We tell people to only buy from a reputable breeder or adopt from rescue. Let’s see what happens if they take our advice.
There are 72 million dogs in the US.
If we assume an average lifespan of 10 years per dog (which is pretty accurate according to Nathan Winograd), that means
7.2 million dogs are replaced each year; there are 7.2 million “holes” that people are looking to fill with a dog.
AKC registrations have been falling precipitously; it registered something like 800,000 this last year.
UKC registers 250,000 per year.
Of the AKC-registered dogs in the US, a VERY generous number for those that are well-bred would be 25%, or about 200,000 dogs.
Let’s be very generous with the UKC and say that half are reputably bred. Another 125,000 dogs.
We’ll throw in another 10,000 dogs from the single-breed registries and hunting dog registries.
So the total number of what we’d call reputably bred puppies born each year is under 500,000.
To fill 7.2 million homes.
There are 4 million dogs in rescue in the US.
Let’s see what happens over a decade of people only buying from reputable breeders or adopting from rescue.
We’ll assume that the surrender rate remains the same (which it wouldn’t, but that lets me make these figures as conservative as possible).
Year 1: 7.2 million homes, filled by 500,000 puppies and 4 million dogs from rescue. Almost three million homes don’t get a dog.
Year 2: 10 million homes, filled by 500,000 puppies and 4 million dogs from rescue. 5.5 million don’t get a dog.
Year 3: 12.5 million homes, filled by 500,000 puppies and 4 million dogs from rescue. 8 million don’t get a dog.
Year 4: 15 million homes, filled by 500,000 puppies and 4 million dogs from rescue. 10.5 million don’t get a dog
Year 4: 18 million homes, filled by 500,000 puppies and 4 million from rescue. 13.5 million don’t get a dog.
Year 5: 20 million homes, filled by 500,000 puppies and 4 million from rescue. 15.5 million don’t get a dog.
Year 6: 23 million homes, filled by 500,000 puppies and 4 million from rescue. 18.5 million don’t get a dog.
As of year 11, there are no more dogs surrendered to rescue (because all the non-reputably-bred dogs have died). At this point around 26 or 27 million homes who want a dog will be empty, with 7 million empty homes added per year, and the supply will be 500,000 puppies per year.
Within a few years after that, there will be 5 million dogs in the US, replaced at the rate of 500,000 per year. That’s a decrease in ownership of 93%.
It’s obvious that there is indeed a population problem – a critical shortage of dogs from good breeders.
Do you see my problem?
We tell people that every puppy should be a reputably bred puppy, but we don’t make even seven percent of the number of puppies they’d like to own.
And that number is shrinking by the day, as registrations fall, number of dogs shown is reduced, and number of breeders shrink.
The breeders who do exist are told that a sign of a good breeder is having very few litters – people brag that they’ve only had five or six litters in 20 years in a breed. If a breeder has more than a couple litters a year, her peers whisper that she’s a “puppy mill.”
The vast majority of people have never met, touched, or interacted with a well-bred dog in their entire lives.
But we keep saying that the fewer litters are born, the better. And we’re referring to our OWN dogs, the beautifully bred ones.
Anyone have any solutions for me?