Tips for Choosing the Right Dog Breeder
When it comes to getting a new puppy, the biggest decision you'll make first of all is choosing the right dog breeder to buy from. In the world of dog breeding, there's a huge variety in terms of professionalism and experience. Some dog breeders take their business very seriously and raise each puppy with love and care. Others, sometimes known as 'puppy mills,' are purely in it for the money and don't take care of their dogs. This article will explain how to find and deal with a good breeder, and how to avoid 'puppy mills'.
Finding a Good Breeder
Many websites will tell you to buy a puppy from a 'reputable' breeder. But what is a reputable breeder, and how do you know when you find one?
For starters, the breeder should have an obvious passion for the breed of dogs he or she is breeding. Ideally, you want to deal with someone who has bred multiple litters in the past. If the person you're dealing with is breeding for the first time and it was an 'accidental' pregnancy, you may be dealing with what's known as a 'backyard breeder.'
A professional breeder will typically have a dedicated set-up at their home or a separate kennel for raising their pups. They may even have an official website set up for their breeding business. These things indicate that someone is serious about breeding the right way and knows what they are doing.
One of the most important things you can do when you visit a breeder is ask to see the mother of the pups (known as the 'dam'). If the breeder is doing his job properly, the mother should look healthy (although probably quite tired!). If the breeder refuses to let you see the mother, this is a big red flag and may indicate you're at a puppy mill. Puppy mills will breed the same female again and again repeatedly with very short intervals between pregnancies, and tend to take very little care with socializing and raising puppies well. This can mean all sorts of health and behavioral problems for the puppies down the road.
Choosing the Right Puppy
Once you know you're dealing with a reputable dog breeder, the next step is to decide which puppy you actually want. It can be tempting to go for the 'runt' – the weakest (and often the cutest) dog in the group. This is usually not a great idea. Although you might feel a great deal of sympathy for the runt of the litter, often the weaker pups are more prone to disease and injury because they didn't receive as many nutrients in the womb as the other pups. If you choose the runt, be prepared for the possibility of some medical bills in the future.
You should aim to choose a healthy looking pup with a good temperament. Temperament is simply another word for personality – choose a pup which looks like he or she is having fun, playing with littermates, and so on. Bear in mind that pups who yap a lot generally turn into dogs who bark a lot, so if they're at the stage where they've found their little voices, try to avoid the loudest ones.
Of course, another big consideration is gender. Do you want a boy or a girl? Males tend to be a little more aggressive, although that can largely be dealt with through neutering. And of course, you don't have to worry about a male getting pregnant and having puppies – but again, that issue can be fixed by spaying a girl puppy. Unless you have specific plans to breed, and you intend to educate yourself on the breeding process and do it right, you're best to get your puppy spayed or neutered as soon as possible. In that case gender is really a matter of what your prefer.
As mentioned, puppy mills are breeders who simply try to 'churn out' as many pups as possible to make a profit. They generally don't put the care and attention needed into raising happy, healthy and well-behaved pups. A lot of care and socialization is required in the early stages of life to make sure a puppy will grow up without any behavior problems – that's why buying from a responsible breeder is so important in the first place. If a breeder won't let you see the dam, or you do see her and she looks 'broken' and worn out, or the areas where the pups are being raised seems dirty and unsanitary, you may be dealing with a puppy mill.
Backyard Dog Breeders
Backyard breeders are simply people who have bred their pets but aren't professional breeders. They aren't as bad as puppy mills, and you can get a good pup from a backyard breeder – but it's not the best option. You don't want to encourage people who don't take breeding seriously to try it again. Dog breeding is something that ought to be handled by dedicated professionals and you should aim to only deal with people who really understand the process and put in the necessary time and effort.