I had an interesting chat with two breeders last week when I challenged them about the perception that they only bred for looks in the show ring and championship titles.
They said on the contrary, if you wanted a good show dog, you had to be very aware of temperament and socialisation. A poorly socialised dog with the wrong temperament would be a disaster at a show. So there are breeders out there who are prepared to go the extra mile.
One breeder carefully vets every single potential owner and then encourages them to interact with their pups from as early an age as possible even holding puppy parties for everyone.
When it comes to the accusation that the narrow genetic pool of pedigree breeding had created serious health problems in many breeds, they pointed out that a lot of research is being done into genetics today and problems like hip dysplasia had almost disappeared from certain breeds. They argued that good pedigree breeders are very conscious of genetics, health, temperament, socialisation and habituation especially if they wanted a winning show dog.
But a behaviourist pointed out that these type of breeders are rare. They contribute perhaps 2% to the overall dog population whilst the rest are from random or backyard breeders, pet shops and puppy mills. Then there are the thousand of rescue animals where there is blatant disregard or ignorance about these issues and many are the product of human neglect or cruelty.
It is these dogs that behaviourists and instructors have to deal with on a daily basis.