Whole Dog Journal's Blog September 6, 2018

What is the Best Source of Puppies?

Posted at 09:37AM - Comments: (19)

In last week’s blog post, I mentioned that puppies have no place being advertised on Craigslist or Facebook. Advertising one’s puppies for sale – oh, excuse me, I mean “for a rehoming fee” (give me a BREAK) – in these online forums is tantamount to telling the world you are a backyard breeder who will sell a puppy to anyone, anytime. Anyone who knows what they are doing wouldn’t ever buy a puppy advertised in this way.

That said, some breeders might belong to breed-rescue groups and breed-enthusiast groups who * are * on Facebook, and who * do * advertise on Craigslist. The difference is, they won’t be trying to sell puppies there, but are trying to connect with other people who admire their breed. They may promote an adult rescue dog on a page like that, or announce that a rescued litter is soon to become available to qualified applicants, but absolutely no legitimate rescue would offer to sell puppies to just anyone!

litter of black puppies

Responsible breeders are more concerned about placing their puppies in the right home, where they will thrive and be a blessing to their new families, than they are with making money. If it’s not a little bit difficult to find someone to sell you a puppy – to prove you are up to their standards – then you probably don’t want that puppy. Puppies bred specifically for sale, like produce, with the goal of bringing income to a family – you don’t want that puppy!

Why? Because profit-driven breeders are more interested in making a living than they are with making sure that the animals they produce are sound, healthy, and well-adjusted individuals that will bring joy and love to your home. They really don’t care if the puppies end up euthanized due to health or behavior problems before their first birthday. They don’t care if the dog turned out to be deaf or carries the genes for inherited conditions that will kill the dog before its fifth birthday. Profit-driven breeders have one goal: to improve their bottom line. The fact that their profits come at the expense of the mother dogs (for sure) and the puppies who are placed with anyone who can pony up the purchase price is of no concern to them.

Also, when you support profit-motivated breeders, you support the overproduction of unwanted dogs, the misery of the overworked mother dogs, and the suffering of surplus dogs. When you pay someone on Craigslist a “rehoming fee” for a pup from their “accidental litter,” you have provided a strong disincentive for that person to get the mother dog spayed. If the person who owns the mother dog can’t sell the “accidental puppies,” there is a far greater chance that pups will end up surrenders to a local shelter, where the law requires them to be vaccinated and neutered before they can be sold to the public. And at least THAT crop of “accidental puppies” won’t contribute to more and ever-more “accidental puppies” being born.

In contrast are responsible breeders. How do you identify a responsible breeder? Here is the hallmark: A responsible breeder has a written contract that states that if, for any reason whatsoever, you don’t like the puppy you buy or can’t keep the dog that puppy has grown into, the breeder will take the pup or dog back, without hesitation. In fact, the contract should insist that if you can’t keep the dog for any reason, you may not find another home for the dog, but must return the dog to the breeder. Good breeders don’t want their dogs to end up just anywhere. A truly responsible breeder will keep a list of people who want a dog from her stock, help a dog or puppy get past whatever led to his not fitting into his first family, and find another perfect home for him – or commit to keeping him forever.

How can you FIND a responsible breeder? Use Google. Look for breeders, check out their websites, call them up and ask them questions. Go to dog shows and/or performance events and ask everyone who has a dog of the breed you are interested in who you should talk to about puppies of that breed. Look up local breed-enthusiast groups and breed-rescue groups and ask everyone about the best way to get a puppy. Look for people who are super fussy about who they might consider placing a puppy or adult rescue dog with.

We have some great articles about how to find responsible breeders, and some articles that offer guidance on choosing the best dog or pup for your family:

A Field Guide to Ethical Breeders

Successful Dog Adoption, Part 1: Develop an Adoption Criteria

Successful Dog Adoption, Part 2: What To Do at the Shelter

What's The Best Source for Purebred Dogs?

It’s true that there are far fewer responsible breeders or legitimate rescue groups who have puppies than there are families who want puppies. To which I say, TOUGH.

