Canine Care Certified establishes extensive, science-based standards for breeders to ensure a higher, documented quality of care for dogs and puppies. Canine Care Certified is wholly administered by Purdue University.
The program was developed at the request of a small group of breeders that wished to have uniform, nationwide, and voluntary standards that considered physical and behavioral welfare of dogs and puppies raised by breeders. The certification program is based on standards developed and led by Dr. Candace Croney, Ph.D. at Purdue University in 2013.
Consumers and pet owners can be assured that dogs and puppies raised under the program by certified breeders are cared for under stringent standards.
“It was important for us to participate in Canine Care Certified because we are committed to always raising the bar and improving the lives of dogs. Through our participation in the program, we have improved our documentation practices, enhanced public perception and awareness about responsible dog breeding, and highlighted our dedication to ensuring dogs are well cared for.
This has been a heartwarming and comforting process for the new pet families we are working with daily. They don’t have to assume anything about how the dog was raised. It’s laid out for them in the standards. They understand and can see, through our certification, our sincere desire to always raise the bar.
It is my hope that the pet community knows that this is a voluntary program that is backed by science."
-Terry Buening, Canine Care Certified Breeder (My PawPaws Puppies)
Frequently Asked Questions
Why were these standards developed/needed?
The Standards of Care were developed in 2013 by recognized academic and practicing animal science, and veterinary medicine leaders in canine welfare and led by Dr. Candace Croney, Ph.D. at Purdue University. The standards are the foundation for Canine Care Certified which ensures a higher documented quality of care for dogs and puppies raised by breeders.
The program was developed at the request of a small group of breeders that desired to have uniform voluntary standards that considered physical and behavioral welfare of dogs and puppies raised by breeders. Certifying breeders’ care practices provides an added measure of assurance to consumers and pet owners that dogs and puppies raised under the program are cared for under stringent standards.
Who runs Canine Care Certified?
As of 2019, Canine Care Certified is wholly administered by Purdue University.
All questions regarding communication and management of breeder participation in the certification program should be directed to email@example.com.
How do I view the full Standards of Care?
Breeders who are interested in becoming Canine Care Certified have the option to view the complete Standards of Care (PDF) prior to moving forward with the application process for certification. To request the password to view standards of care, please email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Who is doing the audits?
Purdue University offers the Canine Care Certified program as developed by Dr. Candace Croney, Ph.D. However, in keeping with best practice in objective, credible, animal welfare assurance, Purdue does not conduct audits. Rather, audits must be completed by our designated independent third-party in order to obtain certification.
For this reason, we have selected a highly reputable independent certification company with a long history of, and expertise in, animal welfare and on-premises auditing to partner with us. Our auditing partner, Validus, is nationally recognized and is an independent certification company using proprietary assessments and audits based on the Standards of Care that are the basis of our certification program.
How will the certification process work?
Interested breeders are asked to sign-up for the program on the website to begin the certification process. They will then submit the application and required documentation before an independent audit with Validus can be scheduled. Upon completion of the audit, the breeder will either receive certification and supporting materials or they will be have the opportunity to address any outstanding issues needed to become certified.
How often will the audits occur?
Validus is continually training third-party auditors to assess compliance with our comprehensive standards. Re-audits for participating breeders will occur every 16 months.
How do I sign up to be certified?
Breeders can create an account at any time on the website to begin the process of certification. Those breeders without access to computers may contact us to submit documentation for the application process. (Please note: only participating breeders will receive the full Standards of Care.) Our team is available to help answer any questions along the way. Email us at email@example.com.
How soon can I be audited?
Breeders can create an account through the website and begin the certification process at any time. Following the submission of required documentation, Validus will deploy trained auditors based on a number of factors including access, geographic location and other considerations.
It’s important to understand that these are rigorous standards, and some breeders may need extra time and assistance to successfully complete their first audit. Because we are committed to helping breeders raise their standards of care for dogs, we will work to help them meet the standards for certification.
How will you determine or prioritize what breeders are audited and when?
Attempts will be made to complete audits in the order in which applications are obtained. However, audits also will be scheduled in a manner that allows for the maximum number of site visits within a local area as to reduce auditor costs.
Can I say I’m certified if I’m already doing what is required?
No. Only breeders who have been audited through the Canine Care Certified program and have successfully demonstrated compliance with all standards may claim certification. The program is copyrighted and trademarked and may only be used by participating and audited breeders who have completed all program requirements and received documentation of certification.
If I already meet the standards in a self-evaluation of my operations, can I be automatically certified?
No. Breeders wishing to be certified under Canine Care Certified must participate in the third-party audit of their operations before they can be certified. Only the independent auditors may certify a breeding operation, and only upon successful completion of an audit will breeders officially become Canine Care Certified. Breeders cannot use the program seal without the corresponding audit participation and signed certificate from Validus.
If I do not pass my audit and obtain certification, what do I do?
At the completion of a successful audit process, Validus will provide a certificate to breeders who have completed a detailed assessment and audit of their practices. A breeder that has not passed the Canine Care Certified third-party audit will be provided with an improvement plan by Validus. Breeders will not receive certification until all standards are met.
What is the relationship between these standards and USDA licensing?
There is no relationship between the Canine Care Certified program and USDA licensing. Professional breeders must continue to comply with all applicable state and federal licensing whether they choose to participate in Canine Care Certified or not. The Canine Care Certified logo, however, gives consumers an added measure of assurance or “seal of approval” from an independent animal welfare verification process.
What is the role of the funders from the pet industry?
All initial program funding came from members of the pet industries (see About Us). To avoid any conflict of interest, these funders had no involvement, direct or indirect, in the development of the standards or the certification process performed by Validus. No public funding of any kind was solicited or used as part of the research or development of the standards.
What if consumers can’t find a certified breeder?
We recognize that it will take time for breeders to become certified and communicate their status to the public. Consumers can ask their breeder if they are or plan to become certified, and they can inquire with pet stores about their relationships with certified breeders. Anyone engaging with a professional breeder and considering a dog or puppy should at minimum ask questions about the animal’s care, housing, nutrition, health record, behavior, and genetic screening practices.
Who paid for the university-based research that has led to these standards?
All initial funding came from the World Pet Association and the Pet Food Institute. Recent research funding has been provided by the Stanton Foundation (see About Us). To avoid any conflict of interest, funders have no involvement, direct or indirect, in the development of the standards or in the design, conduct or reporting of the research.
Are breeders forced to comply with these standards?
Canine Care Certified is a 100 percent voluntary program. However, breeders who choose to become certified must follow the standards in order to obtain and maintain certified status.
What are the benefits of certification?
For consumers, the designation indicates that puppies and dogs that are raised by a Canine Care Certified breeder are raised under an independently audited program that ensures that specific health and welfare standards have been met. The program provides an added measure of assurance that certified breeders are attending to their dogs’ physical, genetic, and behavioral health, and are committed to continuously raising the bar on the standard of care and attention they offer to their dogs. For breeders, participation in the program allows them to differentiate themselves on their commitment to, and investment in, canine welfare. This also helps to build trust with customers with shared values about the need to improve the overall well-being of dogs.
Please download and view our appendix to view supplemental information for each of the chapters in our Canine Care Certified Breeder’s Manual. Topics covered include food and water, housing, healthcare, genetic selection, puppies, behavior wellness and more.