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Checking out a breeder

(108 Posts)
DontShootMeDown Thu 09-Nov-17 11:58:12


I want to make sure we don’t support an unethical breeder when we get our puppy. Please don’t tell me to go to a rescue, I know that’s what many people feel is the only ethical way to get a dog, but it’s not for us. We want a very specific type of dog, plus we have a four year old so many rescues won’t consider us.

So we have found a breeder who seems great. She interviewed us first, asked to meet us face to face, had us in her home where we saw the mum and dad dogs, saw mum feeding pups, she showed us all their paperwork and health checks, asked us to sign a contract including promise to return the puppy if we can’t cope. She has an FB group for all her past Puppy owners and the owners on their seem very happy. She clearly adores her dogs.

My only reservation is she owns thirty five dogs. Thirty five! We saw them all. And she has quite a few litters a year albeit from different mums and no mum will ever have more than four litters in a lifetime. After four litters she spays the mum but keeps them as a loved family pet. We saw our our pup’s great grandmother.

Is owning this many dogs a red flag or in the context do you think it’s ok? They were all clean and happy looking and she has a huge garden and seemed to lavish them with love.

Also is there anything else I should check?


missbattenburg Thu 09-Nov-17 12:27:25

It would be a flag for me... how do 35 dogs get adequate care and attention and exercise? It honestly doesn't seem possible without a small team of people full time. Can she prove the dog you saw was the great grandmother? As much as the KC has flaws, this is where pedigree records can help because you can find online, independent pictures of the dogs relations to verify the dog you saw is who she says she is.

Why would she have 4 litters a year if not to make money? Does she show the dogs or have links with the breed other than breeding (judging, agility, etc.)?

Does she bring in external bloodlines or keep breeding different mixes of the same 35? How does she avoid inbreeding?

4 litters a year pretty much means someone is having to be with a puppy every single day of the year - who is doing that? What socialisation experiences does she give them in their first 8 weeks?

Who mentored or her and/or who does she mentor? Sometimes these links and relationship to other, ethical breeders can help shed more light on who she is.

At the end of the day, you have to be satisfied yourself that she is ethical and the dogs are well cared for and loved. If you are, then do it. If you are having to convince yourself she is a good breeder then trust your gut instinct that something is wrong and walk away.

Wolfiefan Thu 09-Nov-17 12:31:23

That's a business. Is it a cross breed selling for lots of money?
These animals aren't pets and I can't see how the puppies will get the best start if they have over 30 dogs to worry about.
Do you know what health tests are needed in this breed? Have they been done?
How did you find the breeder? (We went through the breed club.)

FairfaxAikman Thu 09-Nov-17 12:37:14

It depends on the breed for me. I know a breeder of working dogs (labs and spaniels) who has more than 35 on site (not all are bred from, he has three or four studs and about six breeding bitches atm) but they are all kennel-kept workers and his facilities are top notch.
For a breed that is strictly “pet” (eg Frenchies, chihuahuas, etc) then it would.

DontShootMeDown Thu 09-Nov-17 12:41:45

Sorry, it’s not four litters a year, it’s four litters a lifetime for each mum. I’m not sure how many litters a year she has across all her dogs. Only one litter of puppies there at the mo.

It’s cleary a business in that she doesn’t work, her dogs are her life, and she charges a lot (but no more than current market price for this type of dog) but is a business bad if it’s done with love and care and according to best practise?

It is a cross breed but I’ve found both pure bred parents on the kennel club website, plus the entire bloodline she described to me.

She’s got all the health checks for the breed and offered for me to come to final puppy check at the vets if I wanted to talk to the vet myself.

DontShootMeDown Thu 09-Nov-17 12:42:48

I found her through a friend who got a puppy from her two years ago.

