Responsible Rescue Part 7: Responsible Breeders
I know what you’re thinking. Why am I posting about breeders? Shouldn’t we all rescue dogs? Yes, of course I would prefer that people rescue. But I also want people to stay away from puppy mills and irresponsible breeders. Part of that includes acknowledging that there are just some people out there who want a certain breed and cannot be swayed otherwise. If you encounter one of those people, and can’t convince them to rescue, this is meant to be a good way to help them identify a responsible breeder rather than supporting a bad breeder. It’s not necessarily a win, but it’s not the loss that supporting backyard breeders or puppy mills would be.
Signs of a reputable breeder:
1) They will not ship the dog to you. If you can buy online and have a dog delivered to the nearest airport that’s the biggest red flag of a puppy mill or bad breeder. Often they will ask you to come pick it up in person. If they are willing to ship a dog to wherever you’re willing to pick it up for some money, that’s a bad breeder.
2) They want to speak to you and know what kind of home the dog is going to. They offer advice and will answer any and all of your questions. They want to be sure that the person buying their puppy will give it a good life, will take care of it, and is ready for the responsibility. If you can purchase a dog online or in person without any sort of interview, that is a huge red flag.
3) You can meet the parents and see where the dog is raised. Not a photo of it, actually walk and touch and interact with the parents. If a breeder says that you can’t come in person to pick the dog up and interact with the mother, if the mother isn’t in good condition and being kept as a pet, if the person is at all shady about seeing where the puppy has been raised in person, run the other direction.
4) There is a health guarantee and a lifelong offer to take the dog back regardless of circumstances. A responsible breeder who is only breeding a very few (like 1-2) litters a year (more than that is commercial) will offer to take back the dogs they produce, regardless of age. This breeder will likely also only have 1 breed available, because they are huge proponents of that breed, have done genetic testing on all of their dogs, and are breeding to promote the breed they love, not for profit.
5) They encourage you to spay and neuter unless you plan on entering shows (which, good luck, I have no advice on that front). Most responsible breeders will actually make you sign a contract stating that you promise to spay or neuter your dog by a certain age (usually by 1 year, sometimes 2 for large breeds) and not to breed your dog because they haven’t genetically health tested the puppies or the mate and they care about producing genetically sound members of the breed.
At the end of the day, I will always be a proponent of rescue. But I’d rather someone get a puppy from a loving home breeder than an irresponsible one.