This post assumes that you have already decided to buy a dog from a breeder and that you are wondering how to find someone who is breeding their dogs responsibly. What is responsible breeding?
It is extremely easy to put a male dog (henceforth referred to as 'dogs') with a female dog (henceforth referred to as 'bitches') and create puppies. Anyone can do it, even people who don't intend to have a litter. So long as a bitch is intact (has her reproductive organs), both intact and neutered dogs will attempt to breed with her whenever she is in heat.
Responsible breeding is the attempt to do more than simply creating puppies. The goal is to take every step to ensure that puppies are produced:
What are the typical signs of a responsible breeder?
- For a purpose, rather than for money, the 'puppy experience' or by mistake.
- For suitable buyers that are knowledgeable about the breed.
- Out of breeding stock that have been proven to be healthy.
- Out of breeding stock with a breed-typical temperament.
- In such a way that prioritises the health of the dam (mother), the lives of the puppies and the overall improvement of the breed.
It is often said that, in order to ensure you are buying from a 'good breeder', you should ask to see the mother with the litter. Also, that you should visit the puppies in their home to check for cleanliness and good care.
What this advice fails to convey is how easy it is for puppy mills, puppy brokers and poor-quality breeders to meet or pretend to meet these very basic standards. Even rows of cages can be clean and appealing if presented well, but far more frequently puppy mills will sell to or use brokers. Brokers then house the litter for a few days in order to present the image of a sweet, family-raised litter to unsuspecting buyers. Poor-quality breeders (henceforth referred to as 'backyard breeders' or 'irresponsible breeders') can meet this standard easily too: their litters typically are
raised in the house by a family, with the dam (mother) on site and a decent degree of cleanliness. The buyers who have been given such low standards will go away from these places happy in the thought that they have bought their puppy from a responsible person, who has bred their puppy with the best intentions and to acceptable standards. This couldn't be further from the truth.
So what standards should buyers expect from a breeder, and be looking for?
The most basic requirement buyers should have is for their breeder to have completed all of the breed's health tests on each parent. This is one of the most crucial parts of breeding, and yet it is one of the most heavily avoided by irresponsible breeders.
You can find out what health tests should be done on your chosen breed by checking out the Orthopedic Foundation for Animals' website
, which has one of the biggest collections of breed data in the world. If your breed isn't listed, try looking on the website of their main or 'parent' club for your country by googling "[breed name] club of [your country]".
One of the most common breeds in the western world is the golden retriever. Yet it also suffers to a huge degree from hip dysplasia (pain and degeneration of the hip joints) and elbow dysplasia (pain and degeneration of the elbow joints). If you look at OFA
, you can see straight away that two of the four required health tests for golden retrievers are hips and elbows. Due to the strong tendency for these issues in the breed, responsible breeders will take their breeding stock to be tested through x-ray imaging once they reach the appropriate age and send off the results to an external canine health institution for verification. Dogs which do not receive acceptable results will not be bred from, meaning that, since responsible breeders only breed from test-passing dogs, their puppies have a much higher chance of being healthy and not inheriting health conditions from their parents.
However, puppy mills and backyard breeders, which far outnumber responsible breeders, do not test their breeding stock. They will breed from any dog and claim that, since their vet gave them a once-over and didn't say anything bad, the puppies are healthy. Unfortunately, no vet has x-ray or ultrasound vision, or the ability to see into the future. Testing the parents for hereditary health problems is the only way to prevent (or go towards preventing) hereditary health problems in the puppies. While some health issues are slightly unpredictable or also affected by the puppy's environment, it is clear that by only breeding from test-passing stock, the responsible breeder plays a huge part in reducing health issues in the future. Okay, so health testing is key. What are the other signs?
A predictable temperament is one of the key elements of a purebred dog. Most people don't even realise what they are saying when they talk about how intelligent their border collie is, or how their labrador is the perfect buddy. The reason why 'all border collies are super intelligent' and 'all labradors make great buddies' is because temperament (personality, energy level, attitude, drive to work, and instincts) is also heritable (passed down genetically).
Think about your favourite breed of dog. Why do you like it so much? Sure, part of it will likely be appearance. You love how fluffy its fur is, how its long nose can reach into your pocket. But I bet you also love how it sleeps on the couch all day after a thirty-minute walk - or by contrast, how it is always raring to go. I bet you love how it's a friend to everyone, or how it's much more aloof and only focused on you. Temperament is as much a part of a breed as appearance and can be even more crucial to dog owners.
