Part 2- Potential Puppy Buyers
In Part 1, I discussed some of the reasons why breeders may be holding back on breeding litters right now. The other side of the coin are the potential puppy buyers. Many people are working from home or not working at all right now and have the time they have always been looking for to raise a puppy. Other people may just honestly be lonely and have decided that this would be a good time to add a pet to their lives. Either way, breeders are receiving more requests than ever for puppies.
It can be easy to rush to judgment and assume the worst of anyone looking for a puppy right now. Breeders absolutely need to screen potential homes, just as we always would. That being said, for some this may be a really good time to get a puppy through the housebreaking weeks and get them started on the right path. Before you start screaming about puppy classes being cancelled and socialization being impossible, I will point out that many dog trainers, myself included, have taken our programs online and are happy to help new puppy owners with both training and pandemic-safe socialization.
Reality is, that for the less common breeds there are more people looking for puppies than puppies available. Many breeders are getting calls and emails when we don’t have puppies available or breeding plans in the near future. How we address those requests can go a long way toward encouraging the public to seek out a well bred puppy for their next pet. While most of us consider our breeding activities to be a hobby rather than a business, we need to become more professional in our dealings with the public. Everyone deserves to be treated with respect and deserves the courtesy of a response, even if you don’t have puppies right now. Yes, even the people who start off with your “hot button” question. For many breeders the “hot button” is asking about price first. Mine is actually when someone contacts me looking a PBGV or GBGV, as though they are interchangeable. I’ve learned to take a deep breath and then explain the substantial difference in energy level and temperament between the two breeds.
Speaking of price, it may be time to revisit our attitude about this whole topic. “Not getting rich” breeding dogs has become almost a religion in our sport. As a result, most breeders are losing money on every litter, especially in smaller breeds where litter sizes are usually not that big. Speaking for myself, I can sometimes cover my direct expenses like food, vet care, and stud fee if the litter is large enough and nothing goes wrong, but could never come close to covering the lost income because of the extra time that puppy care entails. At the same time, the going rate for a well bred PBGV puppy is less than half of the average price for an in-demand doodle cross, so I don’t think price is what is scaring puppy buyers away. Instead of getting defensive when puppy buyers ask about cost, maybe it’s time to get comfortable with asking fair prices for puppies and having honest conversations about what goes into raising a litter. Making preservation breeding sustainable for those interested in doing it seems to be a vital step towards protecting endangered breeds.
I’m in a unique position because I am both a breeder and a trainer, which means that I interact with the public and their new puppies regularly. I can say without question that there are great dog owners who own purpose bred dogs from breeders, great dog owners who always rescue, and great dog owners who own dogs from breeders outside of our world. Rather than judging people for making different choices than we would have preferred, reaching out and being kind will always get us farther. Let’s face it, most people are more likely to get a puppy from the breeder who called them back than the one who didn’t.
On a more pleasant note- Happy National Purebred Dog Day!