First of all, let’s define what a dog breeder actually is. Websters defines this as “n : a person who breeds animals [syn: stock breeder]“, which leaves an awful lot of room for leeway.
For our purposes, we’re going to divide breeders into the following categories, and then discuss each one in further detail:
- people who bred their cute pet to someone else’s cute pet to make more cute pets
Commercial Breeders – aka Puppy Mills
- also called ‘puppy mills’, although don’t assume this means they are all filthy, as some commercial breeders keep facilities which are quite clean.
- I am adding this so we can clarify one specific point – if the person selling the puppies did not whelp the litter themselves, they are NOT a breeder – they are a broker. Many will attempt to mislead you on this point.
- also called Show Breeders, Hobby Breeders, Competitive Breeders or ‘Pedigree Obsessed Freaks’ (ha, just kidding about the last one). Plainly put, unless you are adopting from a rescue, this is the ONLY source that we endorse or encourage you to purchase a puppy from.
Compare the following photos, and decide which puppies will have a better chance of becoming healthy, well socialized, tempermentally sound pets:
Puppies whelped by an ethical breeder, in their custom made, heated whelping box.
Pups are clean, fat and healthy looking.
Puppies being raised by a bad breeder. Pups are on the bare floor in a bathroom,
and a crusted food dish sits in the other corner.
Fat puppies in a clean indoor exercise pen,
with toys, bedding and clean water and food.
Scared, underweight puppies in an outdoor ‘rabbit hutch’
type cage, with no protection from weather.
Backyard breeders usually do not have bad intentions, per se. Rather, the harm they do is done through ignorance – ignorance of the breed, of canine genetics, of health, and of well being and welfare.
From the No Puppy Mills website:
“Back yard breeders may act on a desire to make extra money, or simply out of ignorance. Sometimes back yard breeders will breed so “their children can experience the miracle of birth”, or they mistakenly believe “every dog should have one litter.” They may think their dog is so cute, he/she would make wonderful puppies, with little or no thought for the homes to which their puppies will go. Other back yard breeders see how much money legitimate breeders charge for pups and figure they could make some “easy money” too. Or, a back yard breeder may have a completely unplanned litter by accident.
Back yard breeders usually bring two breeding animals together regardless of their quality. They are not interested in scientific breeding. Their aim is to fulfill a personal need or goal, not to improve the breed and bring excellent quality dogs to the world. Since breed excellence is generally unimportant, the breeding dogs generally will not have been tested for genetic and health problems.”
Back yard breeders are not necessarily bad people, and they often come from middle to upper income families. Their dogs can – and usually are – well loved and kept. Their homes can be clean, their puppies fat and healthy looking, and they may easily come across as nice people with full intentions of breeding nice puppies.
In spite of all of this, getting a pup from a back yard breeder is still a gamble, for the following reasons:
* the parents likely have not been screened for health problems
* puppies usually are not sold with contracts or any form of health gaurantee
* the breeders are not in it for the long haul, and won’t be willing or able to take back the puppy if something goes wrong
* They will be working on new personal objectives in five years when your pet has a problem and you need help.
Although you may pay less for the breed of your choice from a backyard breeder, it’s almost a given that in the long run, you’ll pay a good deal more in vet bills and perhaps emotional bills (if the dog has to be euthanized due to a health or temperament problem), than you would from a reputable breeder.
Another thing to consider is where the backyard breeder got their breeding stock from in the first place. Since ethical breeders always sell pet puppies on a mandatory spay neuter clause, only two options exist:
* the bitch has been bred without the knowledge of the seller, meaning this litter was born unregisterable and illegally. In some cases, breeders who have learned of litters born without their consent to dogs they have sold as pets have sued and won the right to reclaim any and all puppies sold. This means you could become embroiled in a costly, potentially emotionally devestating lawsuit.
* the bitch herself came from another BYB, a petstore, a puppy mill or a broker.
Most BYB puppies are sold locally through newspaper ads. Some may be sold via on line classifieds, and some via sales sites like PuppyFind, Pets4U, or TerrificPets.
Summation: We do NOT advocate purchasing from BYBs.
A commercial dog breeder is someone who breeds in volume, for profit only. Breeding is a business for them – and a lucrative one, at that. Commercial breeders are concerned with pumping out as many puppies, from as many bitches as possible. It doesn’t matter that some of the facilities are clean – they are still a puppy mill.
Commercial breeders and/or commercially bred puppies:
* have no concern for the numbers of puppies they produce, other than ensuring that the number is a high one. They
* have no concern who they sell to, other than that their check clears. They
* do not health test or genetically screen their stock.
* do not breed dogs that are correct for the breed standard
* do not offer long-term guarantees
* breed bitches every heat cycle, with no concern for health. The
* keep their dogs in cramped quarters
* do not socialize puppies or parents
* are rarely fed proper diets,
* do not receive proper vet care, parasite control or innoculations.
