Choosing a responsible breeder

Thanks to the internet, finding a dog breeder is easy these days, but how can you tell who is ethical? Here, we offer some advice

By: Caroline Zambrano, Managing Editor Of Pooch

Pups shouldn't leave their mother til 8 weeks old

If you have decided to buy a purebred dog, the next step is to choose a responsible dog breeder so you know your puppy is coming from a healthy and happy home. You may well see ‘Pups for sale’ headlines on the Internet and in local newspapers, but how do you know the breeder is ethical and responsible? Pooch has some suggestions where to get dogs from.

Ethical and responsible breeders are passionate about improving the health of future generations of their breed, and work hard over many years to reduce the incidence of hereditary diseases. Breeders registered with the Australian National Kennel Council (ANKC) are required to abide by its rules, regulations and code of ethics, as well as enforceable codes of practice which may apply in their state.

How do you choose a responsible breeder? It is advisable to first contact your state canine council and they can refer you to the Breed Club, says Dr Peter Higgins from DOGS NSW.“The Breed Club can often refer you to a registered breeder who may be close to having a litter. In some cases, if the breed is a popular one, they may have to go on a waiting list,” he says. 

In cases where there is no Breed Club and the breed you are seeking is a rare breed, contact your state canine council for information and possible contacts.

What to expect

When you visit a breeder, the living quarters should be clean and all dogs should be well cared for. The puppies, as well as the parents, should also be clean, well-conditioned, lively and friendly, says Dr Higgins.

“The breeder should be able to answer questions about the finer details of the breed, what to expect in the adult dog and both the positive and negative aspects of the breed,” he says. “The breeder should also be willing to provide ongoing support and advice as your puppy matures.”

Socialisation is critical for puppies between three weeks to four months of age because it is this period of learning and development that will influence their behaviour as adults. 

 “It’s important to socialise puppies with other dogs and people, including children, as well as different situations,” Dr Higgins says. “The breeder should be able to give you advice about socialising your puppy, such as what to expect from puppy school and obedience training.”

Puppies should not leave their mother until they are at least eight weeks of age. When you collect your puppy, the breeder must have available the vaccination records, registration certificates, copy of the pedigree, microchip details, and a puppy care and diet sheet. 

The puppies should have been treated for worms from approximately two to three weeks of age and have had their first vaccination at about six to seven weeks of age. 

Questions to ask breeder

  • Why did you choose this breed and how long have you been involved with it?
  • Are the puppies registered with your state canine council?
  • Are there any hereditary conditions in the breed which may affect the health of the puppy?
  • If the breed is affected by hereditary problems, do you test breeding stock and are we able to view any of these test results?
  • Can we have the puppy checked by our vet before we buy?
  • If any unforseen conditions arise, can we return the puppy?

By doing your research and asking questions, you will help to support ethical and responsible breeding for a healthier future generation of the breed.


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Being a registered dog stud does not mean people will get a healthy dog without future problems. Here is a quote from an email I received from the Poodle club of Victoria: "If you were looking for a standard poodle, there are no compulsory tests required by the ANKC like there are for miniatures and toys (PRA). Some of the problems associated with poodles listed on the website currently have no tests available, e.g bloat, epilepsy." So, even though standard poodles suffer from hereditary diseases, they "don't have to" tests them , becuase its not "compulsory" .Where are the "ethics" in that ? I am a breeder of toy and miniature poodles and they are from registered lines, PRA clear by parentage, but not registered. I hold a "hobby breeders licence" with my local council and own under ten female breeding dogs( six females and 1 male poodle). My dogs come with 12 months guarantee on their health along with 24/7 help and advice for the dogs life.. How many "registered" breeders offer that ? Also another thing you have wrong, by local law, I do not have to micro chip my puppies until they turn 12 weeks of age. So if I sell them between 8 weeks and 12 weeks, its becomes the new owners responsibility, by local law. You see, each council may not have the same by-laws and you need to make this clear. By saying all breeders should have their puppies micro chipped before selling is your opinion, not the law. By stating it as a fact rather than an opinion, you make breeders like me look bad when we are following the law to the letter. Also, why would a breeder take back a puppy if "unforeseen conditions arise"??? I am more than happy to replace a puppy, but why would I want the other one back ? If the puppy is 12 months old and develops a joint problem or diet problem, one would think that when the buyers purchased it, they took it on for life, through good and bad.....being responsible pet owners and all......and would either wish to arrange to place the young dog in a home that can care for its special needs or continue to care for it themselves. Why do you push all the responsibility onto the breeder when buyers are just as responsible for the animal once they purchase it. Your story and advice is one sided and needs re-writing. Also puppies should be wormed at 2,4,6,8 and then 12 weeks. you need to be more clear on care and on-going care which is the responsibility of the new owners. We are, after all, putting the puppies needs first and trying to educate the new buyers, even when talking about the breeders of dogs. Maybe you should think about writing " how to care for and keep your puppy healthy after you take it home". Dogs and puppies, like all living things, can develop problems that have nothing to do with their blood lines or the breeders care. You need to talk about when it is important to contact a vet and when to wait , rather than be ripped off by a vet who wants to "wait and see" at $200 a night *rolls eyes* . some vets can be very quick to book your puppy in and start with a nightmare style "consultation fee" before you even open your mouth...and then if your super lucky they will hit you with an "extended consultation fee" of what ever takes their fancy after you chatted away about your little poochy for too long" What people NEED to do is "read read read", everything they can find, in books, on the www and also talk to people and get feed back about everything. Then take it all and shake it up together and make personal choices about what they think is true, useful and what is bs. Decide what YOU as a buyer need to know in relation to your life style and dog breed. Don'take everything as gold, vets are just people with an education...but still human and capable of mistakes and even greed. A registered breeder is still just human and prone to mistakes, as well as trying to make an income from their dogs they can also be prone to greed.......Human nature is not all puppy dogs and rainbows

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Linda (above post)....what breeder wants "to make an income from their dogs"? Breeding dogs is meant to be done from the love of the breed. Breeders breed to improve the standard and produce well rounded animals. Anyone who wants to make money or an income from dogs is disgusting.

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