Why be Ethical?
Is it the Breeder or the Buyer's Responsibility?
© Jann L. Bach 2008
"A man is truly ethical only when he obeys
the compulsion to help all life which he is able to assist, and
shrinks from injuring anything that lives."
Author: Albert Schweitzer
When the subject of dog breeding is discussed there is, perhaps,
no one word that comes up more often than "ethics". Ethics are
relevant to all kinds of animal breeding, but it is probably more
important when spoken of in terms of dogs than any other animal.
Our relationship with our dogs is unique in the entire animal
world. Dogs are not livestock and neither are they independent
companions. We tend to form a deep and lasting bond with dogs that
transcends most relationships other than that between humans. (And
sometimes it transcends even that.) So of all the things we might
bring into our lives, our dogs require a unique degree of trust
in those who provide them to us, and responsibility on the part
of those who own them.
Breeding to reasonable and ethical standards.
When breeders undertake to make breeding decisions, and the result
is that we bring new lives into the world, we must be responsible
for our decisions. We owe it to the dogs to establish and maintain
high and reasonable ethical standards to ensure that we give them
a chance at a good and healthy life. Since our responsibility begins
in how we breed them, here are some of the basics that define an
ethical Tibetan Mastiff breeder.
- Because of the high value that most individuals place on the
relationship with dogs, buyers want breeders to provide them
with the finest, healthiest dog available.
To breed healthy dogs, breeders must start with healthy dogs.
We do appropriate and extensive health testing and weed out questionable
breeding animals no matter how much we may want to include them.
We never make or accept excuses for breeding dogs that are not
healthy. While breeders cannot guarantee that every puppy will
remain healthy, breeders can guarantee that we have done all that
is humanly possible to ensure the health of that dog. We can guarantee
that if that dog proves to be genetically unhealthy, we will stand
behind that dog with a replacement, a refund or some other mutually
agreed upon remedy.
- Buyers want owners to be breeding only the "best" dogs so we
should feel an obligation to choose those dogs. We don't use
dogs in our breeding program just because we own them, or because
they live nearby.
- Principled breeders do not accept "accidental breedings" or
breeding immature Tibetan Mastiffs as the norm.
- We seek always to improve the breed by thinking of the good
of individual dogs before we think of our own needs or our pocketbooks.
We don't breed Tibetan Mastiffs just to breed but have a goal
in mind. That goal is NEVER just to make money. Puppy millers breed
to make money; ethical Tibetan Mastiff breeders combine pedigrees
and dogs to strengthen and improve the breed's gene pool.
A Tibetan Mastiff breeder's responsibility also extends to how
we sell or place our puppies.
- We take a personal interest in where each puppy goes.
Potential owners need to be thoroughly screened to determine whether
a Tibetan Mastiff is the appropriate breed for that person or family,
their expectations, their potential home and lifestyle. It is our
responsibility to ensure that homes are as good as we can find.
Oftentimes it can mean that tough decisions are made and a breeder
must be able to say "No".
- Should a sale or placement take place, we ensure that new owners
are armed with all the help and information they will need.
Since this is a lifetime commitment, this phase lasts long after
the check clears the bank. This commitment means that we are there
to provide support, information and stand behind every dog we sell.
- If there are not readily available good homes, or healthy individuals
to breed, it is our responsibility NOT to breed at all.
Why a breeder should be searching for that "ethical" buyer.
While I've pointed out some of the elements that help to define
an ethical breeder, buyers need to realize that selling a dog to
someone is a two-way street. It is a relationship between buyer
and seller that is unlike most other retail relationships. With
most commodities, purchasers who want a cheap item will pay less
for it and expect less of it. But just as the potential owner is
asking more of the breeder than merely providing a commodity, the
Tibetan Mastiff breeders expects a higher degree of commitment
from the buyer than from almost any other buyer/seller relationship.
- Aided by a knowledgeable breeder, it is the buyer's responsibility
to honestly determine whether a Tibetan Mastiff will fit into
Choosing a dog and forcing it to live in a style inappropriate
to its mental and physical needs is not ethical. This breed was
developed over time to serve in a guardian capacity so looking
to buy a Tibetan Mastiff puppy because it is "pretty" or "big" are
not adequate reasons for choosing this breed.
- It is the buyer who will bear the day-to-day responsibility
for the dog, and the buyer must be willing, able and informed.
The buyer has a further obligation to commit as the primary caregiver
for the dog for the dog's lifetime. The buyer owes it to the dog
to provide for that animal appropriately and humanely, to consider
that the dog is more than just a shiny new toy, to realize that
this dog is a living and evolving being with daily needs.
Why it matters that you BE an ethical buyer.
- An ethical buyer plays an integral part in weeding out unethical
breeders. By insisting to only work with and purchase from ethical
breeders, buyers help to eliminate puppy millers and other unscrupulous
Ethical buyers support ethical breeders and they help all dogs
to be happier and healthier by eliminating the market for poorly
bred dogs. So long as there is a market for cheaply bred, inexpensive,
mass produced dogs, there will be unethical people willing to breed
and buy them. While ethical breeders do not contribute to this
market, they cannot stop it. Only ethical buyers can. The reality
is that no ethical breeders' group can force a breeder to be ethical.
No one can dictate to another how he or she must breed or keep
their dogs. But if buyers refuse to buy from unethical breeders,
they will go out of business and a great many dogs and peoples'
lives will be better for it.
So why be ethical, either as a breeder or as a buyer? The simple
reason is primarily for the dogs themselves. Since we as human
beings each play our part in bringing Tibetan Mastiff puppies into
the world and we are ultimately responsible for caring for them
throughout their lives, it falls on both the buyer and the breeder
to act in ethical ways toward those dogs and toward each other.
It is a collaborative effort by both and, if well-suited, will
result in a lifetime of joy for all involved.
Printable PDF Version
You may also find the following articles helpful:
Other Helpful Articles About the Breed
Top of Document