So, when you are buying a dog, that predictability is important. That means you need some proof of the breeder's dogs' temperaments, beyond what you can absorb in a couple hours' meeting. Responsible breeders take steps to provide evidence of their dog's temperament and this proof is generally seen in two ways:
What are dog sports?
- Competing and titling their breeding stock in one or more dog sports.
- Successfully working their breeding stock in one or more forms of breed-specific work.
Dog sports are a relatively new invention that grew out of working dogs for their initial purposes. Obedience as part of herding or working to the gun evolved into formalised obedience trials. The terrier's history of hunting rats for pest control produced the sport of barn hunt. There are a vast number of dog sports
and they are increasing all the time. They are a great way to demonstrate and prove a dog's temperament, as well as exercise, train and entertain a breeding prospect, working dog or beloved pet. Conformation dog showing
is one of the most well-known and controversial of the dog sports. It involves the judging of purebred dogs to a written breed standard that outlines the expectations of structure, coat, colour and temperament for that breed. Conformation titles on breeding stock are a common sight in responsible breeders. In the US, a Ch (champion) title and a GCh (grand champion) title are the most commonly seen.
Conformation titles do several things:
- They demonstrate that the dog fits the written breed standard, which means that they look like a typical example of the breed. Again here we see the importance of predictability and the expectations everyone has for different breeds of dog.
- They show that the dog has the ability to cope with the stress and experience of a significant amount of dog showing. This includes loud noise, long days, being crated, being examined top to toe by a stranger, being calm around a vast number of other dogs and being able to perform in extremely busy surroundings. It may, depending on the breed, also include a significant amount of grooming.
- They typically demonstrate that the dog possesses a structure and coat that is both good for the breed and healthy for the dog. There are some exceptions and some rather complex nuances to this (notably the lack of control over how judges interpret written standards and how their choices impact breeding), but overall the majority of breeds are judged to a suitable written standard that emphasises predictability in appearance and structural health.
Quite often, people will say "I don't want a show dog, so I won't buy from a show breeder". This makes the inaccurate assumption that every dog in a litter is a potential show dog, which couldn't be further from the truth. In reality, one - maybe two - may be show quality in a good litter. The rest make excellent pet dogs. What is 'wrong' with them to prevent them from being successful show dogs is often as little as a spot of white in the wrong place, an ear flopping rather than holding up or a growth spurt that makes them too large to be shown. However, these should not be dismissed as mere 'vanity' concerns. Remember that colour, coat and size are all part of the predictable nature of a purebred dog and variations from them will mean a loss of that predictability in the future.
Other dog sports include obedience, agility, rally, flyball, nosework, coursing, barn hunt, tracking, heelwork to music, water rescue, bitework/protection, disc dog and even competitive surfing. If you are looking for a pet, you may not feel the need to look for a litter where both parents have advanced obedience titles, but their very existence demonstrates several things:
- The breeder has likely put a significant amount of time, work and money into training, trialling and perfecting their breeding stock's ability to compete in this sport.
- This is only possible if the breeder cares a great deal about their dogs, their breeding kennel and the future of the breed.
- In specific sports, it demonstrates that the breeding stock have the correct instincts and drives for the breed (such as lure coursing for sighthounds, water rescue for newfoundlands, bitework for malinois, etc).
- It can demonstrate that the litter will be likely to have the right temperament for a specific sport, but this is usually more applicable to those looking to buy a dog for a certain sport since they will be looking for a dog that is more likely to succeed in it. However, again, many fantastic pet dogs come out of litters where the parents have done well in dog sports.
A note on sport titles: Occasionally, a backyard breeder will attempt to legitimise their breeding stock by finding the easiest titles to get and putting them on their dogs. This is, however, easy to spot if you know how this tactic works. These breeders will only ever have entry level, novice or intermediate titles on their ends of their dogs' names (because they require the least amount of effort and ability) and usually it will be a collection of them. A dog with a CGC/CGCA/CGCU (canine good citizen) and/or TDN (therapy dog) as their only titles, despite the dog being a working breed rather than a companion breed, is also pretty common. Here
is a list of the meanings of many AKC titles. If you are not sure what a title means, I recommend googling it. What is breed-specific work?
Conformation and dog sports are not the only way that responsible breeders can prove their breeding stock. Many breeders never take their dogs near the show or trial ring, but instead work their dogs.
