Another controversial topic here, but I believe a very important to touch on as it is commonly misunderstood by the dog lovers not involved professionally in the canine world. I hope I can shed some light on the subject.
“CAREER CHANGED” is a term widely used by the Service Dog community (guide dogs for the blind, diabetes & seizures response, military K9, mental support, etc). The term is becoming more popular among the preservation breeders (PB). The dog that doesn’t have required qualifications for one job is offered to perform another – ex. in case of service dogs – a dog that has mild hip dysplasia, thus can’t pass a guide dog evaluation due to potential progression of the issue following high intensity daily physical work, will be offered to be trained for seizure assistance which has lower requirements on the hips grading; in case of preservation breeding – a dog that has a weaker roached back (in a breed with level and muscled back) is offered to a person willing to do performance sports or as a companion, rather than kept in a breeding program. As you may have noted, HEALTH OF THE DOGS IS PRIORITY for everyone involved!
The failed tests may include, but are not limited to: unsuitable temperament for the job/breed, physical limitations (current or potential following vet checks), affected by genetic disease, congenital issues, etc. Keep in mind, that the work service dogs are required to do is extremely challenging mentally and physically, even though it may not appear so to the outside eye. I suggest watching the Disney+ series “Pick of the Litter” that talks more in depth on this subject.
While none of the listed above points may affect a companion lifestyle of the animal, precise evaluations are completed by both service dog community and PB to improve their respective breeds and work towards healthier and stronger generation of dogs for the client and dog lover to have confidence in their dogs. These dogs may be anywhere between 6 months to 2.5 years old, as the health testing in large breeds are done around 2 years old and in small breeds around 1 year old. The dog fully forms mentally and physically by these respective ages.
“RETIRED” is the term used by all canine communities for the dogs that have been a valuable part of a breeding program or a working group and are at the age of deserved spoiled only pet life without continuous physical and mental work. You may think conformation rings and weekly travels aren’t much for a dog, but like us people, when we get older we just want to stay in the comfort of our own home without much strangers to chat with. Dogs are the same! You may notice your adults are getting grumpier and less tolerant of puppies. So why force them live in a home with young and teenager pups running around regularly, when they can have the luxury of being the only loved pet in a quiet home and get ALL the attention to themselves?
Dogs do adjust to new people and places quite easily with proper approach and training. And as for puppy sale, same is for adults, the PB will always state in the contract that if the owner can no longer keep custody of the dog, the breeder will always take him/her back. To add, some dogs from early age just don’t enjoy much activity around them, and no matter how correct structurally and mentally the dog is, most PB will retire such dog to a quiet companion home after a couple of attempts to show or compete. Another point that may surprise you, most dogs in both practices don’t get bred many time up until they can’t no more. It is quite the opposite. As we are all working towards improving our breeds (conformation, instinct, temperament, type, etc) a female, no matter how great she is, may only be bred once or twice. The best puppies are kept and bred forward from. This is how the preservation and purposeful breeding works. This ensures the possibility of moving forward with your line vs keeping yourself on the same spot. Each breeding has a purpose, the best is kept to move forward with. We never breed one girl just because she can to the same one male just because he has semen.
Retired dogs can be anywhere between 2-6 years old, and many chihuahuas live up to 15 years old. I hope you can see that it is rather egoistic to keep all the dogs and be a hoarder than let them go to the wonderful families where they will spend OVER half of their lives being a happy, spoiled dog.
Bear in mind – all breeders are getting attached to all their dogs and it is incredibly emotionally tough to let them go, but this is what caring means, you put others’ feelings and comfort above your own. And the DOG IS ALL THAT MATTERS! Every preservation breeder and service dog group member is involved in this community with outmost sincere love for the dogs and dedication to have the correct, physically and mentally sound dogs for future generations of dog lovers and clients that need their help.