ethical dog breeders - what to look for
by Abby Miller, Paws in Work blogger.
Here at Paws in Work our mission is to improve the wellbeing of people and pups! Ensuring we are working with reputable, ethical dog breeders is at the forefront of what we do and we love to promote our breeder partner network. By promoting those doing it ethically, whilst also knowing the importance of socialising their puppies, we should be well on our way to eradicating puppy farms and hopefully can aid in a decrease of dogs being sent to rescue shelters.
what questions should I ask a dog breeder when buying my pup?
If you are as obsessed with puppies as we are, you will probably hear the phrase ‘ethical puppy breeding’ a lot, especially if you have been to one of our puppy therapy events.
But how on earth are you expected to spot an ethical dog breeder if you are not sure what you’re looking for? Research shows that one in three puppy buyers could not identify a reputable puppy breeder whilst a further 25% of puppy buyers admitted to spending less than 2 hours researching their puppy and where it is from. We have put together some questions you may want to ask, and things our puppy breeder partners do, to ensure their pups are healthy and confident before heading off to their forever homes.
do you have a council license?
If you are aware that a dog breeder is breeding 3 or more litters of puppies per year, (a commercial type dog breeder) you may want to ask them if they have a licence as this is required by the council.
are mum and dad both healthy?
Health tests for both mum and dad are recommended when it comes to purchasing your pup. Ensuring you are purchasing puppies with healthy blood lines is crucial and very important for the pups health and lifespan. Different breeds can be prone to particular health issues so research is key when it comes down to checking your future pooches health.
You may also want to ask the breeder what vaccinations and worming your puppy has had so you understand what’s expected of you when your new addition arrives home.
have you seen mum in her natural habitat?
It is important to see mum in her natural habitat, if at all possible, before she comes into season. This will give you the best opportunity to see how she looks and behaves before falling pregnant. We do, however, understand this isn’t always possible, so seeing mum with the litter before you place a deposit on a pup is advised. Ideally more than one visit would be great so you are super happy with the set up and can get to know your pup and breeder a lot better before bringing your puppy home. You may be familiar with ‘Lucy’s Law’ that was introduced earlier this year and explains the sheer importance of seeing a healthy bitch and how she is bred. This will all be an imperative part of us eradicating puppy farms once and for all! To put this into perspective, 37% of puppy buyers do not collect their puppy from where it was bred so will not be familiar with its surroundings or the bitch.
why did you choose dad?
Understanding why the dog breeder chose the stud dog they did is always a nice thing to understand. If you are able to see dad whilst visiting the litter of puppies that would be great, but we understand this isn't always possible if the stud dog doesn't live with the family.
how old is mum?
It has been advised that a bitch should be mated no younger than 18 months old in order to be completely confident that mum's welfare is at the forefront of the breeders mind, however, the age can sometimes vary depending on the breed/size of dog. Typically, the larger the breed of dog, the older she should be before having pups (18-24 months).
how many times has she given birth beforehand?
‘The Kennel Club’ suggests that bitches shouldn't be bred more than 4 times in her lifetime, less than 4 times is obviously fine, but it is advised no more than 4 in total.
The link above goes into more detail about factors that should be considered before breeding a bitch, ensuring that she is fit and healthy, copes well with her pregnancies and is producing healthy litters of pups.
how much are the pups?
Again, each breed of dog will differentiate in price quite dramatically so research is vital when it comes to ensuring you are paying the correct amount for your pup. Knowledge really is key here and you want to make sure you are paying the correct money for the breed you desire.
what characteristics does each pup have?
Something people may forget to consider is the temperament of each puppy. It’s always a good idea to ask the dog breeder for the characteristics of each pup so you can ensure they will fit perfectly into their new home.
You can test a puppies personality from as young as 7 weeks old however the breeder may have an indication of their traits from as early as 2 weeks old.
have the pups been socialised at all? if so, how and what practises?
According to Ewa, a well established dog behaviour consultant, puppy socialisation should primarily start at the breeders home. Ewa says ‘this is arguably the most important part of the socialisation process and it starts as early as from when the puppy is 2 weeks old. During this time they develop emotional ties to humans and they learn dog language. This time is crucial for the development of the puppy and how it will cope with later life’.
Paws in Work are the UK’s first fully licensed puppy therapy specialists and our puppy therapy events can play a fundamental part in the puppies socialisation. Puppies will experience car journeys, new environments, sounds and smells and are allowed to develop whilst being in the comfort of their siblings company. They gain confidence when leaving mum for the day and being reunited with her at the end of the sessions - making that final departure from her, all the less daunting.
Do not be afraid to ask questions! An ethical, reputable breeder will be happy to answer any questions you may have because, as much as you are looking for an ethical dog breeder, they are also looking for the best possible homes for their puppies.
For more help on sourcing your next puppy, be sure to check out the breeder match section on our website where your details are put in front of our pre vetted breeder partners.