Dog Breeding : The uncomfortable truth

Do you want to make easy money and become rich in no time and without much effort? THEN GET INTO THE DOG BREEDING BUSINESS! But if you have some ethics, you won’t…

Let’s get into the fifty shades of the dark business of dog breeding in Mauritius where profit is placed over the well being of dogs. A world of big money, over breeding, neglect and abuse, illegal and uncontrolled sales, dog mutilation for cosmetic reasons, forced copulation, abandonment and death. A business that is producing more and more good looking dogs but with many behaviour issues and health conditions. 

Through this article, I am hoping to spread some light on a business that is flourishing in Mauritius, on the different ways that dogs are being exploited for profit making and ultimately to make you think twice before ‘buying’ breed dogs. 

Breed dogs, magnificent strong and impressive! Who among us have never wowed at the sight of a gorgeous breed dog? Or came back home after a canine show with dreams full our heads to have the same dog one day? We all did!

Dog shows! Everything is done to make us feel that way; the most beautiful and most obedient dog of the litter is brought to the show and exposed proudly to everyone. The cutest and most fluffy puppies brought there to allow people to cuddle them and fall in love. Oh and the big stud!! Yeah the huge male full of testosterone and big dangling balls which shout out loud that his puppies would be as pretty and strong as him.

But wait a minute… Where is the bitch? The mother of all these puppies? The one with whom the impressive stud ‘mated’? WE RARELY SEE THEM! Why?

The dogs are beautiful, no question about that. Smart? Yes they are! Definitely! But is it worth it? Let’ see…

In Mauritius and many countries around the world, there is always a ‘breed of the moment’, that is at one particular moment in time, there is one trendy breed, the coolest one to possess… the fashionable one to walk with.

As far as I can remember we have been through the German Shepherd season, the Doberman season, the Griffon season, the Rottweiler season , the Dogues de Bordeaux season , the Amstaff season, and most recently the big molosses.

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Trendy breeds. Source: Internet

While we see these dogs increasing on our streets, least do we see the same trend somewhere else… in dog shelters!

We rarely ask the right questions when we see those dog.

  • Where do they come from?
  • How are they bred?
  • Where do their parents come from?
  • In what conditions are the parents kept and bred from?
  • Is that legal?
  • Is that ethical?
  • Are the dogs physically fit?

Where do they come from?

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Natural mating

MATING. Natural mating happens only when the female dog who is in heat accepts the male but this is not always the case because like any individual, dogs can be picky too and when they do not trust the male or are too young or not ready, they will refuse to mate.

Business-minded breeders tend to breed dogs as early as possible, most of the time during their very first heat. The parents are either imported or taken within available litters. 

Refusing to mate is not profitable to the breeders because no mating equals to no sale.

In such cases, breeders will turn to artificial methods to impregnate the female. Artificial insemination is commonly used in Mauritius and around the world. The semen (Sperm) of the dog is collected by either manual (hand stimulation to mimic thrusting or artificial vaginal cups) or electrical stimulation of the penis to cause the dog to ejaculate. Gross you think? Watch the video instead! (You will love your job after you see that)  Youtube video: Manual stimulation to collect semen

The semen is then manually injected into the female vagina to fertilize her eggs. This process can be done at the vet or by the breeder himself. Youtube video: Artificial Insemination

3 months or so later, the gorgeous puppies are here… Let the marketing begin!

Sales and Marketing?

As soon as the puppies are born (and sometimes, way before they are born), an intense marketing is done to find buyers. Puppies are bought, sold, traded and exchanged like vulgar objects. Facebook seems to be the favourite platform for breeders who create groups called : Chiens de race – Aster Vender Echange, Vente de chien de race, Vente de chiots et chiens ect. These groups have sometimes thousands of members and the targeted audience for a single post can exceed this number. 

The posts are purely business. The pictures, the breed type and a contact number are all the information you can get. For more information and for the actual transaction, one needs to call the breeder.  I personally called several breeders and the conversation always resumed to the price and how to pick up the puppy. The welfare of the dog is rarely taken into consideration and most breeders always seem to be in a hurry to get the deal done. 

