Once you know what it is to look for and clearly know the difference between the two it is easy to spot the unscrupulous breeders just by their postings or web pages. Some things are just flat, well obvious. Some people wouldn’t think of without knowing ahead of time. This is not to bash people for buying from back yard breeders, rescues, or shelters. This is purely information to make informed decisions before acquiring a new dog/puppy.
Warning signs you are dealing with an unscrupulous breeder (also known as back yard breeder or BYB)
* Claims membership to UKC or AKC (these are REGISTRIES ONLY, the two are NOT membership clubs! They hold no membership, have no dues, and anybody claiming membership to AKC or UKC is either just plain ignorant or purposefully is trying to establish a false sense of credibility and preying on those who don’t know better)
* Misspells their breed! Believe me, this is so common. Know the correct spelling of what breed you are looking for, not only to spot those unscrupulous…but a reputable breeder will be looking for such in their prospective inquiries. You are going to have a hard time convincing you have done your homework when you call asking about their puppies and the breeder cannot even understand what it is you are talking about or if you email them for info on their sheppard puppies. (It is Shepherd) reputable breeders live their breed and are passionate, they KNOW how to spell and say it.
* Innapropriate use of basic information. Advertising small things as big things. Ie HIT (high in trial) on pass/fail tests (FR CSAU, BH, CGC’s) bite sports champion (WTF does that mean, esp w/o having titles), tracking champion (again with no titles), KMPV (it is KNPV) and KNPV breeding (If you do NOT live in the Netherlands, do not compete in KNPV, and did NOT breed the litter to compete/train KNPV…those dogs are NOT KNPV bred!!) they may have KNPV titled dogs behind them…but litter was not KNPV bred, use of popular kennel names of breeder dog did not come from (I see a LOT of PdT dogs where people are using PdT in name of dogs two to three generations removed from that breeder. Kennel names belong to the breeder, they are not bred by that breeder and that breeder has not given permission of use…the use of such kennel name is fraud), puts titles/placements in name of dog (Metloff is a high KNPV score when title is earned, ANY other use of Metloff is a gimmick…especially in name of a dog). I urge people to educate themselves on sports/titles before putting stock into them. That way you have enough working knowledge to spot smoke being blown up your you know where.
* Breed their own pets and do nothing more with their dogs. Reputable breeders are passionate about their breed, dogs, and are heavily involved in organized activities with their dogs. Be it show, performance (barn hunt, obedience, rally, agility, dock diving, weight pulls, terrier races, lure coursing), specific working activities police K9, herding, field trials, hunting, sled dogs), or dog sports (French Ring, IPO, Mondio Ring, flyball), reputable breeders strive to produce dogs that fit their chosen passion with concentration of breeding goals being in conformation/structure, trainability, natural drives to do the work bred for, etc…not just producing puppies. People who have two pets they breed to produce puppies and do nothing more with their dogs are a clear red flag. They are just breeding to produce puppies to sell from what they have available to them.
* NO affiliation with any breed parent club, training club, or organization. Reputable breeders have membership in organizations of their passion. Be it their breed or something pertaining to what they do with their dogs. They are members of DVG or SchH USA if they do IPO, NARA if they do French Ring, AKC Obedience clubs locally if they are big into obedience, breed clubs if they are into conformation and breed specific happenings, national or local retriever/upland game organizations/clubs if they are into bird hunting, etc. Those who have no affiliation have no accountability to minimum standards of breeding and selling puppies prescribed by their breed association. Those who don’t belong to some type of training, sport, or working organization don’t train, work, trial, compete, or use what they have and breed for any purpose than breeding puppies to sell.
* Have registered dogs through UKC or AKC and cannot produce a pedigree for their litter or if they can…there are no titles or certifications in them. A clear sign they either have no clue or care as to what they are breeding or that they really have no care in the fact their pets come from a long line of people breeding their pets just to breed and no other specific purpose (registration papers mean very little outside of breeding registered litters or being able to compete in events requiring registration).
