A few weeks ago a loyal reader sent us a suggestion. Normally, we don’t take suggestions but this one happened to hit home so, here goes.
Every dog person starts somewhere. Sometimes it’s with a dog from a shelter, sometimes a rehome from Craigslist and very rarely, people get their first dog from responsible breeders. Unfortunately, a lot of the time, Real Dog People (™) have very humble beginnings. That’s right, It’s very common for future RDP to get their dogs from backyard breeders (Occasionally, wannabe RDP get their second and third dog also from bybs…. but we won’t continue to beat that dead horse.)
Since Backyard Breeders get sneakier by the day, we’ve compiled a list of red flags that your dog might be from less than honorable origins.
1) Your breeder has a shitty website or a presence on the web in all the wrong ways. … and by shitty we mean like our previous post . We don’t expect world class here, but a slick website with easy purchase options, half-filled out health info, and fake, or shall we say creatively exaggerated, titles are a bad bad sign. Other bad signs include where they advertize (Puppyfind? EBay? Craigslist? Nextdaypets? Come the fuck on) what they advertise (Super tiny teacup titweasels!) and realistically who they associate with (Dawgs 4sael 4Cheep on Facebook does not imply quality).
2) How much do you spend at the vet in your puppy’s first year? We aren’t talking normal puppy stuff like shots or that time Fluffy inhaled the contents of your trash can. We’re talking genetic issues and those lovely little surprises that come from puppies raised in less than sanitary conditions. Bad things happen to good breeders, of course… but a puppy with ten different kinds of worms, missing one or both balls, or just generally poorly configured is much more likely to have come from a shitty byb than from a good breeder… and suddenly that 600 dollar puppy isn’t looking better than the 1,000 dollar puppy from the good breeder down the road.
3) You’ve never actually been able to verify any health testing records with OFA or anyone else and the breeder is cagey about their existence or keeps saying they’ll show you but they never actually surface. Option B of course is your breeder doesn’t believe in health testing. If it were a problem it would have been an issue with the parents, right? Sure, except the parents are usually too young to see degenerative conditions and gone to other pastures by the time the issue appears later in life. Out of sight, out of mind. Also that’s not really how most genetic issues trail on down the lines.
4) You haven’t actually heard from your breeder since you picked fluffykins up from the Wal-Mart parking lot. Your breeder doesn’t respond to your inquiries about poor health or your accomplishments until you drop the “Looking for another puppy” bomb. *Ka-ching* noise is all they hear and it’s all they can do not to pee in delight.
5) Your contract or agreement is less valuable than the Sonic napkins we pitched this evening. While most contracts are borderline unenforceable and heavily favor the “Possession is 9/10ths of the law” ideal, most breeders at least put together something halfway decent so you don’t wind up with a genetic and temperamental nightmare. Some simply will hand you a health certificate and toss you and your puppy out on the unforgiving aisles of the Walmart parking lot. Something is writing is great, shit that matters in writing is better.
6) You mention your breeders name at your first dog event and people that have the same breed start making shifty eyes. “I’ve never heard of them” or “Ohhh… tsk” the more polite ones will say, while the more straightforward owners lecture you on the horrors you are in for in your puppy’s future. Most of us will just wince and nod in the corner. You’ll learn one way or another.
7) Your dog looks different from those pictures you saw online while researching your breed. You got pulled in to the rare colors scheme. Every breed guess is “*Intended Breed* Mix”. Turns out, a breeder that breeds for good pets and therapy dogs…. doesn’t always hit the nail on the head.
8) Your breeder is breeding dogs across multiple registries, particularly if they are the same breed but registered differently.. If “Papered” is used as an attribute anytime in your correspondence that”s a bad sign.. While for most breeders papers are a foregone conclusion (AKC, UKC, Canadian KC, KC, FCI, KNPV etc) for crap-pushers they are a sure sign to Joe Stupid that the dog is A) Valuable B) Worth Breeding and C) Healthy. Crap-registries have been created specifically to exploit this completely false equivocation. Some less than savory breeders will breed within this framework until they manage to get their hands on their more legitimate AKC/UKC counterparts. Most will continue to breed their crap dogs ignoring health testing, actual quality, soundness, the market and common decency while preaching about their working dogs who incidentally are usually 20-40lbs overweight and have never actually seen a decoy or a cow in the entire span of their existence.
9) Your puppy is health certified, but not guaranteed past a couple of days. We know, this one can be confusing. A Health certificate verifies that the puppy you are being handed is healthy… right now. A Health guarantee… well it guarantees that your puppy will be healthy for the foreseeable future. This isn’t going to save you if you’re stupid and take your 8 week old puppy to the dog park, but it will protect you if any genetic health issues pop up.
10) Your breeder is not a member of your breed club. While this isn’t always an indicator, since some breed clubs are snobby and elitist (Here’s looking at you, PCA) and some are moderately psychotic (Hahahaha, yeah not going there), your breeder should be involved with a local breed club,local kennel club, or even a working club if that’s their focus.
This is hardly a complete list, but if your dog came from a breeder that fits into one or more of these categories…. you might have fallen prey to the dreaded BYB. We forgive you, until you do it again. Then we will mock you.
Speaking of shitty breeders, the AKC just released their list for nominations for Breeders of the year. Congrats to the good multiple breeders on the list! We admire your dogs and your dedication to your breeds’ health, integrity and temperament. Many years of continued successes and furthering your accomplishments…. To the shitty breeders on the list, well, we hope your raging case of karmic herpes clears up sometime in the next few reincarnations. We doubt it, but you know, trashy behavior begets trashy karma.