Breed-specific work is any form of work that a breed was initially (and sometimes subsequently) bred to perform. One of the most well-known is herding. A border collie breeder may own a large flock of sheep that they use their dogs to gather, move and organise every day. A jack russell terrier breeder may advertise their services as a non-poison ratting alternative, using their dogs to hunt and kill rats in various locations. No titles are earned and no ribbons are won, but these dogs are still tested and proven through the work they perform.
Forms of breed-specific work include herding, livestock guarding, ratting, hunting to the gun, property guarding/protection, trailing, small game coursing (or lure coursing as a legal alternative), tolling, and mushing. Scent detection, search and rescue, therapy work and service work are not breed-specific forms of work, but often attract particular breeds of dog.
If you are looking for a pet, it is worth noting that there can be a marked difference in the dogs bred for work and dogs bred for sports or conformation. In some breeds (german shepherds, border collies) these splits are more pronounced, whereas in others (salukis, boston terriers), they are very similar and the same dogs can be successful in conformation, sports and work. Often, the lines bred for work (which are the ones often used for sports) are much more energetic, driven and difficult to manage for new dog owners, whereas the lines bred for conformation are calmer and easier to manage for owners who do not want to work their dogs.
Demonstrating working ability does several things:
- It shows that the dog can 'do the job they were bred for'. The dog has the instincts, drive and ability to perform the job you would expect the breed to perform.
- It shows that the dog has the ability to cope with the stresses and requirements of a significant amount of work. The specifics of what these stresses and requirements are will vary according to the work.
- It shows that the breeder has likely put a significant amount of time, work and money into training and perfecting their breeding stock's ability to perform this work.
- This is only possible if the breeder cares a great deal about their dogs, their breeding kennel, the work and the future of the breed.
- It typically demonstrates that the dog possesses a structure and coat that is both good for the breed and healthy for the dog. This may be wildly different compared to the written breed standard, but as a working dog is typically expected to work extensively, a dog with poor structure will not be able to work for long. However, it is not guaranteed that a working dog will be assessed specifically for structure (IPO is one of some exceptions), so elements of unhealthy structure may occur in what otherwise appears to be a happily working dog.
A note on working ability: some backyard breeders will attempt to legitimise their breeding stock by badly "training" their dogs in a form of work. This training is often poor, infrequently done and performed to the detriment of others. Examples of this can include putting dogs on sheep who are allowed to harass the sheep rather than expected to control them (often these are breeds that have no herding ability) and showing a dog biting a protection decoy's sleeve for the flashy look of it but with no real grip or ability. These flaws can be hard to spot for a newcomer to the sport, so consulting with an experienced mentor should be your next port of call after identifying a potential working breeder, if you are interested in buying from them. I know what I'm looking for now, but where should I look for a breeder?
The best place to start your search is the main or 'parent' club for the breed in your country. As previously stated, you can find this by googling "[breed name] club of [your country]". Often, these clubs provide a list of breeders on their website. If they don't, you can email or call the club to ask for recommendations. Unfortunately, there is no guarantee that any of the breeders a club recommends or provides will be responsible, so be sure to do your own checks on them.
Another port of call can be your nearest conformation dog show. This can be found through Infodog
in the US, DogShow
in Canada and Fossedata
or Higham Press
in the UK. If not previously mentioned, your country is also likely to have a website that aggregates premiums/schedules and results for all or most of the country's dog shows.
Search for a large show near you or one that is specifically for the breed you are interested in, then download the premium/schedule to find out information such as the starting time, the location, etc. At conformation shows, you will have the opportunity to observe multiple examples of the breed and can speak to owners, handlers and breeders about the breed. This is a great place to get breeder recommendations in person - although remember to still check them for yourself once you get home!
Many shows in the US are so large that they host multiple different dog sport competitions at the same location, rather than simply conformation. Otherwise, sport trials are often found on the same websites, but some countries do things slightly differently and you may need to look on sport-specific websites for them. For example, in the UK, obedience trials are listed on Obedience UK's website
and UK conformation shows rarely host other sports at the same time.
It can be harder to connect with working dog breeders, as they may not attend any sport trials or conformation shows. The best way to get in contact with people who can point you towards suitable breeders is to get involved with the work first (this may be through volunteering or even simply showing up to training practices to help), as well as speaking to local trainers and organisations for the specific type of work (local sheepdog trainers, IPO clubs, etc). I've found several breeders. How do I check if they are responsible?
