Why Good Breeders Should Want to Register and Should Support Reform

By Ron Sturgeon, Founder of Reform Canine Breeding and Auctions (RCBA)

We’ve heard from some dog breeders who don’t want any oversight or any additional laws passed. They don’t support our reform efforts. At the same time, however, they admit that bad breeders of every size exist and they agree that these bad breeders should be forced to reform or to go out of business. We don’t see a way to compel bad breeders to reform or exit as long as they can operate in the shadows without accountability.

We’ve also heard from many breeders who back RBCA’s reform efforts 100%. In fact, two breeders have joined our leadership team to give us feedback and guidance. We’re listening to them carefully.

Good breeders deserve support for all they do to preserve the breeds that we love and for doing business the right way.

If you are a dog breeder who treats his or her dogs with kindness, who teats his or her dogs with humaneness, and who breeds following medically sound practices, you have nothing to fear from us.

In fact, our efforts are likely to help you and your business to grow.

As an auto-salvage yard owner in the 70s, 80s, and 90s, I have seen environmental regulation come to an industry. Generally, those who were most determined to keep the regulators out were either non-complaint or simply resisted any change. A decade after regulation, even skeptics have had to concede it has been good for the auto salvage industry because it has eased the weak, non-compliant operators out and it has improved the public’s perception of the industry.

The analogy between the industry that I belonged to then (and still do consulting for) and the dog breeding industry today isn’t perfect, but I believe it is still a good one. Regulation was going to come to the auto salvage industry, and we had to choose whether to oppose it or improve it by contributing to the process.

It was abundantly clear that we were better off being a part of the process, rather than the government “doing” it to us. It was also clear that the government didn’t understand our barriers to compliance and needed our insights to get to a common-sense regulatory approach. Think “I’m from the EPA, and I’m here to help you!”

Whether they know it or not, dog breeders are in the same place now as we were then. Eventually, they are going to face more regulation.

If you are a dog breeder, what about you? Many dog breeders treat their dogs as they should. The smaller ones actually treat every dog as if it were a pet. They take great care because they have genuine affection for their dogs. They are very selective about who they sell to and the kinds of homes their dogs go to. They breed their dogs only with medically sound best practices. They think long-term about both their dogs and their breeding business.

If the previous paragraph describes how you run your dog breeding business, you are doing what I wish every breeder would do.

Here are the reasons I think you should welcome registration and regulation as a means of reforming bad breeders or ridding the industry of them:

  • It’s the right thing to do for the dogs. Dogs deserve to be treated with kindness, to be treated humanely and to be bred using medically sound practices.
  • It’s good business for the breeders. Following best practices and treating dogs as they should be treated sets you apart from your competitors who don’t follow these practices. It allows you to sell your dogs for higher prices to informed buyers.
  • Even less informed buyers know enough to recognize a loving environment. Doing business the right way allows you to educate prospective puppy buyers who are better able to recognize the loving environment you create than some give them credit for. Once these prospects know the difference, they want your dog because of the way you run your dog breeding business.
  • It’s a model that best serves the long-term interests of the industry. Registration and sensible regulation benefit responsible dog breeders like you, dog buyers, and the dogs.

Ultimately, it’s about making the dog breeding industry better. You can help. Share your expertise. Get involved.   And, by the way, let’s remember the focus of the conversation: the dogs. Too many of our discussions end up being about what’s good or not good for the breeders.


  1. Sally Rosenthal says

    I am pleased to see a group that supports responsible breeders. It is, ultimately, all about the dogs, and no one should be breeding who is not trying to improve their chosen breed and does all of the health testing recommended by their AKC parent club. I also believe that responsible breeders are involved with their breed rescue program; purebred rescue is a growing problem due to puppy mills and backyard/irresponsible breeders. Reform is inevitable – intelligent reform is a necessity.

  2. Carolyn Beaudrot says

    I totally agree …… GOOD breeders SHOULD want to register and support reform. Do I look for it to happen? NO!!!

    You see, back in the late 1990s I was one of 4 Co-Moderators (along with Winnie, Cass, and Doreen) of the Hoflin e-mail discussion group for Cavalier King Charles Spaniels. The four of us were very definite about wanting to see this happen. However, the breeders who didn’t want to be required to do it (after all the tests cost money and they didn’t want to spend a penny they didn’t have to. You know ….. the old profit margin was king!) set up a major fuss and blocked us whenever they could. Many’s the time that I was raked over the coals, called a meddler who didn’t know what was what since I didn’t breed dogs myself, and I was often called “One of the Health Nazis.” I got a wee bit tired of being screamed at by breeders who didn’t care about the breed so long as they could charge several thousand dollars for their puppies. Cass dubbed me “Joan of Bark” for my willingness to take such a strong stand for what I believed in. However, this is over 15 years later and I am in extremely poor health. I cannot and will not go through it again. What I will do is cheer you on, keep you in my prayers, and, if able, send a few dollars from time to time. I totally believe in this cause.

    My own Cavalier, a retired breeding bitch, was never tested for anything, so far as I could learn. She had 3 litters of puppies (God help them!) and was retired because she was so severely dog aggressive that she had ripped open the bellies of 2 or 3 of their other cavaliers, costing big medical bucks for surgeries, etc. They let me have her and laughingly told me that she “walks like she’s 80 years old.” They also left it to me to get her spayed. When I took her in to be spayed, I also had her hips & patellas x-rayed for OFA rating. Well, surprise, surprise, she had moderately severe hip dysplasia. I announced her OFA certified results on the Hoflin List and I caught bloody hell for it. This was a dog which should never, ever have been bred, but because she had been imported from England, they were determined to breed her. This was a dog with: 1). severe dog aggression; and 2). moderate to severe hip dysplasia.

    So, I’m totally in favor of trying to reform breeders, but I’ve been battle-scarred once and am very hesitant to wade back into the fray again. If you can do it, more power to you!!! I’ll cheer you on!!!! I wrote a leaflet about hip dysplasia in Cavaliers and printed 5,000 copies (at my own expense) and sent them, literally, all over the world to anyone who was interested. I often sent packs of 50 or 100 for the rescue tables at shows. My memory is spotty these days, but I think that I turned over my leaflet and all rights to it to CKCSC, USA Rescue for the Northeast. I know it was one of the CKCSC, USA rescues but can’t remember which one for sure.

Post a comment