* many are infected with coccidia, giardia, fleas or other parasites that thrive in cramped, dirty conditions
* puppies are often taken from their mothers much too young, resulting in long term tempermental issues
It is common practice for commercial breeders to register with fly-by-night registries such as APRI or Continental Kennel Club, because they are suspended from the American Kennel Club for one reason or another. Commercial dog breeders and puppy mills usually sell directly to Pet Stores and Brokers, but some do sell to the general public.
It is very unusual for a commercial breeder or puppy mill to allow you to see their facilitiy. Most who sell directly to the public will offer to bring the puppy to you, ship the puppy to you, or, at the most, let you see a few puppies inside their house. You are kept away from the actual breeding facility where the dogs themselves are housed.
If you are concerned that a breeder you have contacted may be a commercial breeder or puppy mill, ask them:
- if they are USDA licenced
- what genetic diseases the parents are tested for (ask for copies of results)
- where you can come to see the parents
- how the puppies will be registered
Summation: We do NOT advocate purchasing from puppy mills/commercial breeders
A puppy broker is someone who, rather than breed dogs themselves, purchases them in bulk lots from over seas puppy mills. There is NO DIFFERENCE between this and purchasing any other kind of puppy mill bred dog, except for the fact that import brokered puppies will have suffered through a twelve or more hour fllight to arrive at their warehouse location.
If the person offering a dog for sale did NOT breed it, they are not a ‘breeder’ – they are a broker. Go here to read more about import brokers.
Summation: We do NOT advocate purchasing from import brokers
In the most simplistic of terms, an ‘ethical breeder’ can be described as someone who breeds dogs with the intention of bettering their own stock, and the breed as a whole. What does ‘bettering the breed’ mean, exactly?
To better the breed means to breed dogs which adhere to the conformational standard (the blueprint that defines how a dog of a certain breed should look). It also means to breed dogs which fulfill the origins of the breed – the purpose for which the breed was originally created.
In the case of Frenchies, this means an ethical breeder is striving to produce dogs which look like Frenchie should look, and dogs which fulfill their mandate of being companions – and companions should be healthy, tempermentally sound and free of defects which limits our enjoyment of them as pets. In their quest to produce the best dogs possible, the ethical breeder carefully screens all breeding stock for health problems, and has proof of absence of problems from recognized dog health registries. Health concerns in French Bulldogs include hip dysplasia, luxating patellas, spinal anomalies, heart defects, Von Willebrands disease and eye defects. For more details, including the registry bodies which provide screening for these defects, go here.
Ethical breeders usually take part in conformation or other dog sports, such as agility, obedience, tracking. Some also take part in therapy, or put Canine Good Citizen titles on their dogs. Most ethical breeders belong to their state, national or local breed club.
The ethical breeder does not breed ‘only pets’. Although the law of averages will always dictate that pet quality puppies end up many times in even the most carefully planned litters, the goal of the ethical breeder is to produce the best dog possible. “Pet” puppies are generally defined as those that lack certain important qualities and are therefore not good breeding/showing prospects, but would make happy, healthy pets for people who are only looking for companionship.
The ethical breeder guarentees each puppy sold. The guarentee should cover such things as health and temperment, and should have no expiration date. The ethical breeder is knowledgeable about their breed – some might even say obsessed – and will anwser questions and concerns regarding the dogs willingly and openly. They will provide you with the pros and cons of French Bulldogs as pets, and in some cases will dissuade you from purchasing one altogether, if they believe a Frenchie will not suit your lifestyle. The happiness of the puppy is more important than the sale.
The ethical breeder does not support him/herself by breeding dogs. Breeding should not be a business–done correctly, there is very little money to be made in breeding dogs. Steer clear of breeders who make their living off of producing puppies. French Bulldogs are expensive to breed, time consuming to care for, and are not always wonderful mothers. To make money off of French Bulldog breeding is only possible if you are doing so at a high volume rate of production, and/or are skimping on care and testing.
– are eager to share detailed breed information and believes there are no “stupid” questions
– explain total breed care
– supply shot records, pedigrees, care information
– explain genetic defects in the breed
– are willing to let you see the sire & dam – or may even insist on it
– care about each and every pup
– maintain sanitary, clean quarters for the dogs
– test all breeding stock, provides the test results – and will explain what these results mean
– are familiar with their line for several generations
– help you select a puppy that has a temperament that’s compatible with you and your handling skills
– will offer to refund your money or give you a replacement puppy if your puppy develops serious health problems
– sell pet puppies on mandatory spay/neuter clause
– will take back any puppy or adult dog that you cannot keep, for any reason
– has a waiting list, and rarely has puppies available at the drop of a hat
– will insist on learning about you, your family and your household
– can provide you with the reasons why they did this breeding – and their answer won’t be ‘to make some cute pups to sell’
Summation: Ethical breeders are the only breeders we advocate purchasing* from
* obviously, adoption from rescue isn’t included in this statement, since you don’t ‘purchase’ a dog from breed rescue