While the word “Dogsnobbery” has not yet made it into the Miriam-Webster dictionary, it is a common enough term that Googling it brings up over 3.5 million references!
What is dog snobbery? It is the feeling that purebred dog owners are superior to mixed breed dog owners, and by definition breeders of quality purebred dogs are superior to those breeding lesser quality dogs.
What it also is – is a condition that is going to cause the purebred dog world to implode upon itself. As breeders of health-tested quality dogs, we want to segregate ourselves from the people supplying the pet market and breeding crossbreds, and dogs that don’t meet the standard. Yet, in doing so I see so often people alienating the very market that they are trying to provide puppies to.
First, I have seen many posts in the last few months about a new website called Paws n Pups that appears to have scraped club databases for information on breeders. Yes, this site is advertising crossbreeds also which we as “preservationist” breeders abhor. But if you look at the listings for your breed, you will most likely find it is a who’s who of your National Club’s breeder’s directory.
Yet people are horrified at being listed on this page without their knowledge and consent and are notifying everyone that they know of that is listed on it.
My opinion, although it may be unpopular, is different. I don’t mind being listed on these types of websites. I look at it as an opportunity to educate. If someone reaches out to me about should I buy a Cardigan corgi, or a Pembroke corgi or an “American” corgi (a cross between the two breeds for those unaware) – I WELCOME the opportunity to educate that person and to give them the information that they require to make a good choice. I will tell them what they should be looking for, how to approach breeders, and give them recommendations to those I would buy a <insert breed here> from if I were in the market for one myself. So why NOT have your name on there and increase their chances of making contact with someone with ethics and knowledge instead of distancing yourself from Joe Public who may not KNOW to look at the AKC or CKC websites or the Breed Club directories.
And that brings me to my second point I feel really needs to be made about dogsnobbery. There are some breeds I have a really difficult time referring people to breeders for. One of the ways that we used to differentiate ourselves from the breeders just out to make money was that we did health testing when they did not. I have been on the health testing bandwagon for 30 years – testing dogs long before it was fashionable to do so. But now the pet breeders are starting to health test, and they are winning the battle. While their puppies may not adhere to the breed standard and many are barely recognizable as far as “type” – again that does not matter to Joe Public. He wants a dog that is going to live a long and healthy life. It does not matter to him that his dog is a little long on leg, or the ear set is wrong, or even that the head looks more like a collie than a corgi! He cares that he is not going to have a dog become incapacited with a shortened or severely restricted life because it is affected with a disease that there is a known test for, even if the science is not perfect.
Preservationist breeders argue that we can’t throw out the baby with the bathwater and maintain type. Yet look at all the breeds that have eliminated issues, or were recreated by going away from type and carefully breeding back to it. There ARE breeders who have managed to eliminate those testable issues from their lines and gone back to winning specialties with dogs clear of the health issues. There was a dalmation with pointer in its background that won at Crufts. I wrote about my own problems eliminating health issues in this blog post – Pruning the Tree Helps it Develop Stronger.
It can be done In my mind Dogsnobbery is going to kill the demand for purebred dogs far faster than any of the crossbreeding will. Just look how quickly Labradoodles and Goldendoodles proliferated. It isn’t that people don’t WANT a purebred dog – or they wouldn’t give them fancy names and they wouldn’t buy into the “hybrid vigour” myth. People want a HEALTHY purebred dog, and they need to be able to find the good breeders to get them – those who work to eliminate the genetic junk from their lines. So before you get on your high horse and ride off into the sunset with the most “award-winning” elite, be sure that your boots are clean of the genetic muck you may be carrying on them.