Dog Breeding is a Craft

I want to depart a bit from posts on the craft of coding, and instead focus on another craft that is near and dear to my heart. That is the craft of dog breeding.

It is very popular these days to say things like “don’t shop, adopt” when people talk about getting a puppy from a breeder. I understand the sentiment behind these statements – with, indeed, lots of dogs in rescues and shelters, why would one adopt from a breeder? Lots of great people in the dog world have written great things about why breeders are still relevant, and I won’t rehash arguments that others have given. However, one argument that I don’t see often is one that’s very important to me as a software craftsman.

Dog breeding is at it’s heart, a craft. In the same way that carpentry, metal work, masonry, glass blowing, brewing, and many other arts are passed down from master to apprentice, so is quality dog breeding. It takes years to become a master dog breeder. Many dog shows, many trials, many conversations, many litters that you put your heart and soul into, many litters that don’t work out exactly the way you wanted. It takes mentorship to become a master dog breeder. Nobody becomes a great dog breeder without being mentored by one or more other great breeders. One starts as an apprentice and works one’s way to mastery.

Dog breeding is one of the oldest crafts known to mankind. Keep in mind that dogs have existed nearly as long as humans, and many anthropologists believe that large parts of the success of the human race can be attributed to our breeding dogs from wolves to be our early hunting companions. This means that we have been selectively breeding dogs as long as, or longer than we’ve been engaging in other ‘ancient’ arts like brewing.

Wouldn’t it be heartbreaking if nobody ever made a finely crafted piece of furniture again because Ikea furniture is cheaper and readily available? We would lose a piece of human history if that happened.

When people suggest that nobody should breed dogs until there are no more dogs in the world to rescue, people are suggesting the death of an art that is as old as time. If everyone stops breeding dogs, there will be no more mentors for the next generation. We will lose an art that helped to build the human race. We will have to relearn what people have been perfecting for thousands of years.

I’m hardly advocating that everyone who breeds dogs should continue to do so. In fact, most people who are breeding dogs would do well to get out of the business. But those who are truly participating in the ancient craft with dedication should be encouraged to continue and supported in their endeavors, in order to preserve a part of our history.

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