Did you know that Back Yard Breeders produced 77% of the Newfs who have come through Newf Friends Rescue to date? That's right, over 3/4 of the Newfs we've rescued were bred by Back Yard Breeders.
Back Yard Breeders (BYB) are an even bigger threat to the Newfoundland Breed than Puppy Mills. You would never intentionally buy a puppy from a Puppy Mill, so why would you buy one from a Back Yard Breeder?
BYBs come in many forms, and some BYBs are easier to spot than others. Some BYB intentionally try to mislead buyers, others do not even realize that they are BYB and think that their breeding practices are responsible and ethical, when they are not! Some are pet owners who casually breed their family pet, others are larger kennels with several breeding dogs, maybe even CKC registered dogs.
There are a number of ways that BYB differ from Responsible breeders, and starting January 19, 2012 we began posting tips to help people identify BYBs. This tips are based on some of the common characteristics we see in BYB whose dogs end up in rescue. Each of these tips is considered a serious red flag to us as rescuers who clean up the mess created by BYB. No breeder is perfect and it is up to the individual buyer to make a responsible choice about which breeder YOU feel good about buying from and what type of variables are important to you as a purchaser and fancier of the breed.
Look at all of these variables as a whole and assess the breeder overall. Some BYB will meet many of these criteria, but that does not mean they are responsible. It can be confusing and overwhelming trying to select a breeder, but if you take your time and do your homework you will find the right breeder for you. The Newfoundland Dog Club of Canada and you regional Newf club are GREAT places to search for a breeder.
Check back to see new tips regularly, or follow us on our FaceBook page to be a part of the daily discussions.
Don't be a part of the problem, be a part of the solution -- Stop buying from BYB! If you love the Newfoundland breed, do not buy from a BYB. Educate yourself so you can identify BYBs and avoid making the mistake of supporting one.
Identifying BYB, Tip # 1: The breeder does not provide authentic Canadian Kennel Club (CKC) registration papers for their pups (or in the US, AKC papers)
(Note: Selling pups with a CKC registration does not necessarily mean the breeder is not a BYB. There are many BYB and Puppymills who breed registered dogs and register their litters. More about this in coming days.....)
Beware, there are other "registries" used by unscrupulous breeders to try to trick unsuspecting puppy purchasers - reputable breeders will be registering under the CKC or AKC.
Identifying Back-Yard-Breeders, Tip #2: They are breeding mixed breed dogs
Any person who breeds mixed breed dogs is a BYB -- this includes breeders who are producing so-called designer breeds, like Newfy-poos/Noodles, claiming to have hypo-allergenic "newfs".
If you know of a Canadian Kennel Club member who is breeding mixed-breed dogs,
report them to the CKC.
Reputable breeders put care and thought into their breeding program to produce purebred dogs that are a good example of the breed, for the love of the breed and for the betterment of the breed. Anyone producing mixed breed dogs is breeding dogs for selfish reasons, with no regard for the consequences of their actions. Their motives may be money, or perhaps because they "like" their dog and want her to have pups, or their carelessness may have led to an accidental breeding, etc.
Shelters and rescues are bursting at the seams with mixed breed dogs who are homeless. There is absolutely no reason why anyone should be producing more mixed breed dogs.
Identifying Back-Yard-Breeders, Tip # 3: The breeder does not provide a unique and permanent ID for the pup.
In Canada, all purebred dogs must be identified prior to leaving the breeder's premises in order for it to be eligible to be registered with the CKC. This is the law. The breeder pays for this identification, not the purchaser. This identification can come in one of two forms: a Canadian Standard microchip transponder or a tattoo.
Note: If the breeder claims that the dog has a microchip, they must have a scanner onsite to confirm this and show that the chip number matches that listed on your bill of sale.
In Canada the breed standard for the Newfoundland Dog specifies that there are two acceptable colours: Black or white/black (aka Landseer.) Be VERY wary of any Canadian breeder who is breeding Newfs of ANY other colour.
