Saturday, May 9, 2015

Lazhar Ichir, Author of The Dog Breeder's Handbook

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Today we are interviewing Lazhar Ichir, author of The Dog Breeder’s Handbook, a comprehensive ebook about dog breeding.

Tell us a bit about yourself.
My name is Lazhar, I am the proud founder of Breeding Business, the top online destination for dog breeders, both occasional and professional. I’ve started this free platform to give our readers an amazing selection of in-depth articles, dog breeders’ interviews, dog breeding supplies reviews, etc.

Describe the purpose of The Dog Breeder's Handbook in a few sentences.
The Dog Breeder’s Handbook is simply the definitive guide to develop and improve your dog breeding methods and sales strategy. Whether you are an occasional breeder or a full time professional dog breeder, this is the most up-to-date manual to breeding dogs responsibly.

We want the readers to run an ethical dog breeding activity that is profitable and successful for their business to grow, and for their litters to thrive and improve noticeably.

Dog genetics and breeding techniques are essential, so we dive deep into these. The selection of the mating partners is perhaps the most important part as it will define what the progenies will be, many just take any two dogs and let them do their thing which is utterly wrong.

We go through each week of the bitch’s pregnancy, and then each week after the whelping. It is important to look after puppies and mom: they are your products, in a way. They must receive all the care possible.

Who do you think would most benefit from reading your book?

Anybody who is passionate about dogs. This is definitely not a get-rich-quickly scheme, or a manual to setting up your puppy farm business. The Dog Breeder’s Handbook is a thick and comprehensive guide to dog genetics, modern dog breeding styles, hereditary conditions, but also to business savviness and online marketing,

Full time dog breeders obviously are the first people interested in this volume, because of the topics to covers: pretty much all aspects of a dog breeder’s life. Yet, occasional dog breeders who are looking for a side-income will enjoy all the tips given in this book. Especially on the managements of the pregnant bitch and her litter.

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A sample chart from The Dog Breeder's Handbook.
What inspired you to share your knowledge of dog breeding by writing a book?
Mating two dogs is easy, breeding dogs is hard. Most breeders know how to mate dogs, but they fail at knowing how to breed dogs. The difference being having a long-term vision for their breed but also having realistic business objectives.

We also have several chapters on setting up the legal company and complying to dog breeding licensing requirements, the bookkeeping and accounting laws, and obviously, the marketing, sales and promotion strategy in our digital age. I know dog breeders are not the most techy people so we made Social Engine Optimisation, Social Medias and Website Creation simple, but efficient.

Go on Google and search for dog breeders in any breed: the websites are all poor, from the early 2000’s. So jumping to the first page is easy. And if you don’t exist on Google’s first page, you don’t exist at all.

You cover the financial side of dog breeding in your book. Why do a lot of dog breeders, especially those starting out, run into financial trouble with their business? 

It all started with an observation: most dog breeders fail, and by failing I mean several things.

First, many try their luck, invest some savings and after a year need to stop breeding even though they sold all their pups. Well, selling is good, selling at the right price is better.

Secondly, many dog breeders want to do it full-time and after a few litters, they realise that they need another job to survive and pay all their bills. Sell more, or more expensive.

Lastly, successful breeders keep breeding but will tell happily you “you can’t make any money if you’re breeding quality dogs responsibly” - so, out of all the businesses on Earth, it is the only one where there is no chance of earning money? Sure. These breeders are amazing breeders, but this is it. To generate a profit you need to be a good marketer, and a good salesman.

We want our readers to be part of that other group, the profitable and successful dog breeders.

Also, the dog and pet community is very split between the “adopt don’t shop” people who insult breeders and blame them for the dogs found in shelters, and dog breeders who insult other dog breeders who manage to earn a living with their breeding business.

All I hear is, unless you are a puppy mill, you can’t make money by breeding dogs. Well, after reading this book, many have already changed their mind and already see the improvements. Being a passionate breeder is one thing, being an entrepreneur is another, profits come when you are both.

How important is it for dog breeders to be part of the dog show world?
Essential. And your question is perfectly formulated: what matters is being part of the dog show world, not necessarily winning. I always recommend breeders and dog owners to check their local dog shows and clubs and attend many events a year.

