Purdue developing standards to ensure better nationwide commercial dog breeding practices

As the nation's commercial dog breeders face mounting pressure over concerns about their breeding practices, Purdue University is moving to develop a blueprint that can ensure more consistent standards of care by breeders across the country.

According to the university, its Center for Animal Welfare Science is working on standards that will level the playing field for all commercially bred dogs regarding aspects such as health, genetics, reproductive soundness, behavioral wellness, and various ethical issues, said Candace Croney, Purdue University associate professor of comparative pathobiology and animal science.

"Although many states have standards in place, they are highly variable from state to state," Croney told Purdue News. "In addition, several factors that significantly impact dog welfare, such as their housing, have not been well studied, raising questions about the basis and adequacy of current standards. This project will help fill the gaps in regard to better meeting dogs' needs."

The university outlined several stages that the project will go through to achieve its primary goal of producing a uniform set of standards for commercial breeders, including:

  • Drafting comprehensive care practices based on the latest research on animal welfare science, as well as input from breeders, veterinary practitioners, and various authorities on canine care, reproductive management, and welfare.
  • Enrolling dog breeders in Indiana and other Midwestern states in a pilot project that will evaluate the health and well-being of dogs before and after implementing the standards.
  • Developing educational programs for breeders after the standards have been tested and finalized.

Although the current project is focused mainly on commercially bred dogs, Croney said the standards could eventually be adapted to address dogs in shelters, laboratories, and other commercial venues.

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