All responsible breeders strive to breed dogs as close to the standard of their country as possible. Intentionally breeding off-colour Newfs would be deliberately breeding dogs who do not meet the standard. This is not something a responsible breeder would ever do. In Canada this means that brown, grey, caramel and other off-coloured Newfs being offered by a breeder should be considered an enormous red flag. Breeders who intentionally breed off-standard colours clearly do not have respect for the standard of the breed, maintaining the integrity of the Newf breed or preserving the quality of the breed for future generations. The basic breed standard for the Newf was developed over 100 years ago. If a breeder feels they do not need to adhere to that standard with respect to colour, what other variables will they also consider unimportant?
The recognized colours under other standards are:
AKC : black, white/black, brown, grey
FCI: black, brown, white/black (Landseer is a separate breed)
KC/UK : black, brown, white/black
Many puppymills and BYB in Canada have brought in breeding stock from other countries to use to breed "rare" colours here in Canada. Some breed with the intention of producing colours that are not recognized under ANY standard in any country -- this would be brown/white, black/tan, grey/white, cream, beige or champagne. Typically they will advertise that they are breeding "exotic" or "rare" colours, and may even charge a premium price for this. Any kennel intentionally breeding these off colours is not a reputable kennel -- they are either a BYB or a Puppy Mill.
Breeders who intentionally breed off colours are not permitted to be members of the Newfoundland Dog Club of Canada (NDCC) or any of the Regional NDCC Chapters because breeding against the standard is a violation of the code of ethics. Off-standrad Newfs are also not able to be shown in the confirmation ring so the kennel is not able to have an objective assessment done of whether they are breeding correct newfs (correct size, structure, temperament, etc.)
Note: It is possible for a responsible breeder to unintentionally produce an off colour pup due to recessive genes. In this instance, the breeder would place the pup in a pet home* with a spay/neuter contract and they would not breed that same pair of dogs again. If they did repeat the breeding it would be considered a deliberate breeding against the standard, which is a violation of the code of ethics.
* This pup would still be registered with the CKC, and could still earn titles for draft work, water rescue, etc. It can not be shown in conformation though.
Note: Genetic testing can be done for colour. We will be talking about responsible breeders having an understanding of genetics in upcoming discussions.
Identifying Back-Yard-Breeders, Tip #5 : They do not perform health clearances on their breeding stock. This is a REALLY important one folks!
Responsible Newfoundland Dog breeders screen their breeding stock for genetic diseases to reduce or eliminate the risk of heritable diseases appearing in their lines. At a bare minimum hips (x-ray), elbows (x-ray), cystinuria and heart (cardiologist evaluated) clearances should be performed on the dam AND the sire. Anyone who is breeding dogs who do not have their clearances for these 4 critical issues is a Back Yard Breeder. Do not buy a pup from them!
Ask to see proof of the clearances and educate yourself about what these clearances mean. For example, breeders should not be using Newfs with "fair" hips for breeding -- expect to see good or excellent ratings for breeding stock.
Ideally breeders will also be doing additional tests including CERF (eyes), thyroid (blood tests), and patellas (palpation).
A reputable breeder will list the health screening they perform on their breeding stock and will either provide the information on a database such as the Orthopedic Foundation for Animals (OFA), or will provide potential buyers with certificates of clearances. A responsible and ethical breeder will not breed a dog who has known health issues that can be passed onto their offspring.
***Please, for your own sake, for the sake of your future puppy, for the sake of the breed - NEVER purchase a pup from a breeder who does not perform health clearances on their breeding dogs.
Also important to note -- some BYB do perform health clearances so this on it's own is not enough proof that they are a responsible breeder.
Identifying Back-Yard-Breeders, Tip #6: They do not provide appropriate veterinary and basic care for pups.
During the 10 -16 weeks a pup is in their care, responsible breeders provide all needed basic, veterinary and social care for their puppies ensuring the very best start to the dog's life.
Reputable breeders have the knowledge and skills to recognize and resolve common health issues among young pups. They understand the nutritional needs of pups and provide for them appropriately.
Responsible breeders keep their pups in a clean, safe area where they are being properly supervised and all of their needs are being met. They put great effort into ensuring both the physical and mental well being of each pup and they properly socialize the pups. The pups are raised in a caring environment where they are handled, stimulated, played with and trained.
Responsible breeders recognize the benefit of the pups being with their litter mates and do not place pups into homes at a very young age -- never before 10 weeks of age.
