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Do You Know How To Spot a Backyard Breeder?

Looks Can Be Deceiving!

In doing a quick Google search for English Springer Spaniels breeders in Ontario, many "breeders" listed would be classified as Backyard and/or Puppy Mill breeders.  I bet if you saw the bank barn to the left - you'd understand Puppy Mill immediately - but the fancy timber frame below it is also a Mill type setting - but instead of cheap puppies, they pump out MASS amounts for a hefty price! Still though - breeding for profit. Dogs aren't livestock and shouldn't be treated as such! 

We simply refer to them as "greeders" in the Reputable breeder world!

So what makes a good breeder versus a bad breeder one might ask?  

A good way to start determining whether someone is in it for profit only is to ask how many litters they raise yearly. How many girls they have for breeding and stud dogs available. A big NO-NO and clear indicator is those who offer an option to be a Guardian Home. This is a loophole for Mill settings to glorify their poor breeding practices by being able to "brag" that they provide their cash cows the opportunity to live a life in a pet home 8 months a year while the other 4 are met with making big profits!

While there are some good breeders that may have more litters than others, they're breeding for health, temperament and the beauty that comes with the constant studying of the English Springer Spaniel Breed Standard (our breeds blueprint) rather than to provide puppies for buyers at the CHEAPEST COST available to them - ie stud dogs at home - stud dog lives with friends or those that have bought dogs from them.

Reputable breeders sometimes use their own dogs, but more often than not reputable breeders are importing semen or sending our girls to the United States to get that breeding that WE are super excited about - because WE want to incorporate exceptional lines and not mediocre ones! 

Ontario English Springer Spaniel Breeder
English Springer Spaniel Breeder Canada

Health Testing

A good breeder puts great emphasis on health testing.  It is crucial that our dogs be tested via OFA or PennHip for at the very least - Hip and Elbow Dysplacia.  
Results for these tests can - and should - be posted on the OFA database and/or be provided to potential puppy buyers when asked.  

Eyes should be CERF tested at 8 weeks of age and then dogs kept in a breeding program should continue with yearly eye exams to rule out any eye issues that may come forward.
Something new that good breeders are starting to test is our dogs hearts.  Its common in a lot of breeds and as a rule, we want to make sure that we are doing our best to produce puppies that are genetically cleared of anything that may affect your dogs quality of life. 

A bad breeder does not emphasize on proper health testing.  They do not follow proper protocol and do not do the necessary testing to be able to guarantee you'll have a healthy pet.  
They may tell you that your puppy's parents have been hip checked by vet and are "good" but even if their vet has checked, they are not certified to give proper grading.  
Eye checks are not completed - ever. 


Click on this OFA Link above to see if your breeder has submitted Films and Genetic testing results to better the breed.  

You can simply type in the Registered Name of the Sire and Dam and see if the OFA has record of their testing.

Unfortunately, a Regular Vet telling a breeder their dogs X-ray Films look good isn't quite good enough!

Ask your breeder about PRA testing. It is a simple cheek swab and can be tested at a very reasonable price! ALL Springers should be tested to verify prior to breeding that PRA Affecteds are not being bred to other PRA Affecteds! Nobody wants their dog going blind afterall.

Epilepsy Deserves It's Own Spot Here

Epilepsy has been a big issue in English Springer Spaniels in the past and is still an issue in some less-than-stellar pedigrees today!

Good breeders risked all and came forward with issues they had with their lines and with that information, those who cared to improve the breed as a whole worked tirelessly to remove dogs from programs that were affected or producing affected dogs.  

With that being said, there are still backyard breeders out there knowingly producing puppies from lines with epilepsy running rampant through.  These same breeders have the nerve to "guarantee" the puppies they sell but when epilepsy rears its ugly head - which generally happens at maturity (age 2) - they inform you that it only covers your beloved dog if they lose their battle to it.  Which means you are now dealing with the emotions of a dog that seizes.  Not knowing when it will happen, the severity, the clusters and whether or not your pet will come out of the next one alive.  

And when they say they "guarantee" your pet, what that means is that you get to take your chances on a REPLACEMENT PUPPY.  It's been described to me as a feeling like your pulling from a "Puppy Lottery", from the same place you got your first hot mess that cost you tens of thousands of dollars on keeping it alive and cared for. 

I've included a link below of what a seizure looks like in dogs - Beware, it's not easy to watch!

Remember, that cost saving puppy you purchase may end up costing you a whole lot more than the puppy you could purchase from a breeder who truly cares about what we're producing, not the income generated ignoring the risks associated!


Cancer is such an ugly word.  Its a dreaded word.  Its often referred to as the "C" word because talking about it brings so much pain and suffering.  

Breeders need to be aware of what they are producing.  They need to keep in touch with puppy owners and when situations arise with young dogs consistently, they need to recognize that there is a problem and acknowledge it instead of blocking it out.  

Cancer happens, absolutely.  However, if you are producing dogs that are ending up with cancer by the age of 2, you have yourself a problem.   


Good breeders understand the importance of a solid temperament on the puppies they're producing to send out into the world.  And they truly care!

We want our dogs to flourish in their respective homes.  We want them to co-exist with their humans happily, as well as with other pets in the home and people that come to visit.  

We understand that some pedigrees work well together and we study and ask questions.  We talk to other quality breeders and know what we have in our own homes.  

Bad breeders don't care.  It's all about the almighty dollar and at the end of the day, the puppy you take home is not their problem any longer.  8 weeks time is what those bad breeders put in and then after that, POOF.  It's your fault when your dog decides one day that it doesn't enjoy your company.  You're to blame when your dog decides that it doesn't like the other dogs in your home.  

With all that being said, it is important to understand that there is a difference between TEMPERAMENT AND BEHAVIOURAL ISSUES


"You get what you pay for" is a term that needs to be reminded to those that think they're saving money when purchasing from a backyard breeder.

Sure, you can buy a puppy from a backyard breeder for the INITIAL LOW COST OF $750 +GST but what you don't realize is that dog is going to need to be seen much more frequently than a dog that you initially spend $2500-$3000 for! 

For ALL of the reasons listed above!  

And just to enlighten you on the +GST part of the cost in case you are not aware.  GST is only charged when your breeder is making over $30000 in a year!  

Those breeders are breeding for income.  It is not a hobby for them, and they do not care about the breed standard set forth by the English Springer Spaniel Club of Canada, the English Springer Spaniel Field Trial Organization nor the FCI standard in Europe. 

False Advertising

Advertising your puppies as CKC Registered and not providing papers to your owners is illegal in Canada.  

It is a Federal Offence as the CKC is Governed by the Animal Pedigree Act.  

I often hear people tell me that they do not care about papers.  But what they don't realize is that your dog is so much more than the papers we provide to you.  

Those papers provide you with ancestry knowledge, health and overall superior quality as compared to a backyard bred dog. 

You may not care about the papers part of your dog, but those papers tell a story.  A story that you may want to know.  A story you may eventually want to share with people that are unaware.  

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