Here is a typical poorly done advertisement posted to rec.pets.dogs.breeds:
Yorkshire Terriers for Sale
Pure bred Yorkies for sale. Have had their shots and been wormed.
Approximately 6 weeks old. Appearance 5-6 lbs. $300 per pup.
If interested contact:
This ad is about as useful as an ad that reads:
Ford for Sale
Blue Ford for sale. Runs good. 2 years old. Looks great. $9,000
It is missing a lot of critical information. No one who has the most rudimentary knowledge would lift a finger to answer an advertisement like that. Unfortunately lots of people don't have the most rudimentary knowledge, and that includes the breeder as well as the buyer. That lack of knowledge is responsible for a lot of grief.
rec.pets.dogs.* are discussion groups. Just as with any group of people engaging in discussion there is a culture - conventions that people are expected to know. The wise thing to do before posting is to read the groups for a while. That reduces the risk of posting in a way that is unwelcome. Of course there is no requirement to wait. Anyone can post anything. But one does take the risk of being misunderstood.
Whenever a person posts an advertisement they provide the opportunity for others in the group to educate the general public. The advertisement might be used to point out what is missing. That is the most frequent circumstance. The responses follow the incomplete advertisement because that is where it will do the most good. Just as the advertiser drops in without reading the group first, so does the uninformed buyer. Reaching the people who don't know what they don't know means putting the information in the most accessible location - right where they are looking.
Most bad advertisements are posted by ordinary folks who mean no harm, but are uninformed. They are bad breeders simply because they lack the knowledge to be good ones. They are rarely bad people. Most can and will change their ways when they learn better. Uninformed breeding is very common, and is a primary factor in the number of unsound or unwanted dogs. That is the reason some people get so upset when a post looks like an uninformed breeding.
On rare occasions someone will be post a good advertisement. Such are pointed to with joy. For the most part, however, good advertisements don't appear because good breeders have more buyers than puppies. To see an advertisement that was warmly received do a search in Google using "Advanced -Search": for the Subject line "Malinois Litter Due", the newsgroup rec.pets.dogs.breeds, the author email@example.com written in February 1999 (I'm not saying that there aren't more recent examples, I just don't want to go to the trouble of making a collection).
It doesn't much matter whether you are looking for a pet, or looking for a performance or show dog. The standards for a good breeder are pretty much the same. Responsible breeding makes a difference in the chances of a successful match of dog to owner. If you are willing (as I am) to take a dog that has not been carefully bred, then save a life and don't reward the ignorant breeder. Get the dog from a shelter or rescue.
Since one does not pay by the word the best advertisements offer full details. A good advertisement, one that is very complete, is very educational about what one should expect from a responsible breeder. Education is the primary role of the rec.pets.dogs.* Usenet forum. A breeder who knows enough to carefully evaluate the parent dogs, and their pedigree, for sound genetic health and temperament understands that the information simply cannot be omitted from an advertisement. Thus if the information is missing it is likely because it does not exist.
A good advertisement shows that the breeder used care and thought in the breeding decision. Remember that Ford sedan? Do you think that it would be advertised that way if it were kept "cherry" with all maintenance records available? Nope, the owner who went to the trouble of keeping it in top condition would certainly advertise that fact.
Similar principles apply to advertising puppies. That the parents were checked for genetic disease before breeding will always appear in the advertisement. I've never seen a circumstance in which the breeder did do the testing but neglected to mention it in the advertisement. Why not? Because anyone who knows enough to do the testing knows exactly how important that information is to the knowledgeable buyer. A reasonable advertisement should give some evidence that the breeder tests for health problems, and compete the dogs to get an objective evaluation of them.
Breeding without knowledge is a major reason for the continuing problems with genetic disease. The people in the newsgroups have heard some very tragic stories. They care very much that the breeder has taken the trouble to try to reduce the risk of genetic disease.
Also it will be obvious that the breeder thought about temperament - usually by explaining what temperament they were looking for. It will be clear that the puppies are not raised to make a buck but were bred for making better, healthier dogs.