Checking for evidence of responsible breeding is the most crucial part of researching a breeder. There are several methods available to you, but some are country-specific and some depend on the breeder's online presence.
Proof of health testing is relatively easy to discover in the US. If a breeder has a website or Facebook page for their dogs, they are likely to share their dogs' registered names. These are long names, typically preceded by a common 'kennel name' specific to the breeder, including any titles won by the individual dog. You can also find registered names in catalogues and results for conformation dog shows/sport trials and on the results aggregators such as Infodog, Higham Press, sport-specific websites, etc. that were mentioned earlier.
In the US, and sometimes Canada, most responsible breeders send their health testing results to the Orthopedic Foundation for Animals
or OFA. You can search the website for individual dogs by typing their registered name into the search bar on the top right of the page. Ideally, the dog will have its CHIC number, which demonstrates that it has completed all of the breed-required health testing.
It can be confused, so let's use an example. We'll look at this Rottweiler
and explore her health tests. If we look up Rottweiler health tests
, we can see that for a CHIC number, OFA requires:
- A hip dysplasia OFA evaluation
- An elbow dysplasia OFA evaluation
- An eye examination by a boarded ACVO ophthalmologist (min. age 24 months)
- A cardiac evaluation, either: congenital exam or advanced exam (min. age 24 months)
Although not specified, the hip and elbow evaluations can also only be performed after the dog has reached two years of age (24 months). Evaluations performed prior this will be recorded on OFA as 'preliminary' evaluations, as the dog has not reached the age determined to be the most accurate at assessing hip and elbow health.
Our chosen Rottweiler has completed all four health tests and has therefore been rewarded with a CHIC number. In addition, the breeder has chosen to perform a dentition evaluation and a test for juvenile laryngeal paralysis and polyneuropathy on this dog. This shows an excellent knowledge of the breed (as Rottweilers can also be affected by JLPP, even though this test is not required by OFA) and shows a significant effort to know the health of this breeding animal. This is a very good sign of responsible breeding.
If you check a breeder's dogs and they have only performed one or two of the required health tests, flag it up. Why have they done this? Is the dog just younger than the minimum age for the other tests? Have they not had the time yet? Or is it something more sinister: that the breeder knows this could be an issue in their lines and has purposefully chosen not to test for it? Or have they 'not had time' to test but have bred the dog already anyway?
If a dog has received a non-passing score on a test or has had a condition flagged up on OFA, take note of this too. There can be good reasons to breed dogs with less than excellent scores (such as a small population that would go extinct if all non-passing dogs weren't bred from, or a breed that typically receives 'worse' scores on average like many dwarf breeds). In addition, some conditions, while noted by OFA on the results, are not hereditary. Add the questionable score to your list of questions to ask the breeder.
A note on OFA checks: Some irresponsible breeders will test their breeding stock through OFA before they reach the minimum age for a full result, providing them with 'preliminary' evaluations. This means they are more likely to get good results, as the dog is not old enough for a proper evaluation. Stay away from these breeders. You have no verification that their adult dogs are actually healthy.
In addition, some irresponsible breeders will show you OFA certificates, but the dog itself cannot be found on the OFA website. This is a red flag, as the only reason why a tested dog would not appear on the database (unless the test has just recently been performed) is that the breeder chose not to let the results be available online. That is a strange thing to do, since a responsible breeder should be keen to share the results of their dogs, and suggests that either they have something to hide or the certificates themselves are falsified.
In other countries, health results are not freely available online. In these cases, you will have to personally ask for proof from the breeder. This is typically provided in the form of certificates from national bodies such as the British Veterinary Association (BVA) and the Fédération Cynologique Internationale (FCI). Make sure to examine these carefully and compare with confirmed real certificates if unsure. What about checking for evidence of titles?
This is also much easier if the breeder has an online presence. Typically, if they do, they will include their dogs' titles in their individual biographies or on their registered names. However, if you cannot find an online presence, you can try looking at results aggregators where, in the US at least, it is common to include every title won by a dog in its registered name no matter what sport it is competing in.
An excellent example of how titles may be displayed on a breeder's website is this French Bulldog breeder's site
and specifically their dog called Soren
. Although this dog is more of an exception (with 55 titles!) than the rule, you can see how his registered name "Daulokke's Une Valliant Grosse" is sandwiched in-between many capital letters.
