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How can you tell a reputable breeder from a puppy farm?(25 Posts)
I am still in the early stages of thinking about a puppy but I realised I would have no idea how I would find a reputable breeder?
I have looked at the Kennel Club but realised they don't do cross breeds (which we may choose). So how do you find a good breeder? How do you know it's not a puppy farm? What are the things to look out for?
From what I gather, it’s pretty much impossible to guarantee without word of mouth recommendations. A good way to start is to travel to dog shows and to network and make contacts. Personally I’ve always gone through the rescue route apart from my most recent who came from a friend. There are often mongrel pups in rescue too. My last dog was born in rescue as her mum was picked up as a stray. He was homed and then returned to rescue and we got him aged one. He was a crossbreed and the easiest, kindest, friendliest most gorgeous dog ever. The kind of dog who made non dog people think about getting a dog as he made dog ownership look so simple and he was so loving. You can go through breed specific rescues who foster dogs out so you know what you’re getting and they will be tested with children and cats etc. You really don’t know with a breeder without word of mouth recommendation and knowing they’re breeding responsibly for temperament and health. Otherwise you can easily end up with health issues or temperament issues.
This topic has been done, a lot. Search through the history to find some great threads on the subject of how to spot a puppy farm/back yard breeder.
Unfortunately if you are thinking of a poodle cross then your task is going to be a lot harder as they are very, very popular dogs with puppy farmers.
Sites like The Puppy Contract, Dog Breeding Reform Group and the RSPCA have some good information about avoiding bad breeders and the basics of finding a good one.
If you decide to go for a recognised breed (i.e. one that can be registered with the KC) then the relevant breed club can be a reasonable starting point however you still need to do your homework and not take their recommendations as any kind of guarantee. Whilst not true of all clubs there are plenty with a real tendency to minimise the severity or prevalence of heritable or conformation related health issues within their breeds. There’s also still not really a widespread acceptance of the issues with the current model of pedigree dog breeding in the UK and the necessity of (at the very least) appropriately managing what genetic diversity breeds have left.
Do as much research as you can, both generally into the ins and outs of dog breeding and specifically into any breeders who are recommended to you whether by people you know or breed clubs. Websites like Dog Breed Health and the dog section of the UFAW site are good for information on health issues specific to different breeds and what screening schemes are available. The Institute of Canine Biology blog has lots of excellent posts covering the genetic diversity side of pedigree dog breeding. I’d particularly recommend reading at least the Inbreeding Coefficient FAQs and the post Why DNA Tests Won’t Make Dogs Healthier.
Appropriate health testing is still necessary when breeding crosses (exactly which tests would be required depends on the breeds involved) and in the case of multi-generational crosses with repeated uses of the same breed (such as a labradoodle being bred with either a poodle or a labrador) you want to keep an eye on the relatedness of the dogs involved that are the same breed.
Ultimately there are lots of different opinions as to precisely what makes a good breeder, there’s really no route you can go down which negates the need for you to do as much of your own research as possible and make up your own mind. It’s so worth putting in the effort at this stage though to maximise your chances of getting a sound, healthy and well rounded dog who suits your family’s lifestyle and will be a fabulous companion for many years to come.
I also was wondering (in the abstract, i have dogs) about reputable breeding of low monetary value dogs ie mongrels, staffies, JRTs.
How about a rescue dog? We got one at six months old and he is completely brilliant.
Please consider a plain poodle 🐩 instead of a cross.
The vast vast majority of crosses will come from either a puppy farm or a BYB.
What's so appealing about a cross-breed? What will they give you that a pure-bred dog won't?
If you're looking at a cross breed, be aware that the puppy will be a random mix of characteristics of the two breeds. It's not a way to get the best of both breeds - you can very easily get the worst of both breeds.
With poodle crosses, be aware that
- not all have the hypoallergenic coat, and I believe it's not possible to tell at 8 weeks what coat it will have
- they need a lot of grooming, and are very prone to matting. A dog groomer friend says poodle crosses are her least favourite breed to groom.
- in cockapoos, resource guarding has emerged as a common problem; it comes from the cocker side of the family
- poodle crosses are almost exclusively puppy farmed. Reputable breeders are like hens teeth. This is not the best start in life for a pup (bearing in mind that the first 16 weeks of a dog's life are the core socialisation window, and your pup will spend half of that with the breeder). It also condemns the mum to a lifetime of misery, and usually being dumped when she's too old to breed.
As Avocados says, the time spent with the breeder is extremely important in terms of setting the pup up as well as possible to be a well rounded adult dog. The Puppy Plan is a really good site for giving a breakdown of the developmental stages of puppies and what sort of things the breeder should be doing (as a minimum) during each.
