What is a Puppy Farmer?

What is being done to improve dog breeding standards?

I’ve been wanting to write about this for a long time, but am nervous about doing so – it’s such a controversial issue!  I am buoyed up about it by the Kennel Club issuing a document last week ‘Collaboration is the Key – the Way Forward for Breeding Regulations’.  You can read this document by clicking here.

“A new system so that more breeders are inspected, good breeders are more identifiable to puppy buyers and puppy farmers and bad breeders are driven out of business”

As a member of the Assured Breeder Scheme I am kept informed about the Kennel Club’s campaign for their scheme to be fully incorporated into the local authority licensing regime.  The government is committed to introducing new regulations on dog breeding, which will reduce the litter licensing threshold at which breeders will require a licence, from five litters per year to three.

Based on Kennel Club registration data alone, this will result in a threefold increase to the already stretched workloads of local authorities. Given this, and as a result of our work on this issue to date, Defra has given a commitment to incorporate the concept of earned recognition into the new licensing system. It was explained that this would include consideration of affiliation to a body accredited by UKAS (i.e. the ABS), in a risk-based assessment process which would ensure a reduced burden on low risk breeders (i.e. Assured Breeders).

“The Kennel Club Assured Breeder Scheme makes it easy for people to find responsible breeders, whose standards have already been assessed.”

The KC want to ensure that the new system works in practice in order that more breeders are inspected, good breeders are more identifiable to puppy buyers and puppy farmers and bad breeders are driven out of business. This means using this opportunity to grow the scheme by incentivising the best breeders to join and improving the standards of health and welfare in dog breeding.

Puppy Farming – Definition

“A puppy bred by a commercially driven breeder with low welfare standards”.

What does that mean exactly?  Quite simply, it means that the breeder cares more about making money than how healthy and happy their dogs are.  They do not care about their customers either; they are simply the mugs stupid enough to buy whatever is being sold, at any price.

If you are ‘doing it for money’ then it becomes a business.  But if you are doing it well and responsibly, then surely you should be rewarded for your efforts?  I will talk about what you should be paying for and why in a future post.  NB: Never get a dog for nothing – It costs money to produce a healthy and happy puppy, so it is therefore right that such dogs should be paid for.  Equally, don’t pay £1000 for a crossbreed – why is it worth that?

What does a puppy farmer do differently?

Someone I know got a puppy this year; here’s a description of where he came from:

“She went through the puppy pack with all the breed details from mum and dad with us but didn’t give it to us to take away. She is a ‘breeder’ rather than the same as you (breeding your pets). Albeit a well organised breeder. She breeds 4/5 different ‘types’ and has a big set up. Was all very professional, clean, spacious etc but not ‘pets’. Lived in a massive beautiful house with lots of land and kennels. She clearly make lots of money from it! “

Here are the alarm bells for me:

  • Didn’t give away details of parents – were they actually the parents of that pup? Had they been health tested appropriately for their breed?
  • A breeder, but not ‘breeding your pets’.  Sorry? Aren’t you buying a pet?  Why would you want something not bred as a pet?  That’s the very definition of doing it as a business.
  • She breeds 4/5 different types and has a big set up.  Not pedigree dogs, defined by their characteristics and lineage, just random mongrels.  A big set up – 20 dogs? 50? Not much time for them then.
  • She clearly makes lots of money from it!  No other income? Relying on this income to live on means the litter must be profitable.  So not spending money on health testing, toys and good quality food.

Here are a few questions you could ask your breeder:

  1.  How many dogs do you have?  Can I see them?  Where do they live?  Good breeders might have a number of dogs, but they will be part of the family.  They might spend some time each day in crates or runs, but should be in the house for most of the time.
  2.  How many litters do you have per year?  How many does each dog have?    How old are they when they have the first litter?  And the last?  A litter of puppies is extremely time consuming (or should be!) So the more litters you have, the harder it is to spend time cuddling the pups.  Dogs should have no more than 4 litters each, between the ages of two and eight.
  3.  Who is the sire?  Why was he chosen? How closely related is he to the mother of the litter?  What is the in-breeding coefficient? Stud dogs should be from good lines, fully health tested and with a good temperament.  They should be similar in breeding to the bitch without being too closely related.
  4. What health tests have the parents had?  Can I have copies of these test certificates?  If the correct tests have been done for the breed, copies of these tests should be given to you as part of your puppy pack.

If the puppies are pedigree dogs, all this information is available on the Kennel Club website.  You can look up dogs and breeders and see who has had what, how they are related and what health tests they have had.  As soon as you move away from pedigree dogs, this information is not compulsory, therefore breeders don’t need to bother following the KC rules.

Finally, something to think about:

“Dogs owned by people who spent more than an hour researching where to buy them from are likely to live twice as long as those who spent under 20 minutes choosing a puppy, with mean mortality ages of 8.8 and 4.3 respectively.” (Taken from the KC report ‘Collaboration is the Key – the Way Forward for Breeding Regulations’).  As a result of buying from puppy farms, people claim to have suffered emotional and financial hardship, the KC report.

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