Wednesday, December 01, 2010

How Many Dogs Is Too Many?

I know of a woman who is a hoarder. She hoards garbage, and has done so for several decades, much to the dismay of her family. People hoard a wide variety of things, including animals such as dogs and cats. So, how many dogs is too many? I really don’t have a definitive answer.

I know of a puppy mill where 250 dogs were discovered, found in filth, and half of the dogs in such bad shape that they had to be euthanized. I used to know of a Doberman breeder who had 25 adult breeding dogs, with only 2 of those dogs living in the home and the rest living in kennels. I know of a show dog breeder who had so many dogs that they nearly wrecked the entire breed, their dogs were pretty but with poor temperament (stupid, defiant, aggressive, and not very trainable). I know of a past customer who had 8 dogs, ranging from Chihuahuas to French Bulldogs, to an English Bulldog. I know of rescue volunteers who take in way too many dogs for them to handle properly. For me, the most dogs I’ve ever had in my home was two. Some cities ban owners from having more than 3 dogs at a time. Landlords and homeowners associations regularly limit how many dogs a person can own.

In nature, most wolf packs have 6 to 7 members, with a single breeding pair (male and female), however it’s not unusual for packs to be more than double that amount.

The more dogs you own, the more potential you are going to have of dog fights, urination problems, unmannerly dogs, disobedient dogs, clean up problems, and smell. On the other hand, I’m more and more convinced, if you are equipped to handle it, dogs are better off if there are at least two dogs in the home than being an only dog, since dogs are social animals.

I really don’t like the government telling business people or individuals how many dogs they can own. However, we all know that too many dogs in one place eventually means that there are probably going to be problems.

I have generally found that homes with 4 or more dogs to be more chaotic, and the dogs not very well behaved. Usually because of the cost and effort it takes to supervise, feed, train, and entertain that many dogs, things start getting where the controlling factor is how well the dogs mix with one another, not how well the owner is with dogs. If the mix works, then everyone is happy. If the mix doesn’t work, then the whole thing becomes a mess.

I can’t really understand the idea of bringing more dogs into your home than you can personally attend to, train, feed, exercise, etc. Maybe when it gets past that point, we have to start wondering if the owner has personal issues. Maybe we are wrong about that, but it starts looking that way. We start to wonder if we are looking at a compulsive hoarder. If it’s a breeder, we start wondering about the quality of their breeding program, and whether they are just in it for the money. Really good breeders can manage a lot of dogs, but they also will either have a family operation or hired staff to ensure things are done humanely and professionally. The good ones that do volume also are doing sport related things with the dogs, not just pumping dogs out the door to just anyone who will send them some money.

I guess my viewpoint would be: if you are going to add additional dogs to your home or breeding operation, are all the dogs you own and breed going to be better off because of that decision or not? If not, then you already have enough dogs... and it’s time to stop acquiring more.

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