Chris Shaughness

author, speaker, animal lover

Getting a Dog?,  All Articles

Finding a Good Breeder

The ad in the paper says “Farm raised, parents on premises.” Sounds wonderful, right? Wrong! We may think that dogs raised on a farm had an idyllic life, romping around freely with their human and canine friends. But the sad reality is that most dogs raised on farms are kept in small rabbit hutches or cages, and never let out. Sure, the pups’ parents may be on the premises but they are somewhere out of sight, caged in a barn. The breeder may bring out a dog and say it’s the pups’ parent but more times than not, this dog is used as a stand-in. There may be dozens of dogs like her in the barn who are never let out of their cages. Because of this breeding process, the pups miss out on important contacts with people at the early age necessary to help them bond to humans. Their only interaction with people is when someone throws feed into their cages or picks them up by the scruff of the neck to give them immunizations. Many pups from disreputable breeders are afraid of people.

So, how do you find a good breeder? What things do you look for? Let’s make two lists, things to look for and things to avoid.

You know you’ve found a good dog breeder if:

– They specialize in breeding only one or two breeds of dogs. Ask them questions about the breed: the temperament, health issues, how big the dog will be, etc.

– They interview you extensively to be sure their puppies are going to the best homes

– They offer a return guarantee should you have health or behavior issues

– They keep the dogs inside the home, and not outside in cages or runs

– They can provide you with the pup’s health and veterinary records provided from a veterinarian

– They provide references for others who have adopted puppies from them

– They may not always have a litter of puppies available and will take your information to contact you when one is expected

– They will require you to sign a contract stating that you will return the dog if you are unable to keep him or her at any time during the dog’s life

In addition to the list of things to look for in a good breeder, here are things to avoid:

– There is a sign at the facility listing multiple breeds available

– They advertise in the classifieds of the newspaper or on Craigslist

– They will not show you where the dogs live

– When you do an Internet search on the name of the facility or owner, you find recorded infractions against them

– They try to impress you with AKC or ACA papers for the dog

– The dog’s health records are hand-written

– When you meet the puppies, they seem anti-social or fearful

– There are obvious health problems with the puppies: look for runny noses, weepy eyes, a cough, bowlegs (yes, from not being able to fully stand up in the cage)

Keep in mind, just because the breeder says the dogs are AKC or ACA, it does not mean the breeder is reputable. By the way, the designation of ACA (American Canine Association) was created by pet store owners and Amish breeders to bypass the requirements of the AKC. An AKC or ACA title does not guarantee anything.

If you are sure you want a puppy, then I suggest you put even more research into the decision. Yes, it takes time and effort, but you will be spending the next 12-15 years (hopefully!) with this dog. Reputable breeders belong to breed clubs – organizations formed to promote the healthy breeding of their chosen breed. Check out the web site of the American Kennel Club – – to learn more about breed clubs and to find a club near you.


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