12 steps to tell if a dog breeder is reputable

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Dalmatian puppy with a patch

Dalmatian puppy with a patch

Finding A responsible breeder is an important part of selecting your new furry family member.

  1. To find a responsible dog breeder, start by going to a dog show or visit the American Kennel Club or United Kennel Club web sites to learn more about the breeds and breeders.
  2. After doing your homework, find a fancier that is knowledgeable about their breed, and be certain you are comfortable with the people too. The biggest key to having success in selecting a puppy or dog is to be selective.
  3. Visit the breeder’s home or kennel and ask to see at least one of the puppy’s parents. Seeing the parents of a purebred dog will give you an idea of what to expect in terms of temperament and appearance.
  4. While you are visiting the breeder, pay attention to the property. Is the house/kennel clean? Odor-free? Are the adult dogs and puppies clean, well fed, lively and friendly? If you see runny noses and eyes, coughing, open sores, you should probably look at a different location for your new companion.
  5. Do the dogs like the breeder and does the breeder like the dogs? The dogs and pups should be comfortable with people and outgoing with visitors. If not, it might be in your best interest to move on.
  6. Learn all you can about the health of potential pup and pup’s family. Learn from research and the breeder about the breed’s overall strengths and weaknesses and have a good working knowledge about the genetic diseases that impact the breed. Ideally, the breeder should know what steps are being taken to prevent the genetic issues too. Your breeder should have copies of health screening information to show you so you know they have been taken care of. Some examples would be OFA and CERF results. If your breeder only answers direct, specific questions with regard to their dogs, they may not be lying to you, but they may not be providing you with the complete truth either.
  7. Make sure you are comfortable with the breeder since you will have a connection with them throughout your puppy’s life — yes, it’s a lot like getting married. The breeder should be an excellent mentor and resource for you should you have questions or a crisis at any point in your dog’s life. If for some unfortunate reason you are unable to keep your dog, the breeder should be your first telephone call to help you rehome or return your dog.
  8. Don’t be surprised if your breeder asks you to sign a contract regarding the care of your potential pup. This is meant to protect the breeder, you and your puppy.
  9. Don’t expect to bring home the puppy until it is 8 to 12 weeks of age. Puppies need lots of time to mature and socialize with its mother and littermates. If you get a puppy too early, it misses out on the basic life skills learned from living with other dogs and that can become a really big problem in your household.
  10. You will likely have lots of questions to ask the breeder, and hopefully they will have lots of questions to ask you too. Everyone wants to get the best possible match for pups and families so be honest about your situation so you end up with the most appropriate puppy.
  11. When you buy a puppy, be sure you leave with appropriate documentation of the dog’s pedigree, also known as “papers” from the registering club. The two—in the United States — that are generally acceptable depending on the breed are the American Kennel Club (AKC) and the United Kennel Club (UKC). You’ll need to send in this application form to register your dog with the AKC. Be very wary of a breeder who refuses/hesitates to give you papers, wants to charge you more for AKC / UKC papers, offers papers from a registry other than the AKC / UKC, or tells you they will mail them to you at a later date.
  12. Do your research and know what questions to ask when selecting your new puppy.

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