Congrats on deciding that you want to bring home a new puppy! Now, how do you find the right breeder? Any breeder can “talk the talk”, but to really know if they can “walk the walk”, you’ll need to do further investigation.
Of course, you want to buy the healthiest and happiest puppy from a legitimate breeder, but how do you know which breeder to trust?
Unfortunately the dog breeding world is not as regulated as much as it should be in certain states of Australia, so it’s important to do your homework before purchasing a puppy.
We have put together some information and questions to ask any breeder, which will help you decide on where to purchase your next puppy (even if it’s not us!).
While a lot of people promote “adopt, don’t shop”, and there are many situations where this is appropriate for people, but in some situations, many are wary of adopting for fear of the unknown history behind a dog. There are valid reasons for adopting as well as valid reasons for buying a puppy from a reputable breeder. At the end of the day, it’s entirely up to you.
Having assisted in rescue and fostered dogs through rescue organisations in the past, we fully support the hard work many rescue organisations do. The sad reality is many breeders will not take back a puppy they have bred and they end up in the rescue system or even worse – being bred by backyard breeders – and the cycle continues. This is why we use legal contracts for the responsible breeding and control of our Lykos Wolfalike bloodlines, to protect them from unauthorised breeding, as well as take any puppy back into our care or assist in the responsible re-homing of the dog ourselves.
Anyone can say they health test dogs and be a member of any breeding organisation, BUT what separates a good breeder from a not so good one?
What separates a backyard breeder (bad breeder) from a good breeder?
Good breeders breed for a legitimate purpose/goal, as well as:
- Bloodline/breed development
- Do not breed for the purpose of financial gain or as an income
- Health Testing
- Breeding for sound temperament
- Compliance with or working towards a specific Breed Standard
Good breeders also:
- Focus on quality, not quantity (check how many litters they have had)
- Are members of a breed-specific dog club (an incorporated association), not just a random "all breed" one
- Honour breeding agreements made with others
- Keep animals correctly and cleanly housed as per their state's relevant legislation pertaining to dogs (and provide evidence of this)
- Are experienced with canine behaviour and training so they can guide and mentor and assist their puppy owners
- Trains their own dogs to be good representatives of the breed
I have strong opinions on how dogs should be part of the family and how they should live their lives. To me, dog breeding is an art and a very important responsibility at that. These animals are known as “man’s best friend” for a reason. Bringing new life into the world is a sacred, and should be done for the right reasons, or not at all.
We are members and registered breeders with the Lykos Wolfalike Council of Australia (LWCA), whose Code of Ethics are very strict in regard to animal welfare. For example, breeders must (just to name a few points):
Be compliant their State’s breeding legislation and animal welfare codes
Appropriate permits and council registration
Not breed for any commercial market or financial gain – only breed improvement
DNA tested and hip/elbow x-rayed dogs, who have also been temperament tested
Allow checks/audits for compliance with appropriate welfare standards
Allow puppy purchasers to view their premises via video call or/and in person
Not have more than 10 fertile females
Questions to ask breeders…
Will Your Puppies Be Registered?
Your pup (and its parents) should be registered by a breed club. The only breed club for the Lykos Wolfalike is the Lykos Wolfalike Council of Australia (LWCA).
The LWCA is closely managed by a committee of dedicated, knowledgeable people with vast experience in canine behaviour, breeding, health and genetics. It is operated under a formal legal structure as a non for profit incorporated association. The LWCA conducts itself in line with its Purposes, the Associations Incorporations Reform Act 2012, it's Model Rules, it's Code of Ethics and associated breeding procedures.
Many registered pure breeds, even designer cross bred dogs, do not have any minimum standards for the breeding of animals.
Breed clubs such as the LWCA monitor their breeders more carefully and are generally very knowledgeable about the bloodlines. They also view and approve dogs for breeding based on their health tests in accordance with the law. You can be assured that any LWCA breeder has been carefully vetted, health test results checked for compliance, and breeders have undertaken a Government accredited breeding course.
Why is registration important? Basically, it’s to make sure your breeder’s dogs have been correctly vetted according to ethical breeding protocols. If your breeder is not a member/registered breeder of a club (for example the Lykos Wolfalike Council of Australia), and breeds similar type of dogs or hybrids, proceed with caution.
How many dogs do you keep on your property?
We can’t stress this enough - always visit the breeder’s property. Are their dogs in cages or enclosures most of the time? Some breeders are rural and it’s not unreasonable to secure dogs from livestock and for their own safety… but how does this look? Are the enclosures clean, a good size where the dogs can run around? What do their enclosures look like? How often does the breeder let them out to spend time inside with them or their family? How many dogs do they own? How much attention do they get daily?
Dogs locked in small crates or communal enclosures often have very unhygienic environments. It’s not uncommon to have puppies get sick from infections and disease.
Getting a puppy is a big decision and a lifetime responsibility, so you do not want to make such an important decision over the phone or via email without even talking to the breeder or seeing their dogs or puppies in person. Even if you live interstate to a breeder, they can still do video calls with you so you can see the puppies and their other dogs.
Ask the breeder if you can see where the puppies live and view their dogs in person. If you are told they cannot have visitors due to risk of infection to puppies, and they expect you to buy a puppy without seeing it in person, this is a huge red flag. What do they have to hide?There is absolutely no legitimate reason why you cannot check out the breeder’s property before buying a puppy.
