If you want to purchase a purebred pet, you must find a reputable breeder who maintains high ethical standards to ensure you get a happy and healthy dog or cat. By providing tips on how to find a responsible pet breeder, The Neighborhood Vet team helps ensure your experience is positive.

#1: Educate yourself about pet breeders

Many pet breeder types exist, and before you purchase a pet, you should understand your potential breeder’s category. Pet breeder types include:

  • Heritage or preservation breeders — These breeders’ mission is to protect, maintain, and improve a particular breed. They don’t breed pets to make a profit, and many lose money on each litter. When choosing a heritage breeder, consider these factors:
    • Heritage breeders usually perform extensive health tests on pets in their breeding program and don’t breed pets who have health issues, genetic defects, or undesirable behavior.
    • They typically have a long waiting list because they only breed a pet once or twice a year. 
    • You may have to meet higher requirements to purchase a pet.
    • Heritage breeders are committed to the pet throughout the animal’s entire life, willing to provide you with support and information. In fact, if you can no longer care for a pet, these breeders will take them back or help find an appropriate home for the animal.
    • Pets from heritage breeders are often priced higher.
  • Hobby breeders — Hobby breeders love the breed but don’t usually follow the same strict standards as a heritage breeder. A hobbyist may foster unofficial breeds or mixes, or they may focus on breeding for behavior and temperament. 
  • Pet mills — Pet mills are large breeding facilities that use many pets as breeding stock, typically including various breeds. Pet mills’ main goal is financial profit, and they don’t usually provide animals with adequate health care, housing, or enough human interaction. Avoid purchasing a pet from one of these operations.
  • Backyard breeders — These breeders have little to no experience breeding pets Situations include someone whose pet has had an accidental pregnancy, someone who wanted their child to witness the miracle of birth, or someone trying to make extra money. Backyard breeders typically don’t prioritize ethical or responsible pet breeding practices.

#2: Familiarize yourself with recommended health tests for your pet’s breed

Many purebred pets have a high risk for certain diseases. Research the breed in which you are interested and familiarize yourself with the breed’s recommended health tests. Breeds that should have specific health tests  include:

  • Bulldogs — Tests recommended for bulldogs include patella evaluation, cardiac exam, and tracheal hypoplasia radiographic evaluation.
  • Cocker spaniel — Tests recommended for cocker spaniels include a hip evaluation and an ophthalmology examination.
  • Pug — Tests recommended for pugs include a hip evaluation, patella evaluation, eye examination, and a pug dog encephalitis test.

In addition, a responsible breeder ensures the breeding pair are in good general health. The breeder should test each parent for potential genetic problems such as hip dysplasia, degenerative myelopathy, hearing loss, and elbow dysplasia.

#3: Visit the pet breeder

A responsible breeder is willing to show you their home and where the puppies and kittens are born and raised. The area should be clean and well-maintained, and the pets should not be confined to small cages. A potential breeder should also have well-kept exercise areas for adult pets and their offspring. In addition, most reputable breeders ask questions regarding your ability to care for the pet, including the amount of time you will spend with your new puppy or kitten.

#4: Meet the pet parents

Ask to meet the mother and father. They should be friendly and interact well with people and other pets in the household. The breeding pair should also be clean and appear in good health.

#5: Ask the pet breeder questions

A reliable pet breeder should be knowledgeable about the breed they raise and be able to answer your questions about a puppy’s or kitten’s potential size, exercise needs, temperament, and inherited health issues. When you speak with a potential breeder, you should ask them these questions:

  • Do you properly socialize puppies and kittens? — To help ensure they are properly socialized and grow into a well-adjusted and well-behaved adult pet, puppies and kittens should be exposed to new sights, sounds, and experiences from about 3 weeks of age.
  • How often do you breed your dams? — A conscientious breeder should give their dams a rest between litters, only breeding them once or twice a year.
  • Were the parents screened for potential genetic problems? — The breeder should provide you with documentation illustrating that your potential pet’s parents have been screened for the breed’s common genetic conditions.
  • Will you be available to provide support after purchase? — A responsible breeder should be available to answer questions and provide support after you bring home your pet. 
  • What does the pet eat? — The breeder should provide detailed information about your potential pet’s dietary needs and recommend a high-quality puppy or kitten food.
  • At what age do you allow a puppy or kitten to leave their mother and littermates? — To allow for appropriate development and social learning, puppies and kittens should remain with their litter until they are at least 8 weeks old. 
  • What does the purchase contract include? — A reputable breeder will provide a written contract that you and they sign. Ensure the details include a health guarantee that allows time for a veterinary prepurchase examination.

#6: Ensure the pet breeder has provided appropriate veterinary care

A reputable breeder ensures all his animals receive essential veterinary care. Ask to see the puppy or kitten’s veterinary records to ensure they have received the appropriate vaccinations and parasite testing. 

By following these tips, you should be able to find the right breeder for your next four-legged family member. Once you purchase your pet, contact The Neighborhood Vet team, so we can meet your new addition and ensure they are healthy.