What is a “responsible breeder”?
There are three general types of breeders:
- Large Commercial Breeding Operations have many dogs of different types. Most are licensed by U.S.D.A. and the dogs may be registered with the AKC or CKC. They are sometimes referred to as “puppy mills,” although not all such operations are squalid and filthy. Still, dogs in a a large commercial breeding operation are kept in cages, may spend their entire lives in those cages, and may not receive proper handling and health care. The puppies are usually sold through brokers to pet shops.
- The “Backyard Breeder” has a dog and decides to mate it with someone else’s dog so their children can witness the miracle of birth, or because they (mistakenly) believe that females should have a litter before being spayed. Maybe they want to make a little money off the dog they bought at the pet store or have friends who want puppies. Whatever the reason, the backyard breeder is more likely to give the dam and her puppies proper veterinary care and lots of love. On the other hand, the BYB generally does not have expertise in the breed standard and health issues and so may unwittingly create a litter of puppies with health or temperament problems.
- Hobby or Show Breeders have only a few dogs who live in their homes. They know the breed standard by heart, stay up to date on health issues, and carefully choose sires and dams to create healthy litters that improve the breed as a whole. They test the sire, dam, and puppies for any known health issues. Although they have day jobs, hobby breeders take time off from work to be at home with the puppies for some time after their birth to ensure that they are properly cared for and socialized. They may participate in the breed’s conformation shows or in performance activities.
Which one sounds the most responsible to you? (Hint: It’s #3.)
How much can I expect to pay for an MBT puppy?
A puppy from a responsible breeder will cost in the neighborhood of $2,000 to $3,000. Yes, that’s a LOT of money. Before you run off to the pet store, though, consider this:
They started out with superior purebred dogs, have had them fully health tested (which isn’t cheap!), fed them the best food (possibly better than they eat themselves!), and given them regular veterinary care. After the puppies are born (another vet bill!), the mother and pups stay in a special whelping box to make nursing and cleanup easier. The puppies are weaned onto good food, fully health tested, and receive all their shots. Some breeders have their puppies microchipped.
The responsible breeder will take your panicked phone call in the middle of the night when you think something is wrong with your dog. (Not just when it’s a puppy — when it’s fully grown, too.) If for some reason you can’t keep your dog — any time in the future — the responsible breeder will take it back rather than allow you to take it to a shelter. Try doing either of those at the pet store!
What should I ask breeders when I’m looking for one?
Start out with some general questions:
- Where are you located?
- Do you have a litter now? If not, when do you expect one?
- Are the puppies all spoken for? Is there a waiting list? How long is it?
- What do you charge for puppies? What is included in that price?
- Are the sire, dam, and puppies registered? With which registry?
- Where are you located?
Also ask these questions, which can help you distinguish a responsible breeder from the rest.
|Are you a member of the national breed club?||Yes.||Membership indicates an active interest in the breed.|
|Can I visit the puppies?||Of course! How soon can you be here?||A responsible breeder has nothing to hide.|
|When are puppies available to go home?||No sooner than 8 weeks.||A responsible breeder takes time to know the puppies to better match them with the right homes.|
|What type of health care do the puppies receive?||All appropriate shots.||A responsible breeder makes sure your puppy has the best possible start.|
|What health screenings were performed on the parents? |
Can I see documentation?
|Heart Doppler echocardiogram, BAER hearing test, kidneys, PLL screening. |
|A responsible MBT breeder breeds only healthy dogs and will happily share the information with you.|
|What health screenings have you performed/will you perform on the puppies? |
Can I see the documentation?
|BAER hearing test, PLL screening, heart auscultation, kidneys.|
|Same as above. And the breeder will talk with you about what tests you should have done later and when.|
|Do you offer a conditional health guarantee?||Yes.||A responsible breeder stands behind her puppies.|
|Do you microchip your puppies?||Yes.||Microchipping is an extra service that can help reunite you with your dog if it ever is lost or stolen.|
|Can I talk with other people who have puppies of yours?||Of course! Here's a list.||A responsible breeder has nothing to hide.|
|Do you take credit cards?||Umm ...||Most responsible breeders work on a cash/check basis. Some may have a Square or other personal card reader, but it's not common.|
|I live far away. How will I get my puppy?||We'll arrange car transport or passenger air.||A responsible breeder doesn't ship puppies as cargo.|
|Do I have to "fix" the puppy?||Yes (most likely).||Unless you are buying a show puppy, the responsible breeder will require you to spay or neuter your puppy at an appropriate age.|
What will the breeder expect from me?
A responsible breeder will ask you as many, if not more, questions than you ask them. These will probably include:
- Do you have other pets in your home currently? How many, and what breeds?
- Have you thought about how you would introduce a new puppy into your home?
- Have you ever owned a dog of this breed?
- What made you choose this breed?
- Did you recently lose a pet? Are you ready for another one?
- What research have you done on this breed?
- Are you familiar with the grooming needs, etc?
- Were you interested in a girl or a boy, or does it matter?
- Do you have children at home? How old are they? Have they been around dogs before
- Where do you live?
- What kind of home do you have: single family house? Apartment? Do you own, or rent? If you rent, does your landlord allow dogs?
- Does your town, neighborhood, or apartment complex have breed-specific legislation that restricts ownership of bully breeds?
- Do you have a small area for the puppy to stay until she is house trained?
- Where will the dog sleep?
- Do you have a fenced yard or would you be walking the dog on a leash?
- Do you work outside the home? For how long would the puppy be home alone? Would there be anyone to let the puppy out during the day?
- Have you checked out the costs of veterinary visits and grooming in your area? What about dog licensing?
- Have you chosen a veterinarian? If you have a veterinarian, may I contact him/her?
- Have you thought about training? Will you be doing it yourself or will you enroll in a puppy class?
- Do you have any more questions for me about the puppy or the breed?