Chapter 5
How To Know The Best Source For Your Dog

Breeder Red Flags

When you're looking for responsible breeders, some key clues can alert you to the fact that the breeder you're considering might be a higher risk choice. These signs can tell you that the breeder is a puppy mill or commercial breeder, or simply someone who is uninformed and therefore more likely to produce genetically unhealthy dogs. Watch for USDA or State Licenses. Some states require breeders to have a license when they sell a certain number of puppies or keep a certain number of unneutered dogs. The US Department of Agriculture (USDA) requires a license for breeders who wholesale dogs to the pet trade. State and USDA licenses are generally a warning sign that the breeder is producing a large number of dogs. Breeders who sell only directly to the public, which is the case for reputable breeders, are exempted from the USDA's licensing requirements. Consider if the increased rate of behavioral, temperament and genetic health problems found in dogs bred by commercial breeders, is within your family's risk tolerance level. Beware of Sellers Breeding More than a Few Breeds. Most responsible breeders focus on producing one or at most, two breeds. Responsible breeders typically have the mission of improving the breed or maintaining high breed standards, and it's difficult to do that when focusing on many breeds. If a breeder produces more than a few types of dogs, you are probably looking at a commercial breeder. Frequent Puppy Availability. Responsible breeders who breed only one or a few dogs typically have a wait between litters. They may only produce one or two litters per year. If a breeder constantly has puppies available with more litters coming up soon, you could well be looking at a commercial breeder or puppy mill that could be producing quantities of puppies of unknown health. Anyone Can Buy Any Puppy. Breeders who care about their dogs match their puppies with the appropriate homes based on the needs of the family and the puppies' temperaments. Breeders who will give you first choice of all puppies in a litter may not be breeding puppies for the sake of creating quality dogs; they may be more interested in the income. A good breeder will assess your needs and match you with a puppy that has the right temperament for your home. Beware of Puppy Brokers. Puppy brokers are people who sell puppies that other people breed. Responsible breeders almost never use puppy brokers; they want to ensure that their puppies are placed in the appropriate homes. Puppy mills and commercial breeders, however, use puppy brokers to sell the maximum number of dogs as quickly as possible.