Evaluating An Ethical Dog Breeder



The following post was provided to Pet Guardian Angels of America by Lazhar Ichir, Founder of Breeding Business


Finding a dog is a long journey that can take months of meetings and disappointments. Not all dog breeders will appreciate you, and you will often have a feeling of “there’s something wrong” with most breeders. Believe it or not, this is a good thing.

This article is here to help you recognize a responsible and ethical dog breeder when you see and speak to one. I qualify of ethical a breeder who cares for the breed, as a whole, more than he cares about profitability and trends.

An ethical dog breeder should have a vision, an ideal, and each litter should bring him closer to this dog breeding program’s ambition.

1 – Does The Breeder Have a Project?

Unethical dog breeders are a diverse group of people, some start with the best intentions but fail at the execution, while others purely and simply are in it for the money. Therefore, it matters to understand the breeder’s motivation behind his dog breeding program, and whether it makes sense to you or not.

As a prospect, it’s very much normal and recommended to ask the breeder what is his final ambition when breeding these specific dogs – is he or she after a particular look, or skill? Are the dogs focused on breeding some health concerns out of their breed?

Obviously, if an answer is given, gauge it thoroughly because it’s very easy for a puppy farmer to just lie to your face. Ask for precisions, ask for some the names of bloodlines similar to his, just to see if he or she has done the homework.

2 – Is The Breeder Receiving Objective Feedbacks?

If a breeder announces you their goals and objectives, you still need to make sure they are actually good at it. The best way to receive objective feedback is to compete in a suitable canine competition. If they are breeding working Border Collies, participating in ISDS trials will be the way to go. If they are breeding dogs for the looks, results in various dog shows will prevail.

Valuable feedback is given by judges, breed clubs, mentors and even fellow dog owners. If the breeder stays within his own walls, there won’t be much feedback about his dogs. Therefore, mistakes, flaws, and health concerns, all of them will keep on being bred.

Always give priority to breeders you meet at dog shows and exhibitions – it shows a level of commitment to the canine world that 95% of dog breeders can’t be bothered to reach. Such breeders price their puppies higher but they sell you more than a dog – they throw in thier knowledge, time and care.

3 – Where Is The Breeder Telling His Story?

Ethical dog breeders have an ideal specimen in mind and throughout their years of breeding, they will try to get as close as possible to that specimen. More often than not, such opinionated breeders will have so much passion within them that they are very keen on spreading the word.

Sharing their results, their thoughts, their doubts, and just sharing the evolution of their bloodline. All of that has to happen somewhere.

The tech savvy breeder will run a blog will weekly or monthly updates, galleries and photos, while the old-school breeders will stick to messages boards and Facebook pages. Younger breeds like the American Bully have a huge community on Instagram, a photo-based social media channel owned by Facebook.

Don’t get me wrong, it’s not because a breeder doesn’t have such outlet that they are irresponsible or unethical – but it’s always better to know that your breeder is documenting the story of his kennel somewhere. Plus, there are free tools to launch a modern website within 5 minutes like WordPress.

4 – Is The Breeder Demanding?

A responsible breeder doesn’t just sell puppies to forget about them – he or she wants to know how well these little babies will be taken care of. Most of the time, a good breeder will even annoy you with some specific spaying/neutering clauses in the sales agreement. They may even require you to seek their approval before any breeding.

Definitely more constraining than buying a puppy from a petshop, you may also think that, after all, you paid a high price for a quality puppy, so you should be entitled to do whatever you wish with it. You are right, but the breeder is right, too – indeed, way too many owners give some bloodlines a bad reputation!

This is why the breeder and yourself should find the right balance of compromises; so both of you willingly and happily sign off that puppy sales contract.

5 – Back to Basics: Paperwork and Health Checks

Left it at the hand because it is so basic that it hurts me to have to specify this here. But again, too many buyers don’t have the reflex to check what medical conditions affect their favorite breed, and what health screenings are available to breeders to only produce healthy whelps. Dog Breed Health is a fantastic resource for that since the information is sorted by breed.

Paperwork matters – because in the worst case scenario, the folder given to you by the dog breeder is the only thing you have left. Make sure it includes as many information as possible, even things you may believe are irrelevant. It should absolutely include:

  • Sales agreement – every promise, liability, transaction should be on this paper
  • Registration – for your kennel club or specialty clubs
  • Veterinary care – listing vaccinations, treatments and exams the puppy has been through
  • Breeder note – detail on the current puppy diet, feeding schedule, weight, etc.
  • Parents’ screenings – copies of the results of various health checks the parents underwent
  • Pedigree – the puppy’s family tree going back to as many generations as possible

Depending on the breeder and the bloodline’s specialty, some additional documents may be requested. If you are buying a dog to show, you may want a copy of the parents’ award certificates.

If the article is too long, and you didn’t read, you perhaps shouldn’t get a dog in the first place. Yet, I will still summarize so you can leave with the essentials:

  1. make sure the breeder has a clear vision and ambition for his bloodline
  2. continuous objective feedback should be received from competition
  3. ethical dog breeders often document their journey and share their knowledge
  4. quality breeders screen prospects and require commitment from you, too
  5. health checks and paperwork are comprehensive and shared without chase

Reputable and responsible dog breeders don’t necessarily have these five altogether but they should at least hit four out of five. Of course, the more demanding you are, the more money you should be ready to pay – but the more at peace you will be over time!

Thanks to Lazhar his contribution to this article. He is the founder of a free online magazine educating dog breeders worldwide.