FairfaxAikman Thu 09-Nov-17 12:44:18

Producing deliberate cross breed would be a deal breaker for me I’m afraid. Shows that the interest is money rather than bettering the breed (which is what it SHOULD be about - and I’m not talking KC standard “improvements” either)

DontShootMeDown Thu 09-Nov-17 12:47:41

OK but we want a cross breed so I can’t avoid someone for that reason.

The “breed” club recommends a place that is very clearly a puppy farm churning out about 15 puppies a month so I don’t trust them!

CMOTDibbler Thu 09-Nov-17 12:49:06

It feels wrong. 35 dogs is a hell of a lot of dogs to be dealing with and with 'quite a few' litters a year, theres no way she can give those puppies the input they need to be well socialised.

Are the parents health screened for all the issues of their breeds or is the 'health check' just a vet visit?

DontShootMeDown Thu 09-Nov-17 12:50:32

Parents have full screen for all issues known to affect their breeds. Most thorough set of tests I could hope for.

SummatFishyEre Thu 09-Nov-17 12:53:53

She sure sounds like a puppy farmer. What are her reasons for breeding? Good breeders plan a litter when they want a puppy to show

Wolfiefan Thu 09-Nov-17 12:54:01

What tests have they done?
@CornflakeHomunulus can advise.
I question the ethics of anyone deliberately breeding cross breeds. Why do this? I would want a compelling answer. You don't know what you will get. I know two cocker poos. One is cocker like and the other totally poodle.
What do you get from the cross that you can't get from a mutt or a pedigree? (Family have always had mutts! Not meant as a slur.)

FairfaxAikman Thu 09-Nov-17 13:01:13

But why do you want a crossbreed OP? What would you be getting that you wouldn’t get from a purebreed (and bearing in mind that with Crossing there is absolutely no consistency in looks, temperament or breed characteristics)?

DontShootMeDown Thu 09-Nov-17 13:18:08

I really don’t want to Get into a pure breed vs x breed debate. I’m looking for advice on further questions or checks with this breeder. She confuses me as she seems so devoted to her animals and so thorough with her checks yet she has so many dogs that it’s a worry.

Anyway, most of you have said this many dogs is a problem and impacts on care so I probably need to think again.

Bubble2bubble Thu 09-Nov-17 13:22:24

I would have a huge problem with anyone keeping that number of dogs.
I have four dogs and a pup here at the moment and tbh looking after that many is practically a full time occupation - I can’t even imagine how you could properly look after, train and exercise thirty five.

What is a puppy farmer? Someone who puts profit over the health and welfare of their dogs. These days there’s probably more money in puppies than in drugs.

Bubble2bubble Thu 09-Nov-17 13:26:05

As regards further checks - you can find out from the council if she is a licensed breeder, and for how many dogs.
You can search Companies House for information if they are a limited company and get an idea of the turnover they have.

Ylvamoon Thu 09-Nov-17 14:07:17

DontShootMeDown- I have no doubt that this is a professional breeder. And with that it's a business... nothing wrong with that there are many ways of earning money! Where you buy a dog from is personal preference.

But with 30+ dogs the parents are most likely "kennel" dogs.
They spend their life in that kennel, maybe they have a big run where they can play with their friends. Imagine the life of Zoo animals minus the visitors. If the dogs are all clean and in good condition, than its all legal and above board. I
Having 30+ dogs doesn't mean this woman doesn't care about the dogs. They may well be better looked after then many pet dogs.

Your puppy might well have spend the first few weeks in a kennel environment. Not getting used to live in a home environment at important development milestones.
It is also questionable how much the puppies interact with humans. This can be problematic when you bring your puppy home. It will need lots of time to adjust as it has lots everything it ever knew! (There won't be anything remotely familiar in your home.) But all this can be overcome with time and patience.

