Thanks to free Web site builders like SynthaSite and Homestead, puppy mills can easily project a responsible breeder image. Unless you're searching a well-regarded site like Petfinder, buyer beware! So how can you tell the difference? The HSUS compiled a breeder checklist that you can download and refer to while researching breeders.
Here are some additional red flags:
multiple litters available for sale
multiple breeds available for sale
boast "rare" sizes (mini version of a standard larger breed) or colors ("blue" Labs)
discourage visitors to the kennel
cannot provide credible proof of pedigree
cannot provide credible proof of sire and dam health clearances
In my experience, most responsible breeders:
require an interview, application and contract
encourage spay/neuter of your puppy
proof of pedigree
proof of health clearances for sire, dam and litter
belong to a reputable breed registry, like AKC or UKC
show their dogs in conformation, obedience, agility, etc.
If you're considering a purebred from a breed rescue, be sure to read "Check Out That Rescue Group!" first. As a long-time rescue volunteer, it's heartbreaking to know that there are not only unethical breeders, but unethical so-called "rescuers" who are just interested in using unwanted dogs to make money. Do your research, ask questions and take your time making this very important decision.
Julia Kamysz Lane, owner of Spot On K9 Sports and contributing editor at The Bark, is the author of multiple New Orleans travel guides, including Frommer’sNew Orleans Day by Day (3rd Edition). Her work has also appeared in The New York Times Magazine, Poets and Writers and Publishers Weekly.