First, it is a wonderful networking space. Everybody in there is like you, a breeder or a dog lover, sometimes both. You can receive a constructive feedback on your dogs and how they could get better, you can meet amazing specimen and plan a future mating with them to improve your own bloodline, etc.

Second, it raises your dogs’ value and your kennel name’s reputation and awareness. You do not need to win within a ring to be recognised! Attend these events, show your face, chat with the judges, and your value will rise instantly. Put on your website which events you attended, put pictures of yourself and your dog(s) at the event and trust me, you will outclass 90% of the other breeders.

So many potential dog owners are being warned about puppy mills and bad breeders, so as soon as they see you at a dog show, they assume you are a super breeder, and most are so they are right to think so. Sure it costs the participation fee to enter the competition but the return on investment, in the long run, is huge.

It seems like most businesses these days require a web site/social media. Is this important for dog breeders as well?
This is my main fight and perhaps why a lot of people are hostile to me. I am down to Earth and extremely frank which causes me trouble but I love it, I love challenges, it is probably due to my entrepreneurial spirit.

Every single breeder who thinks of himself as a pure philanthropist completely disinterested in money is still selling his dogs, right? They say it is to minimise their losses. Well, with no less effort and care for the dogs, but extra hours on social medias and online digital marketing, they could generate profits. How is that bad?

The whole world has woken up and realised that Internet is the one and only marketplace for the future, and I want my readers to arrive on time for the party, because there is so much to do online for a dog breeder. SEO, Facebook Groups, breed-specific forums, blogging and content marketing, Twitter, etc. And because 99% of all dog breeders are doing zero online, they can improve so much by doing so little.

To put it simply, you can have the best dogs and the best kennel, if you don’t have a front door, no one will come in to see you. We tell you how to build that bloody front door.

Your book delves into the care of the dogs. Is caring for breeding dogs much different than caring for pets?
Yes, extremely different, because most pets do not share the same kind of relationship people share with dogs. Not just now, I am talking about the last centuries. Dogs and humans are incredibly close to each other, and working dogs are a proof of that bond.

Breeding dogs is like breeding your future friends. Breeding cats is like breeding pets. And I love cats but we must not be blind to the reality: dogs are our closest companions so whoever breeds them must be careful and meticulous.

What are some major things someone interested in breeding should consider before getting started?
Tough question, there is a whole chapter in The Dog Breeder’s Handbook. Failing to plan is planning to fail so we wanted to make sure soon-to-be breeders start by putting their thoughts and aspirations on paper.

Choosing the right dog breed is vital, you are going to work with it for years if not decades, you don’t want to pick a trendy toy breed to make quick bucks, and then become outdated just like your breed. But breeder the ever popular Golden Retriever makes you become one breeder out of thousands… So we explain how to pick your breed and how to differentiate yourself from other breeders.

Then, knowing the breed is what will build your foundation. I often say that a dog breeder start with no breeding at all. Read, learn, update your knowledge, exchange with judges, breeders, and professionals. Internet is a wonderful source of information… and bullshit too! Make sure you validate what you read, make sure you keep your critical thinking skills at all times.

Being a dog breeder means being objective. You don’t breed this dog because he or she is cute. You must obey the Kennel Club standards which define how should dogs within tis precise breed should look, behave and work. As difficult as it can be, you sometimes can’t and shouldn’t breed a dog you love because it is simply not a dog fitting the standard.

More than the dogs, whoever wants to start breeding must inform himself on the licensing rules in his country or state. Designing and building the kennel itself is important, some people breed toy dogs in their apartment, it is absolutely fine. Once you know your breed, you know what they need. Just offer them the best comfort and keep it all fresh and clean.

Is there anything else you'd like potential readers to know about your book?
The Dog Breeder’s Handbook is over 200+ pages, and it is extremely popular amongst breeders. I’ve received amazing feedbacks and whenever I receive a critic on the guide, I make sure I address it immediately and update the ebook regularly.

BreedingBusiness.com also offers fresh information and articles, interviews of other breeders and a lot of resources to get started the right way.

All we do is teaching professional and occasional dog breeders how to breed and sell dogs like it’s 2015, not 2005.

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