Many dogs are bred for a quick profit by what is often referred to as a ‘puppy farm’. They are raised without care or love and sold to unsuitable households. Many of these puppies are advertised through newspaper adverts or sold on the internet or at pet/puppy superstores and Dogs Trust strongly advises you do not buy your puppy from any of the above.”
There are lots of resources on the Internet that give advice on how to avoid puppy farmers and we encourage everyone looking to buy a dog to read up on the subject. The Dogs Trust campaign against battery farmed dogs and advice on how to avoid puppy farmers are good places to start. Ironically many of the ‘puppies for sale’ web sites also give advice on how to avoid puppy farmers and yet it is on those sites that puppy farmers are most active.
One breeder who has bred large numbers of Italian Greyhounds for sale is Susan Thomas, Francole Italian Greyhounds, based in Heol y Bryn, South Wales. Susan Thomas and her husband were successfully prosecuted by their Local Authority under the Animal Welfare Act in 2012. Read the official statement from Rhondda Cynon Taf Council.
The Thomas’ admitted to breeding 89 puppies in just three years. On the first day that the authorities visited their house there were 38 dogs kept on the premises, including 10 puppies. There were 12 dog crates in the kitchen area, which usually contained 2 dogs, that were crated over night and also confined throughout the day. Conditions were found to be unhygienic and the number of dogs kept in the crates and the time within which they were contained was deemed unacceptable by the court.
It has been reported to us that Susan Thomas is still actively breeding dogs for sale and advertising them on the internet.
Please do your research if you are buying an Italian Greyhound and make sure that you are not rewarding unscrupulous breeders and puppy farmers for abusing these beautiful dogs.
The best way to avoid a puppy farmer is to check out the breeder
- Don’t assume that just because a breeder seems caring and responsible that they are! Take nothing for granted and be prepared to check and double check anything the breeder tells you!
- Find out the registered names of the parents of the puppy – make sure you see their registration papers
- Look into the pedigree of those dogs and check any claims about winning show dogs in the line
- Check how many litters the mother has had already and how frequently she has been bred from
- Check how many litters and puppies the breeder has registered with the Kennel Club in total and over what period of time
- If the breeder is breeding a large number of litters each year (more than 4) check whether or not they have the appropriate licenses to breed dogs
This is all easier to do than you may think! Read on to find out more … and don’t forget that you can contact us for advice.
Puppy farming of Italian Greyhounds
The puppy farming problem facing our breed is one that is very difficult to tackle, and we ask all our members and the general public to help us protect the welfare of the individual dogs being bred from, the puppies they produce and the longer-term health of the breed in general.
Responsible breeders very rarely advertise puppies for sale on websites. Good breeders generally have a waiting list of homes for their puppies as they do not tend to breed very often. Please be prepared to wait for an Italian Greyhound puppy from a responsible breeder, even if you are not looking for a dog to show. The old saying ‘good things come to those who wait’ is very appropriate in this situation.
Italian Greyhounds are a relatively rare breed in the UK but the number of official registrations for Italian Greyhounds has almost doubled in the last five years reaching 215 registrations in 2010 compared with only 114 in 2005. What is alarming is that a significant proportion of the increasing numbers of Italian Greyhound registrations are a result of puppy farmers. The Italian Greyhound Rescue Charity and the Club are aware of more and more cases of puppies going to unsuitable homes and having to be re-homed.
Puppy farming in a home near you
Puppy farmers don’t always have an industrial sized shed filled with caged dogs in squalid conditions. They may keep their dogs as ‘pets’ in their homes, may ensure that mother and father are available for you to meet, may grill you about your personal circumstances to demonstrate that they are concerned about the homes their puppies are going to, and generally do a very good job of convincing you that they are a caring, responsible breeder. But they may also be breeding their bitches season, after season with no regard for the health and well-being of those bitches. So never assume that because a breeder appears to be responsible that they are. Make sure you do the following checks.
Checking the pedigree of their dogs `
Puppy farmers often claim a great pedigree for their dogs. Perhaps with lots of champions in the line, or related dogs winning lots of shows, or qualifying for Crufts. Some puppy farmers may even boast of a long, documented pedigree with statements such as “5 generation pedigree” – this is a nonsensical claim because 5 generations of farmed puppies may have been born over a period of only 4 years – not the long standing, respected line you may have thought!
Whatever the claims of the breeder it is possible to check the pedigree of the dog. When you are speaking to the breeder ask for detailed information and make notes. Always ask for the registered names of the parents, and ask to see the registration papers to verify their names.