Facebook posts to advertise puppies on sale

  • Dogues de Bordeaux : Rs 100,000
  • Cane Corso: Rs 75,000
  • Husky: Rs 75,000
  • Great Dane: Rs 65,000
  • German Shepherd: Rs 25,000 – Rs 30,000
  • Golden Retriever: Rs 35,000 – 50,000
  • Labrador: Rs 25,000 – Rs 30,000
  • Cavalier King Charles: Rs 25,000
  • Boxer: Rs 15,000 – Rs 20,000
  • Dalmatian: Rs 10,000 – Rs 15,000

Most prices are negotiable and sometimes one can negotiate the sale conditions to get a proper discount. Conditions may vary from breeders to breeders but when it comes to a female dog, the buyer can get good discount if the latter agrees to give the dog back to the breeder when she becomes on heat.

What happen to the unsold ones? 

People always prefer puppies. As they grow up, the cuteness fades away and so does the price. Their market value automatically decreases too and hence they are either sold at a much reduced price or just given away.

Some breeders came up with a profitable strategy though…

LURING PROGRAMS – Under the pretext of creating responsible ownership, some breeders go to the extent of creating ‘Adoption programs’ to give away expensive breed dogs to hand-picked owners FREE OF CHARGE. Let’s ditch the explanation here because none is needed to understand that in a capitalist and monetary system, nothing comes out free.

This is the winning formula: 

Those dogs that are given for free (Prior to a ceremony with certificates, handshakes and even a photo shoot), come with a binding contract drafted by legal persons. The ‘Adopter’ upon signing the contract is bind to do the following:

  • Feed the dog with the food chosen by the breeder (Note that the breeder and the company importing the food brand in Mauritius work together).
  • No other food is allowed and the food needs to be bought from the breeder and there is a quota to respect monthly. 
  • The adopter also pledge to give the dog back to the breeder to be used for mating and they also decide how many puppies each party will get afterwards(or not).
  • Upon mating the dog remains with the breeder until she finishes nursing her puppies and then only go back to the ‘adopter’
  • The ‘Adopter’ is only allowed to go to the vet chosen by the breeder (once again, the vet and the breeder work together).

In other words, even if the dog comes free of charge, the paying starts after the ‘adoption’ is done. Basically the breeder has come up with the perfect transaction whereby someone else keeps the unwanted and unsold dogs, bear all the costs until the dogs are useful to them again… that is when they are ready to produce more babies to be sold. 

Mind you… 

If you breach the contract, you will have to face legal repercussions. If the ‘adopter’ buys less food than the expected quota… they will sue you. If you go to another vet… they will sue you!! If the adopter refuses to give the dog to mate… they will sue you. The breeder’s notary will send you warning letter which will be followed by legal actions. 

Victims of this scam (a wise one I agree) have been bullied constantly, being threatened to take the dog away. You can imagine that 6 months down the line, the adopter has become very attached to the dog and the idea of being separated from their loved pets is beyond frustrating.  Some end up giving in to the threats fearing legal actions while some resist because they have come to realise that they have been fooled into this scam and if they give in, their dogs would be used and abused for profit making. 

After Sales?

There is this one question that I always ask whenever I meet a ‘breeder’ (legal, illegal or just random people who just wanted their dog to have a litter and those who somehow ended up with a pregnant bitch): DO YOU FOLLOW YOUR PUPPIES AFTER THE TRANSACTION? DO YOU MAKE SURE THAT THE DOG IS DOING FINE?

The answer is always YES, I do; but this is not true in most cases. Most breeders do not have a clue about the dog’s well being after the sale. Very few considerations are given to where the dogs are going.

While some breeders demand proper sheltering and responsible ownership conditions others do home visits which is definitely a good thing to do. Nonetheless most of them never do any proper check after a few months post sale. So many persons buy from licensed breeders and when the dog is old enough to have babies, they breed from them and sell the puppies.  

As long as dog breeding remains unregulated, this vicious circle will keep on going.

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The fate of the factory bitch

Since the animal welfare act and the animal welfare staff of the Ministry of Agro-industry are pretty much dormant in Mauritius, the business of dog breeding is completely unregulated and uncontrolled.  Females are bred from as early as 6 months old and continually impregnated for as long as her body can take it. A quick tour at those famous breeder’s place would show you tired female dogs with floor length nipples due to a lifetime of having puppies. These females dogs are too ‘unaesthetic’ to be brought to dog shows and you will never see them. (Bad marketing) 

These females lead a life of misery from constantly having babies and when their bodies cannot take it anymore and they become ‘unprofitable’ to the breeder, many are either euthanized or abandoned. The lucky ones are rescued and saved by amazing people and NGOs and volunteers working recklessly while others like this Pasha the boxer were not that lucky.