For security reasons, some breeders may ask for your ID. A breeder should not give their address out to anyone they haven’t gotten to know a little or do not trust, hence why it’s important for you to feel comfortable with you and you confortable with them.
Look around the property and see how well-kept the yard and the house are looking. How many other dogs does the breeder keep? Ask to see the condition of their other dogs in real time.
If their dogs are aggressive, screaming loudly, overly fearful or out of control, this may mean the breeder does not spend enough time training their dogs or has dogs that are not really suitable for breeding.
If they have any other dogs, where and how are they kept? Are they free roaming in a house/backyard (suburban) or are they secured in a clean and respectable large yard (rural) with toys, enrichment and things for them to do? You are not a realtor and nothing needs to look perfect, it just shouldn’t be filthy and messy and look like a barren puppy farm.
to be part of the family
to be regularly socialised
to have their own backyard
their physical and mental well-being prioritised and met
to have adequate of exercise and stimulation
lots of individual attention
having an all-round, inclusive family lifestyle on a day to day basis
What things do you do with your dogs?
Do they partake in training, sports or activities with their dogs? How do their dogs behave in public? how often do their dogs get out and about? Do they do any training with their dogs? How is their dog’s obedience level? All breeders should be able to control their dogs with very basic obedience commands such as sit, drop, stay and wait.
Do they take their other dogs off the property when they have a litter on the ground? When breeders have a litter, it is highly risky to:
- have other dogs visit from outside the property
- take mum (or their other dogs) off the property for outings
Doing these things can bring back diseases or viruses to small puppies and result in illness and even death. If breeders don't let you visit and make excuses that you might bring diseases on to the property, but meanwhile take their dogs out in public - this is a huge red flag.
What is the breeder’s goals and reasons for breeding?
Finding out the breeder’s true goals in breeding and how they achieve them is an interesting question to ask. Do they breed to a specific Breed Standard? A Breed Standard is the blue print of how the breed should look, behave and their proportions, height and weight. If not, this can be a sign of a backyard breeder or “designer dog”. Responsible breeders breed within a Breed Standard, not just breed nice looking dogs willy nilly.
Do they know their dog’s faults? No dog is “perfect”, and there is always room for improvement. What are they doing in their breeding program to correct or improve any faults? Do they know the history of their bloodlines?
Does the breeder have a job or is dog breeding their job?
It’s our personal opinion that dogs should NEVER be bred as an income/job. An ethical breeder does not expect dogs to earn their keep through puppy sales.
Breeders who have large numbers of dogs can be signs of a puppy farm, regardless if they are registered with any kind of breeding ‘organisation’. The ethical breeder lives for their dogs – not off their dogs. Man’s best friend deserves much more than being used as a source of income.
When breeders collect large numbers of dogs to breed for the commercial pet market, a common problem is that dog’s welfare is not sufficiently prioritised. When someone has a lot of dogs to look after, as well as puppies, it’s not uncommon to have welfare standards drop. After all, even one puppy or dog is a lot of work, consider what work multiple dogs really need to live their best lives.
Here at Lykosia, we have a very small breeding program. We have 2 older desexed females and 1 entire female (who will most likely be spayed shortly). We juggle our family life with our children, as well as run a design and art business. We never run our hobby as a business, regardless of how serious we take it. We spend a lot of time engaging with our puppies and teaching them things that will help set them up for success in life.
We support breeding program progression by occasionally selling a pick of the litter puppy to a family home where they might work with us in the future to progress the breed on a very small scale. We believe in quality, not quantity!
We also enjoy mentoring other breeders and support our friends with puppies from our very special bloodlines. As the founder of the Lykos Wolfalike breed, we have an ethical responsibility, not only to the dogs we breed, but also the descendants of our dogs. The last thing we would ever want is for any of their decedents to end up in any shelter, rescue organisation, pound, or the hands of backyard breeders or puppy farms.
What sounds fairer for the best life for dog?A breeder keeping lots of dogs and not being able to give them all the best life possible? Or placing a pick of the litter puppy in a family home under a very fair contract, with mentorship, full support and making it worthwhile for everyone involved? If some of our pick of the litter puppies didn’t contribute to our breeding program, we would have no breeding program left! We are extremely passionate about continuing our special bloodlines and their quality getting better and better over the years.
Can I view the pups and mother of the pups?
See if the mother looks healthy and clean and pay attention to how she behaves with the puppies. Every mother protects her puppies but if she seems extremely fearful or aggressive, this would be a sign that you should look for another breeder, especially if you are looking for a well-adjusted family pet.
Ask about the mother’s breeding history and pedigree and where the pup’s parents came from. Not all breeders are transparent in where they got their breeding stock from.Lots of backyard breeders obtain their dogs online, where they have no background, history or knowledge of pedigrees. Even if they have pedigrees, it’s important to ask and (get in writing) knowledge of any health issues in the dogs background. Any good breeder will do their research on the background of their dogs to arm themselves with the most genetic information possible.
Get some information on what the breeder has been doing with the puppies in regard to training and socialisation . When you visit the breeder’s property, you can check for yourself the type of environment they are being raised in, and what they have been exposed to in terms of other animals, people, children and other dogs. See how they interact and react in person, don’t just trust the word of the breeder.
As a quick recap, the breeder should do these things with the puppies:
Expose puppies to various sounds, surfaces, and smells
Interact with people, children and other dogs (and any other animals they have)
Start training with the basics such as sit and wait for food
Carefully assess their temperaments
Start toilet training