Choosing a Responsible Breeder

Choosing a Responsible Breeder

Postby chelynnah » Thu Nov 27, 2008 4:29 pm

From: WhipPetLisa (Original Message) Sent: 03/09/2003 23:31
Please post all your tips for choosing a responsible breeder in this thread. This thread will be added to our archives section

From: KarenzK9z Sent: 03/09/2003 23:43
If you ask the breeder if the parents have been OFA'd, had their eyes CERF'd, and any other necessary tests that pertain to your breed, and he/she looks at you like you have two heads, KEEP LOOKING. If they just happen to know what these tests are, but say that they don't test for these problems because they've never come up in their lines before, KEEP LOOKING. If they brag about how many litters they've turned out and how many times their bitch(es) have paid for themselves over and over, and what a great money-making business selling puppies is, KEEP LOOKING. If they tell you that they kept the last puppy from the last litter because he/she wouldn't come out from under the house to meet any prospective buyers, so they used that one for breeding, KEEP LOOKING.

From: skeezix123 Sent: 03/09/2003 23:54
Here is my number one tip. Do your homework.

From: WhipPetLisa Sent: 04/09/2003 00:07
One more:

From: SueHop Sent: 04/09/2003 00:21
Talk to the breeders, talk to owners, go to dog shows, check the internet, go visit any and all kennels in your area, read books on the breed. I worked on this a VERY LONG time before I got Gracie.

Be sure you have the right breed for you, your family, and your lifestyle. Don't get a Dalmation because they looked cute in a movie! We don't want ANY MORE of these sweet dogs in rescue than we already have.


From: giddydane Sent: 04/09/2003 02:53
Always ask for PROOF about any health test. Ask for references including their Vet and stay away from the people who cant/wont provide any.

From: chelynnah Sent: 04/09/2003 14:16
Here's some thoughts about what I think makes a good breeder - some of this stuff will come out while chatting with them, some you might have to ask about, but here goes...

Do they ask lost of questions - are they showing concern and interest in you/your family and your situation. If the answer is YES this is a good sign. You want a breeder who takes in interest and is very careful about where they will place their pups. If they aren't all that interested and you get the feeling that once you hand over your money to them they'll be gone - run a mile.

Do they know where most of their previous puppies are? Are they still in touch in some way or another (even an annual Christmas card) with their puppy owners? THIS is definitely the type of breeder you want - they will support you in whatever venue you choose, they will help you with concerns etc. A breeder who will be availalbe to you is priceless.

Are they happy for you to question them or are they acting funny? A good breeder invites questions and actually would be worried if you didn't have any.

Do you have the opportunity to see mom with the pups - and perhaps other dogs/pups in the house and how they all interact with each other. I know this isn't always possible if you live several hundred miles away, but is the opportunity there if you could. If you DO live too far away, would they let someone you trust come and visit on your behalf.

Is there a contract? Do you understand it? Do you think what it contains is reasonable? If a co-ownership are you sure of what each person's responsiblity is in that ownership. If yes - again - a good breeder.

I'm sure I'll think of more later - these were just some things that came to mind.

If you go to a breeder and there are several litters there of varying ages and/or varying breeds be very careful! I do know that occasionally a planned litter is already on the way when the 'older' bitch comes in season and they wanted to breed her that last time, so it's not a bad thing to have more than one litter on the ground, but how does it 'feel' to you. If there's too many pups of varying ages, and/or breeds, then very likely they are a backyard breeder or a puppy mill.


From: coasterwiggs Sent: 04/09/2003 14:58
I'm glad to see this topic. On our local news last night a house was raided that was breeding poodles in horrific conditions. All the dogs were confiscated and a rescue group is assisting in their care. The TV crew filmed the inside of this house and it was beyond belief. It's hard to believe people can treat animals this way. The homeowners had the nerve to try to defend themselves, but the TV crew wasn't buying their excuses. They should be jailed for the condition of those poor poodles.

From: chelynnah Sent: 20/12/2003 20:57
Sharyn & Walt Hutchens of Timberblue wrote this on their Petdogs-L list and it either is, or will be on their website. I asked Sharyn if I could post it here and she was more than happy for it to be shared here.... It's an excellent article on choosing a breeder.


Breeder Traffic Lights

Everybody knows you should get your puppy from "a good breeder." But how can you tell? It may seem hard, or even impossible, but because raising good puppies makes some very specific demands, there are signs -- we call them traffic lights -- that the careful adopter can spot.

A good breeder will have all or most of the green lights from the list below, few or no yellow lights, and no red lights. Some of these may show up in advertisements, others are things you can check on the telephone, by email, or during a visit.

Red Lights -- Avoid This Breeder!

1. Breeder advertises "Puppies always available."
That means lots of litters per year. If a puppy is to have the best chance to be happy in your home, he must be hand-raised with lots of attention and love in a home setting. It's impossible to do that with more than about two or three litters per year and many good breeders limit themselves to one.

2. Any sign that the whole deal can be completed with one phone call or email.
A good breeder spends plenty of time talking to you, not only about her puppies, but about the breed in general, your home, and whether this is the right breed for you. Most require a written application.

3. Credit cards accepted. Good breeders are small volume - - they can't afford to take credit cards, unless they run it through another business, such as a pet supplies store, grooming shop, etc.

4. Advertising oddball or specialized varieties.
Rare longhaired whippets, Warlock or white Dobermans, teacup chihuahuas, rare parti-colored poodles, extreme large or big boned dogs. Purebreds must meet a breed standard. If a breeder isn't following the standard on size, coat, etc., how do you know what other oddities there may be? Because these 'improvements' are often done by mixing in other breeds, the advertised animals may not even be purebred.

