The Reputable Breeder
How to find a Reputable Breeder
The Irresponsible Breeder…
1. Is motivated to breed because it is "fun", "good for kids", "to make money," or "wants to get their 'investment' back from the dog they bought." Doesn't screen buyers and seldom refuses to sell, even if buyer is unsuitable.
2. Breeds family pet or breeding stock to any convenient dog of same breed just to have purebred pups "with papers." Has no concern for, or knowledge of: genetics, bloodlines, animal husbandry, or breed improvement.
3. Has little or no knowledge of Siberian health issues. Though pet may be well loved, it wasn't tested or checked for heritable problems prior to breeding.
4. Offers no health guarantees beyond proof of shots, if that. Unqualified and/or unwilling to give help if problems develop.
5. Seller has little knowledge of breed history or AKC "Standard." May claim that this doesn't matter for "just pets".
6. Pups raised in makeshift accommodations, indicating lack of long-term investment in breeding.
7. Even when selling "just pets", may display AKC "papers" or "championship pedigree" as proof of quality. Yet seller doesn't increase their own knowledge through participation in national or local breed clubs. Doesn't show their breeding stock in shows to "prove" quality, often feeling that dog shows are too expensive or that judges don't know anything. Has no knowledge of ancestors listed on the pedigree, much less their ownership, health status or whereabouts. Or may brag about their "Championship pedigree" but never have shown a dog themselves. Champions several generations back do not reflect in the quality of the puppy in front of you.
9. Prices puppies at low end of local range because they want to move pups quickly at 8 weeks or often younger. Some may be the same or even more than a responsible breeder when bragging about their "Championship Pedigrees" or touting rare colors/markings for the high price.
10. No concern for the future of individual pups or breed as a whole. Doesn't employ AKC's limited registration option nor ask for spay/neuter contract to guard against breeding of substandard pets. If you can't keep the pup, s/he tells you to take it to dog pound or sell it. Or may employ limited registration just to get more money.
The Responsible Hobby Breeder…
1. Is dedicated to producing quality dogs as a serious avocation. Has so much invested in dogs that s/he struggles to break even, rarely making a "profit." Will sell pups only to approved buyers.
2. Can explain how and why the breeding was planned, with emphasis on specific qualities through linebreeding or outcrossing.
3. Has breeding stock x-rayed to check for hip dysplasia and tests for other genetic faults. In siberians ACVO Eye exams. Can produce certification to prove claims.
4. A commitment to replace a dog with genetic faults commonly found in the breed or to help owner deal with problem.
5. Loves the breed and can talk at length about the breed's history, background, uses, and ideal type.
6. Has a serious investment in dog equipment such as puppy pens, crates and grooming tables and knows how to use it.
7. Belongs to and is actively involved with local or national dog clubs which indicates a love for the sport and welfare of dogs as a whole. Exhibits his/her own dogs at dog shows on a regular basis as an objective test of how their stock measures up to The Standard. Can identify ownership and whereabouts of dogs listed on their pedigrees, or has a general knowledge of the kennels that produced them.
9. Prices will be at medium to high end of local range, not cut-rate. Price won't reflect all that is invested in pups.
10. After purchase, will help with grooming or training problems. Will take back pup you can't keep rather than see it disposed of inappropriately. Sells companion quality only with spay/neuter agreement or limited AKC registration.
General things to look for when looking for a puppy...
1. Don't be put off if a breeder isn't immediately responsive. Hobby breeders often have full-time jobs and they don't always have available puppies. Be selective. Find a breeder who is knowledgeable and make sure you're comfortable with them.
2. Pay attention to how the dogs and puppies interact with their breeder. Does the breeder appear to genuinely care for the puppies and their adult dogs? Both dogs and puppies should not shy away from the breeder and should be outgoing with strangers.
3. Find out about the health of your puppy and its parents. Breeders should be honest about the breed's strengths and weaknesses and knowledgeable about the genetic diseases that can affect their breed - including what's being done to avoid them. Breeders should be willing to share proof of health screenings such as OFA and CERF certificates with potential buyers.
4. Establish a good rapport with the breeder. He/she will be an excellent resource and breed mentor for you throughout the life of your puppy. You should be encouraged to call the breeder if your dog has a crisis at any stage of its life.
5. A responsible breeder may ask you to sign a contract indicating that if specified conditions of care are not met or you become unable to keep the puppy, he/she will reclaim it.
