This is just a quick reference guide I put together to help you in your choice of a breeder. Be sure to watch out for some of the key indicators you are working with a backyard breeder that should not be breeding. Steer clear of these individuals that don't have the wellbeing of the dogs and puppies as a top priority.
1.) The Backyard Breeder...Is motivated to breed because it is "fun", "good for kids", "to make money," or "thinks it’s good for the dog." Doesn't screen buyers or does minimal screening and seldom refuses to sell, even if buyer is unsuitable.
The Responsible Hobby Breeder...Is dedicated to producing quality dogs as a serious avocation. Has so much invested in dogs that s/he struggles to break even, rarely making a "profit." Will sell pups only to approved buyers.
2.) The Backyard Breeder...Breeds family pet or breeding stock to any convenient dog of same breed just to have purebred pups "with papers." Has no knowledge of: genetics, bloodlines, animal husbandry, or breed improvement.
The Responsible Hobby Breeder...Can explain how and why the breeding was planned, with emphasis on specific qualities through linebreeding or outcrossing. Will often use a stud from another area, state or even country to make sure it is the best possible fit between the breeding pair.
3.) The Backyard Breeder...Has little or no knowledge of breed specific health issues. Though pet may be well loved, it wasn't tested for heritable problems prior to breeding. May claim they “they have never had any issues.”
The Responsible Hobby Breeder...Has breeding stock x-rayed to check for hip dysplasia and tests for other genetic faults. Can produce certification to prove claims. Or proof is documented with the OFFA.
4.) The Backyard Breeder...Offers no health guarantees beyond proof of shots, if that. Unqualified and/or unwilling to give help if problems develop.
The Responsible Hobby Breeder...Lifetime commitment to replace a dog with genetic faults or to help owner deal with problem.
5.) The Backyard Breeder...Seller has little knowledge of breed history or AKC "Standard." May claim that this doesn't matter for "just pets".
The Responsible Hobby Breeder...Loves the breed and can talk at length about the breed's history, background, uses, and ideal type.
6.) The Backyard Breeder...Pups raised in makeshift accommodations, indicating lack of long-term investment in breeding or sometimes raised outside.
The Responsible Hobby Breeder...Has a serious investment in dog equipment such as puppy pens, crates and whelping boxes and numerous puppy socialization items.
7.) The Backyard Breeder...Even when selling "just pets", may display AKC "papers" or "championship pedigree" as proof of quality. Yet seller doesn't increase their own knowledge through participation in national or local breed clubs. Doesn't show their breeding stock in shows to "prove" quality, often feeling that dog shows are too expensive, to cliquey or that judges don't know anything. Has no knowledge of ancestors listed on the pedigree, much less their ownership, health status or whereabouts.
The Responsible Hobby Breeder...Belongs to and is actively involved with local or national dog clubs which indicates a love for the sport and welfare of dogs as a whole. Exhibits his/her own dogs at dog shows on a regular basis as an objective test of how their stock measures up to the standard. Can identify ownership and whereabouts of all dogs listed on pedigrees. If they don’t show then they at least have an objective person assess their dog against the breed standard, an AKC Judge, a handler, or someone who does show that particular breed.
8.) The Backyard Breeder...May be unwilling to show buyer entire litter or to introduce dam and/or sire of litter. Can't or won't compare/critique pups or pups' ancestors.
The Responsible Hobby Breeder...Shows litter and other family members in a sanitary environment, generally in the breeders home. Can see the area where the pups were whelped and raised with no secrets.
9.) The Backyard Breeder...Prices puppies at low end of local range, since most want to move pups quickly at 8 weeks or often younger or they are “just pet quality.” May accept credit payments or have a “cart” on their website where you can purchase a puppy unforeseen through Paypal.
The Responsible Hobby Breeder...Prices will be at medium to high end of local range. Price won't reflect all that is invested in pups and the breeder will generally not accept credit or installments. If buyer can’t afford a puppy upfront they most likely will not afford items like quality food, healthcare, or have money for unforeseen medical emergencies and vet bills.
10.) The Backyard Breeder...No concern for the future of individual pups or breed as a whole. Doesn't employ AKC's limited registration option nor ask for spay/neuter contract to guard against breeding of substandard pets. If you can't keep the pup, s/he tells you to take it to sell it. Doesn’t care if you chose to breed your puppy in the future.
The Responsible Hobby Breeder...After purchase, will help with grooming or training problems. Will take back pup you can't keep rather than see it disposed of inappropriately. Sells companion quality puppies with spay/neuter agreement or limited AKC registration. Will not sell a puppy with breeding rights without a specific contract outlining acceptable breeding mates, health testing conditions, and age and frequency of breeding the dog.
11.) The Backyard Breeder...May use puppy broker websites like puppyfind.com, nextdaypets.com, ebay, Facebook or even craigslist to try and find homes for puppies. Uses terms like “vet checked”, “full-blooded”, etc. in their sales pitch to convince buyers of puppies value.
The Responsible Hobby Breeder...Generally has a list before the breeding even takes place of puppy buyers waiting on a puppy. Puppies may be listed on breed specific websites, with pedigrees and full parental health testing listed along with the litter announcement
12.) The Backyard Breeder...Breeds a female for the sole purpose of making or selling the puppies. If they do keep a puppy it’s usually just the last one left they couldn’t sell, not the pick puppy to carry on the best genetics in the bloodline.
The Responsible Hobby Breeder...Generally only breeds for their next keeper puppy. Will not breed a litter just to sell the puppies. Will not breed more than a litter or two a year, and never breed a female twice in one year.