Responsible breeders are individuals who have focused their efforts on one or a select few breeds and through breeding, historical research and ongoing study, mentoring relationships, club memberships, showing, raising and training of these breeds have become experts in the breedís health, heritable conditions, temperament and behavior. Responsible breeders are well suited to educate and screen potential buyers/adopters and provide follow-up support after purchase or adoption. Responsible breeders take lifetime responsibility for the animals they have bred.

- Never sells puppies to a dealer or pet shop.

- Screens breeding stock for heritable diseases and removes affected animals from breeding program. Affected animals are altered; may be placed as pets as long as health issues are disclosed to buyers/adopters.

- Removes aggressive animals from breeding program; alters or euthanizes them.

- Keeps breeding stock healthy and well socialized.

- Never keeps more dogs than they can provide with the highest level of care, including quality food, clean water, proper shelter from heat or cold, exercise, socialization and professional veterinary care.

- Has working knowledge of genetics and generally avoids inbreeding.

- Bases breeding frequency on motherís health, age, condition and recuperative abilities.

- Does not breed extremely young or old animals.

- Often breeds and rears dogs in the home, where they are considered part of the family.

- Ensures neonates are kept clean, warm, fed, vetted and with the mother until weaned; begins socialization of neonates at three weeks of age.

- Screens potential guardians; discusses positive and negative aspects of animal/breed.

- Ensures animals are weaned (eight to ten weeks of age for dogs and cats) before placement.

- Offers guidance and support to new guardians.

- Provides an adoption/purchase contract in plain English that spells out breederís responsibilities, adopterís responsibilities, health guarantees and return policy.

- Provides accurate and reliable health, vaccination and pedigree information.

- Makes sure pet-quality animals are sold on a limited registration (dogs only), spay/neuter contract, or are altered before placement.

- Will take back any animal of their breeding, at any time and for any reason.

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