Should Female Dogs Be Used as Puppy Mill Breeding Machines?

In a new book we read females should breed many males and unwanted pups killed

Posted May 09, 2016

Should female dogs be used as breeding machines and unwanted -- non-standard -- pups be killed?

Dogs are "in." It's almost impossible to read a newspaper or magazine or watch a TV show and not see something on dogs almost daily. Because so many people are keenly interested in these amazing beings, it's essential to get things right and to give them the very best life we can. After all, we really can do just about anything we want to them and they depend on us to be their oxygen -- their lifeline -- and hope we have their best interests in mind. We are totally responsible for their very lives. 

As I was writing my recent essay called "Are You Ready to Give Another Animal the Best Life Possible?" about Dr. Jessica Pierce's newest book Run, Spot, Run: The Ethics of Keeping Pets, I recalled reading the following passage in another recent book by Raymond Coppinger and Lorna Coppinger titled What Is a Dog? (not who is a dog): 

"Allowing purebreds to breed randomly within the sexually isolated population would be better. And even better than that would be to let a female breed many males, producing litters with many sires and culling those pups that don't meet one's standard, as the pre-eugenic breeders of hunting and working dogs did." (p. 158, my emphasis)

There are numerous problems with What Is a Dog? and for reviews of some of these please see Psychology Today writer Mark Derr's "What a Dog Is Not," my "On Comparisons Between Dogs and Wolves: What We Really Know​," and comments for both. 

When I read the above passage suggesting that female dogs be used as breeding machines like they are in horrific puppy mills I gulped. I thought of something I'd previously read in an earlier book by Raymond Coppinger and Mark Feinstein called How dogs Work, namely, "Some four thousand dogs 'went through the yard'" when "Ray spent fifteen years breeding and training dogs that pull sleds." (p. 25) I noted that I have no idea, but according to people I consulted, this is an incredibly large number of dogs, an average of around 267 a year. I welcomed feedback on this question and a comment was posted in which it was suggested that indeed, many dogs were likely culled, AKA killed. 

Responsible scientists shouldn't call for intentional eugenics for nonhuman animals: To breed and kill is a horrific suggestion

The question, "Should female dogs be used as breeding machines and unwanted -- non-standard -- pups be killed?" is not at all a trivial one, and it is extremely disturbing even to have to consider whether this is a possible solution in this day and age when it's well-recognized that dogs and other nonhuman animals are sentient beings who truly care about what happens to themselves and their families and friends. And, of course, "culling" unwanted individuals is simply premeditated killing, not euthanasia. These helpless beings are not being killed because people have mercy for them. Rather, they're being killed because some people think they're defective and not pure and don't deserve to live. This line of reasoning easily leads down a very ugly slippery slope onto which I do not want to enter. 

I hope others will weigh in on the suggestion that we should kill unwanted "defective" animals in favor of the "perfect representative" of their species or breed, because non-researchers often look toward researchers, other academics, and experts (including so-called authorities) for guidance. Let's hope they don't use What Is a Dog? or How Dogs Work for advice. 

It's a double-cross of unimaginable proportions to give life and then take life as if it's simply business as usual

The incredibly heartless suggestion that we use dogs as breeding machines is repulsive and should be countered in every possible way. It is among the very worst examples of human arrogance. Dogs and other animals are not disposable beings and every single individual should be treated with respect and dignity. It's a double-cross of unimaginable proportions to give life and then take life because someone doesn't like what an infant looks like, as if it's simply business as usual. 

Marc Bekoff's latest books are Jasper's Story: Saving Moon Bears (with Jill Robinson), Ignoring Nature No More: The Case for Compassionate Conservation, Why Dogs Hump and Bees Get Depressed: The Fascinating Science of Animal Intelligence, Emotions, Friendship, and Conservation, Rewilding Our Hearts: Building Pathways of Compassion and Coexistence, and The Jane Effect: Celebrating Jane Goodall (edited with Dale Peterson). (Homepage:; @MarcBekoff)