Usually, the letters (titles) at the front of a dog's name are champion titles, whereas the letters at the end of a name are lower level titles, alternative titles or something else. It is also common in the US to keep all of the titles a dog has been given in their name, including the ones gained at levels prior to their current level. In Europe and the UK, dogs typically only have the title showing for their current level.
Using the AKC title list
, along with other sites
if needed, we can work out what this dog has achieved. If you are need more clarification on a specific title, try searching for it in the specific sport's 'rules and regulations', which should be available to download in PDF form from the relevant organisation's website.
- MACH2: Twice achieved the level of AKC agility champion.
- ARCHX: Achieved the level of APDT rally champion.
- UAGII/UAGI: One level below a UKC agility champion.
- UCD: Achieved the first level of UKC competitive obedience.
- Silver-ROM: A health-related title awarded by the French Bulldog Club of America. This dog has achieved his OFA CHIC number, with a normal cardiac result, a normal patellar result, a clear eye result and a clear or carrier cataract result. He also has a CGC certificate and an AKC title in two or more areas (further requirements for the Silver title).
- CD: Achieved the first level of AKC competitive obedience.
- CD-H: Achieved the first level of CDSP competitive obedience.
- RAE2: Twice achieved the level below AKC rally champion.
Going into all of these titles will take too long, but you can see how each title says something about this dog and what he has been able to achieve. It shows where the owner's passions lie (agility in particular in this case) and the sheer number of titles demonstrate that a lot of time, effort and money has gone into training and trialling this dog. This a strong sign of responsible breeding. What about checking for working ability?
Just like the above, this is a lot easier if the breeder has an online presence. Unlike with sports, where titles are a quick way to see what level a dog is competing at, working ability can be harder to demonstrate online and more difficult to see or understand what is being shown by a newcomer to the work.
Working breeders with an online presence often post videos of their dogs training for the work or actively working. An example is this video
showing a relatively green (inexperienced) dog working sheep, for potential buyers to see its ability and current level of training. For someone already involved in the work, this video will be very telling, but for a newcomer it can be hard to spot the nuances and understand what you are truly seeing. An experienced mentor in the breed and work is invaluable as a sounding board for moments like this.
Some working breeders will trial their dogs. Not in sports like agility or flyball, but in the work they train their dogs to do, in a trial-specific environment. Examples of this include herding trials
, mondioring trials
and field trials
. There is some debate between those who solely trial and those who solely work their dogs as to whether it is trials or work which fully demonstrate working ability, but this debate should only be applicable for those searching for a dog specifically for a form of work. Advice must be sought from an experienced mentor as to whether a dog from trial heritage or work heritage is more suitable for your needs.
If the breeder has no online presence, you can attend trials in person or contact them directly to ask if you can meet their dogs. Some breeders may invite you to join them on a hunt/etc. or at a training session. This first-hand experience should give you a good idea of their style of training and working their dogs, as well as their dogs' level of ability. Health tests, check. Proof of temperament, check. What else?
Well, if your breeder meets those standards, they are already in the top percentage of breeders in the world. You stand a great chance of buying from a responsible breeder.
However, there are another few indicators of responsible breeding - and their opposites, indicators of irresponsible breeding or a drop in standards. I will go through these now. Contracts
Contracts are a tool whose use varies by location. In the US and Canada, contracts are very common, whereas in the UK and Europe contracts rarely make an appearance. For the purpose of US and Canadian buyers, I will discuss their use in responsible breeding.
While not all US & Canadian responsible breeders use contracts, most do. Their contents usually include a health guarantee up to a certain age, an agreement to return the dog to the breeder if it can no longer be cared for and a promise from the buyer that they will care for this dog to the best of their ability. Some contracts may include extra bonuses, such as monetary reimbursements for the buyer upon proof of health testing. Some contracts may include extra restrictions, such as supplemental, care, food or vaccine requirements.
Unfortunately, the simple existence of a contract is not a sign of a responsible breeder. Many backyard breeders and even puppy mills are now writing up their own basic contracts, many of which include requirements which screw the owner if the puppy develops a health or temperament problem.
Providing only a couple day's window for an owner to find a health issue with their new puppy in order to get a refund or an exchange is one such example. This is often too quick for devastating incubating diseases like parvovirus or distemper to appear, let alone for hip or elbow dysplasia to occur. Most responsible breeders will provide a health guarantee of at least two years, especially in breeds with a risk of dysplasia, so that the dog's health can be assessed at the proper age and any temperament or other health issues can be given time to appear in the dog.
