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How to buy a responsibly bred puppy

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A dog can be a great companion and has been called “man’s best friend.” Many people are happy with a wonderful mixed breed dog adopted from a reputable animal shelter, not a pet store where pet breeding and lineage are very questionable. Many pet store animals are products of horrible “puppy mills” and should be avoided due to health and legal issues.

For many people, obtaining a pure breed dog is the way to go. But how does a potential pet parent know if a breeder is reputable, responsible, and has the best interest of the dogs at heart? What constitutes doing due diligence to ensure that a pet comes from a responsible, reputable breeder? Woofipedia shared these American Kennel Club tips on how to find a responsible breeder.

Visit the breeder's home or kennel and see at least one of the puppy's parents. Some online research and a call to your vet can put you in touch with local breeders in your area. Most people can find a breed they want nearby. Pricey, rarer breed dogs are best left to the elite dog crowd who can afford the high end costs of care and other expenses. They are usually show dogs owned by professional dog people. Local breeders need to uphold their business reputation in your area and responsible ones will be well own.

Pay attention to the parent's temperament and appearance to get a sense of what a puppy may be like. Carefully observe the premises. Is the house/kennel clean? Is it odor free? Dogs and puppies should be clean, well fed, lively, and friendly.

Look for signs of malnutrition (like protruding rib cages) or such signs of illness as runny nose and eyes, coughing, lethargy, and sores. Responsible breeders will not offer any dog for sale that is less than 100% healthy.

Does the breeder appear to genuinely care for the dogs? The puppies should not shy away from the breeder and should be outgoing with strangers. Interact with the pups. Spend play time with them and determine a dog’s personality before choosing one that fits with you.

Breeders should care about health of your puppy and its parents. They should be informative and honest about a breed's physical and temperamental traits. And they should speak knowledgeably about genetic diseases that might affect their breed.

A toy-dog breeder should not market "teacup" varieties. This is not an actual size classification and is usually attained through breeding runts. So-called teacup dogs often come with a host of health problems.

The breeder should be friendly and willing to establish a good rapport with you. A good breeder will be an excellent resource and breed mentor for you throughout the life of your puppy, and encourage you to call if your dog has a crisis at any stage of its life.

A responsible breeder may ask you to sign a contract indicating that if you fail to meet specified conditions of care, or you become unable to keep the puppy, the breeder will reclaim it.

The breeder should not allow you to bring home the puppy until it's 8 to 12 weeks old. You may sign a contract for a specific dog that you will get when the time is right. Puppies need ample time to mature and socialize with its mother and littermates.
Breeders should be willing to answer any questions you have, and they should ask many of you as well. Breeders will want to make sure their puppies are going to good homes, with people who know what to expect and have made all the necessary preparations.

Not sure yet of the breed that's best for you? Try the AKC’s Matchmaker Tool here.
Find breeders at the American Kennel Club's Online Breeder Classifieds.

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