Tips on how to find a reputable dog or cat breeder
Planning to have a pet?
Getting a dog or a cat is usually a big decision for the whole family. All animals require loads of care and attention, so hopefully everybody thinks first before making this decision. No matter whether you adopt or buy your beloved animal, you should ask yourself a few questions prior to making the final decision:
- Am I able to feed the pet (hopefully not with the cheapest and most questionable quality)?
- Am I able to care for the pet (cleaning a cat’s litter tray, walking the dog, etc.)?
- Am I able to give enough attention and love for the pet (at least an hour a day, but the more the better)?
- Is my home suitable for keeping a pet (big dogs require loads of room and a place to run and get ‘mad’, etc.)?
- Am I able to pay for the regular medical check-ups of my pet, if required (yearly shots, deworming, neutering, etc.)?
- Am I able to provide a proper living environment for the pet (think about bedding, litter tray, toys, etc.)?
- Is my family ready for a pet (kids old enough, no allergies, etc.)?
- Will I be able to care for the pet for more than 10-15 years (hopefully more)?
If you answered all these questions with a ‘Yes ’, then you can start thinking about the next very important thing: ‘Which animal do I want? ’ and then ‘Adoption or buying from a breeder? ’. In this article - as the title suggests -, I will try to help you get prepared, what you should look out for if you choose the latter, so a breeder.
Buying a pet from a breeder
According to my experiences, people choose a certain breed because they already know that type and are familiar with its main traits and overall behavior (if not, you should investigate the question, because all breeds are different – and these different breeds fit different people with certain lifestyles, etc., like some dog breeds get on well with children much better than others). If this is the case (I mean you already know which breed you want) I’m sure you already know that this is not a cheap ‘business’. Pure breed animals are usually expensive and they are also more prone to illnesses than other, not pure breed pets.
Anyway, I have to admit, you are facing a lot of work before holding your beloved animal in your hands, as the ‘job’ to find a reputable breeder is not easy. Most of the people think it is incredibly easy – you just type the name of the breed into any search engine and look up the first 1-2, at most 5 hits. Sadly, this is not true. Although Google can give you some good ideas where to start your search, but in fact, these are not necessarily the best breeders.
Also, you have to be prepared: this process to find a reputable breeder and a healthy pet to buy takes time. LOADS of time in fact. The more time you spend looking for your breeder (and the pet of course!), the more certain you can be, that the pet is really one of the best out there.
Being a breeder myself (though I do not consider myself an experienced one, as so far we only had 1 litter with our ladies – and we are not having a new one in the very near future) I have an overall knowledge about this ‘business’. And I also know, there are loads of HUGE differences between breeder and breeder (well, they call themselves breeder, I’d just say pet mill) – I will make a hub on this topic in the near future, so stay tuned if you are interested!
Update: as I promised, here's the new article.
How can you find the best breeder and what to look out for?
Basically, according to my experiences, there are a few tips you can – no, in fact you HAVE TO - follow, if you want to be the proud owner of a healthy and beautiful, indeed pure breed animal. These are the followings:
Start on dog/cat shows. There are plenty of these through the year in the biggest cities, so you just have to visit one, but the more, the better. Hopefully there will be many promising breeders present, so during your visit, keep collecting the contact cards of those, you are interested in.
Additionally, if you are ‘brave’ enough, you can try to ask a few questions from the breeders about their pups/kittens. If they are good and reputable breeders, they will be happy to tell you everything (yes, EVERYTHING, even the drawbacks and difficulties with the breed) and they won’t lie. Like they won’t tell you that their breed is the most suitable for you if it isn’t.
You can also ask them what do they think, who is the best breeder – but in fact I doubt this will give you trustworthy information, as most of the most popular (popular – sadly, this does not equal to good!) breeders insist they are the best or they will tell you one of their friends’ name who also have some animals – no matter their ‘quality’ (at least this is the sad situation in Hungary – the most popular and the most ‘loud’ breeders the worst in my opinion).
With the contact cards in your hand, start searching on the internet. Look out for these breeders’ sites and look through those. A few clues to these:
- If the breeder doesn’t even have a webpage about their kennel – it is not a reputable one, believe me. These breeders tend to sell their animals for less than $100 and they usually only advertise themselves on totally free sites and in classifieds.
