When you are looking for your next Labrador Retriever, it is a good idea to be careful about where you buy your dog.
Although there are many responsible and reputable dog breeders all over the world, scoundrels and scumbags can be found in all walks of life.
So, how do you spot a bad breeder? The answer is not a simple one. There are many warning signs that you should look for, any of which might indicate a bad egg.
In the end, you spot a bad breeder by being vigilant, knowing what to look for, and asking the right questions.
Let’s begin with a general concept: Any dog breeder that is worth your business should be a person who cares deeply for the welfare of the animals.
Their level of care can be seen in the way that breeders treat their animals and the conditions in which they are kept.
You Should Always Ask About Registration
When you are considering the possibility of buying a pup from a particular breeder, never commit to anything on the first phone call.
You need to at least do a little checking on this person. Start by asking them if their dogs are registered with a kennel club.
Most serious breeders will register their dogs with one of several kennel clubs. These are just organizations that act as an authority for the determination of various breeds. If the breeder doesn’t register with a kennel club, it tells you two things.
First, it tells you that they are a small-scale breeder. A large-scale breeder would not refrain from doing this. However, small-scale breeders are not always a bad thing. This is where you should evaluate them on an individual basis.
Second, it tells you that you may not be dealing with purebred dogs. This may or may not be particularly important to you, so judge according to your priorities.
If you are not dealing with a small-scale breeder, it wouldn’t be a bad idea to do a quick internet search and try to find testimonials or reviews from those who have dealt with this breeder in the past. This can also give you an idea of the breeders’ honesty.
As everyone knows, you should always ask for pictures of the parents, so that you can get a good idea of what your dog will look like when it is all grown up. Of course, this is not always a perfect indicator.
Don’t Underestimate The Importance Of Worming And Shots
Worming and shots are incredibly important for puppies. Most pups will have worms at some point after being weaned. It’s almost impossible to avoid.
A puppy should first be wormed at two weeks of age, and again every two weeks until they reach 12 weeks of age.
Here is where you may have trouble. An unscrupulous breeder will often lie and tell you that the pups have been wormed, when in fact, they have not.
The best thing you can do here is asking detailed questions about when they did it, what they used, etc.
By asking in-depth questions, you can possibly catch an unscrupulous breeder in a contradiction. Liars have a tendency to contradict themselves as they say whatever is convenient at the time. This is really the best way to spot a dishonest person in general.
The best breeders will have some kind of record that shows when the pups were wormed and what type of medicine was used.
It may be a handwritten note, but it is still an assurance that you can use in court if the pups turn out to be full of parasites.
As for shots, this is incredibly important. Parvo is probably the single biggest threat to the life of a pup. Without vaccinations, it has a tendency to kill large numbers of puppies. Sometimes, whole litters can die from this terrible disease.
The worst thing about parvo is that it takes a long time to kill the pup. The pup will not show signs of being infected for quite a while, possibly up to six months. However, when the disease takes hold, they will be dead within 48 hours.
Watching a puppy die of parvovirus is a horrible experience. As a breeder, I have seen it happen, and it is an experience that I would not wish upon my worst enemy.
This is why it is so vitally important to verify that your pup has been properly inoculated.
Most of the things we said about worming will also apply here. Ask detailed questions about when the pups were vaccinated, who did the vaccination, what kind of vaccine was used, etc. Many breeders will give the shots themselves, so this is not a red flag.
As before, make sure your breeder kept a detailed record regarding vaccination dates and details. A breeder who can’t even give you vaccination dates should be regarded with suspicion, as should one who cannot identify the vaccine used.
It is not my intention to scare you, but vaccination really is quite important. Without it, you are rolling the dice with the life of your puppy.
The ideal situation would be one in which the vaccinations were performed by a veterinarian and well-documented.
Make Sure To Visit The Kennels
So, once you have satisfied yourself that this breeder seems all right, it’s time to take a trip to their place. Obviously, you don’t want to go to their house, but you do want to see the area in which their dogs are kept. A look at their kennels will tell you much.
If you see skinny dogs living in filthy conditions, this is a red flag that should probably be reported. If you see this, get back in the car and drive away.
Dogs with obvious untreated injuries and dogs that are extremely vicious are also red flags.
Conclusion: Look For The Most Important Warning Sign
Perhaps the biggest thing to look at is space. That is to say, look at how much space your breeder gives their dogs in which to live.
An unscrupulous breeder is usually just in it for the money, and thus, they want to sell as many dogs as possible.
This usually means that the unscrupulous breeder will cram the dogs into the smallest space that they can tolerate so that they can have more room for more dogs. A good breeder, by contrast, will concentrate on quality over quantity.
Because breeders have a profit motivation to put dogs in smaller quarters, the size of their living space will tell you a lot about how much that breeder cares about their dogs.
And as we said from the start, that is the most important thing of all.