Don't underestimate the importance of a good breeder as these play a fundamental role in the dog that you end up with later on in life.
A puppy is with the breeder for a chunk of their socialisation period and how the breeder sets that puppy up, can and will have an effect on that puppy's life.
But how do you tell the good from the bad? What is the difference between a breeder and a puppy farmer?
As with all things in life, there are good and there are bad, and we want to try and avoid lining the pockets of puppy farmers. Sometimes new owners don't know what to look for or know how to tell the difference between a good breeder and a puppy farmer.
Here are some factors that we should be aware of when looking for and choosing a breeder.
Meeting the parents
It is important that you are able to meet the mother of the puppy and look for signs which show the mother interacting directly with her puppies.
If the breeder does not let you see the mother directly with her puppies, this should set off a red flag warning.
Another alarm bell would be if the breeder carries the mother in and does not put her down.
If you are unable to meet or see the mother at all this could indicate that the breeder is, in fact, a puppy farmer.
You should be able to ask about the sire. If you are unable to see the sire, ask to see pictures of him.
Enquire as to what health vetting the breeder had done to show that the sire was in good health.
If the sire is not owned by the breeder, are you able to contact the owner of the sire?
Beware of marketing!
All good breeders should be transparent. Fancy marketing does not necessarily mean a great, healthy home-reared puppy.
Look beyond the pictures of the puppy on the kitchen floor. Ask to see videos of the puppies playing and nursing from their mother.
Look for photos of the whelping area. Telltale signs of a kennel breeder are concrete garage walls or wooden kennels.
Google the breeder, look at reviews and speak to owners of previous litters.
All good breeders should be very knowledgable of their breed. The breeder should know specifics surrounding the health, temperament, breed traits and reasons why they specifically choose to breed.
Do your research on the breed first. Join breed-specific groups, asks questions and research the breed as much as possible.
Check out the facilities
You should be able to see where the puppy has been reared. If the breeder does not want to show you where the puppy is reared and/or wants to meet you in a public environment, this is a strong indication that this breeder is a puppy farmer or that the dog's living conditions are poor.
For a well, socialised puppy choose one that has been reared inside in a family home setting, throughout the full duration of the puppy's upbringing.
You need at least one visit prior to picking your puppy up and you should be able to ask for photos and videos of the puppies throughout their upbringing.
Beware of breeders that do not do any health testing on the parents of the puppies. Ensure you see written confirmation of the tests that have been carried out along with the findings.
Ensure the litter of puppies have been seen and health checked by a registered vet. The breeder will have written confirmation from the vet of the health checks carried out on the puppies along with any findings.
Ensure you receive the puppy's microchip paperwork when you pick your puppy up.
It is the law that a puppy does not leave the breeder under the age of 8 weeks old.
By law, all puppies are to be microchipped and registered to the breeder prior to leaving for their new homes.
All puppies are also protected by Lucy's Law which means that no puppy, under the age of 6 months old can be sold on or rehomed. This means that the puppy MUST be returned to the breeder or handed over to a rescue.
It is important that you see the puppy being reared in its home environment as well as being able to see the puppy's parents.
Breeders who offer free shipping without meeting the potential new owners is a red flag and is a common scam for owners to pay the full price of the puppy upfront and have the puppy shipped to you.
The puppy should not be showing any signs of ill health. The puppy should be responsive, not lethargic or sick. It is not normal to see blood in the puppy's stools.
If you see signs that a puppy is now well, the breeder must be reported to their local council.
By not reporting bad breeders, we allow breeders to continue their ill practices which put the lives of the mother and puppies at risk.