How to choose a good breeder

Author: Bella (proHOUND Co-Founder)

The general public are now, thankfully, more and more aware that reputable breeders do not advertise on websites such as Gumtree or Pets4Homes. 

In addition, puppy farms are now infamous for producing unhealthy puppies who often, devastatingly, pass away before they are even a year old. 

The only positive aspect to tens of thousands of unhealthy puppies being born every year is that the general public are now beginning to question why that is. 

The general public are on the hunt for good breeders!

But what constitutes a good breeder? Here are some questions to ask your potential breeder.

  • Why is the breeder breeding in the first place? 

Reputable breeders do not breed for profit. They breed for one or more of the following reasons: to continue the lines of their quality dogs, to provide working dogs that have a function, to provide dogs suitable for being family pets and to contribute to the standards of the breed. 
Breeding for colour and/or looks is unacceptable. 
Breeding for stable temperament is ideal. 

  • What health tests have been done?

A health test does NOT mean a successful once-over at the vet. It means a full panel of detailed investigations into the dog’s physical composition and genetic traits. We are talking hip & elbow scores (preferably with the BVA), eye tests, heart tests, DNA tests to ensure the dog is clear of any diseases…the list goes on. Some of these tests aren’t necessary for certain breeds but hip, elbow, DNA and eye tests at the very least MUST be done. 

  • Do the parents have any titles, or proof of their breed function or standard?

I understand someone looking for a family pet may not need proof of excellence in a sport or job, but someone looking for a German Shepherd for IGP (particularly a working type) should look for parents who have excelled in that sport!  Similarly, a good springer spaniel will preferably have immediate relatives with proof of excellence of gun dog work. Show-type dogs and/or dogs being bought as companions will preferably have show and/or conformation titles. 

  • How much are the puppies?

A good breeder will not charge an insane amount of money. That’s all there is to say on that topic.

  • What happens in the unlikely event you are unable to keep your puppy?

A good breeder will take your puppy back; they will not see them enter the shelter system or be sold on Gumtree. End of. 

  • What would you like to know about me?

Expect to be GRILLED about your lifestyle, experience and maybe even your financial situation. A good breeder will want to ensure you are perfect for their litter and can meet the puppy’s genetic needs. 

  • What does the breeder feed the mother and what are the puppies weaned on to? 

The mother and litter will preferably both eat a fresh diet. Cheap supermarket kibbles are not acceptable or ethical. 

  • How have the puppies been socialised?

The puppies will preferably be used to being handled and will have experienced a variety of sounds, experiences, stimuli, people and textures, maybe even other animals besides their family. A good breeder will have introduced the crate and basic toilet training too. A good breeder would be happy to try to introduce anything particular to your life that your puppy will experience upon joining you. 

Additional tips: 

  • It is normal to not see the dad. Breeders often pay a stud fee and travel for the mating. You should receive plenty of information about the father including pictures. 
  • The mother may look a little scruffy because she has recently given birth and may still be feeding, but she will overall be of sound mind and good physical condition.
  • Depending on the breed, the puppies may have one or more of these traits: placid, curious, greedy, playful, mouthy, sleepy, friendly, easily distracted 
  • The breeder will probably demand you sign a contract and pay a deposit before collection day. 
  • The breeder may want to do a home check and/or ensure you are transporting your puppy home in a safe manner. 
  • It is a legal obligation for your puppy to leave microchipped and they must be eight weeks old, no younger. 
  • It is not recommended to purchase a puppy who was the only one in the litter.
  • A good breeder WILL NOT allow you to purchase litter-mates.
  • It is not necessary for a puppy to leave having had parasite ‘prevention’ treatments. A good breeder will be happy to do a worm count and/or provide natural worming treatment. It is also not necessary for a puppy to leave vaccinated. 

Have you had a particularly good or bad experience with a breeder? Let us know! We’d love to shout out the good breeders. It’s also in the best interests of the domestic dog to raise awareness about any bad breeders. 

If you need help vetting a breeder, you can chat to us about that too. 




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