Twelve Points to
Identifying a Quality Breeder:
"There are three types of 'pet providers' who stand
behind their animals for life:
good shelters, good rescue groups and TRUE Quality Breeders."
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healthy, well socialized puppies is difficult work with very specific demands.
Quality Breeders care about the animals they produce -- see
Breeders With Pride:
Responsible Breeders Speak Out for some insight into responsible pet
the responsibility of finding and buying a great pet depends on
YOU--before contacting any breeder, do your homework! Read
the breed standard to learn all the important points about color, size, and
traits of the breed. Two good resource for photos and brief descriptions are
Recognized Breeds Listing and the
UKC Breed Information
section. To round out your research, do a search for the specific breed(s)
that interest you using an Internet search engine or your public library.
(Hint: there is a rescue for every breed of dog in the US. Breed rescue
websites frequently have pages devoted to frank discussions of breed
following list contains guidelines to help an informed buyer find a caring,
Quality Breeder. If a breeder does not meet the following "Twelve Points
to Identifying a Quality Breeder"
A Quality Breeder will provide a list of specific health checks
done on adult dogs before they are bred and/or on the puppies before selling
them. Examples might be CERF (eye), OFA (hips, heart), thyroid
tests, von Willebrands Disease (blood clotting) and BAER (hearing) as
appropriate to the breed. You must know which problems are likely to occur in
your breed and what checks should be done. That is why researching the breeds
that interest you is SO important.
If the breeder or ads simply say "Vet checked,"
BEWARE. This statement is too general.
A Quality Breeder will provide a lifetime "take
back" guarantee and will require that you return the dog or get approval
for a new home if you cannot keep him. Good breeders do
everything in their power to prevent their puppies from winding up in an animal
shelter or a pen in some friend of a friend's backyard. A Quality Breeder will
require that if you must ever give up the dog, he / she MUST go back to the
breeder or to a new home the breeder has screened.
WARNING: Don't just take the breeder's word on
get a "take back" clause in writing.
A Quality Breeder will require a written (or on-line)
application from you; he/she will also provide you with a list of references
(people who have purchased dogs from him/her) and encourage you to check
him/her out, as well. Good breeders put a tremendous amount of
work into their dogs. They care deeply about their animals, are justifiably
proud of them, and will not sell to "just anyone." Experience has
taught them what kind of homes are likely to be the very best for the dogs they
have produced. They will require a written application and will screen YOU to
make sure you have the proper home, lifestyle and finances to properly care for
your new puppy. At the same time, they welcome your questions.
WARNING: A breeder that will sell a dog to you without getting
an application and references from you does not care about you or the animals.
Don't deal with a breeder who cannot or will not give you references.
A Quality Breeder makes sure you know the breed's temperament
and needs. All breeds have special characteristics. If the
breed you're considering drools a lot, is hard to housebreak, has a high
"prey drive" or isn't good around small children, for example, a good
breeder makes sure you understand those traits of the breed. If your dog must
be kept as an indoor dog, must always be leashed or fenced, requires lots of
grooming, a responsible breeder tells you these things upfront.
Many kinds of
breed "faults" are okay for a pet. To a Quality Breeder, a
"fault" is a trait that is not exactly to breed standard. For
example, the breeder might say "This puppy is going to be oversized, so we
won't be able to show him," or "Look at the way he carries his tail
-- that's a fault." This is the sign of an honest breeder who wants you to
know the specifics of breed and the puppies he/she is selling.
WARNING: If a
breeder starts to sound like a used-car salesman, telling you only the good
things about the dogs and refusing to talk about the bad ones, or is
misrepresenting breed faults as "rare" or desirable characteristics,
find another breeder.
A Quality Breeder will provide a written contract with specific
requirements and guarantees for both the seller/breeder and the buyer.
Your signature on a well-written contract with health
guarantees, a spay/neuter requirement for "pet quality puppies," and
specific recommendations for care and training is always required
by quality breeders when you buy a puppy.
