Good Breeder, Bad Breeder?
Q: I went to visit a family that has 3 cockapoos from (the same breeder) and I was not very impressed with how they looked.
Each looked different; one looked like a tiny white poodle or malti-poo & he has skin problems, the other had short legs and a very long body. His fur was thick like a lamb. The third did look like a classic cockapoo (at least from what I have seen in photographs). Expressive eyes, long ears, wavy coat. However, he is deaf. They had remove his ear drums due to too many ear infections.
Good breeder or bad breeder?
A: I am sad to hear about the family with the three cockapoos. If the breeder is sending people to this house to see dogs she has produced then she must believe that these three dogs are an excellent representation of her program. The fact that she is proud of dogs of bad type (size, shape, coat) and with a complete lack of uniformity tells you a whole lot about her standards as a breeder. Three dogs that all look completely different are suggestive of a serious lack of know-how when it comes to breeding. That is generally indicative of a breeder who is ignorant and likely does not care.
Coats can be really variable in the Cockapoo. That is one of the consequences of having a crossbred dog. Since they aren’t purebred you’re going to see that some features won’t “breed true” (or be reliably consistent from generation to generation) until you get to the further generations of the dogs of a breeder that knows what they are doing (F7 and beyond). But in order to get the very best and most prized characteristics of a Cockapoo it is vital to breed from excellent foundation dogs that are perfect examples of the type of dog a particular breeder hopes to produce.
A Cockapoo should never be short and long/appear long and low. Despite the variability present in early generation Cockapoos, a dog with short legs and a long torso should never occur, or perhaps only very rarely. It would be considered a fault in the standards for the Cockapoo and is a fault that a good breeder would diligently breed away from. Neither the Cocker spaniel nor the poodle is within breed standards if they are "long and low" like that.
This tells me these dogs were likely bred from poor representatives of the two parent breeds. How can you possibly hope to have a good crossbred dog if you use terrible purebred stock? What a shame.
Even worse, though, is that she is producing dogs with skin and ear problems. And the worst of all was the fact that one of the dogs had ear drums that were so badly scarred from ear infections that he completely lost his hearing. That is a major sense for dogs. Losing hearing or sense of smell for a dog is akin to losing sight for a person. Dogs rely on those senses significantly, which makes the lack of hearing so much more awful than you or I can imagine.
Hearing is more necessary for dogs than it is for humans. Dogs rely on their hearing to communicate specifically with humans. While body language is important and helpful and visual cues are also very important, hearing is what gets the dog’s attention focused on the person who wishes to communicate with the dog.
Ear infections and skin issues are often caused by allergies. Dogs manifest their allergies in skin and ear problems (unlike us humans who sneeze, etc.) According to everything I've ever read allergies in dogs are about 65% heritable. That is a very compelling reason to carefully consider whether it is really beneficial to breed a dog with skin or ear issues.
A breeder should know their breeding dogs’ parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles and so forth in order to have a clear picture of what could come from a particular mating. There is no excuse to knowingly produce dogs with significant issues like that, and likely from different litters of different parents, too. How many poor parent dogs are being bred here?
Seeing that is seriously horrible. I honestly can't understand why they'd get a second Cockapoo from the same place after having any one of these first... I sure hope they aren't guardian families who are allowing them to breed these dogs! Please tell me they weren't breeding dogs. Although I have a sneaking suspicion that if you were being shown these dogs as a selling point to get a pup that this family is close with the breeder and is therefore very likely housing breeding dogs or retired breeding stock. And that makes me cringe.
This is a major strike against this breeder. You'd better speak with the breeder and carefully consider if you'd be happy with a pup that turns out just like one of the dogs you met.
Q: I was considering a breeder that I'd heard lovely things about but then I discovered the breeder had several dogs die from a Parvo infection several years ago.
Is this indicative of improper hygiene and poor breeding practices? Should I reconsider buying a puppy from this breeder?
Good breeder or bad breeder?
A: Anyone can have an outbreak of a virus like Parvo. This is a terrible thing to happen and my heart aches for any breeder that has had to suffer through such a tragedy.
There is no reason to suspect this breeder is somehow at fault for this catastrophe.
A breeder is no more "bad" for a viral outbreak or even a parasite outbreak than a person is an irresponsible and bad parent for having a child contract the flu while off at school.
Illnesses happen. Even the strictest breeders with the most careful practices can suffer these horrible losses. It takes a tremendous amount of money and time to erradicate them from the property as well. If you're concerned about a puppy possibly bringing the infection home you should ask the breeder about the outbreak personally. Such a tragedy is going to have burned several thoughts into the breeder's head and I'm certain that he/she will be more than willing to share all things learned from that experience.
This is not something to count against the breeder.