* Have NO viable health certifications on BOTH parents before breeding prescribed by their breed requirements. These requirements differ from breed to breed. To find out the recommended health certs for a breed you can go to OFA www.offa.org and www.pawprintgenetics.com for quick reference of what diseases a breed is prone to and the health certs available that you should be seeing from a reputable breeder. OFA rates hips, elbows, patellas and records eyes, cardio, thyroid, and DNA health certs. Paw Print Genetics does DNA health certs only. Once you become familiar with the health certs required for the breed chosen, you can request prospective breeders provide proof of the certs done if they do not have them online through these two databases. If they cannot produce them…you are NOT dealing with a reputable breeder. If a breeder has a website, they will likely have the OFA numbers and all the health cert outcomes on their website for each dog in their breeding program.
* Statements their dog has been DNA’d in writing or verbally in discussion and trying to pass that off as being health tested. Having a dog DNA’d is NOT having DNA health certs!!! DNA’d (DNA profiled) is for parentage ONLY. AKC requires DNA profile be on file for ALL imports obtaining AKC registration, Sires producing 7+ registered litters, and males who have had semen collected and frozen for producing AI litters to be registered. This is NOT the same as having DNA checked for specific mutations that are common in the breed (such as DM, PRA, EIC, hemophilia, etc). Dogs who have had DNA health certs will be given a wild/normal, carrier, or at risk result for EACH mutation specifically tested for. Carriers should NEVER be bred to carriers and at risk should never be bred to at risk or carriers. If an at risk is bred, it must be to a clear…which all puppies produce will be carriers. Carriers to clear will produce both carriers and clears in a litter. For a vast majority of mutations, carriers carry one copy of the gene and cannot become symptomatic. I do know MDR1 carriers can also have symptomatic responses, as one of the very few mutations where carriers can be symptomatic.
* Advertise (yes, see this ALL the time) certified by their vet free of genetic diseases. NO veterinarian can certify such. A health certificate by a vet is what is needed to get a dog on a plane and is NOT a health cert required for breeding, such as OFA certs. Your local veterinarian has little to do with health certs for genetic issues that can be passed onto puppies. They can take the OFA film to be sent off and rated by OFA, but a vet cannot certify hips! They can collect DNA samples and ship them off, but they cannot certify if a dog is clear, carrier, or at risk…only a lab can do that. A vet CANNOT certify eyes, that HAS to be done by an ophthalmologist. A vet cannot certify cardio, that has to be done by a cardiologist. Unscrupulous breeder seem to come up with little passifications that only work with people who either do not care if parents are health certified or not or those who really have no clue as to what they are asking beyond health certs with no working knowledge of what they really are.
* NO WRITTEN CONTRACT. This is a BIG indicator! A written contract is written to protect buyer, seller, AND the puppy/dog. People who do not care where their puppies go, do not want them back for any reason, and don’t care what happens to them place puppies without a detailed written contract…plain and simple. Reputable breeders will NOT place a puppy without a written contract.
* Will not take puppies back. A reputable breeder is passionate about their breed and WHAT they produce. Flat out, a reputable breeder does NOT breed for you…they breed for themselves (next competition dog/project/replacement). Puppies available to be placed are quality ‘excess’ they cannot keep themselves or not of breeding quality/don’t meet goals of the cross the breeder bred the litter for. Either way, a reputable breeder not only will take a puppy back should you EVER not be able/willing to keep it…IT WILL be a contractual demand the puppy/dog be returned to the breeder and not rehomed, resold, abandoned, or placed in a shelter or rescue. Anything less, you are dealing with an unscrupulous breeder.
* Selling breeding rights. Reputable breeders put their puppies through several evaluations before deeming them even breeding potential, key word POTENTIAL. Unscrupulous breeders see breeding rights as a pocket liner, limited registration for $$$ and higher price for breeding rights (full reg). The ONLY purpose for full registration is conformation shows and breeding, anything else limited registration will work. Quite plainly, if you are not getting a dog for AKC dog shows the only other reason for full registration is to be able to breed. A reputable breeder is NOT going to place a pet quality puppy with full reg or breeding rights! That puppy is pet quality for a reason. A puppy that is of breeding quality potential still has a long way to go to prove it is actually breeding quality…be it title earning and/or passing all health certs (which cannot be done until age of 2 years of age). No reputable breeder is going to or able to guarantee breeding quality of an 8 week old puppy!!! Unless a puppy is going to be shown in conformation, a reputable breeder will STILL place a breeding prospect puppy on limited registration. Limited registration can be turned into full reg by the breeder once the puppy has grown, passed all health certs, and proven worthy of breeding quality (earned titles required by breeder). Breeders who determine what puppies are breeding quality by the amount of money you pay (if everybody purchased breeding rights they would all be breeding quality) is an unscrupulous breeder. FEW puppies turn out to be breeding quality in any litter if a breeder is assessing all points needed structure, temp, health, etc.
