Responsible Dog Breeders
There are responsible and irresponsible dog breeders no matter where you live, so it is important to do more than a casual background check before you make a commitment to buy a dog from a breeder. If your heart is set on a certain breed we also recommend contacting the local accredited club or association for that breed. The members may know of a rescue group with pure-bred dogs in need of adoption.
If you do decide to go with a dog breeder, the best way to find a reputable one is to talk to dog trainers and veterinarians in your area, and, again, by contacting the accredited breed associations, humane rescue groups and clubs for recommendations.
Most responsible breeders will have medical tests done on both the male and female breeding partners to make sure that communicable diseases will not be passed on to the pups, and genetic tests to make sure that the pair are a good match, ensuring the best genetic outcome possible. In addition, because the breeder takes part in socializing the pups, she or he can recognize character traits in the puppies and can appropriately match them to their prospective owners. A responsible breeder knows better than to allow the choice to be made on the looks of the animal alone.
If you are hoping to raise a show dog, then working with a private breeder is almost the only way to know for certain the pup’s lineage.
On the down side, the cost of buying a puppy can be significantly higher when you buy from a private dog breeder, but keeping all of the above mentioned benefits in mind, the cost of responsible breeding is significantly higher than simply allowing two dogs to mate with each other.
Before you settle on a private breeder, make a point of visiting the breeder’s home to see how the parents of the puppies live. This means you should avoid ordering puppies online. Often, these dogs come from irresponsible breeders or puppy mills that could be in violation of animal cruelty laws. You will want to be sure that the dogs are not kept for breeding purposes only, that they are not caged all the time, and that they are healthy. If the breeder does not allow for visits, you should take it as a red flag and look for another dog breeder or considering adopting a rescue dog. If conditions are severe, you should think about notifying an animal welfare agency.
You should also ask for references from other homes the breeder has placed dogs with, how many litters they deliver per year (this should be a low number), and if they have a policy regarding lifetime returns. Again, the hope is that you’d never have to return your pet, but a responsible breeder will be there for your dog, no matter their age, if you do.
Once you have found the ideal dog breeder, make sure to make a list of questions you have about the breed. Some suggestions for questions include who they use for training their own dogs (i.e., the parents of the pups), what foods they have found to be best for their breed and how much they feed, how active the breed is and what types of exercises keep their pets at their optimal health, and what normal health challenges should be expected. For example, short-nosed dogs must be protected from heat and strenuous exercise, while non-shedding dogs like poodles need to have their ear and anal areas kept clear of excess hair to prevent infection due to dirt and bacteria buildup.
Remember, every puppy has its own particular challenge that must be accounted for — regardless of where it comes from.
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Image: Ian Phillips / via Flickr