USDA Registration
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  • First Basenji's

    Not sure where to put this, so I thought I'd just ask here…

    My question is: Is it ever a good thing to see that a companion dog breeder is USDA licensed?

    I frequently see this from online breeders whose practices I find to be questionable and not at all transparent. However, their websites frequently list this accreditation as a mark of integrity to their kennel. I looked up the licensing requirements (PDF file) for becoming a USDA Class A or Class B breeder, and the results were a bit disturbing to me. Basically, I see this registration as an admission that the pets being bred on site are there for the "breeder" to make a living – that is, they're there for profit.

    Breeders with three or fewer breeding females are exempt from registration requirements, so the implication is that anyone with even a Class A registration, the smaller of the two, probably has more than three breeding females on site.

    And breeders with a Class B registration can engage in puppy brokering and "wholesale selling," which is where we get into puppy mill territory…

    Theoretically, I guess a breeder could have Class B registration because they... raise a small herd of free-range bison for dog food and only happen to have one breeding female on site. But I'm guessing that with certain breeds, or especially with non-working breeds, the likelihood of this scenario is pretty slim...?

    This came up in another forum that I frequent, and I just wanted to get some feedback from Basenji folks here whom I have found to be so knowledgeable about breeding practices. I would especially be interested in hearing from dcmclcm4, whom I know has a lot of experiences with USDA auctions.

    Thanks in advance.

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  • IME anyone touting USDA licensing is not a responsible breeder. You are exactly right that these are for profit breeders. They advertise their USDA license status because many people think that being licensed or inspected somehow denotes quality.

    AKC has started a new program about a month ago called Breeder of Merit to give hobby breeders a way to distinguish themselves from other breeders. The Breeder of Merit has tried to address the many points that people use to distinguish responsible breeders though it leaves out one that I think is key to responsibility and that is a contract that states they will take their puppies back at any time for any reason. On the positive side, it does ask that breeders have been in the breed for 5 years, produced 4 titled offspring, are a member of a licensed AKC club, do all of the parent club recommended health testing, and register all of their puppies with AKC. They will provide breeders who apply and are accepted into the program with web banners to advertise they are a Breeder of Merit and are supposed also issue registrations that show the Breeder of Merit status. This is a new program but I think it is a good step since I have been seeing more and more for profit breeders advertising, "AKC Inspected" and such as a sales ploy.

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  • S

    Lisa is right. All that does is give uninformed buyers an allusion of quality..which it is NOT.
    It shouldn't be allowed..imo.

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  • Houston

    I have seen this as well and it always bothered me..now I know I was right for being bothered..If you bred that many litters a year for USDA to license you, you simply can not be a responsible breeder, doing it to better the breed.
    Thanks for the heads up.
    I am on a list for a puppy this year and I made sure my breeder is responsible and up to date on all the health testing and such. When in doubt, visit your breeder, ask questions, and ask questions on here to see what "feedback" you get…it will be very helpful in the end.

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  • However, one note… some states require commercial breeder licenses for as little I think as 3 litters a year. So JUST being registered doesn't automatically mean a puppymill. Look for other things, such as showing,testing, etc. And ask breeders here. :)

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  • First Basenji's

    Thanks for the feedback, everyone.

    Lisa – I'll look more into this "Breeder of Merit" program. I just noticed that one of the top breeders of Shibas has an "AKC Gold Medallion" for their contributions to the breed. Is this different from the Breeder of Merit program?

    What is distinctive about an "AKC inspected" breeding program? Are all AKC-registered breeders inspected, or only large ones whose practices and lineages are questioned?

    Incidentally, this particular discussion on the other forum came about from someone who was convinced that the AKC does not have the best interests of purebreds at heart, because selective breeding and in/line-breeding from a limited pool of AKC-registered parents eventually altered the genetic structure of the breed away from what they were originally "supposed" to do. So this person chose a USDA-registered breeder who did not provide AKC registration for her puppies.

