AKC: Always Kept Confined?

February 10, 2013

WIth the prestigious Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show scheduled for this week (February 10th and 11th), an article in The New York Timesraises some significant concerns about the living, breeding and health conditions for many purebred American Kennel Club (AKC)-registered dogs.Unfortunately, as with many, many dog breeders across the nation, even those who register their puppies with the AKC have been found to operate “puppy mills”. Inside puppy mills, dogs are bred for quantity, not quality and often live in deplorable conditions with limited human contact. There is little to no regard for eliminating genetic diseases through responsible breeding, and in some cases the dogs are housed without access to the outdoors, food and water.

I’ve posted about this topic before, but with Westminster upon us, this conversation bears repeating. The AKC does not act as a police force to ensure that breeders are housing their dogs in clean, safe conditions. The AKC does not require that its breeders provide basic veterinary care, grooming, socialization or even food for their dogs. The AKC, while setting the “breed standard” for all dog breeds recognized by the organization, does not and cannot enforce that these standards are upheld.

It is incumbent upon the consumer to do extensive research on a breeder before agreeing to purchase a purebred dog. Potential dog buyers should visit the breeder’s home, see the conditions in which the dogs are housed, meet the sire and dam, and spend time getting to know all the puppies to determine which one may be the best fit. Responsible breeders have only one or two litters per year, usually only focus on one specific dog breed, have a relationship with a veterinarian who examines and vaccinates pups before adoption, and requires references from anyone who wants to adopt a puppy.

It may take a lot of work to find a responsible breeder for the dog of your dreams, but, given that you will hopefully share the next 12-14 years with your adopted Fido, it’s worth every moment of research to find the right breed and breeder. Virtually every dog purchased over the internet, or from a pet store, is from a puppy mill.These may be the easiest places to find puppies, but they are the most socially irresponsible!

Do your homework to find the right breeder. Even better: consider a breed-specific rescue (easily found on Petfinder) or a mixed breed dog from a rescue group or shelter near you. What’s more fun than playing Guess The Dog Breed when you have a mixed mutt of your very own?