I understand that it is frustrating to have to WAIT to find a puppy to add to your family, especially in this day of being able to use the Internet to order a left-handed widget in red, not blue, and have it delivered to your home the next day. I understand that it would be nice to get that Poodle in apricot (your favorite color) and a female (because you grew up with a female Poodle), and between 8 and 12 weeks right at the beginning of your kids’ summer vacation (when the nanny will be available to help potty-train the pup before the kids go back to school in the fall) and I understand that you could probably find and pay for a dog that purportedly meets that description on the Internet right this minute. But PLEASE DO NOT.

Comments (19)

It's sad to see educated people making assumptions about everyone wanting to sell puppies. I breed LGD's. I am extremely particular about who I'll sell my puppies to and I've refused to sell puppies to people who were not a good fit. I've also sold multiple dogs to the same families multiple times. Two and three puppy repeat customers multiple times. I live in a small community as well and it sounds like we could have been previous neighbors in NorCal. However, the internet, CL and social media are a great way to advertise said puppies. My puppies parents are on site and I welcome people to our little ranch to see everyone in action.
These keyboard warrior gurus flagging posts on CL aren't preventing anyone from selling to decent people wanting a decent dog. Making it more difficult, which causes unsold puppies to end up in shelters, is the only thing they're accomplishing. Those people selling puppies for the $$$ money can't afford to feed and care for those 10 puppies so off to the shelter they go once they can't sell them. You just accomplished what you were trying to prevent.
For me to reach a rancher in another part of the state who wants to buy a working dog is easily accomplished via the internet.
Have the number of shelter dogs decreased? Not in any state across the nation that I'm aware of.
People who want to rescue dogs aren't looking to pay big money to buy one. People wanting to buy my dogs can't get one in a shelter. End of rant.

Posted by: CA Native | November 8, 2018 12:11 AM    Report this comment

Very good points. I have always purchased my Australian Shepherds from breeders I know and respect personally, who do all the things mentioned as responsible breeders. 3 of my dog's came from the same person; #4 came from a different pair of breeders because I wanted a grandpup of the Aussie who inspired my own Obedience competitive career. For the last 17 years, our home included children and dogs, so knowing the back stories of each litter was important to their future careers; I didn't think, at the time, bringing in an unknown rescue was the right choice for my family. My dogs were purpose bred, from lines of many generations deep, purpose bred working Stock dogs, whose littermates work Stock on farms and ranches all over the US and in several foreign countries - and they do the same things their great-great-great-(etc.) grand dams and grandsires did generations ago. For our latest pup, I waited more than 2 years before he was born, and though it felt like waiting forever, he is turning out to be the working partner I had hoped he would be. And just for reference, my dogs were all bred by people who judge, Show, train, trial, and compete with Aussies, have served on Breed club Boards of Directors, and carefully select potential mates for future litters in order to preserve the best qualities within the breed, and select away from genetic problems. My family's dogs have all had jobs, and I'm glad they have lived up to their promised potential. It doesn't make them, or me, "better" or "worse" , because we chose the pups best suited to our family's requirements over the unknown challenges inherent with rescues. In the future, we just might choose Aussie #5 from Aussie Rescue and Placement Helpline (ARPH), since we no longer have children underfoot at home.

Posted by: ardea | September 7, 2018 1:41 PM    Report this comment

As an attorney and owner of agility dogs, I would not sign nor would I advise a client to sign a contract that provides the breeder with control over the dog once it is sold. That type of contract is not a sales contract but a co-ownership contract and presents a host of problems. For example, under a co-ownership contract, the breeder could dictate medical treatment, specify food and feeding routine and even limit the activities that the dog can engage in during its lifetime.

