How to spot a good breeder
So you've decided to get a new puppy or kitten. Your three options are to: adopt from a shelter, buy from a pet store or find a breeder. If you haven't considered adopting from a shelter yet, definitely don't rule it out! Shelters get all kinds of dogs and cats from newborns to elderly citizens. Due to severe overcrowding in pounds and rescue centres, most of these animals have a limited time left so aside from getting a cuddly new family member, you're also saving a life.
Another option is going to a pet store however this is usually one of the worst ways to buy a pet. Traditionally pet stores sold animals from puppy or kitten farms that breed their animals as frequently as possible in usually substandard conditions to produce the highest possible profit. Some pet stores have changed their policies and only sell pets that have been saved from the pound however be careful as a lot of shops don't.
Lastly, the other popular option is going directly to a breeder who specialises in a certain breed. If you need a pet to fit specific requirements it is generally better to go with a registered breeder. Good breeders socialise their animals properly and will breed for desirable temperaments which may be a necessity for families with small children or elderly members. The personality of shelter dogs can be somewhat unpredictable and it is not the option for everyone. This article is designed to help you in identifying whether you have a good, genuine breeder or if they are a "backyard breeder". A backyard breeder usually does not have as much knowledge on the breed and sees selling puppies or kittens as a way to make easy money.
10 questions to ask yourself when choosing your breeder
- What are the living conditions like?
- Do they plan ahead?
- How concerned are they for the welfare of all their animals?
- What questions are they asking you?
- What information can/will they readily provide?
- How selective are their breeding choices?
- Do they meet all the legal requirements?
- What are the expectations post-purchase?
- Do they have a guarantee?
- Are they able to provide references?
1. Living conditions should be the first and foremost consideration when you visit the breeder. Ask to see the area where the animals are kept. There should be adequate space to the number of dogs or cats and this area should be clean with sufficient bedding for each animal, accessible water and toys for stimulation. Watch how the animals interact with each other and people. A good breeder will socialise their pets so that they are friendly and happy, not aggressive or anxious.
You will need to find out what they are already being fed and the breeder should be able to give you advice on feeding schedules and quantities. They should also inform you where the puppy is up to date with medication as well as coverage from fleas, ticks and worms. Puppies and kittens need their first vaccinations at 6-8 weeks old and your breeder should get this done before you take them home. You should be provided with the details of received shots and they should advise you when they are next due.
2. Planning ahead is imperative for a good breeder and you should ask how they ended up with the litter. If your breeder says the litter was an accident, that's an instant red flag. Responsible breeders are very careful to separate animals on heat until they wish to breed a certain pair. They want to ensure each one is going to a good home and will not breed puppies or kittens without any interested buyers.
3. A care for animal welfare is an obvious requirement for a good breeder and they will love the breed they specialise in. They should have a high regard for their pets health and happiness. Backyard breeders or those in the business just to make money often have very little affection towards the animals. A good way to find out is to ask what happens to their older dogs that are retired from breeding. Do they put them down, rehome them or keep them? Good breeders love their animals and consider them part of the family, they will not rehome them once they are no longer profitable. Avoid breeders that rehome older cats or dogs and definitely those that get them put down. Similarly ask about the puppies or kittens that they can't find homes for. A good breeder will hold onto them until they can find the right home for them or they will keep them.
4. Are they asking you questions? Deciding to get a pet is a big commitment and on average they will live for 10-20 years. You should consider what you can do in possible scenarios such as a future partner or child being allergic to the pet, sudden financial hardship or lack of pet-friendly rentals when moving house.
Your breeder should ask you about your current situation, if you will be away from home a lot, if there are kids or elderly members in the house, how much exercise you can give them or where they will sleep to name a few. A good breeder will be honest and if they don't think you are suited to the og or cat, they should suggest going with a different breed.
5. Willingness to share details of the puppy or kitten's history and lineage is essential information from a breeder. They should be able to tell you any details of received vaccinations, medical history and veterinary documents if requested. They should allow you to meet at least one of the parents and discuss their temperament and personality.
6. Breeding discrimination is imperative and good breeders are finicky when deciding which pets to mate. They will be aware of breed specific genetic disorders and screen for imperfections. If a poor gene is detected in one of their dogs, they will retire them from breeding. They will also be conscious of family relations to prevent incestual breeding which often causes genetic disorders.
7. Is your breeder on the books? Genuine breeders will be registered in accordance to the state and local laws. They need to comply with set guidelines when it comes to each animal's welfare and participate in property inspections.
8. Post-purchase assistance will be offered by good breeders in case you need any advice on caring for your new puppy or kitten. Not only is this to help make your life easier, they should offer this support to ensure your new pet is being cared for properly.
9. Yes a puppy or kitten guarantee is a real thing. If your pet develops a severe health condition shortly after coming home caused by a genetic defect, your breeder should have a guarantee in place. Similarly if you and your pet are exceptionally ill suited to each other, your breeder should be able to take them back within a certain time frame. Some breeders even have lifelong conditions that if at any stage you are unable to care for your pet that you must return them to the breeder and not surrender them to a shelter.
10. Any decent breeder will be able to provide references upon request. This could be from existing buyers, letters from their vet or local breeder organisation.
Identifying a good breeder is essential when buying a new pet. Not only do you want to avoid funding irresponsible or immoral breeders, you want to ensure the pet you are buying is healthy and will have a good temperament. These tips are to help you with identifying good breeders who love dogs they are rearing and take care in producing defective free pets to join your family.
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