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Responsible breeders are individuals who have focused their efforts on one or a select few breeds and, through breeding, historical research and ongoing study, mentoring relationships, club memberships, showing, raising and training of these breeds, have become knowledgeable about their health, heritable defects, temperament and behaviour. Responsible breeders are well suited to educate and screen potential buyers/adopters and provide follow-up support after purchase or adoption. Responsible breeders take lifetime responsibility for the animals they have bred.
The Internet can be a good source of information for prospective pet owners to research breeds, breeders, and pet ownership tips. As well, newspapers usually carry classified sections advertising animals for sale. However, both are also a perfect forum for unscrupulous breeders or brokers to operate virtually anonymously with little fear of exposure. The responsible purchase or adoption of an animal should involve a great deal of personal interaction between the seller or shelter, and the animal’s potential owner. It is important for the potential owner to see the facilities where the animals are housed and to meet the animals. Without this interaction, it is difficult to determine if the breeder is a legitimate or reputable source. Please check out our “Responsible Breeder Checklist” to get a better idea of what you should look for in a reputable breeder.
If you are interested in a specific breed of dog or cat, do some research to see if there are any clubs in your area that are dedicated to that breed so that you can talk with people who are owners already. They will also be able to refer you to reputable and responsible breeders who are genuinely interested in dogs or cats rather than making a profit. The breed clubs might also have rescue dogs of that breed available. Many good breeders have excellent websites with information about the breed and their dogs. But, beware because many puppy mills and disreputable breeders also have websites showing their animals in home settings when that may not be the case. This is why it is so important to visit the breeder before you agree to buy.
When following up on any advertisement for animals for sale, there are a number of things that you should look for. Below you will a find checklist on how to recognize a responsible/reputable breeder. Here you will also find information on bad breeders. To download our Choose a Pet Responsibly brochure click here.
How to recognize a responsible breeder:
If the breeder that you would like to purchase from lives in another city, you should ask them lots of questions over the phone and ask a friend or a reputable person near the breeder to visit the facility for you.
If the breeder requests to meet you in a shopping mall, parking lot or somewhere else away from their breeding facility to get your new pet, DO NOT purchase from this person. This is a clear indication you are dealing with a disreputable source.
Here are some common characteristics of a bad breeder:
Should you answer a classified ad and you feel that, based on these guidelines, you are concerned about the welfare of the animals, you should immediately contact your local humane society or SPCA.
Ear cropping and tail docking
Tail docking and ear cropping are done for purely cosmetic reasons. Ear cropping involves cutting off up to two thirds’ of the earflap and is usually done when the dog is 9-12 weeks old. Tail docking involves cutting off the tail at the desired length when the puppy is only a few days old. The process severs muscles, tendons, nerves, bone, and cartilage.
If you are considering a breed that traditionally has had either their ears cropped or tails docked such as Boxers, Doberman Pinschers, Miniature Pinschers, Boston Terriers, Great Danes, Schnauzers, Rottweilers, etc. you should try to find a breeder that does not subscribe to these practices. If you cannot, you should contact your breeder to let them know that you do not want your puppy to be altered. If you are met with resistance, you should look for another breeder.
For more information check out our Issues section on ear cropping and tail docking.