Posted by: RMF | September 7, 2018 10:44 AM    Report this comment

I agree with all of the above even if there is some contradiction because this is not a black and white issue. At 77 years old I have been involved in rescue groups, have rescued numerous mixed breed dogs, have bought well bred and not well bred purebred puppies and still think I have a great deal to learn even as each dog was a lesson. Or many. It's the old saying - the more you know, the more you realize how much you don't know. And another lesson was brought home to me a few years ago when the last of my wonderful dogs died. I was without a dog in my life and was very uncomfortable with this void - plus I needed a dog to get me off my duff and out there walking and moving. I decided I would rescue an older dog if possible that would match my energy but I also needed a dog who would be comfortable around my young grandson and their dog as they lived close and we saw them daily. That sounds easy enough, doesn't it? It wasn't, as I was not in a position to take on a dog with unknown qualities and that left out numerous dogs from our local shelter and rescue groups. So I looked for dogs that were being fostered. Some rescues never replied to my inquiries, some put me on a list and some dogs were adopted before I could be considered. The problem then became my impatience and need - and that led me to consider a pricey puppy that a local "breeder" had available. It was a doodle breed (a mixed breed) and I knew the breeder was in it for the money as she had 3 special needs children to support without much help from her handicapped husband. She was well educated, knowledgeable regarding many aspects of dog breeding, care and training. She raised and socialized the pups in her home and had the dam and sire DNA tested. The dogs she used for breeding were retired at 3 or 4 years old and she found them good homes or kept them as part of her family. She also knew that she could make good money with these very much in demand poodle mixes and took advantage. The pup I bought is now a year old, has more energy than I would like but is an otherwise perfect fit for our family. He is healthy, has wonderful physical proportions, is very bright with a great temperament and gets along with everyone. He and my daughter's dog are best buddies and he adores my grandson. And, he keeps me moving. When I sometimes talk with my husband about my inability to adopt a more needy dog and having given in to a questionable breeder, he replies, "Well, this pup needed a home too". So I try and keep that in mind.

Posted by: bet4dogs | September 7, 2018 9:52 AM    Report this comment

I love rescues. Tallulah was a puppy, her mother was rescued from the Turlock CA shelter kill list, and after she was rescued by the Pet Club in Shingle Springs CA, she had seven puppies, Tallulah was one of them. Tallulah was a problem solver, escaped from a fenced off pantry, and used her bed as a springboard to get over a 42" steel gate. She became a beauty, although my wife and me thought for a while 'were we too old for a puppy?' She is a wonderful Maltese-poodle-father unknown mix, and she's a test dog for me, the only dog I've had on raw food diet from a puppy.

Posted by: Cosby | September 7, 2018 1:45 AM    Report this comment

I have just spent the last 4 months looking for a dog to add to my family. I signed up with several different rescue groups and looked for a responsible breeder. I live on a large, fenced, multi-acre property and raise livestock.
I have completed all the “requirements” and been told several times that I qualify to foster a dog. Each time one comes available, suddenly another requirement comes up.
I turned to reputable breeders. I can afford to take care of a puppy, but refuse to pay $2000 or more. I was even quoted up to $20,000! The local humane society have multiple hoops to jump through and then charge $500 or more for a dog.
I provide a good home for my dogs and my vet will attest to that. Getting a dog has become very difficult and almost impossible.
I turned to a “backyard” breeder. I just brought home a mixed breed puppy. I chose very carefully and looked for a while. Ended up driving to another state to get my perfect dog.

Posted by: Ranchmama | September 6, 2018 9:46 PM    Report this comment

As I see the issues there are 2 correct ways to find great canine family members. We do both.

We have a terrific lab X ?? that came from a great rescue. He is silly, loving and we have great fun doing agility, obedience, rally, and lure coursing with him. We got him when he was 10 weeks old and waited until he was over 2 to neuter him so that his growth plates were fully closed and he was mature. Consistent use of the leash and a 5 foot high well built fence, prevented accidental puppies from him until he was neutered. We wanted him to be sound physically for life. We also feed him a raw diet to give him the best.

I have stuck to my childhood breed and have an adorable 15" Beagle who came from a very responsible breeder. She had me sign a contract that I must return the dog to her if re-homing was ever necessary. She did genetic testing, OFA, and took a long look at the pedigrees and histories of his ancestors. It took a lot of searching to find her, because the good breeders only have puppies occasionally. I wanted a healthy dog who would be up to playing all of the performance games I dreamed about doing. He didn't need to be a champion (although he is), he just needed to be healthy and sound so we could play. That is exactly what I got. He is great with children. There are so many fun dog sports to do that I didn't want to take a chance on a rescue who might not be able to play all the games with the enthusiasm this little guy has.

