Saturday, March 7, 2015

Finding a Respectable Breeder

Shih-poo puppies at the breeder we got our boys from.
Breeders – What’s the big deal?

What’s the big deal with breeders? Why are so many people convinced that’s the only type of dog they can get? Why are other people convinced that it’s the most terrible crime in the world to adopt a dog from a breeder?

Not all breeders are created equal.
That’s it in a nutshell. There are some great breeders out there who have been breeding for a long time, treat their animals like family, and take great pride in what they do. In my opinion, these breeders are in the minority. There are a couple different types of breeders:

A good breeder.
This breeder breeds dogs for temperament and health. They’re usually very involved in dog events and especially with breed specific organizations. So if they breed labs, then they’re usually a member of a national Labrador club or association.

A breeder with good intentions.
I think this is the type of breeder we got our boys from. They were a nice couple, and I think they really loved their dogs even if they don’t treat them quite like we do. They just loved having puppies and were hoping to make a little money selling them.

A greedy breeder.
Have you ever heard of a puppy mill? I’m going to post about them one day, but they make me sick. It’s a terrible terrible place, and it’s where all those little doggies in pet stores come from. A lot of dogs sold online come from puppy mills too.

In a nutshell, a greedy breeder has lots and lots of dogs. Way more dogs than they could ever take care of properly. The dogs are always in wire crates. They don’t get held, petted or walked. Many of them have automatic feeders and huge water bottles that don’t get cleaned. The only time a human touches them is to take them out of the cage to breed.

These breeding dogs don’t get shots, don’t see a vet and often have eye/ear/jaw infections. I could go on and on, and one day soon I will, but for now you can learn more about puppy mills here.

How do I find a good breeder?

This is the tough one, especially for people who really haven’t gotten into the dog world yet.

Beware the internet – We can say anything we want on the internet. If you find a breeder for yorkies, for instance, that only has pics of the puppies in a basket or something, beware! Never ever EVER buy a puppy sight unseen over the internet. NEVER. Please never do this.

Let me see! - You want to be sure to see and be able to meet both parents and see where the puppies are being raised. A good breeder will be very happy to welcome you into their home to see their awesome parents and pups. Don’t buy dogs off a lady in a parking lot, ok?

Inside, please – Please don’t buy from a breeder that has their dogs in a shed in the backyard. These puppies should be in the house, that way they’re learning socialization and training skills right from the beginning. Pregnant moms should be inside.

Quality over quantity - There should be one, maybe two litters at a time at the very most. Watch out for places that offer 10 different types of designer dogs. Overbreeding causes health problems in the puppies. And there’s no way a respectable breeder could properly take care of 4 litters of pups plus all the parents they would need to have on hand to have all those different mixes.

Learn about mom - Be sure to find out how often the mother breeds and how old she is. Most dog breeds shouldn’t have their first litter before 18 months, some people say two years. And she shouldn’t be bred every heat. (Dogs go into heat twice a year or so.)

Don’t ever buy a dog from a pet store. EVER. – A good breeder does not take their dogs to a pet store. A good breeder wants to carefully screen every person who adopts a dog. And I’m going to stop there before I get angry…

OMG I just want a dog…

There are great breeders out there, and the right people know them. Go to a local training club or an AKC dog show. These are the people who love their pure bred dogs and take great pride in pedigree. Yes, these dogs will be expensive. But, they’ll also be healthy and have a good temperament.

Why does this matter? Because if you get a dog from a bad breeder, it might be aggressive, have anxiety, or have health problems. I think it's especially important to be careful with the big dogs like labs and German Shepherd that get hip dysplasia.

Learn from your mistakes.

We got Mocha and Ninja from a breeder in Missouri. They’re Shih-Poos. I’d never owned a dog before and was afraid of getting a rescue dog. I only really knew of the dogs in the pound, who can come out a little… wild… Also, I have some serious pet allergies, so I needed a dog that didn’t shed. And I wanted a small dog because my husband was in medical school and I knew his hours would get crazy eventually, so I looked for breeds that would be small and good with kids if trained properly.

I found the breeder on Google, which was quite a feat since most nothing is on Google in north east Missouri. She had a litter and we went up to see them. Really nice old couple. I believe they love their dogs, I really do. But in hindsight, they weren’t the best example of a breeder.

The adult dogs were only in the house when pregnant, other than one little poodle who was their indoor dog. The other puppies and dogs were kept in an outside kennel, and the youngest puppies were kept in kennels in the garage. These dogs were in crates with no bottoms so they didn’t need cleaned as often… And I distinctly remember the lady complaining when we got our second dog from them that the state was requiring that they heat the outdoor kennels.

It hurts me inside today to think of the dogs at her home. They’re not socialized in any way before adoption. She also adopted to us even though we lived in a place that didn’t allow dogs. (I would not adopt my foster dogs to us as we were then.) Mocha has severe joint problems and arthritis in his back, and he’s four. Ninja has seizures and a collapsing trachea, which our vet says you don’t tend to see in a dog younger than six. He’s three.

One final note.

Last week I talked about animal rescue. This is a great option for finding a pure bred dog. You know, some dogs live a long time. Just because a dog is over 1 year old doesn't mean they're not worth having. And senior dogs have a lot of love to give.

Right now at this very moment, the Lake Erie Labrador Retriever rescue has 11 pure bred labs up for adoption. Want a poodle? Google poodle dog rescue, you'll find a rescue group near you.

Not all breeders are bad, and not all rescues are good. (Don’t even get me started on shock collars…) Do your research and listen to your instincts. Talk to people, don’t be afraid to ask questions, and do what is best for you and your family. 

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