Chapter 5
How To Know The Best Source For Your Dog
Commercial breeders often offer 'health guarantees' to the people who buy puppies from them in an attempt to assure people that their puppy will be healthy. If it's not, purchasers assume they have an avenue for recovery from the breeder. However, these 'health guarantees' typically have provisions designed to ensure that the breeder has a minimal financial risk for breeding an unhealthy dog. The 'health guarantee' may exclude the most common medical conditions to afflict the breed, or may only cover the puppy for a very short time. Beware of commercial breeders that heavily promote a 'health guarantee' or 'vet testing.' This is likely a marketing tactic to encourage interest in their dogs. Responsible breeders who are committed to producing healthy puppies conduct regular health testing in an attempt to ensure their dogs aren't subject to genetic breed-related health issues common to their breed. Commercial breeders typically don't conduct this testing, as their sole interest is in selling as many puppies at as low a price as possible. Another problem with commercial breeders is that their puppies may have an increased risk of having behavioral or temperament problems related to lack of care in the breeding program. A responsible breeder won't breed dogs with behavioral or temperament issues. Shy or aggressive dogs aren't bred by responsible breeders. They know these temperament issues can indicate a genetic problem that may be passed on to their offspring. Commercial breeders may spend no time whatsoever with their breeding dogs, or may not conduct any behavioral or temperament testing to ensure that they're breeding only dogs with sound temperaments. This means that puppies produced by commercial breeders may be shy, fearful, aggressive, or have unstable temperaments. How to Spot Commercial Breeders. Commercial breeders have some distinctive elements that make them easy to spot if you do just a little bit of research. Commercial breeders typically always have litters available, with more on the way. Responsible breeders limit their breeding programs so they may only produce one or two litters per year, while commercial breeders have enough dogs to produce litters once a month, bi-weekly, or even more often. If you go to a breeder's website or contact a breeder about puppy availability and find that many upcoming litters are available, you're probably dealing with a commercial breeder. Likewise, breeders who breed more than one or two breeds may be commercial breeders. Most AKC breeders focus on one breed of dog, or a couple of their favorite breeds at most. Building a responsible breeding program takes time and effort. Commercial breeders typically breed as many different breeds as they can profitably sell. They have no particular emotional attachment to any of the breeds; they breed whatever is popular. If you see a breeder that is producing many different breeds of dogs, it's probably a commercial breeder. Responsible breeders want to match their dogs with the right family. They'll talk about your needs, and match you with a dog that has the right temperament, activity levels and personality for your family. Commercial breeders, however, just want to sell you a puppy. They won't evaluate whether a specific puppy or breed is a good fit for you or your home; if you have the money, you can buy a puppy from a commercial breeder. If the breeder doesn't talk to you about your needs and whether the dog or breed would be a good fit for you, he's probably not a responsible breeder. Finally, commercial breeders have enough dogs in their facility that they require federal and perhaps state licensing. Commercial breeders count on the general public to be ignorant about the disadvantages of buying from a commercial breeder and frequently advertise the fact that they're state or USDA licensed. Don't consider state or USDA licensing as desirable. Holding a license is an indicator that you're dealing with a commercial breeder. Some states are friendlier than others toward commercial breeders. Commercial breeding operations are more prevalent in the Midwest than elsewhere in the country, with especially high concentrations in Kansas, Missouri, Pennsylvania, and other agricultural states.