The Dog Journal

Panel Discussion:

Being Breed Specific

Only one breed of dogs? Really? Why would someone do that? Let me ask “Why Not”?

The Dog Journal April/ May 2023


We’ve reached out to a number of breeders that are breed specific, and listen to what they have to say! Seems like there’s a list of benefits that they are experiencing, not to mention the fact that according to a survey we’ve done recently showing that 51%of potential puppy buyers think being breed specific is very important. May I challenge you to do some research and find the breed that you really love, the breed that makes you smile, makes you want to do what it takes to better the breed. This passion alone can give you the motivation it takes to become a better breeder!

Expert Advice Provided by:

The owners at PuppyLove believe there is beauty in imperfection, and an ordinary life can be extraordinary if all things are done in love. For ten years, they have been working toward their goal of raising conformationally correct, genetically perfect dachshunds with that classic big-dog, humorous, and outgoing personality. At PuppyLove, it is the small things, including the short and long ones, that bring them joy.

Mel Stoltzfus specializes in the loyal breed, Akitas. Mel has been breeding Akitas for years, and his passion for the breed and his commitment to bettering it have brought him success and a line of Akitas that have produced some amazing stock and affectionate and loving family companions. Mel’s goal is to breed stocky, heavy boned Akitas, with all black masks on broad heads with triangle shaped ears and short snouts (This is called a “Bear Head”) and through careful dedication, works to ensure all of his puppies have the best original Akita quality.

Michael Glass, from APRI, also a dedicated Newfoundland breeder, gives great insight into this Panel Discussion, Being Breed Specific. Michael has done a tremendous amount of work for the dog breeding industry, and is possibly best known for the amazing conference calls he coordinates.

Gabriel Helmuth, with Perfect Match Poodles, specializes in breeding Miniature and Moyen Poodles that are correct, friendly, and well socialized. Gabe and the team seek to continuously improve their best breeding practices, and are certified with the Canine Care Certified program. Dog and puppy enrichment and socialization, ethical breeding practices, and great customer service is what they strive to offer.

Two dogs are looking forward. The dogs have detected something interesting.

From your perspective, what are the advantages of being a breed specific breeder, versus having multiple breeds?

PLD: One of our visions for our family-owned, dachshund business is handing it down to our daughters someday and knowing that they will realize, fully, the love and labor we poured into it. We want them to feel the tangible joy of having customers who come back for their second (or third or fourth!) dachshund. If you skip from the popular breed to the next top-selling-atthe- moment breed, chances are, if you have a customer who adopted a Chiahaua puppy from you years ago, they want to add another one to their family, and you explain that you currently don’t raise Chihuahua’s anymore, but your Great Dane puppies are ready for adoption now, you probably won’t make that repeat sale. 

GH: There are many advantages to being breed specific and I feel very strongly about this. I will mention only a few of the reasons I feel this way. For one, you get to work with dogs you really like and care about every day. You won’t have a breed that gives you a lot of headaches, because you love the breed! This love for your breed will make you successful no matter what you may encounter. I do not say this lightly, I believe it to be absolutely true. Another thing I believe to be important is you can design your kennel for your breed, making chores and caring for your dogs is a lot easier. 

MKS: Being breed specific allows you to go in depth with learning about the breed you have. This can help you put more of your time and efforts into the bettering of this breed, something that is almost impossible if you have 4 or 5 breeds. You can even set up your playgrounds, exercising equipment, and normal day of life around this breed to reinforce specific skills for them.


MG: The public opinion may not agree that a breeder can responsibly and effectively raise multiple breeds. Advantages come from the buyer’s perspective, as this can be a marketing platform. The public’s perception is that if you dedicate yourself to a breed or two, you will be better at what you do than someone else that is in care of many breeds. Perception is often reality. It also depends on the combination of breeds that may make you acceptable in the buyer’s perspective. A breeder with St Bernards and Newfoundlands may be more accepted for their knowledge and expertise in both breeds opposed to another breeder that may have two very different breeds, for example, Yorkies and Bulldogs. Be the best at what you have, not compromising on any of the knowledge you would have on any breed.

How would you suggest a breeder find the breed of dog that is the right fit for him or her?