- If the kennel has a very fancy site with the pups/kittens pictures all over the site – you have 50% chance that this breeder is just a pet mill in fact. Some people tend to keep up a colorful and trustworthy-looking site just to be able to promote their new little animals – and they usually have plenty - ALL THE TIME.
- Sometimes the middle road is the best: a site doesn’t have to be fancy to show knowledge and real animal care – according to my experiences, these sites are the best to start.
- Look out for pictures about the pups/kittens parents and about their living environment. Forget the breeder if there is nothing about the parents and/or the animals are sitting in hutches on all pictures. Animals spending their lives (or at least most of the day) locked up are probably not socialized well.
Call the breeder you like and find the best after all these. Talk a few sentences with them – talk about their animals, their care, environment, food, toilet training, etc. So basically everything, you HAVE to know about your future roommate.
Also, never forget to ask whether the parents of the pup/kitten are fully tested or not. This is a very important thing – not just for you, but for the breeder prior to breeding, too. I guess most of the people don’t know, but reputable breeders check their breeding stock regularly to make sure there will be no genetical problems with the newborn animals - ever. There are several tests they should be able to present to you in case you want. If they are unable to show you these documents – just turn over and run!
Also, if the mother of your pup/kitten had more than 3 litters in the past 2 years: run! Reputable breeders would never threaten their beloved pets’ lives with having more than 3 litters within 2 years as this is a huge risk for the animals!
After the phone call you have to visit the breeder and the pup/kitten you want to buy.
During this visit you are able to check the living environment with your own eyes, but moreover: check the little animal, too! Check the eyes, ears, posterior, nose, hair, whether the animal is playful – so basically check everything about the animal and look out for any problems or defects. If the pet seems sick, there’s a problem, so say goodbye.
If everything seems ok with the pup/kitten, ask the breeder whether they give you a contract with the pet or not. Run, if they don’t: a contract is an assurance for both the breeder and the new owner, as a contract contains the most important things about the animal (color, birth date, name of parents, sex, breed, test results, the fact they are vaccinated, etc. AND the clause that the new owner WILL NEUTER the animal if they bought it as pet quality; the breeder will take responsibility for any genetical defects that occur during the life of the pet /if they were tested, there’s no chance there will be any problem/; the breeder will help you to find a new owner if you have to give the pet up, etc.).
Also, you have to get a pedigree with the new animal. The pedigree shows that the animal is a pure breed and it contains every important information about the pet.
It is possible you will get the original pedigree only after you have your pet neutered, until that time you only have a copy of the document.
Finally ask the breeder, when are you allowed to take your new animal. If they say a date when the pup/kitten is still less than 8 weeks old: run! Usually it is not advised to separate a young animal from its mom before the 8th week, but the more the better: there are several breeders who won’t let you take their animal before the 9th-10th week.
Although I have seen some exceptions: some pups/kittens are so well developed they look much older and they already know everything an adult animal might know – in this case, with the consent of their vet the young animal can be separated earlier: but still not earlier than the 8th week!
By this time the animal is able to care for themselves, is properly toilet trained, eating solid food, got their first compulsory shots, had been dewormed at least 2 times, etc.
As far as I know, the best is if an animal is neutered only after they have been through their first ‘heat’. So I would advise you to buy your animal from a breeder who follows this thinking.
Some breeders will only let you take your new pet after they have been microchipped. In this way both the breeder and you can be sure that the pet will be properly identified when needed (so hopefully never – or only when you are travelling with them).
What about you?
Have you ever encountered a pet mill?
All the dividers in this hub are my own work and I have used Printmaster to produce them.
Congrats, now you know everything!
I guess that’s all you have to know in this topic.
Finally, when you took your new pet home, there’s not much to be worried about if you followed my tips. Although be prepared: the first day with your new roommate can be hard, as most of the pups/kittens have a hard time on the first night when they realize they have been separated from their mom. So make sure you provide them plenty of love and care – as they will be your best friend for the next 10-15 years!
I wish you plenty of luck, all the endurance and loads of happiness with your new friend!
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© Copyright 2012-2014, Zsofia Koszegi-Nagy (zsobig)
Our lovely British Shorthair kittens playing in their 'kindergarten'
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