6. Don't expect to bring home the puppy until its eight to 12 weeks of age. Puppies need ample time to mature and socialize with its mother and littermates.
7. Breeders should be willing to answer any questions you have and should ask many of you as well. Breeders will want to make sure their puppies are going to good homes, with people who know what to expect and have made all the necessary preparations.
8. A dog show is a great place to find good breeders. You can see some of the breeder’s dogs and, at a benched show, talk to the breeder to see whether he or she might have the dog you are looking for. In general, show breeders know what they’re doing, and their primary concern is in improving the breed.
Ask questions! Here are some questions that can help you weed out the breeders you wouldn’t want to deal with and help you on your way to finding a great dog! Remember that someone who is selling puppies and who doesn’t want to take the time to answer your questions is probably not a breeder you want to deal with. The breeder should be eager to help you learn all you can. After all, they might be sending one of their puppies home with you!
1. ”What is your primary goal in breeding—do you breed primarily for conformation (the physical structure and appearance of the dog and how closely it fits the breed standard) or temperament?”
A good breeder breeds for both. A responsible breeder breeds to eliminate physical traits that can cause health problems for the dog (weak backs or hips, overbites, allergies) and also tries to produce dogs of sound temperament—dogs who are not aggressive, who do not snap or bite out of fear or nervousness, etc.
2. “Why did you breed this particular litter? What are you hoping to accomplish in your breeding program?"
With this question, you can find out a lot about how serious this breeder is and how careful about breeding negative traits out and positive traits in. A breeder who can’t answer these questions is not a breeder you want to deal with.
3. “How long have you been involved with this breed? What can you tell me about the breed’s history, its strong and weak points, and whether it might be right for me?”
Everyone has to start somewhere, so the length of time a breeder has been breeding dogs is not the most important fact to know. But asking this question will help you eliminate the breeder who says this is his first dog and what he knows about the breed is that they’re really cute and fun to be around. Look for someone knowledgeable. Good breeders love to talk about their breed! And in answering this question, a good breeder will ask you questions!
4. “How old are your puppies when you sell them? Will the puppy have had all of the necessary inoculations when we get it?”
Reputable breeders do not release their puppies until they are at least eight weeks old; in some states, it is illegal to sell a puppy before that age. A breeder who is willing to sell you a dog younger than eight weeks old and who says they will tell you what further shots will be necessary either doesn’t know, or doesn’t care, what he or she is doing.
5. “What are the most common health problems with this breed?”
Look for a breeder who will answer questions about health honestly and knowledgeably.
6. “What happens if we buy a puppy from you and it doesn’t work out?”
A good breeder will not only say it’s OK for you to return a puppy that isn’t working out—a good breeder will demand it. Good breeders want to guarantee that their puppies will not end up in kill shelters or wandering along the side of a busy highway.
7. “Do you ask new owners to spay or neuter puppies they buy from you?”
A good breeder understands how difficult breeding a sound dog can be. A good breeder understands the pet overpopulation problem. A good breeder will encourage you to spay or neuter the pup. The breeder breeder may not allow you to even register the pup with the AKC until you have provided proof of the surgery.
8. “What kind of help can we expect from you after we have taken a puppy home?”
Expect a good breeder to be willing to offer advice on housebreaking, obedience training, and dealing with problems after you have bought the puppy. Good breeders care about what happens to the dogs they produce and will want to do whatever they can to ensure that their puppies are doing well in their new homes.
Finally, and perhaps most importantly, a good breeder will ask questions about you. The breeder may want to know whether you have children in the home, how old. Breeders may also ask what kind of home you live in, whether you have a fenced yard—and if not, how you plan to exercise the dog, what your experience with dogs has been, and even why you want a dog and why a dog of this particular breed. Good breeders will also ask for references—they are not about to let one of their pups go home with a stranger about whom they know nothing at all.
A good breeder should also offer you a pedigree for your dog should you ask, so that you can see that the breeding programs that produced your pup have been solid. Saying that the parents are “AKC” is meaningless; AKC registration is no guarantee of sound breeding or the quality of a dog.
Does all of this sound like a lot of work? Well, consider this: The animal you are buying will be a part of your family for as long as 18 years. Its health and personality will have an enormous impact—for the better or for the worse—over that time. It’s more than worth taking some time to find a responsible breeder and to get a great dog!
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