Thanks to recent national media coverage, much has been done to expose the cruel and inhumane conditions at puppy mills. Puppy mills are generally defined as places that breed large numbers of puppies for sale to pet stores or over the Internet. When one hears the term “puppy mill” rarely does one think of their neighbor next door raising litters of dogs that are emotionally and/or physically unsound. And yet, the line between irresponsible “backyard breeding” and those who raise dogs as a commodity for profit, as in a puppy mill, is a very fine one.
In reality, responsible breeding of purebred dogs, when done properly, takes hard work, time, money and involves many steps on the part of the breeder. Good breeders always “breed to improve.” Here are some key facts to keep in mind if considering purchasing a puppy from a breeder or looking to breed your own purebred dog.
The American Kennel Club (AKC) and the United Kennel Club (UKC) are the only two legitimate kennel clubs in the U.S. Beware of other registries (sometimes called “toilet paper” registries since their paperwork has no merit). Many have official sounding names and acronyms similar to the AKC and UKC. Unfortunately, these registries are often used as “proof of paperwork” by pet shops, backyard breeders and puppy mills. Most people don’t know the difference and are easily misled. Several registries will even register mixed breeds (such as maltepoos, labradoodles, puggles, etc.) which is a “joke” according to reputable breeders.
In other words, merely having a dog examined by a veterinarian before he or she is bred is simply not adequate; that’s just the starting point. Just because you think your pet is “loving” (to you), cute and “seems healthy and the vet couldn’t find anything wrong” does not mean she should be bred.
Good breeders also abide by a ‘code of ethics,’ which includes having a sales contract with those who purchase a puppy. The contract includes a medical guarantee/warranty by the breeder that they would either refund the money and/or take the dog back should it develop a congenital medical issue later on. The contract also states what the breeder would do if the buyer ever decided they no longer wanted the dog. Reputable breeders either guarantee to take the dog back or they actively work with the owners to place it in another good home. Good breeders tend to stay in touch with “their” puppies and tend to treat them as extended family.
WWC Note: No reputable breeder who takes pride in their dogs and care of their puppies well being will sell to pet shops, brokers, or merely off e-mails. A person who is out for the best interest of their dogs will interview you just as much as you would interview them. It’s not as easy as cash exchanging hands.