WARNING: If the
breeder guarantees health for a short period of time , such as a few days or
weeks. then you are NOT dealing with a Quality Breeder. Also, steer clear of
breeders who want you to allow your puppy to be used as "breeding
stock" at a later date.
A Quality Breeder will provide a written health record for your
puppy. This should include the date of whelping, any health
problems he has had, the date and kind of each shot he got, and the dates of
worming and drug that was used. Your vet will want this information and having
it in writing makes it much more likely that your puppy has gotten the care he
WARNING: If the
breeder just writes some information on a scrap of paper off the top of his/her
head, the record is NOT accurate and may not even be real.
A Quality Breeder carefully plans and "pre-sells"
each litter. You will need to be patient and wait for your
puppy. Quality Breeders usually breed only when they have enough qualified
buyers for the number of puppies likely to be produced from a breeding. You
will most likely be put on a waiting list if the breeder feels you are
qualified to purchase one of the pups.
WARNING: If you are
not patient and want to rush out and get a puppy, any puppy, you will most
likely end up with a puppy mill or backyard-bred dog.
A Quality Breeder will invite you to his/her home or place of
business. You will have an opportunity to meet the parents of
the puppy and observe the conditions in which the animals are kept. The
atmosphere should be clean, warm, healthy and friendly.
WARNING: Never meet
a breeder in a parking lot, a park, a rest stop, etc. to "make the
deal." Quality Breeders DO NOT operate this way.
A Quality Breeder specializes and will only offer one (or
possibly two) breeds of dogs. It takes a lot to get to know a
breed and the dogs' heritage, needs, requirements, temperament and health.
Quality Breeders take this work very seriously. It is very difficult for one
person to be a "specialist" in many breeds.
millers and back yard breeders will breed any animals they think will
"sell." They often breed more than one breed and may even be dealing
in more than one species (cats and dogs, for example, or even cats, dogs, and
A Quality Breeder will socialize the puppies.
The pups will be accustomed to people and a home environment.
Be very wary of puppies that are kept in isolated environments away
from people and normal experiences they would have once they "go
home" with you. Isolated puppies will probably not be socialized.
A Quality Breeder will NEVER allow you to take a puppy before
it is AT LEAST 8 weeks old. The puppy's age should be verified
on well-kept records provided by the breeder. A good breeder knows that a puppy
learns many of its "life skills" from his/her mom and litter mates in
the very early stages of life. The difference between a well adjusted, social
puppy and a fearful biter can be determined by a few additional weeks spent in
the security of the litter.
Backyard Breeders and Puppy Millers see their animals as a "cash
crop;" they want to get the money in their hands as soon as possible and
will sell dogs long before they should be leaving their litters. Studies have
shown that dogs taken from their litters too early are more susceptible to
behavior and health problems.
A Quality Breeder will be accessible. He or
she will give you his/her phone number, email address and other contact
information. Quality Breeders will invite you to call them if you have any
questions or problems with your puppy. They will return your calls when you
leave a message. You will know where they live and have visited the place where
the adults and puppies live.
If the breeder is difficult to find or is elusive about his/her
operation, location or contact information DO NOT buy from him/her. You need to
have a breeder who will be available should you have questions or problems. Go
and click on the Reverse Lookup tab. Type in the breeder's phone number. If it
comes up as unlisted or not available BEWARE. This may be a breeder who is
trying to "hide." This is not a sign of a Quality Breeder. Quality
Breeders have nothing to hide.
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Identifying a Quality Breeder Breeders
With Pride: Responsible Breeders Speak
Your New Best Friend Guide to Finding a
Pet Red Flags: Disreputable
What Does Breed Registration Really Mean?
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Article Copyright © 2005,
by Eilene Ribbens Rohde. All Rights Reserved. Used with permission.
"Nikki" photo Copyright © 2005, by Pat Crean,
Photography. All Rights Reserved. Used with permission.
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