When you decide to add a dog to your family pack, you have several options as to where you can find your new canine companion. You can rescue or adopt a dog, you can look at various pet stores, get a pet from someone you know whose dog might have had a litter of puppies, or you can find your potential pooch through a reputable breeder.
There are many places that are simply puppy mills in disguise, cranking out defenseless pups for the sole purpose of turning a profit. It is important to understand that a good breeder has nothing to do with puppy mills. In fact, a reputable breeder is rarely in the dog-breeding business to make money; she does it because she loves it and truly cares for the animals that she breeds.
Therefore, if you decide to find your pup through a breeder, what are you supposed to look for to find the right fit for you? What qualities make a good breeder? Likewise, what are the red flags that signal you to turn and run from certain “breeders?”
What Are the Qualities of a Good Breeder?
Knowing what traits distinguish a good breeder from a poor one is critical to making an informed decision. You also need to know where to look. A good starting point is to ask your vet for the names of trusted breeders that she is familiar with and she recommends. You can also search for legitimate breeders through the AKC (American Kennel Club) or UKC (United Kennel Club), or your friends and family members could have suggestions based on breeders that they have used in the past.
No matter where you find your breeder, before you proceed with any transaction, it’s critical to assess the breeder’s qualifications.
Here are some positive traits of a good breeder:
- A good breeder has no problem with you visiting where she keeps her dogs. In fact, she should even insist on showing you the dogs’ environment. Her dogs should have adequate access to food and water, engaging toys, and ample space to exercise and play.
- A good breeder is open and honest about any and all issues concerning her animals, including health concerns, pedigree, and any other relevant information. She will have all of the necessary paperwork available and at the ready.
- A good breeder will be updated on all of her dog’s vaccines and provide you with a shot schedule.
- A good breeder will screen her dogs for a number of health issues including hip dysplasia and other conditions that are prevalent in the specific breed.
- A good breeder will provide you with a list of references.
- A good breeder will hold her puppies for at least 6 to 8 weeks, and in many cases, will keep the puppies for even longer. She understands that the most important thing in the whole process is the health of the dog, and she is in no rush to get your money.
- A good breeder isn’t in it for the money, and it’s very likely that dog breeding is not her main profession. Therefore, it is common for a breeder to have another job or a different source of income.
- A good breeder is willing to sign a contract with you that states she has been upfront with all information. She will also offer her services to you throughout the course of your pup’s lifetime, being on hand to answer any questions that come up over the following years.
- A good breeder will also ask that you sign a contract that states you will properly care for the pup, and if anything does not work out, you will return the dog to the breeder.
- A good breeder might have dogs of her own that she shows regularly.
In addition to these qualities, you should also determine how you feel about a particular breeder. You most likely will have a gut instinct or reaction to someone. If it feels right and the breeder checks all of the boxes, then you most likely found a great match. If something feels off, whether the breeder possesses the right qualities or not is a moot point; it’s time to look elsewhere if your heart isn’t in it.
Another essential quality of a good breeder is that she will always be willing to answer all of your questions, and you should be prepared to ask her a lot. But, a good breeder will also ask you many questions to assess whether or not you are a good candidate for dog ownership, especially owning one of her dogs.
What Questions Should a Good Breeder Ask a Potential Dog Owner?
A reputable breeder has her dogs’ best interests at heart. If a breeder does not believe that you are the right owner for one of her pups, then she can decline to do business with you. If a breeder jumps at the chance to sell you a pup without asking you any questions, this is a big red flag.
Here are some of the questions a reputable breeder should ask you before selling you a dog:
- Why do you want a dog? Why this particular breed?
- Do you have any dogs right now? (If you do, the breeder should ask you for your vet’s info so she can do a reference call).
- Where will the dog live? Have you made sure that you can have dogs in your current living situation? Have you taken the proper precautions to puppy-proof your home?
- Do you have time to properly care for your dog? What is your schedule like?
- Will you take care of the dog by yourself or are there others, like a spouse or family member, that will share in the pup’s care?
- Are all members of your household on board with getting a new dog? Have you set clear parameters about what the dog can and cannot do?
- Will you train and groom the dog yourself or use professionals? If you plan to use professionals, do you have the budget necessary to handle it?
- Do you plan to show the dog? If not, the breeder will likely include a section in your contract that you agree to have the dog spayed or neutered.
Red Flags To Look for in a Dog Breeder
Here are some big red flags that signal a breeder is not all that she seems, and you should continue your search:
- Something doesn’t feel right, and your gut reaction is to walk away.
- The breeder doesn’t ask you any questions.
- The breeder is evasive or vague when she answers your questions.
- The breeder makes all of her income from dog breeding.
- The breeder tries to sell you other supplies like designer dog beds, special foods, or supplements. Basically, you get the feeling that she is only in it for the money. A good breeder should focus solely on her animals. You can find all of the pet supplies you need, like dog bowls and other useful items through companies like Neater Pets!
- The breeder works with multiple breeds of dogs. (Most good breeders will concentrate their efforts on one or maybe two breeds at the most).
- The breeder refuses to provide you with any references.
- The breeder refuses to show you where her dogs are kept (or if she does, it’s unsanitary or inadequate).
- The breeder cannot supply you with the proper paperwork for your dog.
If you notice any of these red flags, it is best to walk away. If you feel a breeder is unethical or running a puppy mill, you can file a report with the Humane Society. Ultimately, it’s all about the safety and well-being of the dogs. For even more helpful tips to prepare you for dog ownership, make sure to check out the rest of our blog! Once you find a good dog breeder, you can be confident that she will be by your side to answer your questions as you try to be the best pup parent that you can be.