Bad Breeders: How do we know who to trust?

In this article I am going to write about the dangers of buying a puppy from a bad breeder. There are so many puppies available nowadays, especially French Bulldogs, and you have to make sure you do your research thoroughly before buying. How do you know whether the place you are buying from is reputable? How can you spot a “greeder”?

The harsh truth about buying a puppy in today’s world is that a lot of people are only in the breeding game for money, and not for the welfare or improvement of the breed. I am not saying that all breeders are like this as there are many who are brilliant and breed because they love their dogs and care about them deeply. A lot of people buy a puppy without researching properly and this can lead to absolute devastation. I know this from personal experience and this is my main reason for writing this article. I want to save people from the heartache that puppy farms and backyard breeders can cause.

I am going to begin with my story. The reason for this is that it highlights perfectly the dangers of buying from a bad breeder. I will openly admit that I did not do my research before buying a puppy and this has taught me an extremely heartbreaking lesson.

I bought my Frenchie, Bailey, on 8th May 2016. I saw an advert for him online; myself and my partner fell in love. We went to the premises where he was for sale on Sunday afternoon and within half an hour we had paid for him and were taking him home. I asked no questions, did no research and paid £700 for him before taking him home. That night he would not eat or drink, was not running around or playing like a normal puppy and had also started gagging and coughing. This is when I decided to google the place where we had bought him from. The results that came up on my google search made my heart sink. There were hundreds of stories on there about puppies who had died, puppies who were severely ill, and the place was described as a puppy farm. I felt utterly witless and irresponsible.

The next morning, I immediately took Bailey to the vets where over the next few weeks he was treated for severe kennel cough that had turned into pneumonia. There were many times over those few weeks where we nearly lost him, and it was the hardest few weeks of my life.

Bailey slowly started to overcome his pneumonia and he started puppy training classes. I was delighted that I seemed to have a happy puppy now and could finally start enjoying him and doing things together. However, my heartache was not to end here! The puppy trainer noticed that Bailey’s gait was not right and suggested we visit the vets immediately. I made an appointment for Bailey and he went in to have some x-rays. The x-rays revealed some deformities in Bailey’s spine but were not clear. He was referred to a specialist vet.

At the specialist’s, Bailey underwent a range of tests. These included an MRI and spinal tap. His eventual diagnosis was “multiple vertebral malformations and facet joint hyperplasia causing compression of the spinal cord”. In simple terms there was nothing they could do, and Bailey would eventually become lame.

Bailey is now on 9 tablets per day but is living a happy life. He is still very mobile and enjoys doing everything a normal dog will do. But I am very aware that one day he will lose the ability to walk. The vets confirm all Baileys conditions are down to the way he was bred. He was bred using parents that weren’t healthy, and this is something that no responsible breeder should ever do. I do not regret getting Bailey as he is perfect to me in every way. I do regret not doing my research and the many tears I shed over those months of Bailey’s illness. My biggest regret is for the life Bailey will now live, I do not know how much longer he will be mobile and this is through no fault of his own. He was bred irresponsibly, and it is now him that will have to pay the price.

There are many ways to spot a bad breeder and there are points you need to consider when choosing a puppy. A responsible breeder should be one that has the best interests of their own dogs, and also dogs as a whole in mind.

If you wish to purchase a pedigree dog, the best place to start is with the Kennel Club Assured Breeders Scheme. This is a scheme set up by the Kennel Club to promote good breeding practice and aims to work together with breeders and buyers to force irresponsible breeders, or puppy farmers, out of business. There are a set of rules, requirements and expectations that breeders will need to meet in order to operate under the scheme. The French Bulldog Club of England also offers excellent advice on what to consider when buying a puppy, including a full list of all dogs who have undergone health testing to various standards.

The second thing you must always do when buying a puppy is to meet the parents. The parents must be healthy and have good temperaments. It is also good to see any health tests that the parents may have and genealogy of the breed lines. You should take it as a massive warning sign if the breeders do not let you meet the mother of the pups, but it is quite common for an external stud dog to father them, and although you may not be able to see him it is reasonable to see pictures of him and copies of any health test certificates he may hold.

The next thing to look out for when visiting the puppies is the environment in which puppies are kept. The breeder and the premises should meet the emotional, developmental and psychological needs of the dogs. The puppies should have plenty of exercise and toys and lots of time interacting with people in order to socialise them into a family environment. If the puppies are kept in a kennel type environment they are clearly not being socialised into a family lifestyle and should be avoided.

The next thing to consider is the amount of dogs a breeder has. Good, responsible breeders will have expertise in one breed of dog and will only breed that one breed as this is the one they are most enthusiastic and knowledgeable about. If you visit premises that has multiple breeds available then consider if they are a puppy farm, even if all dogs are indoors as not all puppy farmers keep dogs outside.

Finally, a breeder should have a puppy contract and you should be able to see it before committing to the puppy. Good breeders will also have a guarantee within the contract that if there are any problems you can go back to them or return the puppy. Most will also offer lifetime support and give you information to take away that will help you to raise your puppy. Puppy packs with this information will be given by all good breeders, including details of worm and flea treatments, what to feed and how often and also details of the microchip – a legal requirement.

Please also bear in mind the price of a puppy. There is usually a ball-park price for different breeds. If you think the puppy is too cheap and this is one of the main reasons for wanting the puppy, and it is seems too good to be true, then you should be wary of why the puppy is priced so cheaply.

In conclusion, there are lots of things to consider when buying a puppy! But if you make sure you stick to all of the above and do your research, it will be worth it in the long run and you can hopefully look forward to years of love and companionship with your new family member!

Useful links:

And remember, all dogs deserve love – where possible, adopt, don’t shop.

Written by: Emily Moreton, Regional Coordinator for Lincolnshire/East Midland, PFBR

Note: The opinions expressed above are not necessarily adopted by PFBR and should not be taken as an official statement on the Charity position. For more information about how to go about purchasing a puppy, speak to your management team who will be delighted to help you learn more about our fabulous breed.

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