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More Warning Signs

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The breeder or someone in his family calls a dog by the wrong name.

This is similar to the previous item. You can, as a breeder, decide to call a dog by a different name in order to fraudulently complete the Registration paperwork. If a breeder does this, he or a member of his family will often forget and use the wrong (right?) name. If a breeder or a member of his family calls a dog by the wrong name it may be a simple mistake, but it may also mean that he is switching dogs and their names to manipulate the Registration process. This is a subtle clue, but it may be the only one you get. Find out if the dogs have micro-chips for identification. If they do, see if they can read the chip and show you the paperwork indicating the actual name of the dog. Often, the breeder will not have a chip reader or will not provide it to you (to use against him.)

Multiple males have access to females.

This one is a deal killer. If you see a breeder and notice that multiple males have access to a female, walk away. No one, I mean absolutely no one is going to know before the male dog that a female is in heat. I don't care if you have a calendar, a computer program or anything else to track the female cycles, the male dog will always be the first to know. The cycles are not always perfect. There is some variation. If the males figure it out first, you will never know for sure who the true sire of the litter is. If there is uncertainty as to the sire (in this generation or others,) the Pedigrees are worthless. You are not really paying money for a dog (you can find many people giving away dogs,) you are paying money for a purebred lineage that indicates that this particular will conform to a standard for this breed. With any uncertainty about lineage, you cannot be sure about anything.

The dogs don't like the owners.

This is a very bad sign. What could it mean? It could mean one or more of these several things. First, it probably means that the dogs get no attention. Obviously you should not support people who mistreat dogs. You can't think of it as rescuing a puppy from a bad situation. They will only make more puppies. Your only recourse is to report "serious" mistreatment to the authorities or just to avoid supporting "minor" neglect. Don't give your money to support neglect of dogs! Search above on "Puppy Mill Horrors" and you will see what some people are capable of. The second thing that it can mean is that a poor temperament has been bred into the dogs. You want to avoid poor breeding. The third thing it can mean is that the person showing you the dogs is not the real owner. If you get caught acting unethically or fraudulently completing Registration paperwork, you can lose your right to register dogs with the AKC. When this happens to some people, the "ownership" of their dogs can be transferred to someone else while they continue to breed puppies. When this other person sells the dogs, the "real" owner raises them. This can explain dogs that seem not to like their owners. They are not really their owners. They only complete the sale to make it legal. Avoid these deals. Nothing good can come from them.

The dogs live in cages or small pens.

Many dogs living their entire lives in small cages or pens is a "Puppy Mill." "Puppy Mills" are the scourge of the dog breeding industry. Real breeders who love their dogs and their breeds detest the "Puppy Mills" that churn out litter after litter of puppies with no concern to improving the breed or minimizing health issues. These dogs are often sold through pet stores. Never buy from pet stores. You simply should not support the penning up or caging of dogs for their entire lives. Dogs have been domesticated and are meant to be our companions, not simply breeders to churn out litter after litter of puppies. Plenty of puppies are available from people who care for their dogs, who play with their dogs, who bathe and brush their dogs. Buy one of these dogs. You can be much more confident that they are healthy, well tempered and well bred. And besides, it's morally the right thing to do.

You'll feel better about yourself even if you pay a few more dollars. Twenty, fifty or a hundred dollars saved on a puppy by buying from a "puppy mill" can quickly evaporate with the first vet visit and prescription. Surgeries for knee problems, eye problems or other issues of poor breeding can cost you hundreds or thousands extra.

The breeder does not ask you many questions.

A breeder who really loves his dogs and wants the best for them will interview you to see if you are worthy of fine animals like his. He will want to know if you know how to care for them, if you are buying the puppy for yourself of as a gift. A breeder who loves his dogs doesn't like them to be bought as gifts. He can't meet the person who will own his dog and cannot really be sure of how well they will be cared for. He will also ask you about the living arrangements of the animal. Have you had dogs before? What happened to them? Do you have others now? Will you allow his "house" breed to live in the house or will you stick it in a pen outside after the new wears off of the puppy? Do you have room to allow his "sporting" breed to run and play? A good breeder will want to know these things.

Something changes in what the breeder is saying.

This is one of the more subtle warnings signs to look for. If they tell you something on the phone that turns out to be untrue, be wary. Even if the item seems insignificant, it could be masking something more serious. Some serious deceptions begin to unravel with a minor inconsistency. Write down what they tell you on the phone. Take careful notes when you discuss things with the breeder. A breeder will often tell you on the phone what he thinks will convince you to come buy a puppy. Occasionally he will mix up what he has told you with what he has told other people on the phone. Some of the questions in the next section will help you to trap an unscrupulous breeder. Ask many questions and keep notes. You should visit several breeders before buying a puppy and your notes will be critical in keeping everything straight and making the best decision.

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