“But my BREEDER said…”

I think most veterinarians would agree that NOTHING raises their hackles more than when a client argues some medical point with them by saying “But my BREEDER said…”

For example:

A) “But my BREEDER said that Teacup Chihuahuas MUST get half a dose of vaccine or they will die!”

B) “But my BREEDER said that this breed must absolutely never get (insert name of an anesthetic agent or medication) because they are really sensitive to it.”

C) “But my BREEDER said that it is impossible for my dog to have Parvo because she vaccinated them!”

D) “But my BREEDER said that heartworm disease is not an issue and you vets just make it seem all scary to get money out of us.”

I could go on and on, and I’m sure my vet friends could fill a book about things that breeders have said.

Here’s the thing…most breeders are “experts” on breeding and selling dogs. They do NOT have a medical degree. They didn’t go to 8 years of college to get a diploma making them an expert in breeding. They pretty much know how to watch two animals do what nature intended. Many of them only have dollar signs in their minds, and not necessarily the health and well-being of the animals they breed and sell.

On the other hand, veterinarians have gone to school for at least 8 years. We are experts in immunology, infectious disease, parasitology, anesthesia, surgery, preventative medicine, etc. Every year we are required by law to attend continuing education courses to stay up to date on the latest knowledge and medication. Everything we do is dictated by what is best for the animal.

Now, I will admit that there are some good breeders out there. They are a rare breed indeed, hahaha. A good breeder is NOT in it for the money. They are in it for the health and betterment of their breed. They listen to their veterinarian.

A typical Golden Retriever Breeder will take an in heat female that is “papered” and an intact male that is “papered,” put them together, watch them breed, and sell the puppies for an exorbitant amount of money. A good Golden Retriever Breeder will only breed dogs that have been checked to make sure they have good quality hips, elbows and eyes. They will ensure that the sires and dams they use are up to date on vaccines and parasite preventative. They will have a working relationship with the veterinarian, so that they can do the tests necessary to know how many puppies to expect. Once the puppies arrive, at the appropriate time they will take them to receive veterinary care and vaccinations. They will only sell the puppies to good, quality homes.

It costs a great deal of money to be a good breeder. I wish there were more of them.

The other thing that kills me is when I will make a diagnosis and recommendations and the owner will call the breeder to see what they think. GRRRR. Sometimes the owner will even hand me the phone and suggest that I consult with the breeder because they have “over 10 years of experience with this breed.”  When clients do this I want to wave my diploma in their face and ask them what they think it means. What about my experience with ALL breeds? Did their breeder even graduate from high school? I don’t think many clients realize how insulting it is when they do that.

Imagine if I went to my human doctor. I have a cough. He examines me and tells me it is a virus. I should rest, and drink plenty of liquids. After he says this I immediately call my grandmother, who has over 50 years of experience raising kids! She tells me that I absolutely need an antibiotic. I give the phone to the doctor, and tell him he “needs to consult with my grandma.” Can you imagine the reaction? This is NO different than what clients do when they consult the breeder.

Think about some of the statements I opened this blog with…

“My breeder said that Teacup Chihuahuas must get only half a dose of vaccine or else they will die!”

Really? When I get my flu shot I get the same exact dose that Lebron James would and he’s way bigger than I am. Vaccines are dosed specifically by the manufacturer in order to train the animal’s immune system to respond to a certain disease. Size does not matter. It would be detrimental to only give a dog 1/2 dose of a vaccine. Honestly, do you think I want to kill your dog? Trust me when I say it needs the full dose of vaccine, every time.

“But my BREEDER said that this breed must absolutely never get (insert name of an anesthetic agent or medication) because they are really sensitive to it.”

There are some examples of breeds that are sensitive to certain medications. For example, we have to be careful with giving Ivermectin to Collie type breeds. Some anesthetics are dosed a bit differently in sighthounds. Here’s the thing though…veterinarians know these things. We know because of research that has been done. We know due to physiological reasons. For instance, the reason that some Collie type breeds are more sensitive to Ivermectin is because of a genetic mutation that affects the blood-brain barrier. There is even a test we can do to see if a particular Collie has that gene!

When breeders make a blanket statement like “Boxers cannot have Propofol because they are sensitive to it” they are not basing it on cold, hard science. More often than not they are relying on anecdotal evidence that has been blown up in breeding circles and message boards.

