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 Library of Breed Standards. 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 characteristics.)
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"
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
WARNING: 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 this
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
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.
WARNING: Puppy 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 birds).
A Quality Breeder will socialize the puppies.
The pups will be accustomed to people and a home environment.
WARNING: 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.
WARNING: 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.
WARNING: 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 to
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.
Finding Your New Best
Before You Buy or Adopt Guide
to Finding a Pet Red Flags: Disreputable
Identifying a Quality Breeder Breeders
With Pride: Responsible Breeders Speak Out
DATCP: Essential Questions to Ask Before Buying a Dog or Puppy
(pdf) DATCP: Puppy Shopping
DATCP: Shopping for a Puppy DATCP: WI Licensed Dog Sellers
Listing DATCP: Information for Consumers
HOW TO FILE A
COMPLAINT Against a Dog Seller in Wisconsin
What Does Breed
Registration Really Mean? Rehoming: Free To Good
Nikki is a healthy, energetic, good-natured pup from a
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Article Copyright © 2005,
by Eilene Ribbens. All Rights Reserved. Used with permission.
"Nikki" photo Copyright © 2005, by Pat Crean,
Photography. All Rights Reserved. Used with permission.
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