Updated: Jun 20, 2019
I have always maintained that you either buy from a responsible Australian National Kennel Council (ANKC) breeder or you give a dog in need a good home. The choice is yours as to what suits your home. This article focuses specifically on how to find a responsible breeder and avoid potential pitfalls.
What is a responsible breeder?
The health and temperament of the puppies is paramount
They will health and genetic test for conditions known to occur within a breed. Getting a cross breed does not negate the need for testing as, like humans, there are many illnesses and conditions that may be more common in a breed (or nationality of humans) but can still occur across the board.
Cost is not a major consideration when it comes to ensuring they provide excellent care of their dogs and the puppies they breed.
Puppies are being bred to maintain and improve the breed, many of which are ancient breeds.
The puppies will typically be raised in a home environment where they are loved and given careful early socialisation
The breeder will be meticulously careful when determining who will get one of their much loved puppies.
They will have a detailed knowledge /expertise on the breed and will usually be a member of organisations associated with the breed.
Many breeders will be involved in showing or activities associated with their breed such as obedience training, tracking, herding, just to name a few. Some focus on breeding service or working dogs.
Breeders will vaccinate and microchip their pups, will provide information regarding the care of the puppy and will not release a pup to it’s new home until 8 weeks of age.
Identifying Irresponsible Breeders
Puppy farms are at the top of people’s list when we think of this. The definition of a puppy farm/mill, as stipulated by the RSPCA is:
“an intensive dog breeding facility that is operated under inadequate conditions that fail to meet the dogs' behavioural, social and/or physiological needs”
Some people include all large scale commercial breeders when they use the term “puppy farm”. It is valid here to know that there are some large commercial breeders that do comply with the relevant Codes of Practice. A couple of these specifically market cross breeds such as the poodle cross breeds.
The “backyard breeder”. This should not be confused with anyone who breeds within their home. Indeed most of the careful and responsible breeders are small scale and raise the pups within their home and backyard. The term “backyard breeder” (BYB) is used for those that either fail to desex or care properly for an entire dog such that they have accidental litters. The other group of BYB are those simply having a litter thinking that it will be fun or in the hope of financial gain. They typically have no expertise in the breed(s), are breeding with whatever dog they have (regardless of suitability) and do little or no genetic health testing.
In a nutshell, irresponsible breeders will have little expertise, will often have a profit driven model, will not do genetic and specialised testing for suitability of matings and will often cut corners when it comes to vet care, food, rearing of the pups and suitability of the homes to which the pups go.
When we talk about dogs finding their way into rescue organisations in need of a new home, most have typically come from an irresponsible source.
How to Avoid Falling into the hands of an Irresponsible Breeder
I have four absolute golden rules here.
1. If you cannot visit the breeder and the see the conditions in which the puppies are raised then go elsewhere.
The puppy farms are experts at deception!
They use other people’s photos (often stolen from the web), glossy websites, stolen or falsified ANKC (Australian National Kennel Council) registration numbers, stolen identities, fake or stolen microchip numbers in order to appear as a legitimate, responsible breeder.
There was a case recently where a photo of a registered Finnish Lapphund puppy was stolen from the breeders website and used to advertise a “Pomksy” (cross breed between a Pomeranian and a Husky).
Another trick of the puppy farms is to welcome and arrange for you to visit, only to cancel at the last minute due to some cited family emergency and offer to drop the puppy off or meet you somewhere part way with the puppy.
There are also instances of scammers lifting whole advertisements of ANKC registered breeders (photos, registration numbers etc) and taking deposits for puppies they don’t have.
2. If you have health or temperament concerns with the mother of the litter (often the father lives elsewhere) or are not comfortable with the breeder or the conditions in which the pup is being raised, look elsewhere.
3. If the breeder isn’t cautiously screening you for suitability for their puppy and the breed in general then walk away. You can expect to have a lengthy discussion/interview with a responsible breeder before you are even invited to see the litter. Bottom line, if they care about their puppies, they will be very cautious of the people seeking to have one of them.
4. If the breeder isn’t knowledgeable about the breed and hasn’t done all relevant health and genetic testing applicable to the breed to screen parent dogs for suitability, then they are NOT being responsible. This applies to cross breeds as well as pure breeds as there are multiple things that can apply to multiple breeds and some dominant genes only require one parent to be effected to pass it on to the pups. Go to Part Two Here