Did you know that there are more places and ways to buy a puppy than going to a pet store? You might be surprised to learn that as little as 4% of all puppies that are sold in the US are homed via pet stores.
Most people get their puppies or dogs from either animal shelters (38%) or from private sellers (36%). And there are also a small portion (22%) that receive their puppies as gifts from friends, family members, or acquaintances whose dogs had litters.
In other words, there are 4 ways to obtain a puppy, which are:
- Buying the puppy from a pet store
- Adopting the puppy from an animal shelter
- Receiving the puppy as a gift from a friend, family member, acquaintance, or stranger whose dog had a litter
- Buying the puppy from a private seller
Private puppy sellers are typically licensed or certified, but this varies by state. The main definition of private sellers across the board is that they breed dogs and sell those dogs directly to the end-customer. Whereas a dog breeder or breeding kennel sells their puppies to pet stores, which then sell those puppies to the end-customer.
These days, pet parents may prefer to get their next puppy from a private seller rather than a pet store. There can be many reasons for this. The most commendable reason is that conscientious people don’t want to unintentionally support a pet store that obtains puppies from puppy mills.
While we respect this reason, it’s important to understand that just because someone breeds dogs as a private seller doesn’t automatically mean they uphold high ethical breeding standards. Likewise, not all pet stores get their puppies from puppy mills.
Whether a person wants to get their next puppy from a private seller or pet store, doing ample research is necessary in order to confirm that the seller doesn’t subject their puppies to unethical puppy mill abuses.
There are plenty of responsible, ethical private sellers out there. In fact, the whole reason a lot of these private sellers got into business was for the purposes of rejecting and avoiding working with unethical businesses, like puppy mills. Our recommendation is that you prepare yourself for the research ahead and stick with it until you find the right private seller for you.
That’s why the experts at Petland Kansas City have put this article together—to help you identify ethical private sellers and avoid irresponsible ones.
QUESTIONS TO ASK A PRIVATE PUPPY SELLER
Are you required by state law to be a licensed breeder, and if so, can you provide evidence of your license?
According to the number of litters they manage, the breeder may or may not be licensed, but most reputable private sellers who produce 3 or more litters will obtain a license to substantiate their ethics.
- Can I see the puppies with their mother at the place where they’re being weaned?
Puppies from private sellers should always be seen with their mother at the place where they were born and are being weaned. If the breeder gives you a lot of excuses as to why you can’t see the puppies, be very skeptical of them.
- Have the parents been screened for health conditions relevant to the breed, and can you show me the health reports?
Many purebred dog breeds are susceptible to specific genetic disorders. Reputable breeders know about the common disorders of the breed they specialize in and they involve vets in their breeding and weaning practices to test for disorders and monitor the health of their puppies. This is to say that reputable private sellers only use breeding dogs that are in excellent genetic health so as to massively reduce any chances of their puppies having health issues.
- How many litters has the mother dog had?
Veterinarians across the board, as well as the American Kennel Club, agree that a female dog should not have more than 4 litters in her lifetime.
- How old is the mother dog?
Veterinarians across the board, as well as the American Kennel Club, agree that a female dog should not breed if she is younger than 1 year or older than 8 years.
- Can I visit the puppies a few times before I decide to buy one?
Again, the private seller should expect and be accustomed to their potential customers seeing and visiting the puppies prior to purchasing one. This has to be within reason, of course, since puppies sleep most of the time and need to be with their mother. But if a private seller refuses to allow you to see the puppies at all until they’re on sale on the market, then that is a major red flag that their breeding standards are low.
- At what age will the puppies be able to leave their mother?
The general industry standard is 8 weeks old. Commercial breeders who supply puppies to pet stores, as part of their regulation requirements, will not release puppies that are younger than 8 weeks. But unregulated and disreputable private sellers may opt to “move merchandise” and sell their puppies as soon as a buyer is interested.
RED FLAGS THAT A PRIVATE SELLER MAY NOT BE ETHICAL
The seller or organization is selling puppies in large numbers or always seems to have puppies available.
You are not allowed to meet the breeding dog parents or view the breeding conditions, i.e. home or business facility.
The seller wants to meet you in a public place to complete the sale.
- The breeder does not agree to show you the puppy’s pedigree paperwork, or doesn’t have any pedigree records for the puppy.
- The breeder refuses to give you the name of their veterinarian. (If they give you this information, don’t call and interrogate the vet. But do look up the vet’s name and location to ensure it’s legitimate and the vet is still in practice.)
- The puppies are offered for sale and delivery before they reach 8 weeks old.
- The seller does not ask you any questions other than about money and pickup arrangements. (Any legitimate breeder should care who their puppies end up with and ensure they are going to suitable homes.)
Hopefully, this article has been informative and will help you on your journey to research private puppy sellers in your area.