Akita Rescue Society of America


Should You Breed?

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Should You Breed?

Snowbear was approximately 6-years old when he was abandoned at a busy intersection. When rescued from a shelter by a rescue volunteer, he was covered with sores, his ears were bleeding from fly bites, his teeth were worn down from self-mutilation, which had inflicted deep purple wounds in his legs. He was once a pure white Akita. During an examination by a vet, it was discovered that Snowbear was completely blind from PRA. This genetic disease had eaten away the retina in both eyes. Snowbear could not see but he could still find his way to your face to lick you in affection and to rub against you asking to be touched and loved in return. He died by lethal injection because there was no home waiting for him.

Shinto was a lovely black Akita, just a puppy really at 18 months of age. The rescue group had high hopes for placing this very friendly young male. Shinto bled to death on the table during his neuter surgery, a victim of genetic von Willebrand's disease. There was no way to save him.

Abby was 10 months old when found in the street and taken to a shelter. During her entire, very short life, Abby had been in constant pain--her front legs twisted into the shapes of a Z by another genetic disease known as chondrodysplasia (CHD). Abby tried to be a puppy, tried to play but her legs hurt so terribly, she could not stand for long. When her ligaments began to tear from the pressure of twisted bones, she was killed by lethal injection. Abby did not want to die and fought the drug but there was no life for Abby and certainly no home for her.

Bear was just a year old when he died. He was born with a severe genetic autoimmune problem, which totally debilitated him. Perhaps one day each week he had the energy to play and act like a puppy. The other six days Bear lay on the floor or in his bed, his muscles burning in agony, his appetite gone, and his body wasting away. The last flare-up of the disease caused him such agony, his screams of pain terrified the children--his heart-broken owners released him from his deteriorating body.

Tai broke many hearts when he was killed by lethal injection in March 1994. He died in the arms of his owner and an ARSA volunteer, who stood by the dog offering comfort, but there was no comfort for the humans, just tears and pain. A large, beautiful brindle male, Tai suffered from a heritable form of epilepsy called "Rage Syndrome." His seizures were not convulsive but when he blanked out "Rage" from the temporal lobe of the brain lashed out at anything or anyone. The episodes were not predictable. Tai had a lovely temperament when he was himself but after biting 4 people, Tai was killed. He knew why he was at the vet's office, he knew what we were going to do and he looked at us as if we were abandoning him once again. Tai was 3 years old. Permanent scars mark the victims bitten by this Akita who had no knowledge of his actions, and mental scars will remain with all those who knew and loved him.

Virginia died in agony, her eyes periodically bulging from glaucoma and autoimmune disease causing exquisite pain. She was 18 months old when she died from these genetic problems. Yoda died at the age of 2-years when her genetic autoimmune skin disease could no longer be controlled. Okie was 3 years old when she was abandoned, blind on a Los Angeles freeway, and mucous dripping from her sightless eyes. She was killed by lethal injection. Apollo, was 2-years old when he died from epilepsy. His seizures could no longer be controlled by medication and his last seizure lasted for a full 10 minutes.

These are all true stories and sadly, there are many, many more just as depressing, just as preventable. These Akitas all died after a great deal of suffering from inherited diseases. There are just as many stories about the Akitas placed in homes that were not properly screened. Those stories tell tales of extreme neglect, severe abuse, shattered minds and starving bodies--all of them AKITAS! These Akitas were all products of a back-yard breeding by someone who did not know enough about the breed to investigate the pedigrees of their Akitas--they simply put a male and female together and produced a litter of puppies. They did not care enough about the puppies to search out good, trustworthy homes. They wanted to be rid of the work of caring for a litter of puppies and they simply gave them away or sold them for a small fee.

There should be only one reason to breed an Akita--to produce Akitas that will give something-wonderful back to the breed. How can this be accomplished? By careful genetic investigation of the pedigrees of both sire and dam; by acquiring knowledge through experience of what exactly comprises a superior Akita; by adhering to a strict sense of responsibility to the breed, to your puppies and to your puppy buyers. Quality breeding rarely produces the genetic nightmares mentioned above and reputable breeders rarely place their puppies in abusive or negligent homes.

It is true that we live in a free country and we are all free to take our dogs, which in the eyes of the law are simply property, and do anything we please with them, short of violating a state humane statute. We can ignore them if we please. We can abandon them to a shelter when we get tired of them. We are free to breed them as often as they come into a heat cycle. We can do anything we please with our property because we do live in a free country. But with freedom comes responsibility. It is this sense of responsibility and compassion that sets us above our pets. No one is forced to own and care for an Akita, or any pet but when we willingly assume that responsibility, we should do our very best to do it right and that includes responsible breeding or responsibly NOT breeding!

It is totally irresponsible to breed a dog when there are no good homes available for those puppies. What is the purpose of producing a litter of puppies that will be destroyed at an animal shelter? Are you teaching your children responsibility if you breed your Akita simply to show your children the "miracle of life?" Shouldn't you take that one step further and show them the failure of unwanted life--death by lethal injection or carbon monoxide chamber? That would be an honest lesson.

Each year in this country, more than 5 million unwanted, abandoned dogs and cats are killed by various means in animals shelters and humane societies--Akitas definitely number among them. If you are one of those who justify breeding your Akita by claiming you have "countless friends and family members, who want one of your puppies," send them to one of the breed rescues--we have countless homeless Akitas wanting a family and friends.

Before you take the final step, ask yourself these questions:

        Do you have deposits in the bank for each puppy--guarantees from really good homes that your puppy will be loved and cared for the 12 years of its life?

        Will you be able to guide the puppy buyer through all the significant stages of the Akita's life to be certain the dog is properly socialized, trained, fed the right food, given good veterinary care, etc.?

        Are you prepared to keep a litter of 8 puppies until they find good homes at 8 weeks? At 12 weeks? At 16 weeks? It can take that long and longer if you breed without a thought to finding homes.

     Are you prepared for the cost of producing a litter of puppies, including expenses for OFA x-rays, CERF by a Board Certified ophthalmologist, a thyroid panel and pre-breeding health exam; puppy wormings, puppy health checks, puppy vaccines, high quality food for mother and puppies and unforeseen medical emergencies?

Unless you have one of the top winning show dogs in the country certified free of hip or elbow dysplasia, PRA, vWD, sebaceous adenitis, pemphigus, autoimmune lupus, microphthalmia, epilepsy, glaucoma, and other familial/heritable problems plaguing our breed, please think before you breed. If you are unfamiliar with these diseases, their causes and prognosis or mode of inheritance, please, learn and educate yourself BEFORE you breed. You are not benefiting the breed or puppy buyer by blindly producing another litter of genetic time bombs.

This is an age of growing awareness that we can no longer destroy all living things on the planet with impunity--that we must change our attitudes towards sentient life and our environment or we will self-destruct as a species. We must, as human beings, become responsible and enter the age of maturity as a species. This raised consciousness must begin at home and should be taught to your children. It is up to you to set the example and a good one to begin with is the basics of integrity and accountability towards the pets in your household.

You are firm on your desire to breed.  Okay, but please read the article on Genetics so you can make fact based decision on selecting a sire for your dam or a dam for your sire.  No one can study too much since so much of what we know is still conjecture.  CLICK HERE:

"When I see a person indifferent to the needs and blind to the sufferings of animals, I put him down as one from whom little sympathy can be expected for the needs and sufferings of his neighbors. If he is one who abuses an animal in its dumb and pathetic helplessness, I know that the innate meanness of spirit, cruelty and cowardice of the nature so revealed would wreak itself on his fellowmen." John Ruskin

(C) 1992 Barbara Bouyet