Up to now, in the Parts I through Part IV, you have learned what puppy mills and backyard breeders are as well as how to identify and avoid them. You also understand by now that only high quality pure bred dog breeders produce high quality well bred pure bred puppies.
Now you will learn how to recognize high quality pure bred dog breeders.
10 Signs of a high-quality dog breeder
Always make sure the breeder you found operates with the following high-quality practices:
- The breeder should have ideally only one litter on site but if there are two, that might be acceptable if the breeder meets most or all of the best practices listed below.
- The breeder should have ideally only 1 to 2 female breeding dogs that permanently live with the breeder as companion pets. The more females on site for the purpose of breeding them, the more likely the breeder is a backyard breeder.
- The puppies’ mother should always be available for you to meet her. If not, this likely means that the mother is located at a puppy mill, or is ill or aggressive. The breeder has a reason for you not to see the mother, and that means trouble. So if you can’t visit the mother of the puppies, then do not buy a puppy from this breeder. As well, you must play the detective when you observe the mother dog. Carefully assess her appearance and behaviour because this dog may or may not be the actual mother of the puppies you are viewing. There is always the possibility that if this is a puppy mill, the seller might stage any dog as the mother of the puppies. Don’t be worried, however if, the father of the puppies is off site, because the breeder often pays private owners for their dog’s stud services to impregnate the female dog in heat at the breeder’s location.
- Each breeding female should ideally only be pregnant once every two years or maximum once a year to treat her humanely. This is to ensure the health and well being of the breeding female, since pregnancy and whelping is stressful on the dogs’ body. If each female is bred once a year, that would be the second-best acceptable situation.
- The breeding females should be retired from breeding by the age of 8 for a small breed if bred every 2 years. Or if she breeds once a year, the small female should be retired from breeding by the age of 6. So make sure you find out the mother’s age!
- If the breeding female is of a large breed, then she should be retired from breeding by the age of 6, whether she is bred once or twice a year. Although a larger dog might be able tolerate the pregnancy and whelping better than a small breed, her life span is shorter than a small breed. As such, her body ages faster than a small dog and it’s not ethical to require her to continue breeding past middle age.
- Ideally, when the female is retired, she should be kept by the breeder as a companion until the end of her life. Or the breeder should personally take great care to place her in a loving home.
- The breeder should derive income from some additional source, such as a profession or another business, not just from breeding the puppies. This will mean that the breeder does not depend on selling a large number of puppies per year for their sole income. So be sure to ask if he or she makes their primary income from breeding puppies. If they say “yes” this, here is a red flag. You also can’t depend on an honest answer. So, again, detective work is necessary. For instance, the more breeding females they own, or the more times a year they breed each female, the more likely they are using their breeding dogs as their primary income. Keep in mind that a clever puppy mill operator will show you that they have only one or two breeding females on site, but they could have access to a vast quantity of adult female breeding dogs elsewhere. So you need to analyze every answer you obtain to assess if this breeder is truly a good-quality breeder.
- The puppies should be kept inside the breeder’s home to socialize them with humans. But it’s fine, especially during COVID-19, that the breeder brings the mom and her puppies out to see you in a designated area. The coronavirus is dangerous for breeders too!
- You will want to check that when the puppies reach 6 or 7 weeks old, the breeder will begin to intermittently separate them from the mother and gradually crate-train them from that point. (But this should not be started during the fear-window that occurs approximately 8-10 weeks of age as was discussed earlier.) And that overall the breeder socializes the puppies for human handling as previously noted. This will help you bring home a crate-trained, well-socialized puppy to live with you. Plus it gradually prepares the puppy to leave the litter. And remember, because of the fear- window, it is best to move the puppy to its new home only around 12 weeks of age.
- As discussed, all reputable breeders will allow you to come to their location to meet the puppies and the mother and to inspect their set up. Even during these COVID-19 times, there are creative ways (as noted above) to allow a visit. Don’t skip this critical step!! Again, if they say they will bring the puppy to you…hang up! And do not buy a puppy from this source.
Stay tuned for the final segment of this series to understand why mixed breed pupppies are not pure breeds and why this matters.