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A commentary on the value of an AKC pedigree and some underhanded breeders

The following is a personal commentary on certain breeders and their use of words like "imported," and "AKC," to help lure in customers.


What is the value of an AKC pedigree...what does it really mean?

Does it mean that breeders who tout "AKC puppies" in their advertising are high quality?

Does it mean that puppies are guaranteed to have good health?

Not always.

Does "imported," imply "better?"

I'm sharing the story of my own German shepherd, Lily, for a firsthand look what at AKC and imported meant in her specific situation.

Lily was owned by a man in Eastern Wash., who obtained her for breeding purposes. Lily came complete with an AKC pedigree full of long, fancy names. The man bred her to a German shepherd who was imported from Germany; his reported value was $15,000.

AKC + Imported = Quality?

Not in this case.

Lily was bred at approximately 12 months of age and several of her puppies were born with obvious hip dysplasia, apparent even at a young age.

For several months, the man tried to sell the puppies, but he was not able to get the cash from them that he hoped for, so he decided to cut bait and contact a rescue agency to take Lily and the pups. He gave the volunteers with the Washington German Shepherd Rescue a short window of time to make the trek over the mountain pass to retrieve the unwanted family.

When the volunteer arrived to retrieve Lily and her puppies, she found them living out in a barn, with a dirt floor - in the middle of a frigid, Eastern Washington winter. The man had used a hose to "clean" the dogs off - despite the bitter cold.

Fortunately for Lily and her family, they were saved - the man opted to keep his high value stud - no word on what happened to the dog, or the man.

The shepherd family was taken back to Western Washington and Lily was taken to a veterinarian where it was determined that she had a systemic infection coursing through her blood - thanks to no veterinary care after the delivery of her puppies.

Lily was nursed back to health and her puppies all found homes - those with dysplasia wound up getting hip the tune of thousands.

Things could have been worse - the man could have drowned the pups with dysplasia - he could have let Lily die, or he could have hoped that she would recover and he could have continued breeding her for years to come.

I got the best end of the deal - a wonderful German shepherd with a fancy schmancy pedigree which means nothing.

Somewhere in her lineage, or perhaps in that fancy, imported, high-dollar male's lineage, was dysplasia - something the breeder failed to research or chose to ignore.

Quality breeders do their research - they only breed to improve the quality of the breed. Quality breeders treat their dogs with care and respect. Quality breeders do not do what Lily's prior owner did.

Most of the readers of this column could care less about pedigrees and breeders...most realize that there are fabulous dogs waiting for homes at animal shelters and rescue agencies.

But there are some people who might fall for the key breeder words...the "AKC" and "Imported," teasers which promise greatness...buyers beware.

Continue reading: Suspected breeder arrested, dozens of German shepherds seized in New York

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I am human, if you see a typo, please let me know. Questions, comments or story ideas can be emailed to Please note - due to the heavy volume of emails received, I am unable to respond to each and every request, but they are all appreciated!

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