The most popular dog breeds in South Africa — in the home, and in shelters.

In this link, The Dog Blog has published their findings of the inter-provincial Popular Pups 2016 survey.

The Top 20 Most Popular and Most Owned breeds are all breeds that feature heavily both in homes and in shelters.

While a large amount of these pups will be living la dolce vita in their homes as much loved family members, their cousins and brothers are sitting behind mesh fences in shelters. They are homeless. Or, dead.

The reason for this is that a huge amount of the South African population has not yet cottoned on to the notion that pets are for life.

This portion of the population believes in instant gratification. In purchasing animals as if they are buying a loaf of bread. In fueling the trade of backyard-bred dogs. Want a puppy? Gumtree. Doing grocery shopping and walk past pet shop. Oooooh, puppy! Family friend has a litter of puppies? PUPPY!!!

Take puppy home. Have done no research on breed traits. Have not considered puppy may not be healthy or bred from healthy parent stock.

But gosh, puppy is cute with a capital C!

And then, somewhere along the line, puppy isn’t as cute anymore. Puppy is boisterous, puppy is a demolition expert, puppy won’t house train, puppy is escaping, puppy needs to be sterilised and HOLY CRAP DR. VET, HOW MUCH??!! Kids decide that dance classes are more exciting than puppy, parents decide that holidays are more important than puppy.

Puppy gets given away, or dumped at a shelter.

And mostly, these people have never set foot in a shelter, because, “Gosh, it would just break my heart”.

Fast forward a few months… Grocery shopping…. Ooooh!! Puppy!

And so the cycle continues.

Dogs are NOT loaves of bread. Dogs are for life. Surrendering your impulse buy to the shelter is not an act of martyrdom. If you are this person, it is because of YOU that shelters are over-run with unwanted dogs. It’s because YOU bought a backyard-bred dog on impulse that yet another unwanted dog has entered the system.

Do me a favour. I beg you.

Do your research.

If you simply must have a puppy of whatever breed, approach your local dog training school and ask questions. Phone a behaviourist and ask the question: “I would like a (whatever) breed. This is my home life. Will we be a match?” Get in touch with reputable breeders. If you don’t know where to start, Google for dog show results and Google the kennel names that feature in the names of winning dogs of your chosen breed. Phone those breeders.

Example: I’m hypothetically looking to buy a Labrador puppy.

I just Googled “dog show results johannesburg” and the second website on the list is the Labrador Retriever Kennel Club. Clicked on Championship Show Results. Some kennel names I see: Adamasdor, Oakglen, Craignair, Ablesing, Lambrada. Most of them feature in the Breeders Listing page. There is even a Puppies page. Clicked on it. Some of the mentioned kennels have litters available, with published health tests in place. Next step: print the page and take it to your vet to find out what all those test results mean. Phone the breeders and speak to them. Then, choose your breeder and wait for your puppy. The breeder will help match the right temperament puppy to your home environment and will be absolutely honest about their breed — the good and the bad. Health, temperament, etc.

If you haven’t researched your breed and are going to simply reference a Disney movie, don’t expect a responsible breeder to give you the time of day.

If the breeder elects to put you on the list, prepare for 20 questions as a minimum, as well as a contract (including that the dog may never be rehomed without the breeder’s intervention) to be put in place. And you may well need to wait for a litter to be on the ground.

A backyard breeder doesn’t care. They don’t care about health tests, temperament tests, the anticipated lifespan of the dog, where it is going, where it will end up. They’ll use words like colours, they’ll reference movies, “how nice” and “loving” the dogs are. A whole lot of nothing, really. They won’t assist in choosing the right match in terms of temperament, they’ll let you choose your own or tell you there’s only one left. Probably the worst of all is that most backyard breeders will offer to meet you somewhere to hand over the puppy without you even meeting it, or its parents, ever before. And they will never do a home check (visit your home before handing the puppy over).

Just because the parents of the puppy have KUSA papers doesn’t mean anything at all. KUSA papers in the absence of hip, eye and elbow tests are not worth the paper they are printed on.

If you want to be the person who supports a backyard breeder, go and apply to adopt a puppy from a shelter. There is no difference between a backyard-bred “pedigreed” dog, than a shelter mutt. If anything, a shelter mutt is going to be a whole lot healthier long term than a backyard-bred “pure breed”. They will cost you less to adopt, they are healthy and vaccinated, and their adoption fee covers the cost of their mandatory sterilisation.

Adopted dog: R1,000.00 maximum including all 3 puppy vaccinations, deworming and sterilisation. Total cost for first year of puppy’s life: R1,000.00.

Backyard-bred dog: between R1,000.00 and R3,000.00 to purchase. May or may not include a vaccination. Vaccinations: R350.00 per pop (x3). Sterilisation: R1,200.00 to R2,500.00 depending on where you go. Total cost for first year of puppy’s life: no less than R3,250.00 but closer to R6,000.00.

Current Gumtree ads (copied and pasted) —

“White pure breed labrador puppies for sale. Puppies are over a month old, very cute and in good health. Had 7 puppies, only 4 are left. Whatsapp or call me now to get yours.” — gosh, this person certainly has their pups long term interest at heart…

“Labbies 4 weeks old ready in 2 weekd 4 males left so they going for r350 but eating and drinking on their own so ready to go” — Wow. Pure class here.

“Cute labrador puppies, still cute and fluffy, just eating solids and ready for a good home. Please contact if have a good home for them.” — still cute and fluffy?? That sums it all up.

Please, folks. Please don’t be those people supporting backyard breeders. If that breeder doesn’t care about where their puppy is going (i.e. to you), they also don’t care about the rest of the litter or previous and subsequent litters. Every time someone pays them for a puppy, it provides an incentive for them to breed another litter.

You may love and respect your dog, but somewhere there is more than one sibling of your dog lying dead next to the road, receiving an injection and being euthanised, or sitting in a shelter because their people didn’t do their research and their dogs were loaves of bread. By supporting the breeder, the plight of these unwanted dogs is on you.

*** I maintain a pretty good database of ethical and responsible breeders of as many breeds as possible. If you would REALLY like a purebred pup, please ask me and I will refer you to good people. If your chosen breed is not on my list, please give me a fair chance to find you a responsible breeder. I will find one.