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Puppy Farming Interview Part two

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Puppy Farming Interview Part two

Below is part two of two of an interview with Hannah Greeno about puppy farming, how to find puppies responsibly and what to avoid when looking. Conducted by Priya Bassi.

PB: How has your workload or business been affected by puppy farming?

HG: My workload increases with the number of people that fall into the puppy farming traps. Unfortunately clients with farmed puppies have a long road ahead of them. Pretty much all teacup puppies are farmed and don't live much more than 6-12 months in many cases. So it has happened before that a client has spent a huge amount of money on training only for the puppy to die before training has even finished. More than health problems though, I see a huge increase in behavior problems with farmed puppies. Many exhibit behaviors at 13 weeks that you wouldn't expect an average city dog to develop until at least 8 months, if at all. Again the safest way to avoid this risk is to rescue an adult dog whose personality and primary experiences are already formed so you know what you are getting.

 

PB: Do you think that current legislations on puppy farming are effective in battling the trade or should they be updated? Are the sanctions under these acts effective?

HG: Current laws and sanctions are ineffective when it comes to puppy farming in my opinion. If they were effective we would see a decline in the problem but it only increases. At least now, governing bodies have started to view the epidemic as an issue that requires attention. A very good suggestion that was brought to the house of commons for discussion by the group Pup Aid, was that puppies should not be bought or sold unless seen with their mother.

 

PB: How are the dogs affected by puppy farming?

HG: The dogs are affected by puppy farming in many different ways. Mainly related to health and behavior problems. From a health perspective, little thought or care is given to whether or not either sire or dam is healthy and unlikely to pass hereditary problems on to their puppies. Puppy farmers are likely to follow certain trends in the market such as teacup, brachycephalic or dogs that are unable to mate naturally, causing fatal problems such as organs being too small to function, snouts being too short to function correctly or puppies getting stuck due to their unnatural shape. From a behavior perspective, the first 12 weeks of a puppy’s life is crucial, many aspects of development need to be covered in this time to ensure a well rounded companion dog. The puppy farmers do not have the time/environment/skill/knowledge or inclination to be bothered with correct puppy socialization and development. The implications of failing at this task, affect the whole of society in a negative way. Puppy farmed dogs almost always suffer a poor quality of life in some way.

 

PB: How do you think the puppy farming issue could be resolved or prevented?

HG: The puppy farming issue could be resolved or prevented by a culmination of factors including but not limited to, educating the public on how to avoid these cruel practices and how important it is to do a lot of research prior to getting a dog, capping the price of puppies to make it less attractive for people to breed for money, licensing and certifying every breeder of puppies. Accidental litters are found homes through rescue centers. Promoting dog rescue instead of buying puppies.

 

PB: How can the public be made more aware and educated on this illegal trade?

HG: This trade is not illegal, in many cases poor breeding facilities actually have a license to produce the puppies and puppies are legally imported into the UK. More awareness and education can be facilitated by using the mass media to expose what actually goes on within this industry, documentaries and television shows can be scheduled for prime time viewing, the government can pass effective legislation, prospective owners can take a dog professional or vet with them to view puppies in their environment and carry out questioning and testing prior to purchasing any puppy.

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The Oodle-noodle-poo Conundrum

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The Oodle-noodle-poo Conundrum

Many people come to me to asking for help when it comes to finding the right dog for them, which is fantastic and why I set up the Canine Needs Puppy Match service in the first place.

Canine Needs Puppy Match - To guide people away from making the common mistakes when adding a dog to their life, which more often than not, leads to the dog ending up in rehoming centres, feeling lost and confused.

However, I would like to address the Poodle cross craze. A growing number of people, and by now it really is about 1 in 3 clients, contact me asking for help finding them find a Cockapoo/Maltipoo/Labradoodle/udon noodle doodle etc. I would like to present here the common problems I see with this craze in my everyday work life as an urban dog trainer and behaviourist.

Man creates Frankendoodle

Firstly, let's look briefly at the history of how all of this began. Mr. Wally Conron of Australia worked for the Royal Guide Dog Association. A blind lady needed a guide dog but her husband was allergic to dogs. Mr. Conron took on the task and set about attempting to train the Standard Poodle, for the task. 33 dogs and 3 years later, he was running out of time. In desperation, Mr. Conron crossed a Standard Poodle with his best female Labrador and 3 pups were born. After sending hair and saliva samples of the 3 pups to the husband, only one of the litter was non allergenic. However, Mr. Conron had trouble finding guide dog foster homes for the hybrid puppies, even with a long list of available foster homes, people only wanted to foster purebred dogs. So Mr. Conron asked the PR team to go to the press and tell them a new dog had been created called the Labradoodle, well, then the phone didn't stop ringing.

When asked if Mr. Conron is proud of creating the Labradoodle he says “No! Not in the slightest” when interviewed, he goes on to say “All these backyard breeders have jumped on the bandwagon, and they're crossing any kind of dog with a poodle. They're selling them for more than a purebred is worth and they're not going into the backgrounds of the parents of the dogs. There are so many Poodle crosses having fits, problems with their eyes, hips and elbows and a lot have epilepsy. I opened a Pandora's box, that's what I did. I released a Frankenstein. So many people are just breeding for the money. So many of these dogs have physical problems, and a lot of them are just crazy.”

The name game

Mr. Conron's PR gimmick took off all over the word. The cockapoos had already come about by accident in America in the 50's though had little popularity. But all of a sudden there were goldendoodles, shihpoos, schnoodles, maltipoos and anything else you could think of. The label 'designer dog' was added to make them sound more compelling and raise the price tag further. You can almost guarantee that anyone using these made up marketing names for their litter of puppies is an irresponsible breeder and solely breeding dogs for the money.

