Friday, April 25, 2008

What is a "Good Breeder"?

In the local news yesterday was another story about a hoarder who was a chihuahua "breeder". Something like 100 chis of all ages were pulled out of this house in rural Washington County that looked more like a dump or a bad nightmare than a house. Garbage spilled all around the house; the dogs were in tiny cages piled up on one another with sometimes 2 or 3 to a cage; small filthy dark rooms were crammed with exercise pens that were filled with feces and food scattered all over the floor.
Someone who had gone to the house hoping to buy a puppy reported the conditions to the County police, and subsequently there was a raid on the house. Children cats, birds, chickens were also stockpiled there.
Apparently the "breeder" has an online "business." Caveat Emptor indeed.

Everyone with half an ear open has heard about puppy mills by now, but I'm not so sure "puppy mill" has been well defined. A single person with a website or an innocent ad in the newspaper can be a puppy miller, or a bad backyard breeder. So how do you know how to identify a good breeder from a factory?
On the television news the reporter claimed that this chihuahua person was not "licenced as a business" as if that were a telling fact. But truth be told, more puppy mills are licenced as businesses than good breeders are.
Good breeders work for the love and betterment of a breed of dog. They study pedigrees, genetics and health records and breed for themselves, hoping to produce a great show or working dog, and those puppies who will not become part of their plan will be placed in the best pet homes the breeder can find.
One of the most telling ways to identify a good breeder is that you will be grilled; nobody gets a puppy of theirs who does not meet a certain standard. Not only do they NOT take credit cards, but roughly half the people inquiring about a puppy or dog might be turned away. One breeder I know will not sell a puppy to anyone whose house she has not personally visited.
There are other things to look for as well..and despite the temptation to buy a cute puppy on line, I wouldn't suggest buying any animal from someone I was not able to experience and check out first hand. Nor would a good breeder sell to just anyone with cash in hand.
Here are some other guidelines:

Primary Characteristics of a Reputable Breeder

1. Provides a written contract of sale with a health guarantee and written instructions on feeding, training, grooming and care
2. Provides access to the mother (dam) who should be on site and exhibit a healthy, happy temperament
3. Does not sell puppies until they are at least 8 weeks old or in some cases older (12 weeks in the case of toy breeds)
4. Shows you where the puppies are kept. This area should be very clean
5. Provides you with a record of the dates and types of vaccinations and de-worming done, feeding instructions, a pedigree, and a registration certificate to apply for registration of the puppy in your own name with the AKC.
6. Is able to prove he has performed pre-breeding health checks on the parents
7. Provides references of people who have purchased puppies in the past, the names of other breeders, and the veterinarian who provides care for the breeder's dogs.
8. Offers a return-buy back policy and make it clear that his/her responsibility continues as long as the dog is alive. They should be available for advice whenever needed, and help you over many rough spots.
9. Abides by code of ethics, typically by belonging to a breed club or association
10. Is very knowledgeable about the breed he or she is selling
11. Requires or encourages the neutering of all pet-quality dogs
12. Sells puppies only to approved buyers and never sells to brokers or puppy mills
13. Has mindfully socialized and can discuss socialization of the puppies and can make recommendations for their continued socialization and training
14. Usually breeds no more than two breeds.

People who show their dogs are often the most conscientious and ethical breeders and it doesn't matter a whit if YOU want to show or not...they are the breeders to seek out. And surprise surprise, you will usually pay LESS than you would at a pet store that gets their "stock" from mills. Maybe a little more than from a backyard breeder who advertises in the classifieds, but the extra money is well worth the investment for the sound mind and body of a purebred puppy.

1 comment:

  1. I have a great puppy that came from a breeder that meets all your good breeder points in this post. She also keeps her dogs in her house and her backyard kennel and she advertises on the internet. While she's known to the other breeders (she came recommended from another breeder) she's located out in the country and I'm sure the internet site draws a lot of business for her. My puppy's online pic was what convinced my husband to go with me to the breeder's house to meet the breeder and the puppy. Not all backyard breeders with internet sites are bad. Like anything else, the buyer needs to do their due diligence.