later develop challenges such as difficulties in breathing or walking.
The other unethical cases include killing dogs which develop defects or female dogs that cannot produce. ASPCA’s survey indicates that dogs in mills are bred at every opportunity without giving them time to recover between litters in order to maximize profits (para. 5). Such dogs are killed when they can no longer reproduce. Therefore, parents of puppies in the mills are unlikely to come out of the mills alive. Further disturbing statistics indicate that a large number of dogs are euthanized annually. According to ASPCA, more than 670,000 dogs are euthanized every year (para. 3). Similarly, puppies born with overt physical problems are killed because they are not profitable. Such practices are unethical and should be stopped by discouraging unhealthy dog breeding.
Dogs put in mills are also exposed to hereditary conditions such as epilepsy, deafness, and eye problems (ASPCA para. 7-8). The conditions of the structures in which the dogs are kept worsen their conditions especially if the owners are not professionally trained to care for the dogs. As such, dog breeding is unethical because it causes irreversible health problems and finally death of the animals.
Dog breeding is irresponsible and unethical regardless of the qualification or reputation of the breeders. The practice leads to overpopulation, increased number of stray dogs, health problems, and death in shelters. Although breeding can help to retain some rare breeds, it also leads to killing of dogs that fail to meet the required standards. Therefore, people should stop breeding or buying bred dogs and adopt them from local shelters. These practices will save a life instead of supporting an industry which breeds misery and suffering daily.
ASPCA. “Pet Statistics.” ASPCA, 2017, www.aspca.org/animal-homelessness/shelter-intake-and-surrender/pet-statistics. Accessed 3 May 2017.
Gabbard, Jen. “What Unethical Breeding Has Done to Bulldogs.” Puppyleaks, 2014, www.puppyleaks.com/done-bulldogs/. Accessed 4 May 2017.
Henn, Corrine. “Why Breeding Dogs is a Problem, even if the Breeder is ‘Reputable’.” One Green Planet, 2017, www.onegreenplanet.org/animalsandnature/why-breeding-dogs-is-a-problem-even-if-the-breeder-is-reputable/. Accessed 3 May 2017.
Henn, Corrine. “Why Breeding Pets is Irresponsible. Period.” One Green Planet, 2016, www.onegreenplanet.org/animalsandnature/why-breeding-pets-is-irresponsible/. Accessed 3 May 2017.
PETA. “The AKC and Dog Breeders: Partners in Crime.” PETA, 2017, www.peta.org/issues/companion-animal-issues/companion-animals-factsheets/akc-dog-breeders-partners-crime/. Accessed 3 May 2017.
The Dog Rescuers. “Statistics & Facts.” The Dog Rescuers, 2017, www.thedogrescuers.com/statistics–facts.html. Accessed 3 May 2017.