Prior to adoption, responsible breeders will at a bare minimum have all puppies vet checked, deworm all puppies, have them all vaccinated, and have their hearts checked. *
Many exceptional reputable breeders have a cardiologist check their pups hearts, and an ophthalmologist check their eyes.
Ethical breeders will disclose any known health issues the pup may have, they do not attempt to hide issues or deceive purchasers.
Responsible breeders offer a health guarantee - see tip # 7
Identifying Back-Yard-Breeders, Tip #7 : The breeder does not offer a written health guarantee
In addition to performing health clearances on breeding stock and fully vetting all pups, a responsible breeder will provide a written health guarantee for the pups they sell.
A breeder can not guarantee that a dog will never get sick, but they can guarantee that it is free of genetic problems. This guarantee will vary from breeder to breeder, but should guarantee that the pup is in good health and free of communicable diseases and guarantee against heritable defects like hip dysplasia. Their guarantee should clearly outline what compensation will be offered in the event of the dog having a genetic defect, and what the parameters of that compensation will be, including time frame, etc.
Many responsible breeders will also offer a temperament guarantee, and a life expectancy guarantee.
All reputable breeders stand behind their guarantees.
In addition to these guarantees, breeders should also have a contract with purchasers pertaining to basic care of the dog, what will happen in the event of the owners needing to find a new home for the dog, etc. We will be talking more about this in upcoming discussions.
Identifying Back-Yard-Breeders, Tip #8 They breed dogs who are under the age of 18 months, their female is bred on her first heat, and/or she is bred on every heat.
Responsible breeders care about the well being of their dog(s) and ensure that they are happy, healthy, and well cared for. In addition to having health clearances on their breeding dogs, they also look at the general well being of their female before deciding if she is ready to be bred. A responsible and ethical breeder would never put their dog at risk by breeding her too young or repeatedly breeding her when she was not physically strong enough to go through the stress of having a litter.
Responsible breeders do not breed their Newf before the age of 18 months at the very earliest because their hips can not be cleared before that time - this applies to both the dam (mom) and sire (dad). Even at 18 months many Newfs are not ready to be bred. A responsible breeder would never breed a dog who is not physically and mentally mature enough to be bred.
Responsible breeders do not breed their female(s) on their first heat -- they recognize that at this age they are far too young, just puppies themselves, still growing and not ready to have pups.
Responsible breeders do not use their female(s) to produce litter after litter never having a break. It is common practice in Puppy Mills and some BYB kennels to start breeding their brood bitch on her first heat, then breed her on every heat following that, forcing her to have litter after litter, producing 2 litters a year for several years, regardless of her health.
Responsible breeders provide a clean, safe, loving environment for their dogs to live in. They do not leave their dogs to whelp their litters in a shed, garage, barn, dog house, outdoor run.
So far we highlighted a number of things to look for in a responsible breeder (and how to avoid a BYB!). Our tips included the importance of health clearances on the dam and sire, understanding CKC registrations, striving to breed to the breed standard (no "rare" colours), and the appropriate age to breed a Bitch. A responsible breeder does all of this (AND MORE as we will discuss later) because they are investing in the breed they love. They breed Newfs with the intention of improving the breed, and to do this they invest considerably into health testing, showing their dogs, and providing exceptional care for their dogs.
BYBs are not investing in the breed. They breed dogs for their own selfish reasons, be it profit, or becasue they "like" their dog and want her to have pups. Their costs are kept to a minimum because they are doing the bare minimum when producing puppies. They do not want added costs like health clearances or show fees to cut into their profits.
The above chart depicts the level of investment of a BYB compared to a responsible breeder. It is clear who is more invested in and committed to preserving the breed we all love..
The figures used to develop this chart can be seen here. These are the average costs based on the input of a number of responsible breeders from across North America, actual prices will vary by region.
Identifying Back-Yard-Breeders, Tip # 10 : They are not members of their county's Kennel Club (for example, in Canada, the Canadian Kennel Club).
This is not an absolute requirement, but is certainly a giant red flag if a breeder is not a member. If they are not members of the Kennel Club they should be able to give you a valid reason why not.
In Canada, all CKC members are obligated to adhere to CKC policies and procedures, the CKC Code of Ethics and the Code of Practice For CKC Member Breeders. Non-members are not.
