This is a rather uncomfortable subject to take on, but my husband and I have been involved in professional dog breeding and AKC exhibiting of Labradors for the last four decades, along with our local dog club, involvement in consulting on dog legislation with our local Representative, and several dog clubs.
During that time, since we breed labradors, we really never went through a ‘recession’ and we’ve had people travel from all over the country to get our pups. One of the uncomfortable things that I have both observed and gotten proof of from our state, is that there are more (shockingly high!) amounts of people applying for kennel licenses than ever before. It seems that a lot of people see dollar signs but don’t understand breeding to a standard of quality and consistency with health clearances and temperament. They see a way to make a buck and pay off a credit card. Once people start kennels for purely financial reasons, I know for a fact that the dogs suffer, and so do the potential buyers. Our state dog clubs have confirmed that an ALARMING amount of kennel licenses have been applied for since 2021. As the recession has built, they have increased exponentially.
I would encourage you, if you’re cruising the Internet looking for a puppy, to be sure to ask the breeder how long they’ve been exhibiting and breeding that breed and also ask them specific questions about the breed to see what their knowledge is. Ask if they show their dogs (this keeps them accountable to AKC judges and exhibitors), and if they belong to a local AKC kennel club (giving them local accountability). Ask them about a health guarantee, those are rare these days and people are happy to take your money and then cry poor when something goes wrong. Be sure to ask for the health guarantee and also their policy about what they do should you run into issues with a puppy, God forbid. So many breeders I know are just not giving guarantees anymore. Nothing. You have to wonder why. Some won’t even take the pup back.
The best qualifying question for a breeder is “Why do you breed the breed you breed?” If they answer anything other than, “I am improving the AKC breed standard of this breed and have dedicated my life to it” then you may want to look further for a breeder with more history and understanding of the breed so they can help you in the future and give you recommendations that are specific to your breed throughout your dog’s lifetime.
Be sure your breeder or kennel has a kennel license and can give you the NUMBER. If not, they are not inspected and may have unsanitary or inhumane conditions–this means the state inspects them regularly and makes sure they are operating at the optimal standards.