Here’s how it works. One time when I was young I ate a box of those little Valentine Candy hearts that have messages on them. That same day I vomited my brains out. I was throwing up because of a stomach virus, but at the time I associated the puking with the candy hearts. Now, imagine if I said “AHA! People that are less than five feet tall are SENSITIVE to those demonic candy hearts! Don’t ever let them eat them!” Imagine that people took me JUST based on my word, and spread that statement around.

That is what many breeders do. Somewhere, at some time a Boxer that received Acepromazine had a bad reaction. It may have even died. It is sad, and tragic, but that breeder will then determine that all Boxers everywhere are sensitive to Acepromazine and should NEVER receive it! This message gets distributed to breeders everywhere, and suddenly it is the gospel truth. Sigh.

“But my BREEDER said that it is impossible for my dog to have Parvo because she vaccinated them!”

Vaccinology is a science. Vaccinating a puppy or kitten amounts to WAY more than just giving it a shot. There must be an understanding regarding maternal immunity, host response, vaccine storage, appropriate vaccine intervals and risk assessment. Many breeders wouldn’t understand a word of that previous statement. They think that just because they poke an animal with shots that it is protected. Often, the more the better! I have seen so many 6 week old puppies that are declared “fully vaccinated” because they were given a Distemper-Parvo combination every week from the time they were 2 weeks of age. If the breeder that did that knew anything about veterinary medicine, they would realize that they may as well have been sprinkling sacred water from the Crystal Springs on the puppy.

Oh, and the thing about how vaccines are not needed and just poisons dogs and cats? Tell that to the puppy that is dying in isolation from Parvovirus, or the kitten that is dying of Panleukopenia. Vaccines, given in an appropriate time in an appropriate fashion are VERY important for the health and safety of puppies and kittens.

“But my BREEDER said that heartworm disease is not an issue and you vets just make it seem all scary to get money out of us.”

I’ve said this before, but I’ll say it again. Veterinarians are NOT in this business to make money. If we wanted to be rich, we would have gone into human medicine, or investment banking, or dentistry. If I tell a client that Utah has mosquitoes and Utah has heartworm disease, and their dog needs to be on heartworm preventative, it is because I don’t freaking want their dog to get heartworm disease! I am not thinking of padding my pocket. I want their dog to be healthy! I would LOVE it if I never had to treat a heartworm positive dog again. For those of you reading this that don’t know… treating a dog for heartworm disease usually involves injecting a substance similar to arsenic into the muscles in the back. It is very painful. The dog then usually has to be strictly crated for a month after the injection. Not fun at all.

Preventing heartworm disease involves giving your dog a tasty, beef flavored treat once a month.

It is more expensive to treat a dog for heartworm disease than to prevent it. If I was really in this for the money I would not recommend preventative and get all excited that I have positive dogs to treat. Seriously????

If you have any doubt that most breeders are in it for the money and not the well-being of the animal, look at Bulldogs. They are cute, and have great personalities, but they can’t really breathe, they can’t usually breed or give birth on their own, they tend to have horrible skin issues, and they like to spontaneously die. It is ALL in their breeding. If Bulldog breeders all banded together and tinkered with the breed standards, they could produce healthier Bulldogs. But no…they see dollar signs and it is left to the veterinarians to work on these poor animals.

Veterinarians HATE it when a movie comes out that features a particular breed. Take the live version of 101 Dalmatians. The movie came out, people fell in LOVE with Dalmatians, and breeders saw dollar signs. They started rapidly breeding Dalmatians without a thought to confirmation, family tree health, temperament testing, etc. What happened? The shelters were rapidly filled with Dalmatians. It turns out they can be rather snappy, and can have significant bladder stone issues. The same thing has happened with German Shepherds, Chihuahuas, Boston Terriers, etc.

When the Obamas decided to buy a Portuguese Water Dog, I groaned. It was only a matter of time before breeders started spitting out this breed, again with little regard to health. I really wish they would have adopted a mutt.

