The way we see it, there are three places you should never get a dog: backyard breeders, irresponsible breeders, and pet stores.
1. Backyard Breeders
“Backyard breeder” is a nebulous, ill-defined term often applied to people who have unplanned litters or who breed for profit as sort of a cottage industry. A better term is probably “Ignorant” or “Careless” breeders. By whatever name, they are not a good source.
If you must try them, check the health of the puppies carefully. As with breeders, look for people more concerned with the welfare of the puppies — people out for a fast buck will not likely have seen to the health of the puppies. If you are looking for a purebred, forget these breeders and find a responsible breeder instead. It will save you time and money and heartache. If you don’t care about having a purebred, you will do better at the animal shelter.
It is not impossible that you will find a conscientious breeder through the newspaper. Just check them carefully when you go and visit them, as you would any other breeder.
Don’t make the mistake of thinking that because you “only” want a nice pet, there is no reason for you to look for a high-quality breeder. On the contrary, no litter is 100 percent up to the criteria the breeder is looking for…and the pup who doesn’t quite meet the expectations of the breeder in ability or looks will make an excellent pet because he will otherwise be healthy and good tempered — which is just what you want in your new companion.
2. Irresponsible Breeders
Any breeder who has in mind one single goal and breeds only for that must be considered irresponsible. Many “backyard” breeders (goal = money) fall into this category, but so do “professional” breeders such as:
- Those who breed only for the perfect show dog
- Those who breed only for top performance
The key word is only. Responsible breeders seek a balanced dog. They will breed for:
- Proper conformation (good structure is key for comfortable and free movement)
- Good level of appropriate ability (if a hunting breed, dogs in the pedigree have hunting titles or have been used for hunting; same for herding, coursing, etc.)
- Good overall temperament
- Good health
Irresponsible breeders with a single goal in their view will frequently sacrifice many of these points. A breeder seeking top performance often lets temperament or health slide, just so long as the dog can perform; a breeder seeking top show dogs may let the dog’s abilities and health slide. Someone out to make a fast buck may not have checked any of these criteria in their dogs!
Examine your breeders carefully and go with the ones that match your overall philosophy and goals.
3. Pet Stores
Please don’t buy pet store animals. These are often obtained from irresponsible sources such as puppy mills, where animals are bred (and bred and bred) only for profit. By buying from the store, you are supporting these mills and adding to the pet population problem. In addition, you are obtaining an animal of dubious health, and any money you might save will likely go directly into vet costs as its health deteriorates and you may even have to put it down.
If the puppy is purebred and has papers, chances are good that the papers have been forged in some way and even that the puppy is not really purebred. Even if the papers are legitimate, the pedigrees are often extremely poor. Many behavioral problems appear in these puppies because they were carelessly bred, separated too early from their mother and litter mates, improperly handled, unsocialized with either humans or dogs, and forced to live in their own feces.
Many pet stores have been instructing their employees to tell prospective clients that all the animals in the store are from local breeders. In many cases, this is simply not true. Other stores will have pictures and commentaries on their walls to inform you how clean and sanitary their puppy mills are — but “clean and sanitary” still does not obviate the problems with socialization and bloodlines.