Bringing a dog into your life and home is a big step that requires a lot of thought. While rescuing a dog from an animal shelter is noble, some people prefer to go through a breeder to ensure the dog has the traits they’re looking for. Whether you’re looking for a dog for sport, show, a service animal, or simply a family pet, it’s important to find a reputable breeder.
1. The Dogs are Bred for a Purpose
A reputable breeder specializes in one breed of dog or a hybrid (cross breed) of two recognized breeds. This takes a lot of knowledge about the breed or breeds’ heritage, health, traits, and temperament. Beware of the breeder who deals in more than one breed, or worse yet, other species such as cats.
The breeder should focus on more than just conformation, or the dog’s physical characteristics. Breeds were developed over time for a purpose. Look for a breeder who has dogs that are titled in the purpose you are looking for.
Responsible breeders will inform you of the traits you can expect including everything from grooming needs to exercise requirements.
2. The Parent Dogs are Screened for Breed-Related Health Issues
A reputable breeder screens the parent dogs of your puppy for genetic conditions the breed is prone to. They won’t use dogs with these conditions for breeding. Basic health testing includes general examinations of the eyes, teeth, the heart, and radiographs of the hips and elbows to check for dysplasia.
Since different breeds are prone to certain conditions, it’s important that you research the breed you’re looking for to determine the diseases and conditions that may be inherent. The national breed club of each breed has established the standards for health tests and is a good resource to use.
If the breeder’s ad simply says “vet checked,” this is too general and unacceptable.
3. You’re Invited to Meet the Breeder and See the Facilities
If you have filled out an online application and are invited to meet the breeder somewhere else such as a parking lot, find another breeder immediately. The responsible breeder will be proud of their facilities. They will offer a tour and explain how the animals are cared for. The mother and father of your prospective puppy should be on the premises for you to meet.
The environment should be clean, friendly, and not overcrowded. And since a good breeder keeps the puppies for the first eight weeks, don’t be shy about asking to see where they will be kept. The best breeders keep their puppies indoors near the living area and not in a basement. This will ensure that your puppy gets important early socialization.
4. The Breeder Will Want to Stay in Touch
Responsible breeders don’t want their puppies to end up in a shelter, so they will want to meet you. To them, it’s almost like adopting a child. They’ll ask questions about your home and lifestyle to make sure the breed is a good fit for you. Of course, they realize that situations not under your control can change. Therefore, they will offer a “take back” guarantee for life, meaning that if circumstances change, you should return the dog back to the breeder or to another home that has been screened.
In addition, the breeder should give you the puppy’s full veterinary records, and you should be able to contact the vet if needed.