Cute PuppyFor those of you who don’t know, just because a breeder can claim to be USDA licensed and have AKC registered dogs, that still does not mean it’s not a puppy mill. USDA licensing requirement are bare minimum standards and and AKC registration can be secured just by sending in the required money and paperwork. Lots of puppy mills boast licensing and registration to make you think you’re getting a quality bred puppy, not true!

USDA minimum standards for housing and exercise are bare bones. The agency requirement for cage size — the primary enclosure in which breeding dogs live their lives — is just six inches taller, wider and longer than the dog inside. That is, a miniature Dachshund measuring 20 inches from nose to base of tail and standing nine inches high might be housed in a cage only 26 inches wide by 26 inches deep by 15 inches high. The USDA waives the exercise requirement of 30 minutes per day for at least five days a week if the dog is housed in a cage with twice the floor space called for by the above formula. (MSNBC)

Pretty pathetic isn’t it? What about socialization? Nope, no requirements by the USDA.

As for AKC registration, all this certifies is that the puppies were born of parents of the same breeds that were AKC registered themselves. It doesn’t have anything to do with the quality of the breed or whether it meets breed standards. The AKC even notes this on their website;

There is a widely held belief that “AKC” or “AKC papers” guarantee the quality of a dog. This is not the case. AKC is a registry body. A registration certificate identifies the dog as the offspring of a known sire and dam, born on a known date. It in no way indicates the quality or state of health of the dog. Quality in the sense of “show quality” is determined by many factors including the dog’s health, physical condition, ability to move and appearance. Breeders breeding show stock are trying to produce animals that closely resemble the description of perfection described in the breed standard. Many people breed their dogs with no concern for the qualitative demands of the breed standard. When this occurs repeatedly over several generations, the animals, while still purebred, can be of extremely low quality. Before buying a dog, you should investigate the dog’s parentage (including titles, DNA and pedigree information), the breeder’s breeding practices, the breed standard, and the genetic tests recommended by the Parent Club for the breed.

So if you’re thinking about a dog or puppy, don’t be fooled by licensing and registration claims which in the long run really don’t mean anything.

Some quick fast rules:

Now I am not saying that you cannot find reputable breeders online. Maybe excellent breeders operate websites and if you do your homework, you’ll easily be able to tell the difference. See the article on Safety Tips for some excellent information about finding reputable breeders.

Here’s a few tips on good breeders:

  1. Fully answers questions about the breed, including the downside of living with it
  2. Is honest about the breed’s potential health problems, including any seen in his or her own dogs
  3. Provides copies of health certifications performed by specialists on both parents of the puppies
  4. Raises puppies in the home, not in pens in the backyard, and doesn’t live in filthy surroundings
  5. Has puppies that are friendly and healthy, with bright eyes, shiny coats and no discharge from eyes or nose
  6. Doesn’t breed more than one or two litters per year and limits each female to no more than three litters in a lifetime
  7. Helps you choose the right puppy for your personality and lifestyle
  8. Helps you find another breeder if he or she doesn’t have what you’re looking for
  9. Has a sales contract that includes a minimum one-year health guarantee against life-threatening or crippling conditions caused by heritable defects
  10. Willing to take the dog back at any time in its life if you’re unable to keep it

Personally my first choice for finding a new canine member to add to my family would be a shelter or rescue but everyone is different. I cannot fault people for their choices as long as they are made for the right reasons and people take the time to properly educate themselves.

A dog or puppy should never be a whim, they are for life and should be be a member of the family. Take a minute to read “Do You Think You’re Ready For A Dog? Find Out!” It will ask you some questions that you really should think about and answer before you take that big step.

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