Membership has many advantages for breeders, including a 50% reduction in registration fees, which is a significant savings for a litter of pups.
Consider it a very big red flag if the breeder is not a member of their national Newf club. There are breeders who have been refused membership to the club because they are not up to the standards of the club, and there are breeders who have been removed from the club for unacceptable practices. Would you want to purchase a pup from a breeder who the Newf Club of Canada has determined unfit for membership? Of course not!
Talk to the breeder and find out WHY they are not members of the breed club.
Members of the breed club must adhere to their standards and rules of conduct. Non-members are not held to the same standards.
Identifying Back-Yard-Breeders, Tip # 12: The breeder is not a member of their Regional Newf Club (for example in Ontario the Central Ontario Regional Club, or the South East Ontario Club)
This is not a deal breaker, but is something that should be taken into consideration when looking for a responsible breeder.
Regional clubs are the local group of Newf lovers who offer workshops in water rescue work, draft work, etc. Responsible breeders are committed to preserving the qualities of the Newfoundland Breed and breeding dogs who are able to do what a Newf was historically used for - draft work, water work, etc. Most of these breeders are involved with their local clubs helping out at events and entering their own Newfs in working dog trials.
As a rescue, when people contact us to refer a good breeder one of the first places we direct them is to their local Newf club where they can meet different breeders who are active in the breed, and they can see their dogs working first hand.
Identifying Back-Yard-Breeders, Tip # 13 :The breeder offers to sell puppies at one price without registration papers and at a higher price with registration papers.
As previously discussed, all reputable breeders register their puppies. If a breeder is willing to sell a dog at a reduced price without papers they are a BYB. No question about it.
This is something that is seen frequently in advertisements on Kijiji and other online ads and is something that is NEVER acceptable.
Ask to see the registration papers and pedigrees for the dam and the sire. If they can't show these documents to you, the breeder is a BYB.
If either the dam or the sire (or both) are unregistered, the breeder is a BYB, no question about it. Do not buy from them!
If the registration papers for the dam or sire are "Non-Breeding" registrations, and the breeder is using those dogs as breeding stock, they are a BYB. (This is how many BYB start their kennels, using stock that was sold on a non-breeding contract. This is why it is so important for breeders to screen their puppy adopters carefully, have contracts in place and to follow-up with them! We will discuss this in further detail in coming days.)
If the pedigree shows dogs that are from a known BYB or Puppy Mill, the kennel is not reputable.
If the registration papers list the dogs by their call name, rather than a kennel name, you may be dealing with a BYB. For example on the registration papers "Bubba" is listed as the sire; "Princess" is listed as the dam. Dog's from a reputable kennel will have registered names from that kennel which include the kennel name.
Responsible breeders only breed responsibly bred dogs. They will have proof of registration for the dam and sire, full pedigrees going back several generations for their breeding stock, and proof of health clearances for both dogs. If the breeder can not produce these documents, you are not dealing with a reputable or responsible breeder.
Identifying Back-Yard-Breeders, Tip # 15: The selection of a sire is based on convenience.
When planning a litter, responsible breeders go to great lengths to select a sire (father) that compliments their dam (mother). They make their selection based on extensive research into the lines of the potential stud dog and how well it is suited to their particular dam. They possess an understanding of genetics and understand how that particular pairing will produce dogs with certain desirable traits and reduce or eliminate the risk of undesirable ones. Their goal is to produce Newfs who are as close to the breed standard as possible, who are healthy, have correct type, correct temperament and who are free of genetic defects. They want to improve the quality of their lines and often go to great effort and expense to select the right sire to achieve their goal. While there are some reputable kennels who may have a stud dog on site, most breeders go to other reputable kennels for stud services. They may pay thousands of dollars to have frozen semen from a stud dog shipped across the country to them because they believe that pairing will produce exceptional dogs.
The typical BYB of unregistered Newfs either breeds their family pets together (their female is bred to their own male) or they may use a friend's male dog who lives nearby as the sire. They may be producing so-called "purebred" Newfs or intentionally breeding mixes.
The BYBs who are looking to produce purebred pups they can register will turn to other BYBs in their area who also have registered Newfs, and arrange to use their male as the stud. In exchange they often will give a female from the litter in exchange for this service. That female will likely end up be used for breeding, and the cycle continues.