Requiring the buyer to feed only a specific type of food or provide supplements like NuVet to their dog in order to activate the health guarantee is also a red flag. Some breeders prefer their buyers to only feed raw, for example. If this is something you are happy to do, this may not be an issue, but it needs to be noted before you agree to it. NuVet, on the other hand, is a pyramid scheme that can be sold to naive, otherwise good breeders. However, invalidating a guarantee without the lifelong feeding of an expensive supplement is not a sign of a responsible breeder. Vaccine requirements also often make an appearance in contracts.
If your breeder has a contract, the best thing you can do is read it, read it and then read it again. Make sure you understand everything you are agreeing to and feel free to ask your breeder why they have included things. Although you are buying a pet, do your due diligence just as if you were buying a house or a car. Registration
Registration of your puppy to a kennel club or relevant organisation is one of the most basic things a breeder can do, but it should still be there. The registration may with a canine association such as the American Kennel Club, the United Kennel Club, the Canadian Kennel Club, The Kennel Club, or a working breed-specific registry such as the International Sheep Dog Society or the American Border Collie Association. Kennel club variations from this list should be flagged and investigated. If the registry allows mixed breeds such as doodles to be registered and bred from, it is likely to be a worthless registry that only puppy mills and backyard breeders use. The Continental Kennel Club is an example of this.
Breeders are often able to put restrictions on registration. In the US and Canada, breeders can offer 'full' or 'limited' registration to their buyers. Dogs with full registration can be shown in conformation and bred from. Dogs with limited registration cannot be shown in conformation or bred from - if they are, their offspring cannot be registered. This enables breeders to have more control over the breeding of their puppies, which is highly responsible. Dogs can also be switched from limited to full registration if the breeder approves of their health testing and accomplishments, or once a dog or bitch has been sterilised.
In the UK, breeders can put 'endorsements' on their registered dogs. These include a 'non breeding' endorsement and a 'not for export' endorsement. The export endorsement prevents a dog from being registered with any foreign kennel club and the breeding endorsement prevents a dog's offspring from being registered with the Kennel Club. These endorsements can be lifted by the breeder at any time. As with limited and full registration, these are excellent safeguards that are often used by responsible breeders. Lifespan and Untestable Issues
There are many health conditions that, while assumed to be heritable, are not yet able to be tested for. These conditions include cancers, epilepsy, allergies, autoimmune diseases, bloat, pyometra, among others. Breeders have different ways of dealing with these issues.
A responsible breeder will be open with you about any instances of these issues in their lines. Unless they are extremely new to breeding, it is likely they will have experienced at least one of these. "No issues whatsoever" is a red flag and should prompt you to do your own research.
Some breeders wait longer than usual to breed their dogs in order to cull (remove from breeding) any dogs that develop these conditions at an early age. Some track the appearance of conditions in their lines and pedigrees to avoid repeating any affected breedings. Some close their eyes and pretend issues don't exist. Since you want to avoid the last one, be sure to ask your breeder about untestable issues. Asking them how long their dogs have lived and what they eventually die of is often a good way to begin this conversation.
The existence of these conditions is not an immediate death toll. Every dog has to die of something, someday, so if the breeder's dogs tend to die age 14 from cancer it should not be a red flag. However, if they have epilepsy crop up and keep breeding the parents who produced it, that should be a big red flag. If cancer shows up at age three and kills their dogs repeatedly, avoid them. It is simple to see how these issues can be handled responsibly in a breeding programme. Leaving the Breeder
Another quite easy way to identify irresponsible and responsible breeders is through their puppy raising and their methods of sending them to their new homes.
In many US states, it is illegal to sell a puppy prior to the age of eight weeks. This is generally seen as the absolute minimum age that a puppy should leave its litter, since after weaning from its mother it is still receiving a wealth of information about dog behaviour from its mother and siblings. Dogs removed from the litter too early often have poor social skills and can develop poor temperaments as a result in later life.
In very small breeds, breeders often keep their puppies until they are ten or even twelve weeks. This is done because the puppies are so tiny that they are at a higher risk for injury and illness if sent home at eight weeks. Many breeders, no matter the dog's size, send them home later than eight weeks.
