Puppies everywhere! Recently, Tucker’s breeder, Catherine from Ivywest Golden Retrievers welcomed two new litters of golden puppies. I’ve also seen a few new puppies in the neighborhood so you know what I have? PUPPY FEVER! I know that I can’t get another dog right now, but it shouldn’t stop all of you if you want to (of course, I always support adopting from a shelter or rescue–there are always several dogs in rescues that need YOU and one of my brothers is from a rescue!)
That got me thinking that I needed to do a post on the importance of responsible breeders. First, let me tell you how we came about finding Ivywest. It was pretty basic- my husband asked me if we could handle a puppy, I said yes, and the crazy gran dog mom (a.k.a. my mom) hopped on the American Kennel Club (AKC) website to search where puppies were available. We found Ivywest through there, an email was sent and the rest is history.
The AKC has some great tips to look for when researching a breeder, such as:
- Visit the breeder’s home or kennel and ask to see at least one of the puppy’s parents. Get an idea of what the future holds for your dog in terms of temperament and appearance.
- Observe the premises. Is the house/kennel clean? Odor-free? Dogs and puppies should be clean, well fed, lively and friendly. Look for signs of malnutrition such as protruding rib cages or illness such as runny nose/eyes, coughing, lethargy and skin sores.
- Pay attention to how the dogs and puppies interact with their breeder. Does the breeder appear to genuinely care for the puppies and their adult dogs? Both dogs and puppies should not shy away from the breeder and should be outgoing with strangers.
- Find out about the health of your puppy and its parents. Breeders should be honest about the breed’s strengths and weaknesses and knowledgeable about the genetic diseases that can affect their breed – including what’s being done to avoid them. Breeders should be willing to share proof of health screenings such as OFA and CERF certificates with potential buyers.
- Establish a good rapport with the breeder. He/she will be an excellent resource and breed mentor for you throughout the life of your puppy. You should be encouraged to call the breeder 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 specified conditions of care are not met or you become unable to keep the puppy, he/she will reclaim it.
- Don’t leave the premises without the appropriate documentation of the dog’s pedigree, a.k.a. “papers.” The words “American Kennel Club” as well as the AKC logo should be clearly visible. You’ll need to send in this application form to register your dog with the AKC. Be wary of a breeder who refuses/hesitates to give you papers, wants to charge you more for AKC papers, offers papers from a registry other than the AKC, or tells you he/she will mail them to you at a later date.
I reached out to Catherine (I almost like calling her Catherine of Ivywest, sounds so royal!) and asked her for a few tips as well. These are from her:
- Communication. I think that in this day and age a good breeder should be willing to open up the life of his or her dogs and puppies to clients by way of social media. I have found that my clients LOVE the connection they are able to experience even before they meet their puppy. It is also a way for a breeder to show clients how they are caring for the puppies. Crazy Dog Mom Note: YES!!! I can personally tell you I love Ivywest’s Facebook and Instagram page. It was great to see puppy photos before we went and picked out Tucker. I’ve also met so many of Tucker’s siblings through the Facebook page. It’s a cool resource to have. My mom’s breeder, Harborview Golden Retrievers has a Facebook Group where the breeder and all those that have Harborview puppies communicate. I’m actually part of that group as well (even though I don’t have a Harborview, I’m a Harborview “sibling.”) It’s been a great resource as well.
- Beyond social media/ or showing photos, a breeder should be a resource for clients. A breeder should offer some education by way of email or “handouts” about how to care for a puppy, adjustments, how to help prevent hip dysplasia and cancer..those types of things. Also, the breeder should be available and encourage the clients to ask questions and should be available for consult for the life of the puppy. Crazy Dog Mom Note: One thing that we still have is Tucker’s puppy folder which came home with him from Ivywest. It had all his AKC paperwork as well as other helpful information. I’ve also emailed Catherine questions and she has always been great. Think about it, breeders bring these puppies into the world. They care for them 24/7 for those first weeks of their lives and then these puppies go to their forever homes- kind of like when you send your kiddos off to college. Of course they want to know how they are doing!
I hope these tips help for anyone who is looking for a puppy. Again, I want to emphasize that I don’t want people to think they should only adopt puppies from breeders. I just want to make sure if you do, you find a responsible one! NO PUPPY MILLS PEOPLE!