What makes the best dog breeders different from the rest? How can you tell a responsible dog breeder from one that isn't, concerning the things that actually matter to you? Being the person you are, I imagine you realise it’s quite a bit more than just offering up to date worming and vaccination, so you’ve done a bit of searching around this topic and have probably encountered a range of viewpoints. Some folks are even of the opinion that, because of the thousands of unwanted dogs dying in shelters for want of new homes, all dog breeders are bad, and that dog breeding itself is therefore unethical. I beg to differ!
Without a doubt, dogs are an important part of our society and hold a special place in our homes and hearts. A great dog that is a good fit for their owner can enhance people’s lives in a myriad of ways, and promote mental and physical health as well as social connectivity in communities. Put simply, people need great dogs, and for many the best outcome will eventuate from adopting a puppy rather than rehoming a poorly reared adult dog. Those puppies have to come from somewhere, and that somewhere is a great dog breeder.
Put simply, a great breeder of canine companions is someone who has a lot of love in their hearts – love for their dogs, love for their breed, and love for you, the buyer. All other characteristics of the perfect breeder spring from this love.
For example, out of love for their dogs, the perfect breeder will keep theirs as an integral part of the family. Like all adored pets, they will be walked every day, groomed, trained, cuddled, loved, played with, fed good wholesome food and not shut away sad and bored in a concrete kennel run most of their lives.
Stud dogs waiting for their breakfast treats after morning walkies >>>>
And the best dog breeders will be striving for continual improvement in the way they do things, keeping their minds open to credible new information as well as taking on feedback from their buyers on how they are doing.
Against Early Puppy Sterilisation
Any breeder, for example, who is well informed and has the best interests of dogs at heart will not sterilise their puppies prior to sale. Many studies show that early sterilisation greatly increases a dog's chance of suffering many common cancers as well as some common orthopedic issues (eg cruciate ligament rupture), and almost guarantees the develop of urinary incontinence post maturity, especially in bitches. For the greatest benefit to their health and welfare, the best time to sterilise a male or female is now known to be between 1 and 2 years of age.
Well-informed breeders who love their puppies (and you, the buyer) will know that where and how a puppy toilets is set pretty firmly by the time they leave for their new home. Hard-to-live with toileting preferences by puppies then becomes difficult-to-tolerate toileting by the adult dog, which will often, as a result, be abandoned to the back yard where behavioral issues tend to arise due to loneliness and boredom, paving the way for a one way trip to the vet or a shelter for euthanasia. So your perfect breeder will raise their puppies in a manner that fosters socially acceptable potty behavior and makes it so much easier for their owners to continue the good work when they take the puppy home and achieve successful potty training.
Love for their breed motivates great dog breeders to strive to only breed from good examples of the breed. They will do their best to source their stud dogs from other great breeders, many of whom take the time and trouble to show their dogs with the aim of improving the breed and promoting and upholding the breed standards ascribed to it. They will not breed from dogs that have serious faults such as hernias, misaligned jaws or health issues, and will not allow any puppies with such faults to be sold as breeding dogs. They will also be knowledgeable about heritable diseases known to crop up in the breed and take advantage of any available tests to ensure they screen affected dogs out of their breeding stock so they are not perpetuating these diseases in their puppies.
Love for you, the buyer, will be evident in the measures great dog breeders take to ensure their puppies become fabulous canine companions for their people.
This starts by breeding litters in a way that reduces the risk of heritable diseases and promotes optimum physical and mental health and vitality (for more on this, see the Perfect Litter). Breeders who do this will be comfortable about providing a money-back guarantee against the development of serious heritable diseases for the life of their puppies – and you can take confidence from their confidence.
The first 12 weeks of a puppy’s life makes up its most crucial period of socialisation and are pivotal to how it turns out as an adult dog. If you get it wrong, like a “bad childhood” you can’t go back and easily fix it later. Whatever you want that dog to be calm and “chilled” about as an adult, it needs to be exposed to as a puppy, so that it imprints as part of what becomes accepted as “normal” for it. Ideally the breeder has control over the first 8 weeks, and you are responsible for the last four. So the perfect breeder help you understand the importance of how you handle your first four weeks with your puppy as well as provide ongoing support and good information to guide you.
So for best results, puppies are born and reared in the breeder’s family home where they will grow up accustomed to its normal sounds, smells and contacts. Puppies destined to live with humans need to be handled every day of their lives by kind human hands.
To grow up well adjusted for canine society, they also must spend their first 8 weeks with their littermates. Puppies allowed to leave their litter too early often have difficulty forming normal relationships with other dogs, and may also be prone to developing behavioural problems linked with being over-bonded with humans, such as separation anxiety. Petshop puppies are often – but not always – sourced from puppy mills that keep their parents in highly stressful, factory-farm conditions, raise the pups with little kind human contact, and despatch them very young on long traumatic journeys before they are washed and prettied up to capture someone’s heart in a shop display cage. Studies show that puppies who start life this way make poor companions, and often become adult dogs fraught with anxiety and other behavioural problems.
So if at all possible, always request to see the conditions in which your puppy is raised – better breeders will be happy to show you.
Click here for other general tips on buying a puppy.