Puppy Mill or Reputable Breeder?
Puppy mills are real. Let's just put that right out there. So how do you know that you aren't unknowingly supporting one by purchasing one of their puppies? Can you be sure that you are not? The following is a compilation of information that will help you to find a reputable breeder. Whether you adopt a puppy from us or from another Aussie family, please, do your research; it DOES matter.
- 1. Are you obtaining your puppy from the breeder directly?
Puppy millers produce far too many litters to manage on their own. Their primary goal is to make money and it is sadly at the expense of the animals. Often times, a litter is sold to a broker at a very young age for a reduced price. This frees up the mill operator for the next litter(s) as well as from any future financial or physical responsibility of the litter. The puppy has thus far likely been cared for solely by it's mother with little to no human interaction. Brokers do not call themselves "brokers". They can refer to themselves as a "foster" service or a guardian among other things. RED FLAG
- 2. Are you welcome to the breeder's home?
This goes along with number 1. Not only should you acquire your puppy from the actual breeder, you should also be welcomed to where the puppy has been raised thus far. Puppy millers often will not want you to come to their homes as it is likely to reveal the sub standard conditions in which their dogs are kept. They will 'offer' to meet you somewhere nearby for 'your convenience'. RED FLAG
- 3. Does the breeder have both parents available for you to meet?
While there are times when a breeder only has the dam (mother) such as when the sire (father) is owned by a second party, the breeder should at minimum own the dam. It is most beneficial, however, if you can see both parents for yourself to see firsthand their health, temperament, body confirmation, and of course, living conditions. When looking at them, do they have a 'sparkle' in their eyes consistent with a dog that has been shown adequate amounts of attention and affection? Do they cower away from their owner? They should appear happy, clean, well fed, and obviously, healthy.
- 4. Has the puppy been seen by a vet prior to placement?
Puppy millers do not want to spend money on the animals they are over producing. A responsible breeder will have their litters seen by their veterinarian prior to placement to ensure that the puppies are in optimal health and ready to go to their new homes. The puppies should receive their first round of shots at 6 weeks of age with their second round at 8 weeks. Many believe that the vaccinations aren't fully effectual until the second round of shots which is one of many reasons a puppy should not be adopted out prior to 8 weeks of age.
- 5. Does the breeder keep the puppy until at least 8 week of age?
As previously stated, there are many health reasons to keep the puppy with his litter and mother until a minimum of 8 weeks. Immunity is the primary health reason. There are also developmental reasons to keep the puppy until this age. When a puppy leaves it's mother too young, it misses out on some valuable training. For instance, as the puppy grows, it appears that the mother begins to lose patience with her pups. She will become 'snappy' at them at times and will cause them to roll over onto their backs. This is teaching them the valuable lesson of submission. They are learning that they need to approach the unknown cautiously and to submit (roll over onto their backs) when a more aggressive dog is flaunting their ego. This helps curtail many future scuffles. They also learn to be a part of a pack which may not seem important since they will be living with people but what the pack looks like doesn't matter to your dog. It needs to know how to belong to a pack of 4 legged beings prior to being able to acclimate to a pack consisting of 2 legged beings.
- 6. Is the breeder knowledgeable about the breed?
Are they familiar with potential health issues of the breed? Can they explain simple genetics? A good example of a puppy miller would be what I witnessed at a southern 'flea market'. Firstly, a reputable breeder would NEVER take her babies to a flea market to sell! But I digress... At this particular flea market, I noticed a woman who had a box of bloated, runny nosed Boston Terrier puppies (likely worm infested). Another woman went over to see the puppies and asked her what kind of dog they were to which she replied in all ignorance, "They're Pugs..." No. Just no.
- 7. Do registration papers guarantee a good breeder?
In short, no. Many puppy mills sell registered dogs. The American Kennel Club (AKC) is a more reputable registry than is the Continental Kennel Club (CKC). AKC tracks how many registered litters are registered to each individual breeder and once a certain amount of litters has been registered, AKC will make arrangements to inspect the home of these litters. This doesn't mean that they have the man power to catch all puppy millers. Sadly, it's more like a drop in the bucket; but it is good to know that they are striving to shut them down. If a breeder says that they have been AKC inspected, that can be good or bad. There are plenty of good breeders that have, over decades, produced many, many, upstanding litters. They will likely have been AKC inspected. IF a breeder has been inspected, ask to see the findings. Ask them, also, how many litters their females have had. If they can't tell you or don't want to share the information with you, trust your instinct.
- 8. Does the breeder breed multiple kinds of breeds and/or create "designer breeds"?
While having more than one breed doesn't necessarily make one a 'bad' breeder, it is my opinion (and that of others) that it's probably best to stick with one breed that you love and do it well. As for "designer breeds", again, my opinion, there are close to 200 different breeds of dogs currently recognized by the American Kennel Club alone. Breeding dogs isn't a backyard science experiment. I will stop there...
- 9. Are their puppies priced significantly lower than most other breeders of the particular breed?
~These are some of the harder to distinguish warning signs that you may not be dealing with a reputable breeder. Ask questions, look around, get to know your breeder through email, text, phone conversations, and visits if you can prior to picking up your puppy. If your breeder isn't available to you once your deposit is in their account, there's a problem. A breeder should be there for you to answer your questions and calm any worries for the long haul. We pray you find the perfect Aussie family member for your home.~