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What is Responsible Dog Breeding?

Breeders have a fundamental duty to protect the comfort and well-being of the animals they produce, yet the dog and cat owners of America spend hundreds of millions of dollars each year on the diagnosis and treatment of preventable genetic diseases. Responsible breeders use better breeding practices to improve the genetic health of our furry friends.
To help, the OFA (Orthopedic Foundation for Animals) created the Canine Health Information Center (CHIC) Program. The OFA established a recommended protocol for breed-specific health screenings by partnering with participating parent breeding clubs to research and maintain information on the health issues prevalent in specific breeds. Dogs tested in accordance with that protocol are recognized with a CHIC number and certification. For the prospective pet parent, knowledge that the puppy’s parents have a CHIC number assures you that the breeder did everything possible to ensure minimal preventable genetic diseases are passed on.
Another program designed to distinguish responsible breeders is the “AKC Breeder of Merit” Program. The American Kennel Club recognizes Breeders of Merit for their dedication to breeding purebred dogs with the appearance, temperament, and abilities that are true to their breed standard, and for their commitment to health screening.
Are you ready to breed a litter of puppies?
This is something that everyone needs to ask themselves before they enter the breeding process.
As a process, responsible breeding involves the mating of only healthy animals true to their breed. Breeding is time-consuming and requires great research, proper preparation, and choosing the best possible forever homes for puppies. Dog breeding is a way of genetic selection to specific breed standards, which means that dog breeders must have a certain knowledge of the dog's genetics as well.
Before the breeding process starts it’s crucial to know the best age to breed a dog. For example, a female dog shouldn’t be bred before the third heat cycle is completed, and ideally after 24 months of age so that all health testing can be completed.
Many female dogs can have puppies between 6 and 12 months, but it doesn’t mean they should happen, and responsible breeders are well-aware of this. Those who stand for responsible breeding know that dogs, both females and males, should be given a chance to 'grow up'. This is a good way to learn if there are any inherited disorders and genetic predispositions. Responsible breeders will always do their best to improve the health condition of the puppies through breeding, and never compromise health.
‘Breed to Improve.’ This is a motto that responsible breeders work under.
Responsible breeders know to recognize the bad and good points of dogs before they make the final decision to breed. By waiting to breed, responsible breeders are minimizing minor conditions in dogs such as ear infections and skin infections, as well as major health issues, such as heart disease.
Breeding dogs is a serious task that should never be performed by those looking to “make a buck.” Those who are not knowledgeable on the topic and don’t know how many litters a dog can have are those who strengthen the ‘backyard breeder’ movement and scale up the number of dogs in the shelters. Dog breeding is usually an extremely expensive process. Responsible breeders should establish and maintain a close relationship with a veterinary clinic for all of their dogs and have all puppies examined and vaccinated by a veterinarian before being placed into a new home.
Wondering where to find responsible breeders for the breed that is right for your family? is committed to the health and well-being of dogs – and peace of mind. Good Dog is on a mission to connect good owners with good breeders and improve canine health. In that pursuit, Good Dog has sought out and worked with some of the top academics and practitioners in the field to develop standards, which are grounded in evidence-based research and backed by science. While there is no “one size fits all” for what makes a breeding program responsible, they can use their standards to evaluate programs consistently. Every member of their community must pass the screening process and meet or exceed the standards before joining Good Dog.
Responsible breeders provide their dogs with quality food, clean water, proper shelter, exercise, socialization and professional veterinary care. They keep dogs clean and well-groomed. Good breeders raise dogs intended to be pets in a home environment by safely handling puppies daily and socializing puppies with other dogs and people of appropriate ages.
A responsible breeder will place dogs or keep dogs as pets that are unable to breed, dogs who are unsuitable for breeding or dogs who have been returned. They should also ensure that puppies are gradually and fully weaned before being placed. Time with the mother and siblings is vital to helping dogs learn to be dogs and ideally, puppies are placed when they are between 9-12 weeks of age.
Responsible breeders are transparent and provide a complete history of the dog. They will encourage prospective owners to visit where dogs are bred and raised, meet the litter and preferably both parents (but at least one), and discuss their breeding and sales practices. They should provide accurate and reliable health, and pedigree information. Your breeder should prepare an adoption/purchase contract in plain language that spells out the breeder’s responsibilities, adopter’s responsibilities, health guarantees, and return policy.
Responsible breeders commit to ensuring all dogs they breed are provided a good home by using waiting lists or other strategies to assess that there are quality homes available for their dogs before breeding. They will also, commit to making a good match between the owner and the dog by sharing the characteristics and needs of the specific dog and understanding a prospective owner’s expectations. For this reason, they only sell animals directly to prospective owners and not via a third party or broker. Your breeder should serve as an ongoing resource for new owners and being able and willing to take back or rehome an animal if needed for any reason at any time.
Always Prioritize Health
Responsible breeding sets the bar for how pet owners manage the health of their four-legged friends. Without responsible breeding, animal shelters continue to be overrun, and stray animals increase the already heavy burden on humane societies and animal control agencies. This is why adoption is so important and why adopting a dog is one of the best things that people can do to make pet ownership healthier, stronger, and more humane.
While adoption is best for most pet homes, if you are looking for a specific breed, people and families choosing to get a pet should do so directly from breeders who thoughtfully breed, care for, and place their dogs. While this process may be somewhat time-consuming, the rewards of a healthy pet with support from a person knowledgeable about that individual (and breed, if applicable) are well worth the effort. By seeking out responsible breeders, pet owners can avoid inadvertently supporting the cruelty inherent in the breeding industry where large quantities of dogs are bred, kept in poor conditions, and are intended to be sold through third parties, such as online brokers and pet stores, without lifetime support.

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