PLD: Researching and finding that breed that just lights up your heart! If walking into your kennel and playing with a litter of your 8-weekold puppies doesn’t make you smile, you’ve picked the wrong breed. Do not decide to raise French Bulldogs because you read an ad in your local paper advertising Frenchie puppies for sale for $5000. Decide to raise Frenchies only if you love their funny sense of humor, stubborn ways, and the snuffly, wrinkly way they breathe. Fall in love with a breed and then learn every single thing you can about them. Adopt only one or two puppies of your favorite breed and learn to know them as they grow. Raise one litter and then several litters more before investing in better, more expensive bloodlines. Yes, it takes a long time, at least a year or two, but it’s true, all good things take time. At the end, you’ll have moms and dads, grandparents, aunts, uncles, and siblings from your favorite breed that are genetically tested, with personality traits and a confirmation that are perfectly correct for the breed you’ve chosen. 

Portrait of three black labradors looking in same direction

Being honest, careful, transparent, and loyal to the breed you are raising will help you shine and set you apart as a special kind of breeder in this industry called dog-breeding.

GH: I would suggest find the breeds you think are attractive, then do your research on the breeds to see what would fit you best. Take your time, talk with people who are knowledgeable of these breeds. Remember, you must have a breed you can love even when things go wrong or puppy sales are slow. One valuable source of information is the Complete Dog Book from AKC. It has a lot of information on all the different AKC recognized breeds.

MKS: I think most of us picture a certain dog. We might not even realize what breed we picture, but when we think of a dog, we think of certain traits. For example, some of us might think of a dog as a hunting companion, or some as a working farm dog, some as sports or hiking companions, and others are looking for that cuddly loving lap dog. There are always more things to consider as well, but if the breed fits the bill in terms of what you have always thought of as the perfect dog, that will give you more passion to truly take time and care about the dogs, the breed, and the traits that make your breed number one.

MG: Stick with the breed you love. You may ask, “How do know which breed I love?” Regardless of the pros and cons of any breed, if it is a breed you love, the challenges will not bother you. You and your buyers will equally embrace any of that breed’s challenges as a positive. I tell families that the characteristics that make you want a Newfie are the same characteristics that would turn you away. And really, this is a common question that I get asked a lot, and after 45 years I still do not have the perfect answer. But the breed(s) you love will call out to you, and when that happens, do your research about that breed and learn all you can. Talk to other breeders or breed owners. It may be a couple of different breeds. This could arise from a multiple of experiences from childhood to adulthood, good and bad.

Does being a breed specific breeder offer any kind of advantage when selling a puppy, and how important do you think it is to your customers?

PLD: In 2013, when we were brand-new to the business, we added a basset hound girl or two to our dog family. They look like overgrown dachshunds, carry a lot of similar traits, and we thought we were in love with the hounddog type of dog. When we raised that first litter, we discovered that people coming to buy dachshund puppies weren’t interested in basset puppies and basset customers wouldn’t give a second glance at our adorable little dachshund puppies! We found quickly that if you are not passionate about the puppies you are raising, your customers will figure that out from the first moment. Believe it or not, people can spot a fake quickly and we learned that the hard way when we tried selling basset puppies while our heart was with our favorite dachshunds. If you are knowledgeable, passionate, and loyal to the breed you are raising, you are taking the first step to setting yourself up for a successful puppy sale. 

According to a recent study done by The Dog Journal, 51% of potential puppy buyers think it’s very important to specialize in one breed. Most people want you to educate them on the breed, what their requirements are, etc. If you have a passion for the breed you’re raising, you’ll take more interest in possible genetic disorders, traits, habits, temperaments etc. for that specific breed. Customers don’t buy what you do, they buy why you do it. This I find so true in this industry!

Friendly animals. Woman is with two golden retriever dogs at home.

GH: If you are retailing your puppies, being breed specific is a big plus. I know from experience that it carries a lot of weight with potential buyers, especially if those buyers are breeders. It may take some time, but you will eventually be known for the breed you raise. If someone is looking for your breed, you will be the first person that will go to. For example, when I started looking for poodles, I first searched for breed specific breeders that were raising the kind of poodles I find appealing. It took some time and I had to wait until those breeders had puppies available for me, but I got what I wanted. Most of our customers are poodle lovers which gives us an instant connection. Being able to connect is very important when you are retailing puppies. You make connections and build lasting relationships centered around your breed. 

Think about it, who would you want to buy a puppy from, given two choices? Would you buy from the multiple breed breeder who has been raising this breed for three years, or would you buy from the breed specific breeder that has been breeding this breed for 10+ years. The latter breeder probably started his breeding program with your puppy’s great-grandmother and he knows everything about every dog in your puppy’s entire pedigree.

