If you are considering adding a new puppy to your home, you may be wondering how to choose one. One of your primary considerations should be the breeder. Some breeders, unfortunately, are irresponsible and will offer poorly bred dogs for sale. Here's how to tell if your dog breeder is a responsible one:
- Look on kennel club or breed-specific websites. Do not find a reputable breeder by looking in your local paper or for signs in front of houses. Reputable breeders will be listed with breed clubs or kennel clubs. They will have a good reputation within the dog world. Some of their dogs may have been shown in competitions.
- Visit the breeder in person. Irresponsible breeders, called puppy mills or backyard breeders, only breed for money and will not consider the health of the lines they are breeding. Visit in person to make sure that the area where the puppies are raised looks like a healthy and safe environment for them. If it is dirty and cramped, with a strong odor, do not choose this breeder.
- Look for breeder registries. Make sure the breeder is registered with either the AKC or CKC. There are other registries, but there is no reason a reputable breeder would not be registered with one of these two.
- Ask about breeding conditions. Ask how many litters the breeder produces per year; if more than 2, this is a warning sign. If they breed more than 2 different dog breeds, this breeder should also be avoided. If the parent dogs are younger than 2 years or older than 7 years, this is not responsible breeding. You should also be able to see the parents in person.
- Choose one that requires a contract. Responsible breeders will never knowingly sell you an unhealthy pet. If problems arise, most responsible breeders' contracts stipulate that you can return the dog for a refund. Even though you may not want to jump through these hoops, it is a sign that the breeder is doing everything they can to protect the dogs once they leave the breeder's hands. If they do not require a contract, it is usually a sign that they do not particularly care about where the dogs are placed.
- Ask about health conditions. Responsible breeders will have health testing done on their dogs. These tests are breed-specific, depending on the disorders common in certain breeds. If they cannot provide proof that these tests were done, stay away.
- Ask about dog shows. Many responsible breeders show their dogs; ask about titles. If they show their dogs, this is a good sign. Ask about the dog clubs they have joined. Those who are active in the dog world are more likely to be responsible breeders, though of course this is not always the case.
Finding a responsible breeder is important for making sure the puppy is healthy. Your puppy should be at least 8 weeks old, and chosen only through visiting the breeder in person. A responsible breeder will give you peace of mind by stipulating that you return the puppy to them if it develops health issues or you can no longer take care of the puppy.