* Requires little info from you before willing to place a puppy. Unscrupulous breeders want to sell puppies and get as much cash as they can before they eat them out of house and home and start becoming expensive, destructive, and time consuming. A reputable breeder will require a lot of conversations and really ask tough and personal questions. An unscrupulous breeder wants to be free of puppies where a reputable breeder is concerned with finding the right fit for both home and puppy as main criteria.
* OBO. Reputable breeders do not sell puppies advertising OBO (or best offer). Getting a puppy out as fast as possible for the most $ possible is not a priority of a reputable breeder. A reputable breeder would rather hold onto a puppy (sometimes for months years) until right placement is found than just rid themselves of it. Not every home wants a baby puppy and some, well, they do NOT need a baby puppy. For these people a well socialize and started or trained dog is more suitable. A reputable breeder doesn’t fear puppies not being sold.
* Letting puppies go before 8 weeks of age. Truth be told, reputable breeders usually prefer to hang onto their puppies to a little older before letting go to certain homes. Placing a puppy before 8 weeks of age is not in the cards. Reputable breeders will not be placing 5 or 6 week old puppies…period.
* Puppies not permanently identified by chip, tattoo, or both. Reputable breeders always make sure their pups are identifiable before being placed. There’s no skirting this with reputable breeders in this day and age. Unscrupulous breeders don’t want the extra expense (cuts profits) and they really could care less if pup is lost or stolen or resold or dumped in a shelter…that is buyer’s responsibility and they do not want any accountability.
* Willing to sell you/trying to sell you a puppy upon initial meeting and conversing. Most reputable breeders will send you home to think before allowing you to put a deposit or take home a puppy. An unscrupulous breeder just wants to sell you a puppy.
* Allows you to pick your own puppy. This should be a huge red flag. If you are buying a new breed or first puppy…what qualifications do you have to pick the right one? NOBODY looks at a puppy who just tore the siding off their house and thinks it is worth it to have a specific color in the breed! NOBODY thinks that puppy is still cute. Usually everybody wants the first puppy that comes up to them as it picked them, yep…and it has ‘picked’ every other human it has come in contact with too! Reputable breeders KNOW what they produce and have had generations of living with, training, competing with, and watching what they produce develop. They have watched and evaluated every puppy since they came out. You just get a very brief right here right now view. They know better what puppies are not a fit for you than you do because they have come to know you and your lifestyle through the process and they KNOW their puppies. The last thing a reputable breeder wants is for you to take home the wrong puppy.
* Advertising cheaper puppies with no registration than puppies with registration. This is against AKC rules for starters. Reputable breeders know the rules the rules of their registries and follow them. They also know that those who don’t end up suffering the consequences when encountering somebody else who does, or should I say knows the loopholes. Why should a person pay a breeder extra money for breeding rights and registration when they can get both from AKC and pay the breeder half of what they wanted for full registration?
* Common AKC registered breeds with other than AKC or UKC registration. See this ALL the time. If you see registered GSD puppies and their reg is CKC (and I am NOT talking Canadian Kennel Club here), it is really not a registered puppy litter. Anybody can start their own registry. LOTS have come and gone. CKC, continental kennel club, is one of those registries that back yarders, puppy mills, and pet store breeders use that cannot get AKC or UKC registration on their puppies because either they are not purebred or the paper trail with AKC has ended. Either way, it is not a legitimate registry. Here is the US, we ONLY have two AKC and UKC. There are some breed specific registries for certain breeds that were in existence before breed became AKC reg or rare breeds not yet AKC reg.
Original article credit to Brook Moore