In all fairness I must reckon though that not all breeders get rid of their ‘used’ dogs. Some do keep them and treat them decently until their last day. 

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Kaashi was illegally used for breeding for nearly 5 years, she was rescued in horrible physical conditions, broken hip , skin conditions and ear infection. Today she has 3 legs but is happy
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Pasha the boxer was rescued in terrible condition by the NGO Angels of the Voiceless after having being bred from for years, she was thrown away in some woods and left to die. Members of the NGo tried their level best but she didn’t make it.
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Doby was not only used for breeding but before being abandoned, his microchip was ripped off from underneath his skin so that the owner would not be identified. The lucky boy was rescued by NGO Saving our Strays, nursed back to health and adopted by a most loving family ever
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Hella was seriously emaciated when she was rescued, her body was tired of producing babies. She was rescued back to health and happily rehomed.
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Zulu was saved in very bad conditions, treated intensively by wonderful people who finally adopted him and gave him the life he deserved.
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This great dane was rescued by NGO Second Chance Animal Rescue and her body has been used and abused with so many pregnancies. She is still under treatment and we hope that she recovers fully and finally get the life she deserves.
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Flouck was abandoned as a young dog with deformed back legs and extremely skinny. He was rescued by NGO PAWS and is now happily rehomed despite his bad back legs.
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Mystic was abandoned with his parents and siblings without any food and care. They were all rescued and cared for until each one of them got adopted.

The barbaric practice of cosmetic mutilation

ALL dogs (except for a very few) are born with their tails and whole ears. In Mauritius the sight of Tail-less Boxers, Rottweilers, Amstaffs has become so common that many think that these dogs are born like that. Rotts, Great danes have beautiful flappy ears when they are born.

How and why do they end up having their tails docked and ears cropped?

The practice of tail docking and ear cropping originates from the time when dogs were used as working dogs. During those times, the dogs faced the risks of having their tails or ears being damaged and thus the need to undergo these body modifications.

Today our dogs are companion animals and all they do is eat, play, sleep and poo! There is no need for any physical modifications but this practice still lingers… for cosmetic reasons. Very few dogs are working dogs in Mauritius, Police dogs can do life-threatening activities but no dogs really carry out any kind of tasks that would necessitate ear and tail mutilation. 

Kennels clubs in Mauritius and around the world have encouraged the standardisation of breeds. This mean that specific breeds need to have specific colour, fur length, body parts dimensions, height, ears and tails shapes. For these Kennel clubs and breeders, those standards are what define the animals. With this school of thoughts, the dogs are considered as product to be sold and must meet the specifications. The dogs are objectified!

What matter the most are… LOOKS!

Around the world, this practice is being banned; more and more countries have include this practice as being illegal in their legislations and animal welfare laws are taking into the consideration the cruel, barbaric and unnecessary nature of this practice. In Mauritius this is far from being the case. Puppies are mutilated from very tender ages before being sold. While some would go to their vet to undergo the intervention, others dock and crop themselves.

Badly done, these mutilations can cause bad infections and vets then have to undergo reparative surgeries. Some dogs however gorgeous they are have ridiculously small ears which are completely disproportionate to the size of their heads and bodies.

earcrop2

Nature is perfectly made, all beings are born with attributes that they need and will use to live and survive. Dogs have tails and ears for communication with human beings and with other animals. Their ears are shaped to perfectly capture sound and the different positions and movement of the tails indicate their energy, mood and behaviour.

A normal Doberman & one who was cropped and docked

Some look-lovers even crop the ears and docked the tails when the dogs are fully grown up and this is even worse.

Body modification for aesthetic reasons is cruel, unethical and not natural. The reason to adopt or buy a dog should not be to boost one’s ego but to have a companion to love and be loved. Unless the modification is life-saving, no animals should undergo unnecessary surgeries.

