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CDP Definition of an
Ethical Dog Breeder  

1. Provides breeding dogs with a safe, secure, and enriching life 

2. Takes lifetime responsibility for every puppy produced 

3. Prioritizes health and temperament above appearance in breeding choices

4. Has clear goals for outcomes and makes adjustments in their program based on results and feedback

5. Is knowledgeable, always learning about and incorporating best practices for:

  • health testing

  • puppy raising and socialization

  • choosing pairings 

  • veterinary care and husbandry

6. Is honest and transparent in all areas

Code of Ethics for CDP Breeders: 


1. Puppies will be sold only with a written contract signed by both breeder and buyer. The contract must include: 

  • an offer to take back any puppy at any time with no conditions attached 

  • a commitment from the buyer that the puppy shall never be placed in a rescue or shelter of any kind, or be  resold for a profit

  • a commitment from the buyer to provide an indoor home and appropriate vet care, as well as any other conditions deemed appropriate by the breeder

2. Members will behave in a fair, open minded, forgiving, non discriminatory  and reasonable manner toward other breeders, members of the public, potential puppy buyers, and others in the dog community. 


  • No member will engage in online harassment, bullying, or slander, of another person or program. 

  • Puppy sales and other business dealings of members will be conducted in a professional manner and with transparency and honesty. 

3. Members will follow the husbandry standards

Husbandry Standards for CDP Breeders 

  • All dogs, regardless of breeding status should be kept in conditions consistent with their health and mental well being including:

    • Access to routine preventative veterinary care including vaccinations and preventative medications as recommended by a licensed veterinarian

    • Being microchipped and registered to the breeder or guardian 

    • Access to consistent human caregivers who provide physical touch, assessment of health and well being, and individual attention to the animal at least daily. 

    • Access to sufficient exercise to meet the dogs individual needs

    • Sanitary conditions including clean food and water bowls, and an area for toileting separate from sleeping and eating 

    • Access to clean fresh water 

    • An appropriate nutritionally complete diet which provides sufficient calories including extra calories adequate for pregnant and nursing females. 

    • Mental stimulation sufficient to prevent stress related behaviors including access to safe toy and/or chew items 

    • Reasonable protection from accidents including being secured or supervised while outdoors to prevent access to roads

    • Access to emergency vet care as needed especially when pregnant or whelping 

    • Grooming appropriate to their coat type sufficient to prevent significant matting or overgrowth of nails

  • Breeding females during whelping  should be attended by a known and competent attendant, be provided with a safe indoor space isolated from other dogs and an appropriate whelping box, have access to water, and have the ability to move about freely. Except in cases of illness or other complicating factors,  or for the safety of the puppies, dams should have uninterrupted free access to their puppies for at least 4 weeks. 

  • Intact animals should be kept separated as needed to prevent unplanned breedings 

  • Intact males kept separated from females in heat should be protected from extreme stress including refusal to eat or sleep and extended periods of frustration

  • Puppies whelped and/or raised by members should be kept in conditions consistent with their health and well being including:

    • Puppies should be housed in a home environment, meaning in the same indoor dwelling as their human caretakers.  The space in which they are housed should be within earshot of at least one other living space in the home, and have appropriate heat and or air conditioning to maintain comfort of both puppies and dam. Basement areas and garages are unlikely to provide the correct environment. 

    • Puppies should be kept on a soft absorbent surface with traction sufficient to allow them to move about from birth 

    • The use of pig rails is recommended for newborns 

    • Puppies should be provided with a designated toilet area from no later than 3 weeks of age. 

    • Puppies and their enclosure should be kept clean and free of continuous soiling by feces or urine. 

    • Puppies should be monitored for signs of congenital defects, failure to thrive, parasites, or infectious disease. Evidence of such should be treated promptly including the care of a veterinarian if needed to prevent suffering.

    • Puppies should be weaned gradually to solid food. Weaning should be slow enough to prevent suffering of puppies or dam. Natural weaning guided by the dam is strongly encouraged. 

    • Puppies should be provided continuous access to clean water from no later than 4 weeks of age or coinciding with receiving nutrition other than mothers milk 

    • Puppies should be examined by a licensed veterinarian and given all vaccines recommended by such veterinarian  prior to leaving the breeder. Puppy owners should be advised of any health issues noted during the veterinarian exam. 

    • Additional enrichment and socialization of puppies beyond basic requirements is expected - specific methods are left to the individual discretion of the breeder.

Canis lupus familiaris, the domesticated dog, has proven itself to be an indispensable companion to humans throughout thousands of years of history. For most of human history, dogs have lived near or with humans but were  free to move about outdoors. That has changed dramatically in recent years. Most dogs are now confined to fenced yards or walking on leashes.

Unfortunately, the majority of dog breeds were selectively bred for active working roles on farms and other wide open spaces, not for living confined to a modern home. Many dogs specifically bred for companionship roles suffer from
severe health concerns due to dysfunctional or neotenous traits like dwarfism and shortened muzzles, and/or small gene pools that magnify harmful recessive mutations. 

These realities leave educated modern pet seekers struggling to find a good match from a humane source.

CDP is working to improve the number of humanely sourced, healthy, functional, well matched dogs available to people seeking a dog as a pet by supporting excellence in this type of breeding. 

Breeders who choose to join the CDP community make a commitment to the highest standards in the dog world for both the care of animals, and  professional conduct. CDR registered breeding dogs must meet additional requirements for temperament, health, and function. 


Enforcement of  Standards 

The physical and mental wellbeing  of the animals involved in member programs of the CDP is our first priority. Suspected or known violations of ethical standards or breeding requirements should be reported. Substantiated violations that involve willfull neglect or abuse of any animal or person  will result in removal from the CDP and revokation of any CDR registration priveleges.

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