How To Choose A Responsible Breeder

“Over 2 million puppies bred in mills each year. An estimated 1.2 million dogs are euthanized in shelters every year”

This week is Puppy Mill Action week. This is a topic that we feel very strongly about. We take a critical look at puppy mills in general and the situation in Switzerland, and give some advice on how to choose a responsible breeder.

What is a Puppy Mill?

puppy mill, also known as a puppy farm, is a commercial dog breeding facility characterised by quick breeding and poor conditions. Profit rather than the well-being of the animals is the main priority. Puppies are often taken from their mothers before they are 6 weeks old. They are sold to pet shops, sold online or to people who pose as reputable breeders to sell them. Many Western European countries have banned them but sadly, they are still legal in many countries and even still in some US states.


What is the Situation in Switzerland?

Switzerland is a pioneer in animal welfare and in March 2018, took legal steps to control the online sale of puppies with strict regulations for online traders. However, an investigation this year showed that more and more Swiss are buying their puppies online! They exposed a sordid traffic of puppies, leading back to breeding farms in Eastern Europe. This trade is so lucrative that it has now attracted corrupt vets and also the mafia as highlighted by this undercover investigation.

These puppies have a miserable start in life. They are taken away from their mother far too young. As a result, they are scared, aggressive, disturbed and sick. The breeding dogs live in sordid, dirty conditions. They are caged for their productive life, with little care and no veterinary care, until they are disposed of when no longer fit to reproduce. Buyers think they are getting a pedigree puppy for a bargain price. In many cases they face huge vets bills for sick puppies or even the death of puppies with congenital health problems as a result of poor breeding practices. Or, after expensive but unsuccessful behavioural therapy, the animals are abandoned at the animal shelter or have to be put down. At worst, they can carry dangerous infectious diseases.



So what can you do to Help to Stop Puppy Farming?


If no one bought these unfortunate puppies then they would not have a business. So please do not support them. Use these 3 simple rules to identify a puppy mill.

  • Think a little further than saving a few hundred CHF when buying a puppy. An offer that seems too good to be true, usually is just that! A puppy mill purchase will cost you much more in the long run and continue the suffering of the poor animals involved.
  • Do not buy from an advert online that offers to sell you a puppy in just a couple of clicks and cannot provide a human contact, a pedigree certificate or necessary health certificates.
  • Do not buy if the advertiser suggests handing the puppy over in a car park whether inside or outside Switzerland.


8 Things to Remember when Choosing a Responsible Breeder?


  1. A reputable breeder will only offer one breed of puppy for sale. Multiple breeds for sale by one person is a sure sign that they are running or associated with, a puppy mill.

  1. A responsible breeder will do everything they can to minimise the possibility of genetic conditions within their litters. Many breeds have specific genetic problems. These can be tested for to make sure that the breeding parents are not going to pass these conditions on to their puppies. It is important when picking a puppy that you know the specific genetic conditions associated with the breed that you want to buy. You should then ask the breeder for the relevant test scores of the parents. It is also important that you know how to interpret the scores as they are not all self-evident. A reputable breeder will be happy to explain and to provide test papers for the genetic testing of their breeding dogs.


  1. A reputable breeder will always ask you questions about yourself, your family and your home as well as your experience with the breed or with dogs in general. This is to make sure that the puppy is well matched to its new owners.


  1. A responsible breeder will always invite you to their home to meet the puppy with its parents. In some cases, it may be just the mother since some breeders only keep bitches and use a sire from a different or partner kennel.


  1. A reputable breeder will always provide pedigree papers for their puppies. These can be checked with the relevant registration association if there is any concern.


  1. A responsible breeder will advise a buyer to visit several times before choosing their puppy. As a buyer this is a good rule to follow to make sure that you get a puppy free from behavioural vices. It is important to see how the puppy interacts with its litter mates and mother. It is also important to see how the mother behaves and what character traits she has. If you spend enough time with the potential puppy and its family, this gives you the best chance to see any behavioural problems that might be passed on from parents to offspring.

  1. A reputable breeder will always take full contact details from all buyers for their records.


  1. A responsible breeder will always ask you to contact them first, if for any reason you want to give up your puppy in the future. Their main priority is the welfare of their puppies.


Always remember that a reputable breeder is not in business with profit as their priority. Their main drivers are a love for the breed of dogs that they produce, and the welfare of their animals.


Some Final Thoughts

Please also bear in mind that many rescue organisations have beautiful puppies, pedigree and non-pedigree, available for adoption. Please also ask yourself if you really must have a puppy. There are many adult dogs just waiting for the opportunity to join a loving family. Offering a second chance to one of these guys can be one of the most rewarding things you can do – for both of you!

Ask Eris! She’ll tell you that we love her to bits, and I think she’ll tell you that she loves her new family too!

How Can the Woof Club Help You?

We hope that you find our article useful and informative. We would love to hear your comments! If you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to contact us by submitting a form online or by emailing us at