BYB supply each other with poorly bred dogs. There is no care taken in the selection of the stud dog. They possess little or no knowledge of genetics and don't understand the likely outcome of the breeding they have selected or which heritable traits they are passing on. They make their decision based on convenience, greed and ignorance. Some may advertise their stud dog on online advertising sites offering his "services". Those breeders should be avoided at all costs!
Identifying Back-Yard-Breeders, Tip # 16 : Their interest in the puppies they produce ends with the sale of the pup.
Responsible breeders are committed to the dogs they produce for the entire life of the dog -- the well being of their dogs is their priority. They make themselves available to answer questions and offer advice to their adopters throughout the life of the dog. When you purchase a dog from an ethical breeder you enter into a life-long relationship with that breeder, and they are there to give you moral support and guidance throughout your dog's life.
Responsible breeders stand behind their pups and are prepared to take any of their dogs back at any point in the dog's life if the adopter is not able to keep the dog. Responsible breeders have a contract with their adopters stating that they need to be contacted if the adopter can not keep the dog.
BYB do not stand behind their dogs. They do not stay in touch with adopters, they offer little or no advise or support when adopters run into challenges, and they do not take dogs back. Dogs from BYB end up in rescues and shelters.
Identifying Back-Yard-Breeders, Tip # 17 : They produce a large volume of litters each year and often have multiple litters of dogs available.
Responsible breeders do NOT have a steady stream of dogs available at all times. They take their time to purposefully and carefully breed dogs with the intention of improving the breed. Their motivation is not money, so they are not interested in producing a large quantity of dogs, they focus instead on quality.
If a kennel has numerous litters each year and seem to always have pups available they are likely a BYB, large scale puppy producer or puppymill.
A kennel that is consistently producing multiple litters can not possibly give their pups the proper time, care and socialization that is needed to help the pup develop into a confident, balanced dog. As a result, the pups coming from kennels with too many dogs are often under-socialized, have temperament issues and end up being dogs who develop serious behavioural issues as they mature.
Identifying Back-Yard-Breeders, Tip # 18: They sell their pups at a young age.
As we mentioned in tip # 6, responsible breeders recognize the benefit of the pups being with their litter mates and do not place pups into homes at a very young age. Newf pups should NEVER be sold before 10 weeks of age.
Never purchase a puppy from a breeder who is selling them at 8 weeks of age! Not only will these pups miss out on critical socialization time with their littermates (putting them at risk of poor bite inhibition and dog aggression issues), but they are also NOT old enough to have their heart clearances yet.
Identifying Back-Yard-Breeders, Tip # 19: They advertise their pups on classified ad sites like Kijiji.
This is a very serious red flag and one that we consider to be the easiest way to spot a poor quality breeder!!!
After monitoring Kijiji for several years we have seen a very clear pattern -- the vast majority of the dogs being advertised by breeders on Kijiji are either from BYB or large scale puppy producers. Reputable breeders do not advertise in this manner, they don't need to! Responsible breeders are found by contacting national or regional newf clubs, not through free classified online ads.
The only time we have ever seen responsible breeders advertise on Kijiji is when they have been part of a campaign to help educate buyers about how to avoid BYB. If you are buying a pup from a Kijiji ad, buyer beware, chances are you are not dealing with a reputable kennel!
Identifying Back-Yard-Breeders, Tip # 20: Their involvement in the breed ends at breeding, they are not offering more to the breed.
|Participants in the Draft Dog Test at 2008 NDCC National Specialty|
Responsible breeders have a keen interest in the history of the breed and the preservation and betterment of the breed. Aside from producing excellent dogs, responsible breeders also participate in other activities with their Newfs. At a minimum, responsible breeders also engage in at least one of the following (ideally more than one):
- Working Dog Activities. This may include involvement in draft work, water rescue, obedience, rally, tracking and more. They may enter their own dogs in these activities or they may act as mentors/instructors/judges for these activities.
- Conformation. They actively participate in showing their dogs or in judging.
- Rescue work. One excellent way to find a responsible breeder is to look at whether or not they are involved with their regional rescue group.
- Involvement in the national and/or regional club. We've mentioned this before and it is worth repeating -- the more involvement a breeder has with their national and regional clubs the better. Seek out breeders who volunteer to teach classes with their regional clubs -- these are committed breeders who truly love the breed!