Unless it is a life threatening condition for cropping the ear or docking the tail such as gangrene, then only will I do it otherwise I always refuse. As a vet, I am bound to have my professional opinion and it is how I work. It is the same for euthanasia. I never do it for the owner’s convenience. It is only on animal welfare basis and strictly on humanitarian grounds. – Dr. P. Ragoonath – Veterinarian, Mauritius

Defenders of cropping and docking would argue that cropping would protect their dogs from ear infection and prevent ear injuries but the fact remains that ear infections are  common in all dogs , breed or not.

‘As a veterinarian with 32 years of experience treating hundreds of thousands of dogs during that time, I cannot find medical justification for cropping a dog’s pinnas (outer ear). So the choice to crop a dog’s ears is a personal decision that a purebred dog owner needs to weigh carefully…’ – Dr. T.J Dunn, DVM

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The degrading mental & physical health of purebreds

Dog owners know it. Mutts are healthier, the vet bills and number of  visits at the vet can confirm this.

This is a never ending debate and much ink has been spilled on how mix-breeds are healthier than pure breeds. Breeders and Kennel clubs will deny this fact and we understand why but scientists and vets are confirming this everyday: PURE BREEDS ARE HAVING MORE AND MORE HEALTH ISSUES. 

I contacted several local veterinarians and asked them about this problem of dog breeding in Mauritius but as expected most of them refused to talk to me because breeders constitute a large part of their clientele. Some agreed to share their experience but requested not to quote them. 

These are the answers of a well known vet who works  with breeders…

As an experienced veterinarian, how do you think breeding of dogs in Mauritius is impacting on their health?

Breeding of dogs do affect the health status of those dogs when breeding is done too often, that is every six months, as they don’t get enough time to recover health wise. Inbreeding also affect the health status and in general the quality of breed

Is inbreeding a serious issue in Mauritius? Yes

What are the more affected breeds? Rottweiler, German Shepherd Dog, Great Danes, Boxer, Labrador and Golden Retriever

READ: Why breeding is unethical even if the breeder is ‘Reputable’

HOW and WHY?

Breeds dogs are falling apart… Inbreeding and selective breeding are producing dogs with bodiez that are no longer functional.

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WATCH the shocking and disturbing documentary: Pedigree dogs exposed – A documentary by the BBC that was called : THE GREATEST ANIMAL WELFARE SCANDAL OF ALL TIME

3 years later, the second volume came out. Watch it here.

Look lovers & unprepared owners

Who has never seen a strong Rottweiler or German Shepherd dog pulling the frail handler on the streets? A Labrador confined within a small kennel (However fancy it is) for long hours?

Kennel clubs and dog shows have increased the value of pure breed so much that everyone now wants to adopt one. Each breed has specific needs, exercise level, strength, behaviour and they do not fit into any family with any handler. For a dog to be mentally and physically balanced, he/she needs to be trained, exercised, stimulated and fed adequately. A Daschund dog is not cared for like an Amstaff. A Labrador and a boxer do not have the same needs.

This unfortunately is not communicated to potential buyers and anyone can buy any dog as long as the money is there. This is exactly the reason why some breeds have gone out of hand and ended up hurting people and nearly killing children.

The guy who walks proudly on the streets with a molosse that is pulling him would not be able to handle and control his dog if the latter decides to attack a dog or a person.  

Lack of interaction with other dogs and people and lack of training can prove dangerous.

Lets not forget those sad attacks where kids nearly lost their lives because of irresponsible owners and breeders:

Bon-Accueil: une femme attaquée par un rottweiler et un berger allemand

Une fillette de trois ans sauvagement attaquée par deux Rottweilers

ATTENTION CHIENS MÉCHANTS

UN ENFANT DE HUIT ANS ATTAQUÉ PAR DEUX CHIENS DE RACE.

Jumeaux attaqués par deux chiens

IT TAKES YOU AND ME TO STOP THIS 

Let’s face it, the majority of us have accepted this system as it is, but if we all decide that this network of power, money and abuse is not acceptable, then we should do our best to crumble the network. Let’s not sustain illegal and immoral transactions based on abuse and cruelty.

It is very simple:

DO NOT BUY DOGS, ADOPT!

NEVER MUTILATE ANY DOG

INFORM PEOPLE  THAT DOGS NEED ALL THEIR BODY PARTS

NEVER MISS AN OPPORTUNITY TO TELL AN OWNER THAT IT WAS CRUEL TO MUTILATE HIS/HER DOG

 

WHEN THE BUYING STOPS… SO WILL THE BREEDING

 

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