10 Telling Signs That The Breeder You’re Buying From Is Bad News

Is the breeder you're buying from legit? Make sure you know.

You have decided on your perfect breed and now you’re in search of your perfect dog. You check the AKC or CKC and get a list of approved breeders, search out their websites and, they look legitimate. But, how do you really know you’re buying from the best? Here are the top 10 biggest warning signs you’re dealing with a bad breeder.

1. They are selling the dogs for less than they are worth.

Dog standing in front of a cheap hotdog sign

I love scoring a good deal as much as the next person but, be wary when it comes to discounts on your future family member. Well-bred canines don’t come cheap. If your breeder is selling her pups for less than the average price for the breed, you’ve got to ask yourself “why”? There’s some major penny pinching happening there. And, you don’t want a single cent to be spared on their care, especially during those first few formative months.

2. They don’t make you sign a contract.

cute affenpinscher dog getting adopted papers contract signed

It says a lot that to adopt a dog these days, a home needs to be thoroughly vetted and a contract must be signed.

A skilled breeder stands by the health of their pups and will want to ensure that if something unexpected happens on the owner’s end and they can no longer take care of the pup, they have the right to reclaim him and ensure he won’t end up in a shelter or, worse, euthanized.

If you are not provided a contract, you’re dealing with a sloppy breeder.

3. They do not provide you with health and pedigree papers.

CFC Dog papers

The entire point of buying from a breeder is to know exactly what you’re getting. You should receive the standard documentation upon purchasing your furson: a puppy information package with care instructions, registration papers, vaccination records, as well as, the contract with a replacement guarantee.

4. They breed dogs who are too young or, too old or, they breed a female too many times.

Corso Mom feeding her puppies

Females usually have their first estrus (season or heat) around 6 months. Males generally reach maturity between 12-15 months. Responsible breeders will wait until 12 months before breeding a bitch to ensure her maturity. It is also important not to breed the female on consecutive heats. Good breeders are looking for quality over quantity. In fact, most of the best breeders have wait lists for their pups. And, they retire their girls young. After all, mum deserves a life of receiving love too!

4. They seem ignorant or in denial about breed specific genetic problems.

Griffon behind vet bars from breed specific genetic issue syringomyelia

Reputable breeders are proud of their pups and practices and, in addition to providing people with lifelong family members, they are also usually showing their dogs at competitions. The best breeders began their careers out of a passion for a specific breed, with the goal to improve the quality of that breed.

However, purebred dogs are vulnerable to health problems. A good breeder isn’t afraid to answer any questions or concerns you might have about potential breed specific genetic problems. A great breeder is an expert on the breed and will address common issues before you even ask.

5. They do not offer references.

hungarian vizsla wins obedience award for good behavior

Most breeders these days have Facebook or Instagram pages where humonsters can share pictures and stories of their lovable fursons. Search for #yourbreed and find thousands of pup owners’ pictures and stories. Don’t be shy – ask other owners if they know of the breeders you’re speaking to and have any feedback. Most dog owners are more than happy to steer you in the right direction.

In addition to doing some of your own digging, a good breeder will gladly share references from previous litters. She’s downright proud of her pups.

6. They do not offer to let you meet the mother and father or, let you observe where the puppies were raised full time.

Dogs in Love

You show up at the breeder’s home and are invited into the living room where you see an X-pen of happy puppies! Joy! Puppies can be distracting with all their cuteness but be sure you meet their mum and dad so you can get a proper assessment of their temperament and general health. If mum doesn’t look well taken care of – find another breeder.

Recently, there’s been an increase in breeders posting video tours of their facilities on their websites. Ask for a tour to check out where everyone lives and plays when potential buyers aren’t visiting. If your breeder doesn’t show you, something’s not right.

7. The puppies have not been properly socialized.

Puppies cuddled up for picture

In addition to looking well-fed and clean, your pup should also be well-socialized. At around 4-5 weeks old, puppies should have the opportunity to begin exploring. As a pack, they learn confidence and how to play and interact. Well-socialized puppies have been outside and have been exposed to a variety of noises, smells, and people which make them more advanced and adaptable. This is a crucial step towards the future success of your pet’s training and temperament.

8. They offer to meet you at a half-way point or, offer to ship the puppy to you.

Dog in car on rainy day

This is possibly one of the most tell-tale signs your breeder isn’t legit. If your breeder is offering to meet you half way or ship your pup to you then they’re definitely failing in other areas as well.

Flying dogs as cargo is unsafe – especially during extreme weather conditions such as the middle of summer or winter. Aside from temperature and ventilation issues, do you really want your new baby flying solo? Planes get delayed, crate doors can open. Anything can happen.

If you find your dream dog and she’s far away, why not opt to fly out and bring her back with you in the cabin. Or, if she’s too big for the cabin, you could always fly one way and enjoy your very first road trip home together. Bonding time!

9. They don’t ask any questions about you.

Cute puppy looking at mom on her frist day home

If your breeder isn’t asking questions about your lifestyle and accommodations then something’s not right. She should be vetting her buyers just as much as they’re vetting her. Different breeds have different needs. Everyone should be making sure that this is the best possible fit for both your family and the health and happiness of the pup.

10. Your gut says something is off.

Border Collie celebrates 13th birthday

We all get a gut feeling when something is not right. If you get that feeling, even if you can’t place the reason, trust it and walk away.

Too often, families buy from bad breeders because they feel sorry for the pups. As hard as it is to walk away, you could potentially save many more from the same fate by discouraging the breeder from producing future litters.

We believe dogs are family members and we want to celebrate every last year together. Remember that you are making a life long commitment, in sickness and in health. If you happen to catch any of these warning signs, do not ignore them.


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