You’ve already made two big decisions: 1) To add a dog to your family and 2) The breed of dog. The next important step is selecting a breeder.With thousands of breeders to choose from, it’s hard to know where to start, but by taking the time to do research and to find a quality breeder, you help ensure that your new family member will be a healthy and happy addition to your home.
Before visiting breeders, a stop to a local SPCA or other humane organization might surprise you. Thousands of purebred animals are surrendered to shelters each year, and all are in need of a loving home. If you prefer to go through a breeder, then be sure to choose wisely.
A good first stop is the American Kennel Club’s website, www.akc.org. There is information about every breed of dog that is recognized by the group, as well as information on reputable breeders and breed specific rescue groups.This is a good jumping off point for your puppy search, but is by no means the only way to find a good breeder.
High quality breeders may choose to advertise in any number of mediums. They may take an ad in the local paper, hang fliers or work solely by word of mouth. Unfortunately, not-so-savory dog breeders also use these methods of advertising. So how can you be sure you are getting your pet from a good breeder?
There are several qualities that EVERY reputable breeder will have in common. Here are some things to look for when searching for a breeder.
Veterinary and Other References
A quality breeder is going to have an established relationship with a local veterinarian. Talk to that vet, and make sure that all dogs owned by the breeder are up to date on shots.
Also, call past customers who are willing to vouch for the business practices of the breeder. If any references, such as from a state or national breed club, are offered, follow up with those as well.
Treatment and Condition of the Dogs
A high quality breeder will not have her dogs living in dirty, cramped, outdoor kennels.Rather, her dogs will live inside with the family. When you spend time with the dogs, they will appear happy and healthy. They will not be terrified of outsiders, and they will allow you to pet them.
The areas where the dogs spend most of their time should be clean, and fresh water and a high quality food should be available.
Under no circumstances should you buy a dog from a breeder that you have not visited personally. No reputable breeder is going to have a problem showing you where the dogs live, what type of food they eat and how they interact with outsiders. In fact, many breeders will require multiple visits before agreeing to sell you a dog. If a breeder will not allow this then move on to another breeder.
Written Contracts and Health Guarantee
A breeder should offer both a contract and a health guarantee. The contract should protect the best interests of the puppy as well as the buyer. It should require that the dog be spayed or neutered (unless it is to be a show dog), and should state that if the buyer cannot keep the dog for any reason that it must be returned to the breeder.
All quality breeders will offer both of these documents.
Puppies for Sale (but not every breed and not all the time)
A breeder should not have puppies available at all times. Rather, they should be making a list of interested buyers, doing some screening of their own and then calling the buyers they are interested in when puppies become available.
Also, breeders should not offer several breeds of dogs. Instead, they should focus on one or two breeds. They should be very well versed about breed standards and belong to breed clubs on a local, state or national level.
The breeder should be able to answer all of your questions about the breed, and should offer information on the potential future health problems the dog may have.
A good breeder is going to be as careful about selecting a buyer as you should be about selecting a breeder. Below are some items that the breeder should require of each buyer. If they don’t, it should raise a red flag.
- They should ask for a letter from your landlord or housing authority stating that you are allowed to have dogs.
- The breeder may want to visit your home to see where the puppy will be spending most of his time.
- They should require that every family member (including other pets) spend time with the new puppy before agreeing to sell to you.
- If you have other pets, they should require a reference from your current vet.
Adding a new furry friend to your family is a big step, and requires a commitment of up to 20 years. By using a high quality breeder, you help ensure that the pet will be your loving companion for many wonderful years.