Those of us who take the time to find the right breeder have many reasons to want a specific breed, due to personality, temperament, size or appearance. (I just melt when I see a Beagle puppy). Those people do not deserve to be chastised by the very politically correct rescue movement (for which I also volunteer.) I attended the National Beagle Club specialty a few years ago. It was my first experience and I was very happy to see the support for rescue at the show. They did fundraising and many of the breeders/exhibitors openly said that we must work for rescue, or we are part of the problem.

I would also like to add that 2 people have asked if they could breed to my dog and I said "NO" because I was not going to contribute to the backyard breeder problem. They were not willing to do any genetic or OFA testing and were not clear about their pedigrees. Those females were not as sound physically and should not be bred. What we need is education for dog owners and potential breeders. I learned much of it from my breeder, they are a great source for education, but they may be "preaching to the choir" so to speak. Pet supply stores that do not sell puppies and dog training clubs and businesses are a great way to get the information out to people who don't have a dog mentor yet.

Posted by: beaglemom | September 6, 2018 4:16 PM    Report this comment

As a volunteer at a canine shelter for over 5.5 years, I must say that I am disappointed that WDJ posts an article praising "responsible breeders," arguing that they are not in it for a dollar but rather because they love the specific breed. Maybe the author should take a broader and more detailed look at "responsible breeders." I find it sad that so many beautiful and loving dogs, many of them puppies, are euthanized because "responsible breeders" are selling dogs for upwards of $2000. Yeah, there not in it for the money...right.

Posted by: tomw | September 6, 2018 3:39 PM    Report this comment

I agree that responsible breeder is an oxymoron. For every puppy born in that way, another one dies needlessly in a shelter.NO one should breed til the shelters are empty.

Posted by: catmd | September 6, 2018 2:50 PM    Report this comment

I agree rescuing a dog is a noble thing to do. And, I have a wonderful 13 year pom that I rescued last year. That said, there is such joy in bringing home a puppy, nuturing it and watching it develop. I think it's unrealistic to expect everyone to give that up. So . . .here's what I suggest folks look for if you really want a puppy. A breeder:(1) with a waiting list for the pups s/he produces. (You should be prepared to wait 6 months to a year for a pup). Stay away from any breeder who has pups on the ground with no idea of who is going buy them; (2) who can show you the results of genetic testing for bitch and sire for the common genetic issues that present in bitch's and sire's breed(s); (3) except for 1 or 2 pairs, s/he places all of the other breeding dogs in a "guardianship" homes, so that they have a real family life, except when they're actually being breed or giving birth; (4) S/he requires proof of spaying/neutering by the time the pup achieves 1 year of age; (5) S/he stays in touch with all families who adopt pups for the first year and agrees to remain available for advice for life; (6) S/he has some interest in the breed(s) s/he uses for breeding, other than just producing puppies. (e.g. S/he runs agility, parkour, barn hunts, freestyles, scent tracks, trains therapy dogs, etc.); and (7) S/he screens all potential buyers before s/he places them on a waiting list for one of her pups and turns down buyers who do not have the space, temperament, or time to properly raise a pup of the breed s/he produces. For all of this, the buyer should expect to pay a minimum of $2000.

Posted by: annielou | September 6, 2018 2:20 PM    Report this comment

I too, agree with Cosmic. In a world where so many animals are being euthanized for lack of a caring home, I find it disgusting that someone will go to a breeder for their "designer" dog. But that's our society today, isn't it? Sad.

Posted by: Donnasandy | September 6, 2018 2:17 PM    Report this comment

A life is a life. And it needs to be saved. Particularly before conception. How to do that is the issue. People are licensed to drive a car. There is endless training and paperwork involved regarding ownership & operator use. Yet under our otherwise “free will” (without consequence) society, other behaviors go unsanctioned. The concept of “responsible” breeder is subjective. Including all that’s been said in the above article. Particularly a commitment to breed rescue, and fostering on their own dime. Long term truly “responsible” breeders (RB) never make a profit, but break even at best. The goal of a RB is to substantially improve every generation of the line. It’s been said, that if a “match” doesn’t equal that result (marked improvement) then it’s vanity breeding. The best breeders never have enough stock to satisfy their demand. And loyalists to those breeders are endlessly patient. Knowing they’re waiting for the “best” dog fitting their requirements. RB’s don’t just “want” …but write into their contract … that if their dog can’t be kept, it MUST be returned to the breeder. And some, will keep the dog for it’s lifetime.

