How to see red flags
and what they could mean
So, you have chosen to get a puppy from a breeder, but is every breeder the same? How to understand if the breeder is honest and provides quality puppies? How not to get scammed? We will list some very common red flags here and will be happy to hear back from you! Share your stories and ask questions! Please note, that not all red flags mean "scam" - ask your breeder to explain and if you do not feel comfortable with the provided answer - run!
In most cases, price point will filter out all low-quality breeders, but unfortunately, there are high-priced puppies from unethical breeders, too. Let's take a look.
1. "We are not professional breeders", "We breed pets", "pet quality", etc.
There is no such thing as "not a breeder" if a person purposely breed two dogs together. That's what makes one a breeder. If a person's dogs produced a litter of puppies, they are a breeder. "Not a breeder" is a most common excuse people use to cover up their lack of knowledge in breeding, dog genetics and raising puppies. Most "non-breeders" will also say, "we just breed our pets", as an excuse for their dogs to be off-color, size, health or temper. "We breed just pets" means breeding stock dogs should never be bred.
2. "Old-fashioned", "straight-back", "slopped back", etc.
This is the most common statement we see in low-quality programs. German Shepherd Dog, as a breed, has very specific breed standard that has clear characteristics of the dog's anatomy. A dog is either per breed standard or not. A good breeder knows the breed standard and will never use the above terms to describe their dog. Additionally, the same dog can be stacked differently to physically look like it has a greater slope or a straight back.
3. Over-sized, Large-boned, King Shepherds, etc.
Bigger is not better in German Shepherds and once again, anyone breeding dogs that don't fall under breed standard, just created more dogs that have less in common with the breed.
4. Off-color: panda, liver, blue, white, etc.
Faults. What can we say. No quality breeder will ever consider using these in their program.
5. "Bitch for lease", purchasing "pregnant bitch", etc.
Producing females are the base of the breeding program. If you look at the breeder's website or online postings and see that they just bring in new pregnant females every time to produce one litter and then pass them on - to a different kennel - are they really a "breeder "or rather just a hosting facility where puppies are born? Do they really know their females, their temper and health history? We see producing females that are being sold every six month - from one kennel to another. Sometimes two kennels will "partner together" and ship a female back and forth, so she would have a litter in one kennel in spring and second litter in the fall in another kennel and in a history of each kennel this female is only bred once a year, when in reality she produces a litter twice a year all her life. It is a big business - selling "covered females" - mediocre females that were bred and are for sale while pregnant. This ensured return on investment in a very short time - a buyer will get their money back once sells puppies. No good breeder will ever sell their pregnant female- WHY? This is exactly what brings profit to any breeding program AND also brings JOY to a breeder - to see the result of their breeding program. Usually, pregnant females for sale are dogs that would not be purchased otherwise - there is something seriously wrong with them and their pregnancy and sales of future puppies are the only value of this dog. Sadly, we see 17-18 months old pregnant dogs for sale - no hips or elbows done OR faulty hips OR problems with temperament, conformation or anything else..
6. No dogs on premises - "family raised in other homes"
There is a practice of large breeders to place female puppies in foster homes with an agreement to use these dogs for future breedings. This seems like a great opportunity for a family that can not afford a quality dog and gets a dog with a discount or no cost at all. Then, once older and in heat, the female is brought back to the breeder, mated with a stud and taken back to live her normal life until it is time to whelp puppies. Oncec puppies are 6 weeks, they are taken to a breeder, where they are then sold. While knowing that the mother of your liter is someone's beloved pet and puppies were raised in someone's home can be seen as a benefit - in reality not knowing the dam of your puppy can leave many questions ansnswered. ca
7. European import
8. Health tested
9. Sales online
10. Multiple breeds
11. Breeding too young/too old females
12. No vet reference/veterinary information
13. Unregistered puppies from "AKC-Registered" dogs