How to Choose a Responsible and Ethical Dog Breeder

Given the volume of dogs euthanized each year, around 390,000 according to the ASPCA, the ethical choice for prospective dog owners is to acquire one from a local shelter. Not only are you helping to put a stop to animal cruelty in mass breeding operations, but you’re also saving a dog’s life. Another perk with adoption is that you’re opening up a space for another dog in need of shelter – one that will hopefully be adopted and become a furry member of a fortunate family.

At PetSoothe, we are 100 percent behind adopting dogs from shelters, but we’re also aware that there are responsible breeders who serve a purpose. If you’ve looked long and hard for a dog at shelters and rescue groups but haven’t found the one that fits your unique needs, going to a responsible breeder is an option.

Some prospective dog owners don’t have the knowledge or temperament to properly rehome a shelter dog with issues, so they research breeds and narrow them down based on everything from hypoallergenic properties to energy levels to temperament/personality. Once you’ve established which breed best suits your unique needs, the issue then becomes acquiring a puppy from a reputable breeder. The Humane Society and the American Kennel Club have valuable tips on identifying a breeder that is the polar opposite of a puppy mill owner:

  • Ask for a referral from a veterinarian
    Responsible breeders seek out the services of veterinarians, so vets have first-hand knowledge about breeders and how they operate.
  • Visit the breeder’s facilities to ensure the conditions are favorable for the dogs
    Breeders who treat their dogs like their part of the family will not enclose them in a kennel or small fenced-in areas all day.
  • Good breeders value tradition over trends
    Rather than breeding a hybrid that can introduce numerous health issues, a good breeder will never deviate from a breed standard. This ensures the dogs are physically and behaviorally healthy.
  • They have documented health testing for breed-specific issues that go back generations
    Puppy mills are notorious for selling dogs that come from parents that have known breed-specific health issues. Responsible breeders know what to look for and will only breed dogs that are healthy and free of issues, such as hip dysplasia.
  • Reputable breeders require a contract
    The contract you sign, in many cases, will stipulate that if you are going to give up the dog, it must be returned to the breeder, so you’re not contributing to the rescue problem.
  • A responsible breeder will not have multiple pairs of breeding dogs
    Again, these dogs are also pets, so no responsible breeder is going to have a multitude of mating pairs and they limit the number of litters, typically only one per year.
  • They ask many questions of prospective dog owners
    Rather than introduce a puppy to a bad environment, responsible breeders ensure the situation at the prospective owner’s home is suitable for the dog, and some will even request a home visit.
  • They will refer you to past clients
    An ethical breeder has nothing to hide and will refer you to people who have bought from them in the past.
  • Meet the puppy’s parents
    The best breeders will have the breeding pair (but especially the mom) on-site and you will be able to meet them.

The best-case scenario is to find your new best friend at a shelter. The debate over breeder vs. shelter can get heated, and potential dog owners can be quite conflicted about this. For those who want more predictability in the personality and health of their dog and decide on going to a breeder, do everything in your power to ensure you’re not supporting puppy mills by purchasing a dog from a responsible breeder.

According to the ASPCA, around 2 million dogs are adopted from shelters every year. That’s a lot of dogs entering new homes where everything is new. And while the home environment is more pleasant than what dogs experience in a shelter, it can still be a challenge getting settled in. Petfinder has loads of useful tips on how to acclimate a canine to the household. At PetSoothe, we’ve formulated a product that could help in situations like these. Calm, a peanut butter crunch-flavored CBD treat formulated for dogs, promotes a calm and relaxed mood. 

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