The Importance of Working with a Responsible Dog Breeder

The Importance of Working with a Responsible Dog Breeder
Now that you have moved and are getting settled in your new home and community, maybe you or your family are thinking about adding a furry friend to the family. Doing so is a big decision with many factors to consider.  Where should you get the dog?  From a friend, a large pet retailer, the local rescue or a breeder?  
A popular first choice for many is adopting a dog from an animal shelter, however, not all families are equipped to handle the uncertainty or the reality of a dog’s past when they come from a shelter. If you have made the decision to purchase a dog rather than adopt, determining the right option will increase the chances of finding a healthy, well-adjusted, correct temperament, and happy dog that will provide many fun and memorable moments for years to come.
When considering the purchase of a dog, a natural consideration is a large retailer.  Several of them are well known and have convenient locations across the country.  Unfortunately, many big box pet stores and online brokers tend to rely on “puppy mills” to supply their dogs.  These mills are commercial breeding facilities that mass-produce puppies for retailers.  This process prevents the stores from knowing the overall health of the dogs or even the true breed of the dog.
Another popular source for finding dogs to purchase is backyard breeders.  For many of these breeders, it’s a side-hustle and they are often located in a neighborhood or subdivision and not a purpose-built facility.  Most backyard breeders have good intentions, and the breeding pair tend to be family pets. Unfortunately, continuously breeding animals for years to produce a few litters for profit can jeopardize the health and welfare of those pets. While some breeders may only breed the pair occasionally, genetic testing for defects is not usually done. The responsible breeding process entails a much more robust process than simply breeding two dogs.
When considering a breeder, there are a variety of aspects related to responsible breeding to be aware of when conducting due diligence.  While there are federal laws in place requiring breeders with more than four breeding dogs at one time to be licensed by the U.S Department of Agriculture (USDA), being licensed is the bare minimum standard of the Animal Welfare Act (AWA) and that alone should not make them a serious consideration.   
One of the most vital aspects related to responsible breeders is that they do not contribute to the overcrowded animal shelters. In fact, responsible breeders often support local animal shelters and are actively involved in transport, fostering, or volunteering at the facilities. If the family is no longer able to care for the dog, a responsible breeder will request the dog be brought back to them.  Responsible breeders care about their puppies and don’t want to contribute to the ever-growing issue of overcrowding.
Finally, responsible breeders provide support to the new family before and after the puppy purchase. Responsible breeders are puppy experts, offering guidance for care, best nutrition, and training tips.   It is important for responsible breeders to have a strong relationship with their veterinarian and previous customers, allowing them the ability to provide references when requested.
How to confidently identify a responsible breeder:
  1. Only sell puppies to people they have met in person, not pet stores or pet brokers.
  2. Encourage potential dog owners to visit and meet the puppies before buying.   
  3. Do not keep dogs in crowded spaces or cages, instead in clean, comfortable environments that are temperature controlled.
  4. They breed the mothers sparingly, usually between the ages of one and five.
  5. Can provide individual records of veterinary visits for each puppy and the parents.
  6. Will request new owners to sign a contract and return the puppy if unable to keep them.
  7. The puppies are well socialized and usually introduced to an early stimulation program.
  8. Will genetically test the breeding parent dogs.
  9. Guarantee their puppies.