Getting back to a life needs to be saved (truly), unfortunately every time a dog is rescued, a space is created for another “backyard breeder’s” dog to replace it, because RB’s dogs do not end up there. “Backyard” breeding makes it sound like, “oh whatever I do on my own property is okay!” Except every new dog has a high impact on the community. Especially within dense populations! There are huge (seldom advertised) risks to breeding a female, including the dog’s life and medical expenses. But if an owner isn’t committed to personally raising each and every dog they breed, or seeing that it is placed into another permanent home (should worse come to worse) then it anonymously releases another dog into this world. Because the cost of saving a life (and more) is left with people who act in the kindness of their heart. There is a reason Shelters are populated with “mixed breeds” (which make some of the best companions) because it demonstrate the difference between the amateur and the experienced. In this case experience equals wisdom and good judgement. Amateur equals vanity and greed.

Posted by: Pacificsun | September 6, 2018 2:08 PM    Report this comment

Your points in this and your previous blog post are excellent. I think you are preaching to the choir, though. I think most people who subscribe to WholeDog Journal and read this blog are more aware of these issues than the general dog-loving public. I suggest that we all try to engage in conversations with relatives, friends, and acquaintances who are thinking of getting a puppy and make THEM aware of these important arguments for choosing responsibly when purchasing, rescuing, adopting or otherwise acquiring a dog. I would be remiss if I didn't acknowledge that there are many, many unique ways that people end up with dogs that don't fall into any of the categories discussed here. Some of these are magical stories and some are tragic, but I am not referring to those. My comments are specifically about situations where people decide to get a dog and intentionally go looking for one. Let's all share this very important information and help make backyard breeding unprofitable!

Posted by: EllenM | September 6, 2018 1:52 PM    Report this comment

I agree with the comment from "cosmic" wholeheartedly. The dogs we adopt into our home are part of our family. It would NEVER occur to me to prostitute my dog, then when she became pregnant, take her puppies away from her to sell them for profit. Based on the beautiful Irish Setter we rescued years ago, I know for a fact that some of these puppies go to people intent on starting their own forced prostitution and resultant puppy sales. I can't believe that anyone who truly loves dogs approves of this activity, which is for nothing but profit. It is heartbreaking to me that dogs are still treated this way.

Posted by: BJG | September 6, 2018 1:25 PM    Report this comment

"Super fussy" says it all, pedigree or rescue.

Posted by: CaptainK45 | September 6, 2018 12:26 PM    Report this comment

Thank you so much for this article! Can't count the number of times I hear from people whose new puppy (from a backyard breeder) is sick/etc and I shake my head sadly. Nor can I count the number of times I hear someone being shamed or am shamed personally for having purchased from a responsable breeder. Thank you for your balanced approach.

Posted by: Redbird | September 6, 2018 12:23 PM    Report this comment

I must respectfully disagree. 'Responsible breeder' is an oxymoron, and in the rescue world I for one deal with the consequences 24/7. Between two and four million ( depending on your source) healthy dogs without behavioral problems are PTS yearly, while breeders dilute the demand by indulging in their hobby,

Posted by: cosmic | September 6, 2018 12:17 PM    Report this comment

I would want to add on how to find responsible breeders. Go to the breeds parent club website... ie.. Poodle club of America... or Beagle club of America all breeds have a "parent" club that offers a tremendous amount of information regarding their breed, to include listing names of qualified breeders, or offering a breeder referral to contact for more information.

Posted by: dancer | September 6, 2018 12:10 PM    Report this comment

I am in complete agreement with rescue groups that do a thorough check of a potential applicant's home and application. We did this with three rescue groups prior to choosing our girl and the reaction was pretty much the same: "When I die, I want to come back as one of your dogs." :) I don't EVER foresee us needing to have one of our dogs "rescued", it does make me feel a little better knowing the in-depth process that is involved.

Posted by: KimberlyO | September 6, 2018 10:45 AM    Report this comment

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