Puppies, our greatest weakness.
This is a topic I’m passionate about, that I’m driven to fight for. The only way to end this trend is to make the people who support it aware that they are supporting the continued breeding of sick and ill puppies.
As much as I support rescue I also support responsible breeders who take time to produce quality, healthy puppies. This could easily turn into a ramble but I’m striving now to reach out to the public and explain the differences between a reputable breeder vs. puppy mill breeder vs. backyard breeder.
I’ll break it down for you:
- No health clearances on mother/father
- Puppies are kept in an area that is not clean (either indoors, outdoors, or both)
- Owner does not compete with adults
- The bitches will are sometimes bred every heat cycle
- No vet documentation clearing puppies as healthy pups
- Adults and puppies are fed cheap commercial food
- Price of puppy is “cheap”
- Puppies sometimes sold as young as 6 weeks of age (which is illegal in the state of Virginia but still done)
- No guarantees from breeder
- They have no interest in your reasons for having a puppy
Puppy Mill Puppies
- Breeders that advertise 4+ breeds of puppies for sale
- Specialize in toy breeds
- Parents not on premise
- Parents do not have their health clearances
- Puppies are sold through ‘companies’ or pet shops
- Advertise “designer” puppies
- They follow many of the same regulations as backyard breeders
- Adult dogs are on premises
- Female is not bred on each cycle
- Contract is involved
- Breeder asks questions
- Shows the establishment where dogs are kept
- Have titles competition
If you are considering buying a puppy do not feel that you are inconveniencing a breeder by asking them questions. And if they act like a jerk about your inquiries? Move on to your next option because dealing with them in the future could be somewhat of a hassle. What questions should you ask the breeder?
What is their policy if you can no longer keep the puppy?
- Answer: The best breeders consider their puppies family and will ask that you return the puppy to them.
What is their health guarantee on their puppies?
- Answer: All breeding stock should have had hips/eyes checked at the very least but research your breed and see what testing is recommended. In border collies many will have elbows checked as well.
Have the puppies had their age appropriate vaccinations and worming?
- Answer: Yes, yes, yes. This is not a compromise. Breeders who have not had their puppies vet checked with
How long have you bred dogs?
- Answer: The longer that a person has been breeding a dog, the better. It shows commitment and dedication to improving the breed. If they have not been breeding dogs for very long ask their goals and reason for breeding.
How long have they been living with this breed?
- Answer: Typically you want a breeder who has been working and living with their chosen breed for years. There are a number of people who compete and see a quality in the breed they want to refine.
Are the puppies socialized?
- Answer: Yes. Puppies who have been socialized extensively (and the goal should be 100 people before the age of 8 weeks) will make your puppy a happy, more well-adjusted companion to live with.
What have the puppies been exposed to?
- Answer: This has more to due to the sights/sounds/experiences that the puppies encounter. Similar to socialization your puppy should come into contact with a variety of noises, textures, sights, smells, and obstacles. This not only exposes your puppy to day-to-day living but will also prepare them for the adventures of the world outside their home.
Meeting the parents/facility?
- Answer: Breeders who care for their puppies and breeding stock should have no problem showing you where their dogs/puppies are kept, what their day-to-day living includes.
- Answer: After contacting past puppy buyers the breeder should have no problem giving you the name, numbers, and information the breeder should have no problem supplying you this information. Another good reference would be the veterinarian who will give an honest, unbiased opinion.
- Answer: All breeders should have a contract: this not only protects them but it should also outline the guarantees and services that are offered once the puppy is under your care. Some breeders have a limited registration contract which specifies that you spay/neuter your dog. Breeders who are hesitant or unwilling to draw up a contract might have something to hide or are unwilling to take responsibility for their puppies. A reputable breeder will screen their prospective puppy buyers to place their puppies in the best possible homes.
Does the breeder belong to the breed club/Kennel Club?
- Answer: The dogs under the breeder should be able to produce registration to either the parent club/AKC and in many cases the dogs will be dual registered. The AKC has a Breeder of Merit award it gives to breeders after meeting specific requirements.
A responsible breeder will also want to ask you questions and may request references. Responsible rescues will ask the same and have you complete an adoption application before contacting you.
So, the problem is this: by backyard breeders and puppy mills continuing their bad practices they are placing unhealthy puppies into homes. By breeders not taking responsibility of their puppies they are allowing families to purchase their puppies and throw them into shelters when the family cannot handle the energy/personality once their puppy grows up.
Adopt first or purchase from a responsible breeder.