The Quest for a Better Breeder
By Kerry Johnston | Photography by Kenesha Lewis
When Covid hit, and everyone was stuck at home during the lockdown, a huge number of Canadians decided it was time to bring a little canine company into their homes. Sometimes those dogs came from a shelter, sometimes from classified sites where people sell puppies they created from their pets for extra cash, but many times, people did a little research, picked a breed, and then went looking for a breeder, often with friends referring a breeder they had a good experience with.
As things continued with covid, though, with some people back at work and lockdowns ongoing, some of those former furry friends were being returned to shelters because of the dogs’ behavioural issues. Or for people who purchased from sellers on classified sites, problems arose like massive medical bills from health complications. Often first time owners were not educated on how to care for the dog and they did not know how to be a successful owner. According to Lin and her family, owners of Lakewood Ranch Doodles in Lindsay, Ontario, there are some things potential dog owners can look for to reduce the risk of problems.
When a breeder says they are registered, that often just means they belong to a kennel club (CKC) simply by paying a membership fee. A licensed breeder, on the other hand, faces some stricter criteria. It adheres to the code of practice for Canadian Kennel Operations, standards set by the Canadian Veterinary Medical Association. It also means the municipality has inspected their facility. That means it’s the right size for the number of animals, it’s clean, properly heated and cooled, the dogs are checked by vets, given appropriate shots, and are well fed and socialized. Proper socialization and not releasing a puppy too early will help ensure a better behaved animal once they’re released to their new homes.
A breeder like Lakewood Ranch also ensures they’re not breeding related animals in the same family, since that can duplicate DNA or emphasize genetic problems. Lakewood Ranch offers a guarantee of a replacement animal if one of their puppies is diagnosed with a congenital health condition in the first two years and if required, takes the dog back and cares for it. In researching the history of purebred dogs, Lin learned that health problems can sometimes be a concern with purebred animals who are bred too closely to brothers or sisters or offspring to parents for specific appearances desired in the show ring, which may be detrimental to the animal’s overall health because of DNA being too closely related. Instead, she strives for a diversity in the animals’ backgrounds.
The health concerns of the humans at home can also lead to the rejection of an animal. Lin couldn’t get a dog when she was a child because of allergies, so she’s now pleased to offer a type of curly coat that is allergy-friendly – non-shedding (f 1 b) labradoodles and goldendoodles and looser non-shedding coats (f 1) goldendoodles. Often they go to first time dog owners who fell into the same allergy situation as a child. Lin also says they’re the perfect mix for both family-friendly dogs, and for personal-support animals, thanks to their temperaments.
Sometimes the problem isn’t that the dog doesn’t match the family, it’s that the family doesn’t match the dog. A breeder should carefully question a potential owner to ensure they have considered allergy issues, a properly-sized living space, check on the number and age of children, whether someone will be home during the day with the dog, or whether a dog walker will be hired to exercise the animal, because an attention-demanding puppy, cooped up all day, could also lead to rejection because of behavioural issues. Lakewood Ranch owners expect the future owners of their 6-week-old puppies to come in to meet their puppy, in part so they can watch them interact, and can quiz them on their education, understanding and preparedness for the new animal in their home. The Lakewood Ranch Education Specialists stress that as a good breeder, education is the most important tool to give your new dog owners to set them up for success.
A dog can be a wonderful addition to a home, providing a lifetime of love and emotional support and companionship, but it can also be incredibly difficult for both the animal and the family if things go wrong. The answer is to take the task seriously, and do the learning to ensure both you and the animal can have a loving and happy relationship. According to Lin of Lakewood Ranch Doodles, “They say you can’t buy a best friend, but yes you can!”