If the breeder is claiming a history of top show dogs in their lines then ask them for those dogs’ registered names too, and ask which shows they have done well at and in what year.
If they can’t answer these questions, are vague, or are reluctant to tell you, alarm bells should be ringing in your head.
If they do answer your questions, make a note of the answers given, in particular registered names of the parents of the puppy and you will be in a position to check their pedigree and any claims about related dogs doing well in the show ring.
Using our access to the Kennel Club Breeds Record Supplement (the official list of all KC registrations in the UK) and our Club’s archive of show results we can help you verify the claims made by a breeder – simply contact us.
If a breeder has misrepresented themselves to you or lied in any way you should not buy a dog from that breeder.
Kennel Club Registration Papers and ‘Endorsements’
All responsible breeders register their dogs with the Kennel Club. But Kennel Club registration does not guarantee that the breeder is responsible. For £12.00 anyone can register a puppy with the Kennel Club as long as the parents of the puppy were registered at birth and they meet the registration guidelines. Sadly the KC registration scheme is abused by some irresponsible breeders and puppy farmers.
Endorsements are ‘not for breeding’ clauses that most responsible breeders put on the KC registration papers, especially when selling a puppy to someone previously unknown to them. Endorsements are used to help prevent irresponsible breeding and puppy farming – more information about endorsements can be found on the Kennel Club Endorsements page on the KC web site.
We strongly recommend that you do some more detailed research into a breeder if they are:
- Offering to sell a puppy without KC registration papers at one price and with papers at a higher price – we have had had reports of puppy farmers charging several hundred pounds to register a puppy with the Kennel Club when the actual cost is £12.00; or
- Offering to sell a puppy with endorsements on the papers at one price and without endorsements at a higher price.
Abuse of breeding bitches
The Italian Greyhound Club Code of Ethics states:
- Bitches should not be bred from until 18 months of age or over the age of 8 years; and
- Bitches should not be allowed to whelp (have a litter) more than once in every 12 months with a maximum of 4 litters in her lifetime.
Do not buy a puppy from a breeder if any of the following are true:
- The bitch has had a litter before she was 18 months old, or at over 8 years old
- The bitch has had more than one litter within 12 months
- The bitch has had more than four litters in her life time
Always ask to see the registration papers for the mother of the puppies and make a note of her registered name and her date of birth. Also ask how many litters she has had, and when. Make a note of the answers.
We can help you check on the breeding history of that bitch (number of litters, puppies and dates of birth), and any other dogs the breeder may be breeding through the Kennel Club Breeds Record Supplement. Simply contact us for further help and information.
It’s not a perfect system because puppy farmers don’t always register every litter but it is a good place to start.
The guidance in our Code of Ethics is there to protect the welfare of our dogs and to stop breeding bitches from being abused and used as puppy factories. If a breeder is breeding outside of these guidelines then they are not breeding responsibly and it is likely that they are abusing their dogs by using them as puppy factories.
Dog breeding licenses
The Breeding and Sales of Dogs (Welfare) Act 1991 makes it illegal for a bitch to have more than 6 litters in her lifetime. And from 2012 the Kennel Club will no longer register litters from any bitch that has already had four litters.
Following the changes to the law in 1991 every Local Authority in the country has an animal licensing policy that requires breeders of dogs to be registered with them if they breed more than a specified number of litters each year, regardless of the number of dogs that they are breeding from. This is to make sure that the breeder meets minimum requirements with regards to animal welfare. This limit varies from Local Authority to Local Authority but it is usually set at 4-5 litters per year.
If you are speaking to a breeder that indicates to you that they breed a large number of litters every year (more than 4), or if you find evidence elsewhere that they may be breeding a large number of litters (e.g. they are regularly advertising puppies online or in newspaper classifieds), make sure that you ask them whether or not they are licensed with their Local Authority, and check with the Local Authority that there are no pending investigations or complaints against them. Responsible breeders rarely breed more than two litters each year out of different bitches.
If they’re not licensed, and especially if they have no knowledge of the legal requirements around breeding dogs, then proceed with extreme caution and do more research on the breeder.
Responsible breeders will not be offended or put out by these questions.
Contact the Club for help
We can help you research the breeding practices of any breeder that you are speaking to, and the information we will provide you with will be based on fact, not hearsay or gossip. Our only interest is in protecting the welfare of individual dogs being used to breed, their puppies and the long-term welfare of the breed.