Finding a Responsible Breeder
By definition, a breeder is anyone who arranges a mating between a male and a female dog. That definition covers a lot of territory, so how can potential puppy buyers know whether they are dealing with a responsible, reputable breeder or simply a “backyard” breeder? You don’t have to be a detective to pick up on the clues. Here are a few:

A Responsible Breeder (RB)
Wants to know all about you and your plans for a pup. A RB will ask if your yard is fenced, if anyone in the family has allergies, if you are planning a move any time soon, if you have children , and so on. They may even ask you to fill out a questionnaire for their files. They are not prying: they are just trying to ensure that their precious, carefully raised pups are going to the right home. If they don’t believe you are the right person for their breed, they may refuse to sell you a pup.

A Backyard Breeder (BYB)
Is happy to take your money and hand over the pup, in that order. No questions asked.

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A Responsible Breeder
Will provide proof of registration. If the pup’s registration is “still in the works”, the RB will show you the litter registration and/or the dam and sire’s registration certificates.

A Backyard Breeder
Will insist that the pups are purebred but “we didn’t bother with papers.” Or a BYB might tell you that registrations are available “but you’ll have to pay extra for them.” (That’s illegal)
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A Responsible Breeder
Has put a lot of time and thought into producing this litter. She/he may have shipped or driven the female halfway across the country to be bred to the stud dog that seemed the perfect match. The RB will have the female checked for whatever health clearances are appropriate for the breed, such as ex-raying for hip dysplasia, testing for von Willebrand’s disease or clearances for heart and eye problems, and will be happy to share the results with you. The RB will also have verified that the stud dog underwent similar testing and is clear of known hereditary problems.

A Backyard Breeder
Probably bred to the closest dog of his breed, ignoring the fact that the female is excessively shy, and the male is a fear biter. A BYB is rarely able to discuss the dogs in the pups’ pedigree or their genetic makeup. Health clearances for the parents are probably limited to yearly rabies shots.
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A Responsible Breeder
Will provide you with a health record of the pups’ shots, wormings, veterinary examinations, etc. The RB will often offer health guarantees, including replacement if your pup is found to have any serious genetic fault.

A Backyard Breeder
May provide proof of shots - or not. The BYB will not offer any health guarantee and may not even know about genetic problems in the breed.
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A Responsible Breeder
Will provide you with a pedigree, written information on the breed, details on feeding, plus hints and tips on raising your pup. The RB will probably present a reading list of books about the breed and recommend books on training. The RB may also offer membership applications (or newsletter) for national and/or local breed clubs to help you learn more about the breed. The RB loves the breed and will happily talk about dogs while hauling out photos, scrapbooks and videos.

A Backyard Breeder
Knows little, if anything, about the breed or the puppy’s ancestry. The BYB has rarely read any books about the breed and has possibly never indulged in any training. More than likely, the BYB does not belong to any breed clubs.
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A Responsible Breeder
Will be pleased to introduce you to the pups’ mother and, quite possibly, other relatives as well. This will probably not be the RB’s first litter, but neither will it be one of many litters produced in a relatively short time span. The RB does not breed pups to make mortgage money and is dedicated to producing healthy, well-adjusted puppies that are good examples of the breed.

A Backyard Breeder
May not want you to see the mother of the litter (“She is a bit shy”). This may be the first litter bred by the BYB, and it may have been produced “to make back the money we’ve spent on feeding her,” “because it would be fun for the kids”, or “because we thought it would calm her down to have a litter.” If the pups sell quickly and the venture is profitable, the BYB may decide to breed again - and again.
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A Responsible Breeder
Has a continuing interest in the pups. The RB is always ready to answer questions and help with advice when needed. The RB may become a mentor for those interested in canine-related activities such as showing, herding, agility, flyball or sledding. If the owner is unable to keep the dog for any reason, the RB will take it back or find it a new home.

A Backyard Breeder
Will probably not have the experience or background knowledge to answer questions and may not wish to be bothered. Once a pup is sold, the BYB wants nothing more to do with it.