In addition, a common theme with irresponsible breeders and puppy mills is allowing the buyer to pick their own puppy. This is becoming less and less common in responsible breeders, who know their dogs, have spent two months with the litter and know each puppy's personality much better than a brief visitor. Typically, although not absolutely always, a responsible breeder will pick the puppy to suit the buyer. While it is absolutely fine to have gender or colour preferences, understand that the goal of a responsible breeder is to place a puppy in a home where it will be loved and cared for for life. While the little shy white one may be your kid's favourite, the bouncy outgoing yellow one is going to get along with young children a lot better.
In a similar vein, irresponsible breeders like to let buyers pick their puppy earlier than eight weeks, usually in a 'first come first serve' method. This also demonstrates their lack of care for the puppies, since the puppies' personalities will not be fully developed by then. It is also very difficult to assess structure prior to eight weeks, and, for example, if the owner wants a running partner, picking at six weeks could well ensure they end up with a dog poorly built for distance exercise that develops arthritis or snaps its ACL at age four. A responsible breeder will, most likely, pick your puppy for you and do so no earlier than seven or eight weeks. Red Flags / Green Flags
Finally, there are a few extra things to note. I have included green flags for actions that are often performed by responsible breeders, orange flags for potentially worrying things that need investigation and red flags warning you away from the worst kind of breeding.
- Two litters or fewer per year. In a rare breed, one litter per year or less is more common.
- Being involved in the breed and/or breeding for several decades.
- Putting you on a waiting list, because they already have people waiting for their next litter. This isn't a requirement, but it shows that someone is breeding to the demand available rather than just because they can produce puppies.
- Having an extensive plan for puppy socialisation (noise desensitisation, encountering new surfaces and objects, meeting people and other animals, car rides, household exposure). Use of the raising system Puppy Culture or Early Neurological Stimulation is not necessarily a green flag, as irresponsible breeders are now aware of it and sometimes use it. It can be a good tool, but consider it in the context of the rest of their socialisation plan.
- Breeding unusual colours/coats. Are the colours/coats simply not recognised by one kennel club (such as particolour poodles, recognised by UKC but not by AKC - green flag) or is the colour impossible in that breed without crossing in another (such as merle bulldogs or chihuahuas - red flag)? Or is the breeder claiming that a common coloucoat in the breed, as listed in the breed standard, is rare and asking for a higher price (red flag)?
- Breeding dogs or bitches prior to age two. Why has the breeder done this? Do they make it a habit (red flag)? Was it an accident (orange flag)? Are the dogs fully health tested, on prelims or nothing? Most health testing cannot be done prior to age two.
RED FLAGS WITH NO EXCUSE:
- Sells puppies on sales websites such as Craigslist, Puppyfind, Gumtree, Pets4Homes, etc. Responsible breeders have no need of these sites, since they build connections in-person and through their network. People with endless puppies to sell do, however.
- Prices puppies differently based on colour and/or gender. The only times a responsible breeder may charge a different price in the same litter is if they have a puppy with an unexpected health condition (i.e. deafness, a hernia) or if they are selling with both full or limited registration, as limited is often sold for a lower price.
- Having the option to buy a puppy directly on their website, often through a paypal button.
- Mentioning that they sell from the Amish, who are often puppy millers.
- Producing five or more litters plus per year.
- Not willing to meet you or speak to you before selling you the puppy. While some responsible breeders may not want to invite you into their house, you should not be refused a meeting or a long discussion, since their goal is to interview you and be sure you are offering a good home.
Betting Offers. We all love an offer and you won't find an industry with more promotions than with online betting. In this section we explain some of the common deals you are likely to find with bookmakers to help you chose the right betting offer for you. We also list specific betting offers by sport and type on our various feature pages. There are so many betting sites & offers online that it can be a challenge to keep up with everything available, that’s why we’ve created the chart below to help you keep track of the most generous, or most interesting deals around right now.. Popular betting offers from UK bookmakers. Here we look at the various kinds of promotion that bookmakers regularly advertise. At BettingOffers.org.uk, we showcase the latest betting offers from leading UK online betting sites and bookmakers. And unlike most betting guides, we list all offers – not just the ones for new customers. Betting offers can bring higher profits on short-term while playing at a bookmaker with higher odds that rarely offers promotions can be more profitable in the long term. To put things plainly, if you are more of a recreational punter, going for the big betting offers is a sure way of scoring immediate wins without much effort. Daily Betting Offers New Betting Offers (June 2020) When you’re signing up with a new bookie, the temptation is always to go with the most tried and tested names in the industry: the likes of William Hill, Ladbrokes, Paddy Power, and so on.
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