So just remember…veterinarians care about the health and well-being of animals. Most breeders care about making money. If your vet tells you one thing and your breeder tells you another…please for the love of Heaven listen to your vet! I promise that we didn’t get our degrees online. I promise that we care deeply about the health of your pet. I also promise that if you want to see your veterinarian spew smoke out of their ears, grit their teeth and growl just say something prefaced with “BUT MY BREEDER SAID…”


About hteyler

I decided in 8th grade that I wanted to be a veterinarian. I never deviated from that goal, and after a ton of studying and hard work I graduated from Colorado State University with my Doctorate of Veterinary Medicine in 2004. I spent the first few years out of vet school in the southern California desert. After a few years I missed the mountains, so I took a job at a small animal practice in Park City, Utah. Somehow, in the middle of all of that the teaching bug bit me. I am now the Resident Veterinarian at Broadview University, West Jordan. Also, I have four cats, Pete, Sally, Tommy and Roger. If I told you much more, you would decide I am a hopeless nerd. For example, I am obsessed with the TV shows LOST and Supernatural.

Posted on August 20, 2012, in Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink. 10 Comments.

  1. I love it! I recently wrote a post on the subject you might relate to: http://veterinarydiary.com/unpopular-opinions-part-2-breeders/

  2. I think I would only use a breeder of working/hunting dogs. At least they are primarily focused on the overall health of the animals. I have met a few show dog breeders that made me long for the company of used car salesmen.

    Then again, I will probably stick with mutts…

  3. I’m not sure where the Island of Good Breeders is. I can’t seem to find it on a map. I have yet to come across someone I would call a good breeder. Maybe it’s where I’ve practiced (California, Arizona, Illinois, Florida) but “good” breeders seem to be as common as Bigfoot. Just to add to the “wisdom” that breeders dispense – I find that clients believe whoever gets to them first. Unfortunately, clients don’t tend to ask vets before looking for a dog, so all they know is what the breeder tells them. And some of these clients have bonded in unnatural ways to a breeder and we, as the doctors, come across as if we’re kicking the cane out from under their grandmother. I have found the round-about, gingerly approach to correcting their misinformation works best, if not all the time.

  4. I hate that you are seeing breeders that make those doing a good job look bad…perhaps in your practice the majority you have seen are bad and that makes me sad. As a breeder, I have a great relationship with my vet. I value his opinion and depend on him!. I also cringe at the plight of “famous dogs” knowing that there will be many breeding simply to make a quick buck without considering the future of the puppy. I hope my breed is NEVER made famous!!

    • OH…and I also think its awful that some dogs are bred with traits that make them unable to whelp or breed naturally. That is sick.

  5. Ugh. I couldn’t agree more. I have worked in the industry as a receptionist and vet tech for 20 years. When it comes to the types of breeders that give out medical ‘advice’ (or pet store workers, etc.), I just think “They’re too dumb to know what they don’t know.” I have said to clients, “Ok, you can choose to listen to the guy that sells pet food, or the person who went to medical school. Your choice.” Unfortunately, clients continually buy into the advice that “This food is EXACTLY like the food your vet recommends, but it’s organic and has no corn!” (This is, of course, for FLUTD cases, or dogs with a history of uroliths or renal failure. Ugh.) I was happy to discover your blog!

  6. I understand that many breeders can make you crazy, they make me crazy and I am a breeder. I explain to people that I breed a litter when I want a show dog. I keep my puppy and then I would just as soon pet home any remaining puppies as the quality of home is my first concern. I show my dogs to win and I can’t win with a dog that is physically or emotionally unsound, so I take great care when choosing a sire for one of my girls. Puppies don’t leave here at 8 weeks, they are still nursing. Homes are screened, references checked and each puppy is microchipped prior to leaving and is sold with a contract that prohibits re-sale and breeding, requires spay/neuter at MY vet and states that the dog may come home at any age and in any condition if the buyer can no longer care for him or no longer want him. It is a contract written by a litigating attorney that is fully enforcable. I have a great relationship with my vet and he does respect my opinions on my dogs, in fact he has called me with questions about post whelping bitches and neonates that are in trouble. Am I better than him with neonates—–oh hell yes, I have raised bunches of them, not slept more than 30 minutes at a time for weeks on end. It is a fine blance and you need to find it. But really, you have got to know there are good breeders out there, make an effort to cultivate them as your clients. Go to a local kennel club meeting, offer to do a presentation on vaccines, whatever but get to know these people. Generally, if people are showing their dogs, they will be more of the type of breeder you would like to associate with. They will be your best word of mouth advertising, they will insist people that purchase a puppy from them have YOU spay/neuter it, annual dentals and physicals. My relationship with my vet is critical to my success as is our mutual respect.

  7. You are hilarious! Again, a sampling of your writing ability. Keep writing!

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