Genetics is also very important when it comes to temperament, puppies aren’t blank slates that can be shaped into whatever their new owner wishes. Socialisation and training can influence a puppy but they can’t completely change who that puppy is. This is a really good blog post on the subject which is well worth reading.
Visiting is important. If something feels wrong, it probably is. I’ve heard it’s best to have a puppy raised in a similar circumstance to your own set up. Eg our puppy was raised in a family home, handled lots by older kids, and he settled in really easily into our house. It was clear from visiting the house that mum was a very loved family pet, as were the other 2 (non breeding) dogs. The breeder and I spent a lot of time talking and asking each other questions, and there was no pressure to put a deposit down. It was clear from talking to the breeder that she was knowledgable, organised and cared about the puppies welfare.
I had visited someone before where the puppies were being raised in a heated kennel outdoors, which just seems weird to me, although I understand that many reputable breeders do this. They were dirty and smelly and it put me off even thinking about a dog at all.
Ps I didn’t think the one I mentioned with the dirty puppies were reputable at all!
If looking at a poodle cross then please consider rescues. A lot of poodle crosses get turfed out as they are sold as ‘hypo allergenic’ and non shedding but that’s really only a 50/50 chance.
We have a ‘proper’ poodle. He’s amazing. And always mistaken for a cockerpoo because, surprisingly for some (ahem...DH!) they don’t come out with shaved noses and poofy Pom Poms.
A breeder will have years of breeding experience and show results (I assume you will go for a show line, but the same applies for working lines) which should be available on their website.
They should be able to chat to you about the breed and their breeding aims. They should have all the health screening tests recommended by KC for both parents and if there are any extra ones available they should have those too or explain why they did not get them done.
You should be able to visit them to meet their dogs and/or see them at shows where they are showing their dogs. They should also be happy for you to meet the mother beforehand and give you details of the father. You should be able to meet the puppies a couple of times before you pick one up, usually at 5wks and 7wks and many breeders now have FB groups where they share photos of the litter as soon as they arrive.
Dogs should be kept at home, in a family environment and most breeders will have grannies, aunties, cousins, etc to show you as well as the mother.
If you go for a cross-breed then it becomes much more difficult, but why would you choose that? If you are not bothered by breed go to a rescue that fosters with families and adopt a puppy.
Thanks for all the replies.
I am still only really thinking about it and considering everything - I haven't decided if we will definitely get a dog yet So I'm not set on a cross breed or any particular breed to be honest. Someone had mentioned a cavalier and Bichon Frise cross to me as a good family dog.
I was more just wondering where I would even go to find a puppy as I'm conscious I wouldn't want to support puppy farming.
Unfortunately cavalier x bichon are also big targets for puppy farmers in the same way that poodle crosses are.
I also wouldn't touch anything involving a cavalier as the issues with syringomelia - you can end up having to put a young dog down because it's writhing in agony.
Would you consider a rescue dog? Lots of them are relatively young because the less committed dog owners give up on them at the arsehole teenage stage, at about a year old. It does at least remove the minefield that comes with sourcing a puppy.
PS what about a purebred bichon?
Why would you want to cross two perfectly fine breeds like the cavalier and the bichon when either one would be fine on its own?
If you go looking for cross breeds (rather than mongrels) you are very likely to end up with a dog from a BYB in it for the £££ or a puppy farm.
Yes I would consider a pure-breed Bichon. Does anyone have any experience of them? Are they a good family dog? Do they suffer separation anxiety?
Bichons are lovely dogs, relatively low energy, friendly but do need quite a bit of grooming, usually by a professional so factor that in your costs. As far as I know they are not particularly prone to separation anxiety.
No personal experience beyond what I've met in the park, but Google suggests they're fairly sound little dogs.
You might like to attend Discover Dogs, where you can meet the breed club reps and their dogs. It's an event aimed at people like you - potential new dog owners.
I have a bichon. She's a lovely dog. Very full of energy! As a breed they are very prone to separation anxiety. However this isn't the case for every dog. Mine very much has it..
Grooming costs are large in this type of breed. We pay £40 every 6 weeks. Daily brushing (doesn t take that long if keep the hair short). They seem to be allergy friendly to many and this is partly why we got this breed. They don't shed.
So fab breed lovely dogs but take into account the grooming and potential separation anxiety.
A ‘reputable breeder’ is STILL a ‘puppy farm.’ Why not just go to your local pound and offer a home to a dog who needs it?
Well, if you visit and you can meet puppy's parents, the owners and their family, the dogs are obviously loved and well cared for (and preferably friendly!), that's a good start. Regardless of their certificates, registrations etc