I guess the first place to start would be with the question.
What is a breeder?
Is it someone who plans thoughtful breeding of two animals to develop better then parents?
is it anyone reproducing offspring because they can?
I feel that a true breeder is the first. someone who will do what they reasonably can to produce offspring that are better then the parents.
The latter I call a Reproducer
To me, a true breeder means looking at both the sire and dam with an “open eye”. seeing the faults that are there and yes EVERY dog/cat/horse/bovine even a car has things that can be improved on.
The breed standards are a like a blue print to what makes the breed a breed. Any true breeder will try and breed offspring that follows the standards of that breed without going to the extreme.
A Chihuahua should look like a Chihuahua, an Italian greyhound an Italian greyhound, a Japanese Chin like a Japanese Chin and so on.
Now this does not mean that a Chihuahua isn’t a purebred if it goes over 6lbs, or it's nose is longer or a IG stands 19 inches at the shoulder. These are faults. Not right for show but it does not change the fact that both parents are pure for the breed.
Kinda like saying all women should be size 2. Like miss Americana.
Chihuahua didn’t come off the ark Chihuahuas and at times you get some that take on the look of 6 or more generations back.
These are things that a true breeder looks at when choosing to use the dog in their breeding program or to pet it out.
Not “Muffy is perfect and I’ll breed her to Fluffy down the road”
A true breeder will know the health issues that are common in their chosen breed/breeds and will study the mode of inherence (how it passing on to offspring) and will heath test if there is a reliable, helpful test.
A true breeder knows,even better is the breeder of, many generations of the blood line they are working with.
This takes years of planning, waiting, work, sleepless nights, no vacations and heartbreaks and funds. But there is no better way to know what you are working with then everyday hands on the offspring as it grows.
So most true breeders will have more dogs then the average pet owner.
A Reproducer to me is someone who reproduces for many other reasons then to better the breed. Fluffy is cute, want to make some money, just didn’t spay…..
Some are good people that don’t know any better and some who just doesn’t care to know anything more the $$.
They may not know the standards, just that it is cute, they may see their dogs as perfect even though it may have skeletal weakness that will pass on to the offspring. they may or may not know the health issues in the breed and how to recognize them. more often they will not health test or even know that they can.
While some breeds like Chihuahuas, are not prone to a lot of heath issues that need more then a knowledgeable vet check, some, like the Italian greyhound, need to be also seen by a k9 ophthalmologist…..
True, everyone must start somewhere. We were not born breeders. A true breeder will tell you that they don’t know everything and that they are still learning. But it all comes down to how much of an effort are they willing to put out to learn to be a better breeder.
Not all true breeders show.
But showing is a VERY helpful tool.
Showing is not JUST a beauty contest. Yes,the winners maybe be wonderful eye candy but that is not what it is all about. It is about awarding the dog that is closest to representing the breed’s standards. (back to a Chihuahua should look like a Chihuahua thing)
Along with that, the judge looks at how the dog moves at a trot from the front, back and side.
By doing this the judge can tell weather or not the parts (shoulders, legs, back…) work smoothly with each other. If they do then there is less likely a chance the dog will have skeletal wear and tare as it gets older.
Kinda like a car with all it nuts tightened down right and wheels balanced.
A Reproducer doesn’t know or doesn’t care if the dog is balanced. They see showing as just a snobby political beauty contest that costs a lot of money
Yes some show people are snobby (some breeds have more then they fair share!) yes it can be political too.
But if a breeder has shown or is showing then just by doing so it shows they are trying and are put their money where their mouth is.
Ok, so we covered what makes a true breeder.
Someone who tries to breed to the breed standards so your puppy will look like the breed you love and the close to the size you need
Someone who understand the common heath issues that may pop up in the breed and tries to breed away from them by health testing with helpful reliable tests. And studying each issue.
Someone who understands what a balanced dog looks like and understand the importance of it. Using showing as tool is a big plus.