I have been following the discussion over on Fussy with great interest. Mrs. Kennedy posted about the eye health issues her bulldog, Katie, is having, and that started an intense debate on breeders vs. rescues as places which to obtain dogs, neutering and spaying, etc. This is obviously something on which I have an opinion. And quite a strong one. One which is different from Mrs. Kennedy's. So, rather than clog up her fantastic blog with it, I'm going to use my soapbox.
With possible exceptions for working and service dogs, I don't think dogs should be intentionally bred. Not by large scale breeders or small scale breeders, not with any kind of licensing, just not at all. I place little value in keeping up breed lineages, especially as compared to saving the lives of the thousands of dogs that are put down every year for no reason other than that there are too many of them. The truth is that we (humans) have domesticated these animals and we are responsible for their surival. All of them, not just the breeds we fancy on a given day, not just the ones that are genetically perfect, all of them. And breeding is bad for them as a whole.
Like just about everything else, it's a supply and demand issue. People who breed their dogs intentionally do so with a motive to sell puppies. It may not be extremely profitable for most, but if there wasn't at least some market for it, far fewer people would do it. So, first, the impetus is on the "consumer." DO NOT BUY A DOG FROM A BREEDER. Rescue a dog. If you are adamant about a given breed, look into breed-specific rescue. And, better yet, take a good hard look at your reasons for being breed specific, and for not wanting to consider mixed breeds. Then weigh those reasons against a dog's life. Because if you buy instead of rescue, you are sentancing one more dog to death row. It's that simple.
If you are insistent upon getting a puppy rather than an older dog (I honestly think this is a terrible idea, having taken in both puppies and older dogs, but to each their own), and you are committed to rescue, you are just going to have to be a bit less picky about breed. Which isn't to say that you should discount breed completely--there are good reasons to lean towards specific breeds and discount other breeds, and I think taking breed into account is a good idea. However, if you have decided that of all of the possible breeds of dog out there, there is only ONE that is right for you, then you probably shouldn't have a dog. They are more similar than they are different.
Another thing to consider is time. Often, you get be put on a waiting list at a breed specific rescue, then notified when a dog of your preferred breed comes up for rescue. Mark and I will likely do this in the future, as there are a few specific breeds we are interested in having, and they don't show up in rescue all that often. It's the combo of thinking you need a healthy dog of your preferred breed and your preferred age RIGHT NOW that makes people think breeders are the only way.
Having addressed demand, there's also supply. Why not buy from a breeder when they are so many of them? The lack of control over dog breeding is, to my mind, atrocious. That we'd actually consider breed specific legislation before we'd consider putting basic restraints on breeding is ridiculous. Here again I get radical--I don't think spaying and neutering should be optional. I think that having an non-altered adult dog should be illegal, except in regulated and rare cases. People should not be able to breed their dogs just because they want to. Think that's a civil liberties violation, that your dog is your property and you should be able to do with it was you wish? I disagree. Just like you can't legally beat your dog, you shouldn't legally be able to breed your dog. And the only want to stop breeding, either intentionally or not, is to get the dog fixed.
Obviously my positions on this subject are radical. Most people, even dog rescue advocates, don't agree with me. But I don't care. I think the way we fail to take care of the animals we've domesticated in this society is a fucking disgrace, and radical measures are going to be necessary to correct that situation.