    I am not looking for a puppy now or anytime soon, but I feel fortunate to be a part of this forum where I feel like I have learned a lot about responsible breeding practices. I love dogs regardless of where they came from, but it just kills me when even the most attentive of pet owners justify bad decisions based on misinformation. In my case with our Shiba, I made a bad decision based on LACK of information, and I have very little to justify my purchase other than youth and naivete, heh. Since getting him six years ago, I've invested some time in becoming informed, which is an ongoing process…

    Debra, are the commercial breeder licenses you're talking about something that's issued at a state level, and so they're under different jurisdiction than the USDA? I thought the USDA regulates at a federal level, since this applies to breeders who ship dogs across state lines (often to pet buyers who have never been to the breeding facility, met the breeder, or the dogs in person).

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  • @Basenjimamma:

    I am on a list for a puppy this year and I made sure my breeder is responsible and up to date on all the health testing and such. When in doubt, visit your breeder, ask questions, and ask questions on here to see what "feedback" you get…it will be very helpful in the end.

    Petra, how exciting for you! Otis will be looking down and providing guidance to the new little one. :)

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  • @curlytails:

    Thanks for the feedback, everyone.

    Lisa – I'll look more into this "Breeder of Merit" program. I just noticed that one of the top breeders of Shibas has an "AKC Gold Medallion" for their contributions to the breed. Is this different from the Breeder of Merit program?

    Here is the link to the new Breeder of Merit program, http://www.akc.org/breederofmerit/

    I am not sure about what the criteria are for receiving an AKC Gold Medallion.

    @curlytails:

    What is distinctive about an "AKC inspected" breeding program? Are all AKC-registered breeders inspected, or only large ones whose practices and lineages are questioned?

    There is nothing distinctive about an "AKC inspected" kennel just that the breeder breeds enough litters a year that AKC did an inspection or that AKC had complaints filed against the breeder so they did an inspection. With the number of breeders that AKC has breeding every year, they do random inspections, usually of breeders who have multiple litters every year.

    @curlytails:

    Debra, are the commercial breeder licenses you're talking about something that's issued at a state level, and so they're under different jurisdiction than the USDA? I thought the USDA regulates at a federal level, since this applies to breeders who ship dogs across state lines (often to pet buyers who have never been to the breeding facility, met the breeder, or the dogs in person).

    Some states have separate licensing requirements. These are not USDA licenses.

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  • Thanks for answering for me, yes, state level. My point was being licensed as commercial breeder doesn't automatically make you a puppymill. :)

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  • D

    There is or was a requirement for how much money a breeder could make in a year even if you had three or less breeding females. I believe it was $500. If you made more than that even with 3 or fewer females and want to sell your pups via petstores, you would have to get a USDA license.

    If you want to sell your pups for the petstore market, you must have a USDA Dealers license, either "A"-breeding only or "B"-breeding and brokering (basically buying the pups from either a person having an "A" license or breeding and selling your own pups in which case you would have a "B" license to petstores). The Hunte Corp. does not breed dogs but has a "B" license so it can deal/broker pups from "A" licensed breeders to petstores.

    There are also "B' dealers who sell to research facilities. It is my understanding that there are only around 10 doing this. The auctioneers and/or the dog auction facility must also be "B" licensed.

    The USDA has many laws about what can and cannot be done which is the Animal Welfare Act. The facilities are inspected but I think it is only once a year. If something is found that is in noncompliance, there is a date given that it must be fixed by and the inspector comes back to inspect again.

    One can now look up inspection reports for everyone who is USDA licensed. This includes exhibitors like zoos, circuses, carnivals, etc., carriers and handlers like airlines and transport companies, and research facilities like universities, hospitals, labs, etc.

    If one thinks being USDA licensed is so good, just think of the egg farms that were shut down because of human illnesses and the conditions of the facilities.

    Not all breeding facilities are like this but reading some of the inspection reports will educate you. Before attending the auctions, I had no idea how breeding dogs lived. I am amazed at the buildings, trailers, barns, etc. that they live in.

    It is not only breeders of dogs that need USDA licensed but also cats, rabbits, etc.

    Jennifer

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