Puppy Farming (very briefly)

Due to the high demand of these 'designer poodle crosses' coupled with their high price tag, these dogs are most commonly produced in puppy farm like environments (commercially produced with little or no care for welfare of pups or parents). Some are then sold on to 'dealers' who pose as families in a home environment, usually making excuses as to why the mother cannot be seen with the puppies and saying everything they think you want to hear. There are worse cases of these dealers or farmers keeping puppies alive but near death so as when potential buyers visit they have to buy ('rescue') the whole litter because they couldn't possibly bear to leave them there. The sad fact is, that this is a technique they use to make the money, as soon as those puppies are gone they are quickly replaced with more sick puppies and all the well-meaning buyer did was fund the cruelty. I guess you could say its similar to the child beggars in India that are made disabled to earn more money from the tourists.

Poodle history

The Standard Poodle originated in Germany as a hunting retriever (often ducks) in marshes, swamps and lakes. This 'rough, tough' water retrieving breed was known as far back as 1665 for their intelligence, skill and daring, this coupled with their trainability, led to them becoming stars of the circus. The smaller Poodles are known for their playfulness, self-confidence and protective nature. The Kennel Club advises an hour a day is enough exercise for this breed. The Poodle is ranked the second most intelligent dog out of all the dog breeds, a high amount of mental activity will be required.

Now here's what the above paragraph actually means. The Poodle is a swamp dog. The irony here is that many people think a poodle cross is a good match for them because they are known to shed less hair, in theory making them ideal for lovely, clean urban households. In fact the opposite is true. Even for allergy sufferers, crossing any breed of dog with a poodle doesn't necessarily make it hypoallergenic because there is no consistency in crossbred litters.

With every dog breed it is crucial that you are able to satisfy their genetic instincts. For a Poodle this means that you must provide your dog with access to a swamp-like environment, they love mud, muddy puddles, water, swimming and generally getting very dirty. Their coats are usually unnaturally curly so mud doesn't fall off nor can it be wiped off with a towel for example, most poodle type owners have car travel crates, hosepipes in the garden and a side gate. To satisfy the retrieving instinct of the Poodle, you must play fetch with them, ideally in their muddy, swamp environment.

The intelligence of a Poodle is very high, however for most modern urban families this can work more as a curse than a blessing. They don't cope well with being left alone or left out of activities, which for many families is impractical. This intelligence doesn't allow for making many mistakes. If the Poodle learns a trick in say 2 repititions that also means if you make a mistake twice, your dog has learned that pattern of behaviour too, causing extreme behaviour problems very quickly. This is often why I see such extreme separation problems in Poodle based dogs.

In short, the poodle gene is not a match for the houseproud or families whose members are at work and school all day. They would, however be a great match for dog enthusiasts, those who would have lots and lots of time to spend with their Poodle type in the muddy forests playing games.

Poodle crossed with working dogs

The Standard Poodle is a working retriever breed, the miniature and toy variations are bred to be companion versions however still possess many of the working traits. When you cross this type of dog with other working dogs such as commonly, the Spaniel, Labrador or Golden Retriever, you do not get a companion animal. If all working instincts are satisfied almost daily then you may have a working dog that also excels as a companion. Many people think these dogs look cute or teddybear like which further fuels the contradiction. The Labradoodle for example is the dog type that is most commonly seen in court cases in the UK due to their needs not being met properly, lack of training and general out of control behaviour that is commonly seen within the first two years of the dogs life.

Poodle crossed with companion dogs

There are many breeds of dog that have been bred as a companion dog for humans. The ancient Italian Greyhound from Pompeii for example is a small companion dog very much suited for modern urban lifestyles as that is what it was bred for all that time ago. Other ancient breeds such as the Maltese (350BC) and the Shih Tzu (800BC) have been developed to perfectly suit the role of a companion dog and already shed very little and are often suitable for allergy sufferers. Ask yourself then, why would you cross it with a Poodle? What benefits does that bring? By now you should be aware of the pitfalls, but to summarise just in case:

  • The Poodle is a swamp dog that requires regular access to muddy water.

  • The Poodle is ranked the second most intelligent dog breed and so needs almost constant attention or else behaviour problems develop.

  • The Poodle crosses are almost always produced in puppy farms or just for the money.

  • Puppy farmed puppies usually have many and serious health and behaviour problems.

  • With cross breeding there is no consistency so you don't know what your getting.

  • With cross breeding there is often little effort put into testing the parents health and temperament prior to breeding.

  • If you are set on this type of dog, please wait for one to arrive at an adoption centre near you.

For more information please get in touch or look out for future blog posts on topics such as puppy farming and what's wrong with buying dogs from the internet, purebred vs crossbred and a new initiative that Canine Needs will be rolling out across the UK.

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Puppy Jabs

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Puppy Jabs

Vaccinations

Given all that is written in the last post on puppy socialisation, it is very important that your puppy is out and about at the earliest age possible so as to maximise the benefit of the socialisation period. Currently, the earliest you can safely walk your puppy in the UK is somewhere between 10 and 11 weeks old. The most common practice for vaccinating puppies is as follows. The first vaccination is given no later than 8 weeks old. The second vaccination is then given two weeks later at 10 weeks old. Vets usually to tell you to wait roughly 7 days after the second jab before it's safe to walk your pup. This means the day that your puppy turns 11 weeks old and the week that follows is one of the most important weeks in your dogs life, as this is the optimum window for socialisation. You can continue to socialise your pup all through puppyhood, however after the age of 16 weeks he will not be so accepting to new experiences.

This information is intended as a rough guide only. Please check the information with your vet as timings can vary depending on vaccination brand.

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