The term “responsible breeder” is one that means different things to different people, and in an ideal world, all dog breeders should breed responsibly and with the best interests of both their own dogs, and dogs as a whole in mind. Buying from a responsible breeder is the first step by the would-be dog owner to being a responsible owner, and picking a responsible breeder and not inadvertently buying from a bad breeder can be something of a challenge.
Various schemes such as The Kennel Club’s Assured Breeder Scheme are in place to register and monitor professional breeders of pedigree puppies, but not all good breeders are enrolled in the scheme, and the scheme also fails to cover breeders who produce hybrid or “designer” dogs, such as the Labradoodle and the Cockapoo, both of which are very popular, but are not pedigree breeds.
If you want to make sure that you pick a responsible breeder to buy a puppy from, or to reserve a puppy from a future litter, there are various things that you should look for and find out fairly easily, to ensure that you go about your start to dog ownership in the right way.
Read on to learn more about how you can tell if a dog breeder is a responsible breeder in every way.
As mentioned, certain types of pedigree breeders are eligible for membership in The Kennel Club Assured Breeder Scheme, and if the breeder you have in mind is a member, this is always a good indicator. The scheme polices breeders and aspects of breeding such as how many litters are produced, their general health, and at what age the breeders lets the pups go on to their new home.
However, membership of the scheme does not mean that you can neglect doing your own research, and as mentioned earlier, a lack of membership in the scheme does not automatically make a breeder a bad one!
The breeder in question should be happy to allow you to visit their premises (by arrangement) and see where and how all of the dogs are kept, including those that are pregnant, nursing litters, and their own pet dogs. The premises should be clean, well-cared for, and have obvious signs of being home to the dogs, as opposed to being a showcase where the dogs are shown to buyers, when they are actually kept elsewhere.
The breeder should be breeding healthy dogs, and all of the dogs present should be healthy and in good condition. Keeping records of health testing and the genealogy of the breed lines is a good sign, and another good sign is if the breeder can talk to you in depth about any health issues that they have faced in their breed lines, how they have dealt with the affected dogs, and how they are working to improve the breed’s health.
The breeder should have a good relationship with a local veterinary practice, and ensure that the pups are seen and vaccinated when appropriate, and that the local vet knows their business and supports them.
The breeder and their premises should demonstrate that the emotional, developmental and psychological needs of their dogs and puppies are all being met, as well as their physical needs. The dogs and pups should have plenty of exercise, lots of toys, and lots of time spent interacting with people.
Good breeders will specialise in just one or possibly two breeds of dogs that they are enthusiastic about and very knowledgeable about, and not simply be breeding lots of different breeds to make a profit. They should know the traits and tendencies of their breeds in details, including breed-specific problems and potential health issues too.
A responsible breeder should have a good understanding of how the buying process should go, and not expect every person who visits a litter to buy or reserve a pup. They should be open to and accepting of more than once visit before you make a decision, able to answer all of your questions, let you spend plenty of time with the litter, and also meet the dam and potentially the sire.
The breeder should have a contract of sale available for you to read before committing to a purchase, which should cover information on how the breeder will support you after the sale, as well as the details of the sale itself. The breeder should send a blanket, toys and possibly some food with the pup when you are ready to take them home, and be available to you in the weeks following the sale if you have any queries.
Aside from the first-time breeder, each breeder should be willing and able to provide references of people who have bought puppies from their previous litters, which you can speak to directly and find out how they feel the process went. Many breeders are also active in breed-specific clubs and organisations, or for some breeds, active in canine sport and activities as well, and word of mouth knowledge of any given breeder from within their specific field is also helpful.