MKS: 100% Yes. Prospective families ask tons of questions about the breed, and having multiple breeds does not allow you to go in depth on any one particular breed. I almost always get asked why I have this breed and what I love about them. If you got into the breed because it was popular etc., that’ll turn away your customers quickly. I also ask them about their experiences with the breed and we get to swap ideas and stories. This helps the passion to continue! It also helps with referrals and repeats. I have 1 family that just got their 3rd puppy from me. Their oldest Akita just passed away and he was from my 2nd litter! For the passionate breed specific buyers, being a breed specific breeder is a must. It will help them decide if they are going to come meet your puppies or not. This group of people loyal to the breed families are very knowledgeable about the breed and will ask you everything they know to gain the confidence that you know all about the breed as well. (I don’t think any of us want someone building a house or barn that when asked construction questions, is unsure on the answer.) Again, they can see if you are passionate or not.

MG: Although you may have amazing wisdom about multiple breeds, public opinion may overshadow that. Buyers want to see that you are committed to the perfection of that breed, its needs, its benefits, and its heartaches. Buyers like transparency and the TRUTH, good or bad. Buyers want to experience your knowledge of the breed as well as every other aspect of caring for a puppy. 

And although I personally feel someone can be an expert in multiple breeds, I do benefit from only having one breed. Many buyers have commented on the idea that they wanted someone who shows the commitment to only one breed. However, I do know many breeders that are quite successful with multiple breeds, but some of those particular breeders do promote that, again it depends on the multiple breeds you have. 

Years ago, there was a dog breed book company that published individual books on many different breeds. I remember looking through these books and noticing that 98% of the book was exactly like each other book. And, only 2 to 3 pages were actually about that specific breed. This is too detailed to try to explain to every pet owner, they could not care and most would not understand. It goes back to be the best you can be, don’t compromise your knowledge and public opinion.

Two Longhair Chihuahua  dog in green summer grass

What made you choose the breed of dog you’re currently breeding?

PLD: When I was 11, my dad bought a little red dachshund girl for my mom’s birthday. Only, it wasn’t her dog at all. Within days, that little red dachshund girl was shadowing my footsteps everywhere I went, including up the stairs at bedtime. When I was 17, my first litter of dachshund puppies were born. To this day, when I deliver a new litter of dachshund babies, I am transported back to the delight and anticipation, the actual magic of my first litter of dachshund puppies born in that clean, sweet-smelling straw. When I married at 19, I brought a dachshund along to the marriage and thankfully my husband grew to love the dogs that are a half-a-dog-high and a dog-anda- half-long as much as I do! We are entering our 10th year of being in this industry and the mistakes we made and the hard lessons learned just pale in comparison to the joy we feel everyday when we’re surrounded by a breed that just delights us.

GH: I have always been attracted to poodles. To me there are a one-of-a-kind breed. They have many unique and outstanding traits. They have a certain regal elegance that defines them. They are extremely smart, and have that coveted hypoallergenic haircare which has given rise to the many poodle cross designer breeds. Their beauty, intelligence, and individual personalities are essentially what hooked me.

MKS: I had the privilege of growing up with Akitas, which makes it tough for me to remember for sure when I decided this was the breed I wanted to continue building its legacy. I’ve always been intrigued by the story of Hachiko, who even after his master passed away, continued waiting at the train station each day for over 9 years. This breed’s loyalty to family is intense! Another defining moment was seeing an awful looking in-bred Akita that looked more like a skinny GSD than the way a stocky Akita should look, and getting a bit disgusted at the poor quality of available Akitas.

MG: I grew up with Standard Poodles, lots of them. As a young breeder I followed in my parent’s footsteps and had amazing experiences with Standard Poodles. Grooming competitions, training, obedience trials and therapy work. But, back then, there was always the token Newfie in the background. I never understood why my parents did not do more breeding with the Newfies, but I was attracted to their size, power, gentleness, companionship, as well as personality. I wanted my own Newfie, and lots of them, lol. The hair and grooming never bothered me, as after all, I was raised grooming Standard Poodles. There was a brief time in my life that while working for APRI I found myself that I no longer had any dogs in a breeding program. With APRI’s blessings I wanted to get back into breeding. Deciding to transition from Standard Poodles to Newfies was not difficult. I already knew who the incredible breeders were, and where to go to develop my breeding program. That combined with a lot of research, I began meeting other Newfie breeders and the rest is history.

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