What Is a Responsible Breeder?

How do you tell in a few minutes whether the voice on the phone or the person at the other end of the emails is a responsible breeder?

Is it someone who doesn’t make any money from her puppies? Is it someone who only has one female? Is it someone who refuses to ship her puppies? Here is a countdown of things to look for:

11. A responsible breeder will want to know about you. She will probably start out by inundating you with all sorts of questions about your home, your work and your family. This is because she is trying to fit the correct dog to you. As a matter of fact, she will refuse to sell you a dog she doesn’t honestly feel is right for you. If a breeder does not ask you at least as many questions as you ask her, she is not a responsible breeder.

10. In Florida and most other states, a breeder is required to sell a dog with a Health Certificate, meaning that the puppy is vet certified as healthy, up to date on his shots and free of worms and fleas within the last 30 days. A breeder that tries to sell you a puppy without a Health Certificate is not responsible.

9. Listen for a breeder’s stories about her adult dogs.  The breeder’s purpose should be to create healthy adults that look and act like the breed. If she only talks about how cute her puppies are, she is often not a responsible breeder.

8. A responsible breeder is willing for you to see her dogs in her home. Sometimes the closest responsible breeder for your chosen breed is thousands of miles away, so this is not feasible. But if you live nearby and your breeder keeps on making excuses, she is probably not responsible.

7. A responsible breeder knows about her breed. She can usually bend your ear for quite some time about its characteristics and history. She is honest and forthright about the shortcomings of her breed as well as its sterling qualities. A breeder that says or implies that her breed is perfect in all circumstances is not a responsible breeder.

6. Most responsible breeders also show their dogs. The purpose of dog shows is to sort out the best sires and dams for the next generation. Breeders should have enough pride in their stock to want to see how well they stack up against others.

5. A responsible breeder regularly tests her breeding stock. There can be genetic difficulties in any line. She tests so she knows if she runs into a problem. Ignorance is not bliss. If a breeder doesn’t regularly test at least her breeding stock, she is not responsible.

4. A responsible breeder will work with you well beyond the point of sale. You should be able to call or email your breeder and get help. A responsible breeder knows that most training problems stem from you either working with your dog incorrectly or not responding quickly and appropriately to a problem. But rather than blame you, a responsible breeder helps you do it right.

3. Most responsible breeders are willing to take back a dog that doesn’t work out. They don’t want any of their dogs ever ending up at the pound, or leading a life of quiet misery because they can’t fit into the family’s lifestyle.

2. A responsible breeder takes excellent care of her dogs. This is far more important than how many dogs she has.

1. Though the great majority of responsible breeders have bills far higher than their income, there is nothing wrong with a responsible breeder making money. A breeder should sell their puppies for at least enough money to approach their expenses. Puppies that are far cheaper than normal often indicate a breeder that doesn’t have pride in her stock.

And one thing more: some dogs such as the short-nosed breeds may be difficult to ship. Many breeds are fine. In the last 30 years I have frequently shipped my Silky Terriers for shows and sometimes to new homes. I have never had a problem. But there is definitely a right way and a wrong way to go about this. Please see my article “Flying With Your Dog”  at www.about-small-dogs.com for details.

I hope this helps you sort out what is a responsible breeder. Given the above points, you should be able to find someone who can become a real partner with you for the life of your dog.

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