How to Find Ethical Service Dog Breeders in Australia

A group of seven yellow Labrador puppies, raised by reputable service dog breeders, are walking on grass in a garden surrounded by green plants and colorful foliage.

Wondering how to find ethical service dog breeders? That’s a great question and an important one too.

Service dogs, like Assistance Dogs and police dogs for example, have lots of responsibilities. Naturally, that means they need to be healthy and have have a well-balanced temperament.

Good breeding can positively affect a puppy’s health and temperament. On the other hand, poor breeding can result in health problems and behavioural problems in dogs.

In this article, Blue Badge Insurance shares steps on how to find ethical service dog breeders in Australia.

A small light-colored puppy, possibly from service dog breeders, has its head gently cupped by a person's hand. The background includes a dark-patterned blanket and part of a person's legs in jeans and boots.

How to find ethical dog breeders and avoid scams

If you’re researching how to find ethical service dog breeders in Australia, you may be interested to find there are some breeders that should be avoided.

Unfortunately, as with any industry, there are unethical people who are in the profession only to make a profit. When it comes to breeding, this has resulted in puppy mills. These are breeding practices that overbreed dogs in poor conditions.

  • Puppy mills. For example, the breeding dogs are often kept in small cages, without proper playtime, socialisation or exercise. They’re not fed properly, and they’re bred too often. This easily results in unhealthy puppies that grow up to develop lifelong health issues.
  • Puppy scams. Another reason knowing how to find ethical service dog breeders is important is to avoid being scammed. Online purchases where you don’t meet the breeder in person sometimes turn out to be a farce. You pay for the puppy but don’t receive it.
  • Stolen dogs. If you don’t work at finding an ethical dog breeder, you could also accidentally end up supporting dog thieve rackets. The stolen dogs issue is a problem in Australia, and after the pandemic, it became even worse.
Golden Retriever wearing a harness and leash lying on fallen leaves in a sunlit forest, a serene scene reminiscent of what you might encounter when learning how to find ethical dog breeders.

1. Look for dog breeders who are registered with a kennel club

When looking at how to find ethical service dog breeders, it’s a good idea to choose one registered with a kennel club.

Australia has several breed registers across different states and territories. Kennel clubs, like the Dogs West kennel club help to uphold ethical breeding practices. They set minimum breed health practices for breeding and hold a register of dog breeders that are members.

A chocolate Labrador puppy lies on a stone surface, looking up with an open mouth and attentive eyes. If you're considering such a sweet companion, it's important to know how to find ethical dog breeders or service dog breeders to ensure a healthy and well-raised pet.

2. Visit in person, ideally more than once

One of the most important steps to buying a dog, whether it’s a service dog or not, is visiting the breeder in person and meeting the puppy. You’d ideally not just meet the puppy and spend time getting to know it, but also meet the parents.

Here are some reasons why:

  • Authenticity. Sadly, many puppy farms send their puppies to “cover homes” when they’re ready to sell. You could meet the puppy in what looks like a respectable home, but actually the puppy hasn’t been born on those premises. It’s just like having a shop window when in reality the puppy is born into dire circumstances. One way to avoid this is by also meeting the puppy’s parent, or at least the mum dog.
  • Healthy, happy parent dogs. Meeting the mum or both parents gives you the chance to see they’re healthy and happy. If the dog parents don’t display signs of fear and aren’t evidently unhealthy, that’s a good sign for your service dog pup.
  • Check food and water bowls and living areas. Meeting doggy parents often is a good opportunity to see their living areas, including their food and water bowls, all of which give a good indication of their wellbeing. If these are clean and well kept, with fresh food and water, it’s a sign you’re dealing with an ethical dog breeder.
A mother dog, lying on a wooden floor, nurses five puppies. The puppies are eagerly feeding while the mother looks at the camera with a relaxed expression—a perfect snapshot of nurturing that responsible service dog breeders strive for.

3. Ask the breeder questions, and expect them to ask questions

Don’t be shy to ask a breeder questions. In fact, any ethical dog breeder will probably be happy that you’re asking questions since this shows you’re invested in giving the puppy a good home.

Consider finding out about the parent dogs – for example, how was the pregnancy and birth of the puppies? Were all the puppies healthy? Is there anything about the breed you should know.

Asking these questions will help you develop a relationship with the breeder and understand more about your future puppy’s background.

4. Get dog papers from ethical dog breeders

Most well-bred service dogs are pedigrees. What is the difference between a pedigree and a purebred? Well, anyone can make the claim their dog is purebred if it has the appropriate appearance.

However, a pedigree dog is a purebred dog that has a paper-trail recording it’s family breeding history.

When purchasing a pedigree puppy, the breeder should give you the registered pedigree dog papers at no added cost. This is also proof the breeder is registered with a kennel club. You can make sure in advance that a breeder will be providing you with dog papers.

A man in a wheelchair wearing a pink hoodie shows a picture of a dog being sold via mail order online to a friend of his, a woman wearing a raincoat

5. Never mail order a service dog (or any puppy)

Although you’re reading this article on the internet and can buy a lot of products and services online, it’s a good idea never to buy a puppy online.

It’s perfectly fine to find a breeder listing online, but there are several other checks you’ll need to do make sure they’re ethical. For this reason, you should never mail order a puppy online. You could easily be scammed or buy a puppy that’s unhealthy.

If you find an ad online for puppies for sale, who’s to say everything in it is true. A dog is not like a toothbrush or pair of pants you can mail order and you could find that the puppy isn’t healthy, or isn’t even the breed that’s claimed in the ad.

6. How to find ethical dog breeders means asking about health tests

Like humans, dogs can be affected by a wide range of health issues. Some are hereditary and based on their genes. This means certain dog breeds are more predisposed to specific health conditions.

For example, the dog breeds make the best Assistance Dogs, like German Shepherds and Labrador Retrievers are predisposed to hip dysplasia.

This is why, your search for how to find ethical service dog breeders should include an expectation of health tests. You can expect a good breeder to have health tested both parent dogs before breeding them. You can ask the breeder for copies of the test results to confirm the findings.

A woman sits on a bed using a laptop to research pet health issues as her trusty pup lying beside her is feeling sick and may need to see the vet

Training a service dog

Training a service dog (also often called an Assistance Dog) comes with specific requirements. Thankfully, an organisation like Assistance Dogs Australia does this for you. They also take care of the breeding and ensure that the puppies that go into the training programs have the appropriate temperament.

Learn more about service or Assistance Dog training and certification here:

If you’re buying puppy and planning to have it trained as a Service Dog, it might be a good idea to work with the trainer on finding a dog with the appropriate temperament.

Now that you know more about how to find ethical dog breeders, find out more about pet and Assistance Dogs Insurance…

Assistance Dog insurance for unexpected vet bills

Assistance Dogs are incredible supports to people living with disabilities. However, they can get injured or ill on occasion and instead, need our assistance to get them to the vet. Vet bills can be costly, which is why having Assistance Dogs Insurance is worth considering.

Assistance Dogs Insurance can help cover unexpected vet visits for a wide range of dental issues, accidents and illnesses – depending on the level of cover you select. Find out more about how pet insurance for Assistance Dogs works.

Blue Badge Insurance gives you up to 25% off Assistance Dogs Insurance and up to 15% off pet insurance (if you have a disability parking permit). Click below to get a quote today.

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