Designer dogs

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Puppy farm is a dirty word in the dog world. It’s a term used by foot-in-the door reporters to describe dog breeders who they claim are producing inferior animals. But there is another side.

We visited a puppy farm in Victoria. After years of roadtests on dogs, probably seeing thousands, we’ve never seen a group of dogs with such good temperaments as seen there. Not only is the temperament fabulous in these dogs, the facilities are wonderful: 2-3 dogs in each run and having the time of their lives.

It is a legitimate animal-breeding business inspected and controlled by government authorities, and would have to be one of the best establishments for dog breeding and dog keeping we’ve seen.

The featured property allows non-breeding dogs to run in screened enclosures outside, while new puppies and their mothers are housed in heated sheds. It was apparent the outdoor dogs are well socialised with other dogs, as well as having daily human contact.

The principals say they choose their dogs chiefly on temperament, followed by appearance. Their most common mixes are Maltese x Poodle and Maltese x Shih Tzus. Pups cannot be sold before eight weeks of age and for a fortnight after the pups leave the pet shop they’re under the care of the breeder’s vet who takes care of any problems. They sell by the hundreds in pets shops around Australia and, if pet shop owners are to be believed, have an extremely high satisfaction-rating.

The pups are cheaper to buy and cheaper to maintain as they are usually healthier. While this practice is abhorrent to many people who breed and show purebred dogs, it seems the pet-buying public just doesn’t agree.

While this is an excellent example of how puppies can be supplied on a business basis, there will always be those in for a quick dollar with little regard for the welfare of their dogs. There are laws to deal with people who are show cruel and inhumane treatment of their dogs.

A code of practice has been set down in Victoria which sets minimum standards of accommodation and health and care. The code of practice is enforced by local government with annual inspections and it’s said reports to animal welfare authorities concerning sick puppies have decreased since implementation of the legislation. This good system exists only in Victoria. We believe it is pivotal that groups like the RSPCA and Animal Welfare League co-operate much more fully with government to implement these systems Australia-wide for the good of the dogs. Despite this it seems welfare agencies, such as the RSPCA, which should be supporting businesses like the one portrayed, are still railing against these sorts of places. It is an absolute tragedy that these groups are working against the best interests of dogs.

In the good old days dogs were crossed with any other dog which would produce the best result. About the turn of the century a piece of paper was brought in called a pedigree, and the pedigree meant more than the dog. That piece of paper has all but destroyed a lot of wonderful dog breeds. Out crossing them will make the breeds for the next millennium, and they’ll be much better.