There are so many dogs that only best should be bred. The best are not necessarily show best. The best are healthy and good at whatever it is they are wanted for best. Thus if you want a good pet you will want some evidence of the even temperament and trainability of the dog. You will want some description of the activity level. If the breed is one that people do things with - whether informal things like hiking, jogging or playing fetch, or formal things like agility, flyball, therapy, herding, hunting whatever - then there should be some indication that the puppies will be likely to be good at the things the owner wants to do with them. If the someone has no particular plans and just wants a friendly dog to laze around the house then there is no need to breed a dog for that person -- there are plenty of good dogs in shelters and rescue just waiting for a home.
A responsible breeder planning a litter might advertise on the Internet. If that were so the responsible breeder would want to give people some idea about why they should be interested in the planned litter. In bad advertisements no such information appears.
A responsible breeder does not wait until after birth before looking for buyers. If something happens and there are not enough buyers an explanation to that effect is helpful so that everyone can see that this is not a thoughtless puppy breeder.
Any educated puppy buyer would want to know the following information from a responsible breeder advertising on the Internet. This information isn't a given just by attaching "AKC". AKC is just a breed registry, not a mark of quality.
1. Why is necessary to advertise these puppies now? Why weren't the puppies spoken for at an earlier date?
2. Who are the sire and dam of the puppies? What about the grandparents? Is there further pedigree information available?
3. What is the health history of the parents and grandparents of these puppies? A responsible breeder would want to assure that their breeding lines are clear of genetic health or temperament problems. Even if the parents are not affected doesn't mean the pups will be disease free. Remember the parents need only carry the genes. So what do you know about the health of the lines? and how do you know it? (be specific)
4. What kinds of health guarantees do you offer on these dogs? As many problems are not detectable before the dog is fully mature health guarantees for genetic disease are normally at least two years. Many breeders guarantee against genetic disease for the life of the dog. What will you cover?
5. What objective evidence do you have as to their sound health and temperament? Don't just say "health tested" or "vet checked." Identify the exact method used to evaluate the risks of each health problem. If certificates are issued provide the numbers so people can look into the history for themselves.
6. Why were the sire and dam bred? What did you hope to achieve with these breeding? Why are these puppies going to be better than any of the purebred or mixed breed dogs one can find in a shelter?
7. Are the puppies show, working, performance or pet quality? How do you know? (be specific)
8. Will you keep track of these puppies for their entire lifetime?
9. If an owner wanted to be rid of the dog at a later date, will you take the dog back and find it a responsible, permanent home? A person who cares about the puppies they bring into this world tries to avoid having them die in shelters.
10. What kinds of support and information on grooming, training and care will you offer new owners?
There is a lot more information the educated potential puppy owner will want to know. However, the above information at least tells everyone that the breeder is caring and educated enough that the puppies are less likely to end up dying in a shelter somewhere.
If these details are not provided, a buyer would do well to look for a responsible breeder elsewhere. A good breeder would be able to answer all the questions and more.
The above details information seen in a good puppy ad, but similar principles apply to advertisements seeking mates as well.
Good breeders are very important to reducing the numbers of dogs killed in our shelters. The good breeder does much much more than raise healthy dogs. One critical factor in reducing dogs killed is to take steps to make sure the puppy is going to a home that is well prepared for the dog. The abilities, needs, and desires of owners differ very much. If the dog is not compatible with the ability and desire of the owner then the dog is at risk. In all too many cases dogs are given up to shelters simply because the owner cannot or will not provide for what the dog needs. There is nothing wrong with the dog at all. In all too many cases, what could have been a delightful pet was ruined by the inability of the owner. Thus it is absolutely critical for the breeder to do a good job of matching owner to dog. This won't happen unless the breeder understands the breed very well, and knows what steps to take to protect the dog.
To learn more about responsible breeding, and how to identify the responsible breeder, please see my breeders ethics page.
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Copyright © 1997-2003, Diane Blackman Created: September 28, 1997 Updated November 12, 2007
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