How Do You Know If You Are Talking To A Responsible Breeder?
Who they are
Serious and dedicated hobby breeders do not really expect to make a profit from selling puppies. They breed dogs for the enjoyment and pride that comes from producing high quality, happy, healthy puppies that become cherished family companions. These breeders acknowledge responsibility for each and every puppy produced and stand behind every dog they breed.
Unequivocally, you should choose your puppy from a responsible hobby breeder. You deserve a pet that was the result of careful planning, a puppy who was bred and carefully raised to be happy and healthy. Only the established breeder, with a selective breeding program, can offer you predictability and consistency of quality, health, and temperament. And you won't pay more for this good quality. Pet shops and backyard breeders often sell their poor quality puppies at prices that are equal to, or higher than those charged by hobby breeders.
Finding a responsible breeder
How does one recognize the serious, dedicated hobby breeder? The list below identifies many of the attributes and characteristics of the serious hobby breeder, though no breeder will have all of these. Don't be afraid to ask questions or to confront the prospective source with these requirements. It is your right, and a dedicated and reputable breeder will respond positively and with pride.
- Each breed of dog has a national breed club and, in many areas of the country, local specialty (single-breed) clubs exist. Also, throughout the country, there are local all-breed dog clubs. Ideally, your breeder will belong to all three types of clubs, and possibly to other dog-related organizations as well, although sometimes not all the options will be available to them. Usually, participation in dog clubs indicates depth of involvement. The breeder is exposed to other points of view, learns more about their breed and is kept up to date about general dog care and modern breeding practices.
- Breeders should be involved in showing their dogs, so that they aren't breeding in a vacuum. Breeders who don't show may have no idea how good their dogs really are and are deprived of the opportunity to share information and ideas with others. Showing provides competition which encourages breeders to produce better dogs. Breeders who show are not relying solely on a pedigree to indicate quality. The show ring is the forum that indicates the degree to which a dog conforms to the standard for its breed. Breeders who show are known by others, have a reputation to uphold, and will be as careful and honest in selling you a pet as they are in selling show dogs.
- Your breeder should give you a reasonable period of time after purchase to have your pup examined by a veterinarian to determine its state of health. If a problem should arise, it can be quickly resolved. Most reputable breeders will also have the puppies vet-checked once prior to placement to check for things like heart murmurs which aren't easily identifiable by visual inspection.
- Breeders should give you written instructions on feeding, training, care and grooming. Breeders should also supply you with basic information about the breed, either as a gift, or to purchase at a nominal cost. You should also receive the pup's health and vaccination records. Breeders should provide a contract or some written, signed conditions of sale. You should also get a copy of your puppy's pedigree and you should be able to see a copy of the AKC Registration Application Form.
- The breeder should supply you with proof that the pups' parents have had their hips X-rayed and certified by the OFA (Orthopedic Foundation for Animals). Also, the breeder should show you that the pups' parents have had an eye exam within the last 12 months by a certified canine ophthalmologist and registered with CERF or ECR, and are clear of hereditary eye defects. For the most part dogs less than two years old should not be used for breeding and OFA final ratings are not given before a dog is two years old.
- Make it clear that you expect the breeder's responsibility to continue after you have taken the puppy home. Many dedicated breeders will ask that the pup be returned to them or placed with new owners that meet their approval if, for some reason, you are unable to continue ownership.
- Be prepared to answer a few questions yourself. Reputable breeders are genuinely interested in finding quality homes for their puppies. Don't be offended if the breeder asks whether you have a fenced yard or what kind of dogs you have had in the past and what happened to them. A serious breeder will want to know what kinds of situations their puppies will be subjected to and what kind of care they will receive. Some breeders may seem a bit hesitant to sell you a pup until they know a bit more about you.
- Breeders should be willing to have you visit their premises. You should see a clean environment, well-socialized pups, and a dam with a good temperament. Puppies should be happy and self-assured. It is desirable to have the puppies living somewhere in the house rather than in a separate building or kennel. This allows the puppies to become socialized to the ordinary sights, sounds, smells and activities of a household.
- Breeders should be willing to give you references - their veterinarian, or the names of people who have purchased puppies from them in the past.
- Breeders will often require that your pet be spayed or neutered when it reaches the correct age, and may withhold registration papers until proof is provided. The most important reason for this is to ensure a healthier animal. Spayed or neutered dogs are far less prone to many serious maladies. In addition, serious breeders spend a lot of time and effort planning a breeding program designed to improve the breed by using only the best breeding quality dogs. Pets should be loved and enjoyed as pets.