You’ve decided to get a puppy and you’ve made the decision to get one from a dog breeder. You’ve done your research on different breeds and picked a breed that is right for you. Now, how to find a good dog breeder?
Below is our top list of things to consider when choosing a good dog breeder.
Is your puppy coming from a dog breeder or a puppy farm?
Can you meet your puppy’s mother before you select your puppy? Ideally you can meet the father as well, however this may not be possible if the father does not live at the breeder’s place.
Too often we are helping puppies with anxiety disorders. When we take a history for these cases, we often find out that the breeder wouldn’t let the mother be viewed by the adopting parents. They might have said something such as, ‘let’s meet half way and we’ll bring the puppy.’ Or, if you get to the property the breeder prevents you having access to view some areas of the property.
This type of behaviour from the breeder are big red flags. Most likely these dog breeders are actually puppy farms where large amounts of dogs are bred. The majority of dogs from puppy farms have ongoing physical and behavioural conditions due to how they were raised.
How a good breeder can minimise genetic physical and behavioural issues
- If you do get to meet the parents and mum or dad appear anxious, hyperactive or aggressive, these behavioural traits have a good chance of being passed on to puppy.
- Has the dog breeder done any relevant health or genetic tests for the mum and dad dog, and if relevant, the puppy? Each breed will have specific health issues that can be genetic such as hip displaysia or luxating patellas and these should be tested for before the mum and the dad dog get together. If an adult dog has a health issue, this can be passed on to the puppies.
- The breeder should be keeping in contact with the families of previously adopted puppies to track if any behavioural or physical issues have occurred. This is important info for any breeder as it gives them information to alter future pairings of a mum and dad dog to avoid future issues.
Setting puppies up to be emotionally resilient
- Is the dog breeder open to you visiting multiple times before puppy is ready to go home with you? This is ideal as it allows you to observe puppy and parents a few times. It also allows puppy to become accustomed to you. Also, we have heard stories of puppy farmers setting up a house to appear like a good breeder. If you visit multiple times you may pick up things like the littermates changing.
- Can your dog breeder show you what socialization program they do with each litter of puppies? We now know that puppies can be set up to become more emotionally resilient individuals if they have a socialization program which commences at day one, that is at the breeder’s.
- Note that socialization should extend beyond just meeting other dogs and people, and your breeder should be able to articular more than just these things. For some basic info about dog socialization, watch this video: Puppy Socialisation.
- Can the breeder tell you when the sensitive or fear periods are for a puppy? This is important is it will impact the intensity of their socialization program each day.
- Does your dog breeder have a commitment to positive reinforcement methods. Ask them what happens if either the puppies or dogs do any behaviour they don’t like. Beware responses including shouting, hitting, ‘time out’ or any other form of punisher. These responses impact on the short term welfare of the dog. These methods can also have long term impacts and create behavioural issues.
Final things to consider
- Does the breeder interview you? You want a dog breeder who cares and wants their puppies to go to good homes.
- Is your dog breeder registered with the Queensland Government? Legally every breeder needs to be registered to sell or give away dogs. More info can be found here: Information · Dog Breeders Register (daf.qld.gov.au). In addition, your dog breeder should be affiliated with other professional organisations such as Dogs Queensland.
- Do they breed more than one litter at a time or multiple breeds? These are warning signs that they may be more focused on financial return rather than welfare of the dogs.
- Were the puppies raised in a normal home environment? If they were raised in sheds, this does not set them up well for adjusting to a domestic home and often means they may have trouble with independence training.
- Search google and social media for any stories or reviews about the breeder. Don’t be afraid to post on a breed specific Facebook page for experiences too.
If you have been in contact with a dog breeder and you aren’t so sure – trust your instinct and keep looking.
Once you get your puppy don’t forget to enroll them in a puppy school!