I’m in something of an ethical quandary over here – namely, do we breed to the dog, or the dog’s owner? And if to the dog, do we breed to him, or do we consider everyone else he has been bred to, as well?
Let me explain… after the cut.
I have a soft spot for many of the UK line French Bulldogs. I think they’re wonderful examples of what I like best in my breed – tough, smart, healthy and compact. Many more can free whelp and free breed than their North American cousins, and while there might be a few structural differences, I prefer the streamlined look of the UK dogs over some of the overly Bully Frenchies we see in the US and Canada. In an ideal world, I’d find a great British bred dog, and import him to Canada – something I’ve been trying to do for ages. This isn’t an easy task, however.
British breeders aren’t overly trusting of breeders in North America. They’ve sent too many good dogs here, only to have them disappear into the ether, never to be heard of again. They’ve grown tired of people with more money than ethics assuming that every dog must have a sales tag attached to it, and they treat such inquiries with a deep and abiding skepticism. I don’t blame them – really, I don’t. I personally treat ‘breeding dog’ inquiries with about the same level of trust, namely none at all. If all of this wasn’t enough, there’s the not so small matter of price tag. A good, show quality dog in the UK can easily fetch up to 4,000 £ GB – roughly $8251 US dollars, at today’s exchange rate. I’m sure that’s a fair rate, for a good dog, but it’s out of my reach financially, especially for a puppy that may or may not turn out.
There is an alternative – a way to side step the high price of a UK dog, if I could even find one to purchase, or the complicated nightmare of importing semen to use on one of my girls. I can use a good, British bred dog that’s been exported to Russia. This seems like it should be a no brainer – I love the look of the dog, I love most of his pedigree, and I love the pups he’s produced (when he’s been bred to decent looking bitches). His head piece, in particular, is spectacular, and I’ve heard from people who’ve seen him move that he’s sound as can be. So, it’s not the dog that’s the issue, at least not for me. At issue is how he has been bred – or rather, who he has been bred to.
Stud service is rather more lenient in Russia than it is in North America today. It’s not so much about ‘are you the right kind of breeder?’ as it is about ‘can you afford to pay the stud fee?’ – rather similar, in fact, to what it was not that long ago in North America, when you think about it. One of the top North American breeders of all time never asked for much more than a written check and a bitch shipped to him, and yet his kennel still went on to produce some of the best regarded dogs in recent history. I suppose it’s just different when things like that happen in foreign parts – less acceptable, somehow.
The basic sticking point is that many of the puppies the dog I admire has sired have went on to be brokered into North America. Anyone who knows me, or has read my website, knows how I loathe brokering of puppies. That said, I find it hard to blame the sire of them for the way the litter owners have handled their responsibilities – and I blame even them much less when I asses the fact that a North American purchase price of $500 per exported puppy is more than some families earn in an entire month.
So, do I purchase a puppy from lines I like, and a breeder I admire, or do I refuse to do so because I could be tarred by association with the ‘bad breeding practices’ brush? Either I choose to do what I believe will improve my breeding program, or I cave to the whispers of the catty few who’d make it into an issue.
Not much of a quandary, really.