How Do I Avoid Puppy Mills And Find A Responsible Breeder?

Here’s an article we wrote to help you avoid puppy mills and find a good dog breeder when looking to buy a purebred dog.

A Short Take on Puppy Mills

The ASPCA defines any large-scale commercial breeding operation where the dog’s health and well-being is put after the objective of making bigger profits. Puppy mills are getting some well-deserved negative press. Some of these puppy mills have been around since the 1960’s. That’s pretty scary to think about. Some puppy mills have been found crowding a thousand dogs into cramped and unsanitary spaces. It gets worse but we’ll let those interested in the horror of puppy mills read up on that from trusted sources like the ASPCA or the American Kennel Club. We’re not specialized in writing about things like this and prefer to leave that to expert sources that speak based on cold hard facts.

Avoid Puppy Hustlers

Beware of online ads on social media and things like Kijiji or Craigslist that say “purebred puppies” without much information. These folks are not in the puppy mill category but if you don’t get a guarantee of the health or temperament of the dogs being sold…you shouldn’t be surprised. It’s important to ask for some type of proof of origin and indication that the dog is in good health. These days, the Internet is a major source of mass-produced designer puppies.

miniature dapple dachshund looking up
Our fully grown, majestic, miniature dachshund. We were very picky about our breeder and do not regret doing our homework before buying this little lady.

We have a dog with a rare type of coat. Dapple dachshunds are in high demand but a breeder cannot predict if the puppies will be dapple or not. If you find a breeder that claims to be able to guarantee a dapple in the litter, you know that they have made some unsafe genetic choices in the breeding. This in turn may likely result in your pup having health issues. We were terrified of that and paid close attention.

How Do I Find A Reputable Dog Breeder?

One of the things that makes breeders reputable is their focus on one or two breeds of dogs. This means that they acquire in-depth knowledge about the dogs such as their standard appearance, temperament, common health problems, etc. Local Kennel Club agility trials and local dogs shows are a great way to meet breeders and see the dogs in action.

After you decide on a breed, seek referrals through friends, veterinarians, groomers, and through the kennel club. Pick a few breeders that are within visiting distance. This lets you check the premises personally.

Before making a trip to visit the premises, ask the following questions.

Do you always have puppies available?

Breeding a female dog more than twice a year borders on abuse to make sure you get an answer on how often the females are pregnant. Also, good breeders keep a list of interested buyers to contact when the next litter is going to be available for sale.

How Soon Can I Get the Puppy?

super cute dapple doxie puppy
Our little one when we visited the breeder to meet her and ask questions

Be suspicious of any breeder willing to separate a puppy from their mom and siblings before eight weeks at a minimum.

Will I be able to meet the parents of my puppy so I can get a sense of the offspring’s appearance and temperament?

There’s no reason you shouldn’t be able to meet the dog mom and dad. We got a purebred. Surprise! 2 months old dachshund puppies in perfect health with incredibly rare coats don’t turn up at out local kennel…We asked to see the dog mom and dog dad. We drove to meet the breeder, the dogs and our little Mocsing. We also saw the DNA tests that were done and the lineage of both parents.

We are also able to check the premises while there. The doggoes were very well behaved, living in the house. Each had their own cage, except the nursing moms that had very large cages for them and their pups. To be clear: my dog breed LOVES to have a small confined space all of their own like a cage. I can’t fathom how or why despite what I read…and yet our little sausage is queen of her castle in the cage. It’s her main residence when she is not hanging out with us.

Do the dogs you encounter seem healthy, upbeat, and friendly toward strangers?

If they slink off or bark frantically…you might want to consider slinking off too (don’t bark though please).

Where do the dogs stay?

Are they allowed indoors and kept in clean, well-maintained areas? Our breeder explained that some breeders would confine the parents to smelly outdoor pens and keep the puppies cute and healthy indoors.

Does the breeder use harsh methods to make the dogs behave?

I don’t know how to signal this otherwise than say: a happy dog and an obedient dog are not the same thing. Make sure the little beasts are not terrified. A stressful environment isn’t the best for dogs, especially puppies.

Questions breeders should ask you.

  • Why do you want a dog?
  • Who’s going to take care of the dog in the family?
  • Provide proof that your landlord allows you to have a dog (renting with a dog is not as easy as it used to be in Montreal).
  • Is this your first dog?
  • Do you have another dog at home?

Picking through a litter of puppies

Unless you absolutely hate dogs, a bunch of puppies are bound to cloud your ability to think clearly. Don’t be swayed by the cuteness! You must check if the puppies are kept with their mothers and siblings. Are they socialized with humans and other dogs? Being handled by humans and figuring out the pecking order within the dog pack are important parts of socialization for a dog.

Our little one was the only puppy in the litter so it was easy to choose. Here she is in a dedicated space for our visit. We got to see where she slept with her mom and meet her dad along her puppy playmates (there was another little growing up with her)

Bringing your puppy home

When you’re ready to take your new puppy home you should get:

  • Some type of written contract regarding the warranty
  • Records of the vet visits for the puppy
  • A detailed medical history with the list of vaccinations that it needs and when
  • A starter kit – we were given food, toys, a blanket our puppy had with its mother and

That’s about it! Hope this helped. Do not hesitate to ask questions in the comments if you need us to ask a breeder for clarifications. We have a friend whose mom breeds little ruby King Charles and she gladly answer any questions you have.


3 thoughts on “How Do I Avoid Puppy Mills And Find A Responsible Breeder?”

  1. Hello, We lost our baby suddenly (a long-haired mini dachshund. Though we are in pain, there is room in our hearts to welcome a new little one. I enjoyed your article. One idea to search for good breeders are groomers. I never even thought about that. Thanks so much. Kathy


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