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Red Flags vs Green Flags in “Dog Breeders”

Updated: Jan 15

Too many people nowadays get a dog because they are “cute” without doing any legitimate research on which breed and/or breeder is best suited for them. But finding a good quality breeder can be difficult as backyard breeders may seem like a reputable breeder because they have "AKC paperwork." But paperwork is simply paperwork and the AKC paperwork is more like a birth certificate. AKC papers or a pedigree doesn't mean a dog is good quality. AKC does not require any safety, health/genetic, nor temperament testing to register a dog through AKC.

AKC does offer Programs for Breeders that do require certain health testing, however the Programs are optional.

The Main Difference: The Purpose

-Backyard Breeders Damage the Breed. Their soul purpose for breeding is to make a profit. They do not care about health test, genetics nor what happens to the puppies once they’ve received their “payday.”

Responsible, Reputable Breeders Improve the Breed. Their soul purpose is for the betterment the breed, and enjoys doing it. They will rarely make a profit as they are spending hundreds to thousands of dollars on medical tests, stud fees, shipping the female to the stud, a proper whelping setup, birthing supplies, supplements, shots and de-worming for the puppies, registration, and so on.

Red Flag #1 🚩

-Backyard Breeders do not do any health/genetic testing on the female or stud.

Nor does any temperament assessments to evaluate if the female and stud are good candidates. They breed two dogs together just because they can. A BYB does not evaluate each individual pup for quality and temperament, and will allow the client to choose the puppy from the whole litter.

Green Flag #1

-Reputable Breeders do specific and expensive genetic and health testing on the female and stud. They evaluate the parents, making sure both are good candidate for breeding. They will will take the time to handle and evaluate each individual puppy and understand which puppy will be best suited for each individual, couple or family. They may allow you to choose the gender, or between two puppies if very similar.

A Big Green Flag is the Breeder does The Biosensor Routine.

Red Flag #2 🚩

-A Backyard Breeder only has “pet dogs” and has little to no involvement in the dog world. This breeder does not test dogs in shows, trials and the Pedigree is a list of pet dogs. A BYB knows little to nothing about the pups ancestry nor the breed.

Green Flag #2

-A Reputable Breeder is actively involved in the dog world, is involved in training, dog shows, sport clubs, agility, competition/trials. The Pups pedigree is filled with dogs who have obtained show titles/working certificates. The breeder is highly knowledgeable about the pups ancestry, and the breed.

Red Flag #3 🚩

-A Backyard Breeder will not do an interview of the individual/couple/family and will not require a signed contract. A BYB does not investigate if the new owners are capable of taking care of the puppy nor care about what happens once the puppy is sold.

Green Flag #3

-A Reputable Breeder does an interview with the individual/couple/family seeing what their lifestyle is, and see if they can properly care for the puppy, and will not sell to impulse buyers. A Reputable breeder cares about what happens to the puppies and WILL have a contract saying if things don’t work out the puppy must come back to the them (the breeder.) NOT to uncle Joe, NOT to the neighbor and definitely NOT the Shelter… back to THEM. They will also help with any issues you come across. They will also recommend training, food and will require spaying and neutering.

Red Flag #4 🚩

-A Backyard Breeder will sell a puppy under the age of 8 Weeks old. which is not only illegal in 16 states, but can lead to many behavioral issues as a puppy will miss out on a crucial socialization period with their litter mates. This breeder will also not do any other socialization, desensitization, nor training with the puppies.

Green Flag #4

-A Reputable Breeder will never allow a puppy to go to their new home under the age of 8 weeks. A reputable breeder will also expose the puppy to safe and new sights, sounds textures, and even start crate training! These puppies should have a basic idea of potty training by the time they come home. (Due to proper setup and training)

Red Flag #5 🚩

-A Backyard Breeder will allow anyone to come visit the puppies at any age without properly disinfecting. They may not allow you to see the female or stud. Other dogs on the facility may not be friendly.

Green Flag #5

-A reputable breeder will NOT allow a person to visit the puppies under a certain age, typically under 4 Weeks. This breeder will require you to wash your hands, and spray your shoes when visiting to prevent the puppies from catching anything. This breeder will allow you to see the facility and meet the female and stud if on property (If no current litters under 4 Weeks).

Red Flag #6 🚩

A Backyard Breeder will allow you to take 2 puppies from the same litter home.

Green Flag #6

A Reputable breeder would never allow a person to take more than 1 puppy home. As they understand that that is is huge undertaking and these puppies can easily develop Litter-mate Syndrome. Litter-mate Syndrome is when 2 puppies bond with each other more than bonding with the owners. They become incredibly co-dependent and easily develop separation anxiety. As well as they hit maturity they might fight often and it can be severe.