Wolfiefan Thu 09-Nov-17 14:14:17

Licensed breeder? They will be. It doesn't mean it's not a puppy farm.
I don't have a problem with cross breeds. If the people breeding have a sensible reason for that particular cross. And no. They're popular isn't a good enough reason. Some people do cross breed when breeding working dogs to encourage certain traits. So sprockers for instance.
I'm guessing it's a poodle cross. I doubt you will find anything other than a disreputable back yard breeder or a puppy farm.
Time for a rethink?

CornflakeHomunculus Thu 09-Nov-17 14:36:17

Health testing is really only a single aspect of being a responsible breeder. Obviously it's extremely important and decent breeders will be appropriately utilising available health schemes but health testing alone is no guarantee of a good breeder. Plenty of puppy farmers will health test their dogs, not because they're striving to produce healthy puppies but because they know the public is starting to wise up a bit and if they're breeding a lot they can comfortably absorb the cost and look a bit more responsible whilst still making a tidy profit.

I don't see how it's possible for someone to have 35 dogs and adequately meet their needs, never mind those of the litters they're producing. Raising a litter of puppies well is practically a full time job and I would be very concerned that adequate effort would not be going into giving those puppies the best possible start in life. Have a look at this newfoundland breeder and how they raise their puppies. Those are the sorts of lengths a good breeder will go to in order to ensure their puppies are as well rounded and prepared as possible to go off to their new lives.

If the breeder in question has multiple generations of dogs then they must be either crossing back to either of the two parent breeds or breeding crosses together. Once a breeder is doing this you need to look very carefully at inbreeding levels, especially in a situation like this where it sounds like a breeder is using all their own bitches and stud dogs. It's not uncommon at all to see such breeders crossing back to related dogs just because those are the ones they have to hand.

If you're absolutely set on a particular cross (bearing in mind that very few, if any, popular crosses fill any kind of empty niche that isn't already occupied by existing breeds) then you may find yourself in the position of having to pick the best of the worst in terms of breeders.

FairfaxAikman Thu 09-Nov-17 14:40:21

You say you don’t want a cross breed v pure breed debate OP, but unfortunately that is part and parcel of your welfare question.
Many “breeders” create cross breeds for money, not welfare and therefore it’s the biggest red flag of them all to some of us.
I know the hip scores of all five generations on my Labrador because the pedigree means traceability - I can almost guarantee no labradoodle owner will be able to say the same.
It means if I had decided to breed from my girl I could ensure the probability of hip dysplasia was as low as humanly possible - to me that is a welfare issue that is dictated by the very fact she is a pedigree.

ClaudiaNaughton Thu 09-Nov-17 15:03:17

Cornflake that website is amazing!

DontShootMeDown Thu 09-Nov-17 15:20:23

Her dogs actually all live in the house. Seriously. We were there. It’s crazy. And the puppies are in a run in the conservatory. I don’t think this was faked, they are a mad family. She said she has eight dogs and four cats in her bedroom at night and her three daughters were there and all talked about having dogs sleeping with them. It kind of grossed me out to be honest.

She spent about half an hour lecturing me about keeping them on this special raw meat diet. She doesn’t want them to go to families who feed dry food only. She’s quite passionate.

She has sent me a video of the puppy everyday since we visited. His first raw food, his vet visit, his first brush, his first time outside. She does obviously put a lot of time in. I think she might just be a bit mad.

ProfessorCat Thu 09-Nov-17 15:30:57

For goodness sake.

Do you really have to ask?!

She's farming mongrels for profit. That's absolutely disgusting and I can't believe you're deliberating funding her puppy farm.

DontShootMeDown Thu 09-Nov-17 15:33:59

Chasing profit is a fact of life in this capatilist world in which we live, doing something for profit doesn’t mean you aren’t doing it well.

You think that Newfoundland breeder linked to above isn’t partly in it for profit?

ProfessorCat Thu 09-Nov-17 15:35:03

It's a bloody animal not a car!

You don't have animals to make a profit.

Your comment says it all. Please don't buy ANY dog, you clearly don't see them as living creatures. Disgusting.

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