- Education. This often goes hand in hand with rescue work. Responsible breeders promote the breed, promote responsible pet ownership and promote good breeding practices. They work closely with new breeders to act as guides and mentors and work tirelessly for the betterment of the breed.
Identifying Back-Yard-Breeders, Tip # 21: They breed dogs who have not competed in the show ring and do not have a championship title.
|Newfs being shown at the 2008 NDCC National Specialty|
This point is a little more complicated than some of the previous tips and there are some grey areas here. In general, responsible breeders should be entering their breeding dogs in dog shows to have an objective assessment of their conformation to ensure they are meeting the standard for the breed and producing dogs of correct "type". Some breeders may not have CH titles on their breeding stock and this is not the end of the world, but you need to have an honest discussion with them about WHY and you need to look at the pedigree of the dog and look at the dog yourself and honestly evaluate whether it is an exemplary example of the breed. No responsible breeder would breed a dog that wasn't an excellent example of what the breed should be.
If a Newf is off-type and does not possess the physical traits called for in the breed standard, it should not be bred, ever. This is something that many BYB disregard and as a result we see a lot of Newfs who do not look or act quite like a Newf should.
There is a misconception about showing dogs that this is an elitist hobby and focuses on "looks" and superficial traits. That could not be further from the truth. All responsible, ethical breeders aim to breed dogs who will improve the breed and who are as close to the breed standard as possible. Dog shows enable breeders to get input from knowledgeable people about how close they have come to breeding the ideal Newf. These conformation shows assess everything about the dog from head to toe looking at the angles of the dogs legs, the line of their back, how well the dog moves, how it stands, what it's bite looks like and more. A properly bred Newf should look and act like a Newf!
Form = function. There are specific physical traits that properly bred Newfs should possess and these traits will influence the dog's ability to perform basic working activities like pulling a sleigh or swimming. Dogs who are bred by breeders who are not paying very careful attention to "type and structure" end up looking not quite like Newfs, and they may have structural problems such as issues with the angle of their legs which leads to painful and costly injuries like torn cruciate ligaments and more.
We often hear people say, "I want a pet, not a show dog so I don't need to buy from a show kennel." If you want a healthy, properly bred Newf with correct temperament and proper structure, a Newf who will look and act like a proper Newf, then you need to buy your pet from a kennel who is producing correct dogs, and the best way to guarantee this is to buy from a kennel which shows their dogs. These kennels are producing pets, excellent pets and they sell to responsible owners who are looking for nothing more than a happy, healthy companion who is a great example of what a Newf should be.
***Some breeders who have previously shown their dogs may have gotten out of showing due to their own personal issues. This does not necessarily mean they are not good breeders. If you have questions about showing dogs please ask!
*** An excellent resource to help people learn and understand the breed standard for Newfoundland Dogs is the Newfoundland Dog Club of America's Illustrated Guide. This is a terrific resource to help you understand exactly what we mean when we say a dog has correct type and what is being assessed during a dog show.
Identifying Back-Yard-Breeders, Tip # 22: They do not carefully screen their purchasers.
When purchasing a puppy from a reputable breeder you can expect to be interviewed and you can expect to answer a lot of questions about the type of home that you are going to provide for the pup. Responsible breeders care about the well being of their pups and want to ensure that the dogs are being placed into the right home. They will work hard to make sure that they match the right puppy to the right family. Not all puppies are the same, some are quiet and reserved, some are dominant and demanding. Responsible breeders know their pups and screen families to make sure that they make a great match between pup and purchaser.
Responsible breeders will offer you advice and ideas to help make your experience as a puppy purchaser a positive one and to help ensure that you and the pup can enjoy a long, happy life together. They will stay in touch with you throughout the lifetime of the pup and be available to answer questions and give you guidance.
For the most part, BYB take little care in properly screening purchasers or taking the time to select the right puppy for your family.
Be sure to check back - more tips are added regularly!
The first step to spotting a BYB is understanding the laws on Canada. Read our Buyer Beware article as a starting point.
Thinking about becoming a Newfoundland Dog Breeder? Here's an article with what you need to know to prevent yourself from becoming a BYB.