Red Flag #7

A Backyard Breeder (especially puppy mills) will sell puppies at a pet store, flea market, on the side of the road, out of the back of their car, and/or have handwritten signs all over town that say "puppies for sale."

Green Flag #7

A reputable breeder would never sell their puppies at a pet store, flea market, on the side of the road and/or out of their car. Their advertising is done professionally. Some reputable breeders may not even need to advertise, and do not have a hard time selling puppies.

Red flag #8

A Backyard Breeder will sell "discount puppies" and/or may charge extra for a specific coat or eye color. A BYB typically has cheaper puppies because of the lack of health and genetic testing of the parents. As well as they have a harder time selling puppies

Green Flag #8

A reputable breeder does not sell discount puppies and does not charge extra for a specific coat or eye color. A reputable breeder understands that temperament

Main Questions To Ask The Breeder:

  1. Why Do You Breed Dogs? /How Long Have You Been Breeding?

Look for answers such as; they do it to better the breed, and they enjoy doing it. Look for breeders with a vast amount of knowledge about breeding and/or the specific breed of dog. Also look for breeders that are involved in the dog world.

2. What Type of Health Testing Do You Do?

Look for breeders that do health testing such as OFA Certications of Hips and Elbows and/or PennHip Radiographs. (especially large breeds).

Look for breeders that are apart of AKC Breeder Programs or other Programs that require health testing such as AKC Breeder of Merit Program or AKC Bred with H.E.A.R.T.

And the Breeder should always test for Brucellosis.

Other tests may be breed specific.

3. What Type Of Temperament Evaluations Do You Do Of The Parents AND The Puppies?

Look for answers such as; they carefully evaluate each potential parents temperaments and energy levels. Also look for explanations as to why they chose those specific parents to breed. Some breeders may only breed titled dogs. (Green Flag)

Also look for answers such as; they do individual temperament assessments of the puppies and interviews of all buyers to make sure the puppy goes into the right home.

4. What Type Of Contracts Do You Do, If Any?

Look for answers such as their contract requires the dogs to be spayed/neutered by a certain age, or you (the buyer) will not have any breeding rights. Also look for answers such as their contracts requires the dog to come back to them (the breeder) if there are any issues. Example: The dog cannot be re-homed or dropped off the a shelter.) Many breeders will have penalty fees if a buyers breaks the contract.

5. When Can I Meet The Parents And See Your Facilty?

Look for answers such as; when the puppies are at least 4 weeks old, or when they do not have an active young litter. You should be able to at least meet the mother, and other dogs on the facily that are related to your puppy if they have any.

6. When Can I Take My Puppy Home?

Look for answers such as; at the minimum 8 weeks old. The breeder should give you lots of information such as training, and food recommendations. Look for breeders that send your puppy home with a blanket or toy that smells like their litter mates.

7. What Type Of Setup Do You Have?

Look for answers such as: the puppies are in a safe whelping box when the puppies under the age of 3 weeks. But transition into an indoor/outdoor area by the time the puppies are 5-6 weeks old as this will dramatically help with potty training.

8. What Type Of Desensitization And/Or Training Do You Do With The Puppies?

Look for answers such as Early Neurological Stimulation (ENS) exercises, exposure to sounds, crate exposure, new surface and texture exposures.

If you can come up with more questions the better!

In conclusion...

The United States has a huge overpopulation problem because of Backyard breeders and Puppy Mills. These people soul purpose is to make a profit, and rarely care about the mother dog, stud, nor the puppies after being sold. And buying from them just allows them to continue operating. And of course backyard breeders through misinformation and encouragement have a way of turning uneducated buyers into more backyard breeders.

Dogs are not things, robots nor breeding machines. They are living beings, by no choice, are completely dependent on us for their survival and quality of life. Dogs need basic care such as proper nutrition, proper vaccinations/regular health check ups, grooming, training, exercise, and mental stimulation. Few dogs get the proper care they need which leads to many health and behavioral issues.

Lack of training + exercise is the number one reason why dogs develop "bad behaviors" and then are blamed, dumped or abandoned, and too often put down. Dogs were bred for a job, and if they don't have the proper exercise, training, or supervision dogs will create their own jobs which typically includes the things we don't want them to do. (Fence fighting, digging up flowers, chewing shoes..etc) As Well as Lack Of Proper Socialization in the first 4-6 months of a dogs life creates a fearful, shy dog, which often combined with poor temperament (as aggression and temperament is genetic) leads to fear biters. Which are then again blamed, dumped or put down.

If Everyone who breeds dogs were simply held to a higher standard, and only bred dogs with excellent conformation, stable temperament, clean health, working titles, and only sold to those who were capable of caring for a dog(+ signed a contract) we would have top quality dogs in this country, and a whole lot less if any dogs in the shelter.

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