10 rules of ethical breeding
Recognizing an unethical breeder
Questions to ask a breeder
questions they should ask you
adopting an older dog

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Recognizing an unethical breeder

When you talk to people about their puppies, there are a few warning signs that you may be dealing with a disreputable, unethical, or irresponsible breeder:
  1. The "breeder" lacks knowledge about the breed
  2. The "breeder" shows ignorance or denial of genetic defects in the breed
  3. The "breeder" has no involvement in dog sports
  4. The "breeder" doesn't let you observe the puppies or adults, or let you see the kennels
  5. The "breeder" has no documentation and cannot provide a pedigree
  6. The puppies are not socialized

How to read those ads!

Here are a few more things that you ought to look out for.

"Champion lines" -- look instead for Champion sired or Champion parents. All Champion Lines means is that there is a dog somewhere in your puppy's family that was a champion - it says nothing about the quality of the parents at all. Anyone can buy a puppy from a champion, but it does not mean that they have any other interest in the breed but to bank on the name and make money. The puppy may have been sold as a pet (since it had some problems that prevented it from being shown) and an unethical person did not have the dog desexed and is still breeding puppies.

"AKC Registration" or "AKC Papers" -- So what? AKC registration does not guarantee quality. AKC papers are much like the title of a car - papers are issued on the junked chevy on blocks in your yard just as easily as they are on a brand new, shiny Jaguar. AKC does not control breeding, approve litters, or guarantee soundness. Unfortunately, in the hands of some unethical breeders, it doesn't even guarantee that the dog is purebred.

AKC Registration is automatic if you buy from a reputable breeder - they will provide all necessary paperwork when you buy a puppy. It is not a selling point, and shouldn't be treated as one.

Be wary of other "registrations", as well. There are several groups that are registering dogs, occasionally even mixed breeds, for a fee. This registration means nothing, and is of no value to you. Not that AKC papers really mean much, either.

"extra-big", "extra-small" -- breeders trying for extremes are rarely raising healthy dogs, and any ad that has to stress the size and weight of the dog to sell the puppies is suspect, in my opinion. Usually, these dogs are outside of the breed standard and are subject to their own medical problems due to excessive size or lack of it.

"rare" -- Why? Is the dog showable? Are there too many defects for the animal to be bred? What kind of problems does this "rare" color or size or pattern entail? There are many people buying "rare" white Boxers and Shepherds, not realizing that they are not show-prospects, and that they are buying a dog with medical problems from lack of pigmentation, and possible behavioral problems as well.

There are even some people selling unusual cross breeds as "rare" dogs, and people buy them thinking they are getting some unique treasure. I don't want to be too harsh about this, though -- every breed we se today is the result of some specialized and "rare" breeding to create a certain look or behavior. Shepherds herd, retrievers retrieve...because we have selectively bred them to do so. A breeder who is trying to 'recreate' a lost breed may fall on either side of the ethical divide. Shop with care.

"see both parents" As noted in questions to ask a breeder , this is not usually a good thing. Rarely will a good breeder have the luck to own both dogs for the perfect litter. If you can see both parents, it often means that the person had two dogs in the back yard and didn't supervise them carefully enough, resulting in puppies.

I probably get more mail on this one statement than anything else -- people who legitimately have both parents are incensed that I would suggest that they are unethical and bad breeders. That is not what I am suggesting -- there are some good and very reasonable reasons to have both parents on site. However, you need to ask the right questions and understand why this is true. If the breeder doesn't have an answer, or the answer is something like "well, they were just such cute dogs..." or "we bought another dog so we could have puppies" you need to evaluate whether this breeder is doing the right thing. They might be, they might not. It's up to you to ask.

"Must go now!" Why? Are they too big to be cute anymore? Need more money? Is there a problem? Be very wary of this one.

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