Before contacting any breeder, you should read the breed standard and know what it says about color, size, and so on. Many kinds of unintended faults are okay for a pet. 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 ears -- that's a fault."

Light colored eyes are a fault in whippets but they don't cause any health problems--it's strictly cosmetic. However, in some breeds (not whippets), white coat color is a fault that can be associated with severe health problems. Read your breed standard at the AKC web site and be sure you understand any breed standard fault in a puppy you're considering buying.

5. Offers of stud service to the public, breeding pairs, or a contract that does not require spaying/neutering if the puppy is intact when sold.
Good breeders are stewards of their breeds. This means they are very careful with their bloodlines. They do not offer service or sell breeding animals to anyone who has not made an extensive study of and commitment to the breed.

6. in America, dogs registered with any registry other than the American Kennel Club (AKC), United Kennel Club (UKC) or (for Canadians) the Canadian Kennel Club. In other countries, find out what your "official" national registry is and stick with that.
These reputable registries exist to keep the pedigrees of purebred dogs, so that if you pay for a purebred you can be sure you actually get a purebred. As registry standards have been tightened, however, breeders who breed carelessly or sell mixes as purebreds have established several registries with no standards at all. Saying a dog is registered with, say, the Dog Registry of America means "I mailed in his name and $15." Many of these registries are happy to register mixed breeds as well.

So 'registered' by itself is meaningless and the same is true of 'pedigreed.' A pedigree is just a family tree, and every dog has one simply because he has parents and grandparents.

7. Puppies for Christmas.
Major holidays usually mean lots of confusion and just going to a new home is plenty of stress. Good breeders know that Christmas is the worst time to take a puppy home if you have children, and most won't even sell you a puppy as a Christmas gift. Some may allow you to take a puppy home at that time if you can convince them that you'll keep things calm.

8. Puppies advertised as available at a public place like a flea market or shopping mall.
The only humane way to sell a puppy is with an interview and plenty of time to talk about your new family member, ask questions, and get answers. The poor little fellows sold at flea markets and other public places are handed to the first person who shows up with cash or a credit card, whether or not that person will be a suitable home. Never buy from these places even just because you feel sorry for the puppy. For every one bought, another litter is bred. The only way to stop this horrible practice is to boycott flea markets and pet stores where puppies are sold...and let management know why you're staying away!

Yellow Lights -- Get more information! There are exceptions to most everything, and a good breeder could certainly have one or two of these. But ask more questions if it doesn't feel right.

1. State licensed
Few localities require any sort of license for a small scale breeder. Even if a license is required, it has nothing to do with puppy quality. So why is the breeder saying this?

2. "We ship anywhere."
Some good breeders will ship your puppy. Most prefer that you pick him up if at all possible. That's much less stressful and dangerous for him and most breeders want to meet you face to face. *Advertising* shipping often indicates more interest in making sales than in finding good homes.

3. "We'll meet you at the rest stop."
Some kennels really are hard to find, but anyone can take directions. But often this just means "We'd rather you not see our kennel." A puppy from a dirty kennel is very likely to have parasites and/or other communicable illness. Corners probably have been cut on other breeding practices.

4. "I'm sorry but the mother is (at the groomer, at a dog show, at the vet...) so you won't be able to meet her."
Offer to come back when she's available and if you can't make arrangements, look elsewhere for a puppy. Mom's influence makes up for about 75% of your puppy's temperament, and if you don't like her, you don't want her pup.

5. Offers to sell puppies that are less than eight weeks old.
Puppies need to be with mom and their siblings for eight weeks or more in order to learn skills that are near impossible for humans to teach. You can consider buying a puppy from this breeder (if other lights are okay) but do not take your puppy home before he's eight weeks old. Some breeds mature more slowly so these puppies should stay with mom at least another week or two.

Puppies must be exposed to humans regularly before 12 weeks of age, and that's a big part of the breeder's job. A puppy that has this contact but has stayed with his litter at least eight weeks will easily bond to your family at any age.

6. 'Easy payment plans.'
Payments are usually way too much trouble and risk for the small breeder. She's already sunk a lot of her own money into this litter, and most breeders are not wealthy. A good breeder doesn't want you to buy a dog you can't afford. If you can't pay for the dog, how will you pay for vet care?

7. Special deals that require you to allow the breeding of a litter from your pet.
Breeders that do this are often puppy mills by another name and if so, you don't want to be involved. A good breeder sometimes will sell a male puppy and ask that you not neuter him without permission, in case they need him as backup to their bloodline.

Green Lights -- This looks like a good breeder!

1. A list of specific health checks done before breeding and/or on puppies before selling.
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. 'Vet checked' is too general -- that statement is a yellow light, particularly if given as the answer to "What health checks do you do?"

2. A lifetime takeback guarantee with a requirement 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 tiny pen in some friend of a friend's backyard.

3. A detailed written (or on-line) application required.
Good breeders put too much work into their puppies to sell them to just anyone, and they have learned by experience what kinds of home are likely to work out and which ones probably will not. Most, but not all, require a written application.

4. The breeder makes sure you know the breed's drawbacks and any special breed requirements.
If a breed such as drools a lot, is hard to housebreak, does not live long, or may instinctively chase and kill small animals, a good breeder makes sure you understand those characteristics. If your dog must be kept as an indoor dog, must always be leashed or fenced, requires lots of grooming, or is subject to heatstroke, a responsible breeder tells you these things upfront. If a breeder starts to sound like a used-car salesman, telling you only the good things and she refuses to talk about the bad ones, find another breeder.

5. A written contract with specific requirements and guarantees.
But watch out for 'nutcase' contracts -- for example, specific feeding instructions or you forfeit the dog, no annual vaccinations regardless of veterinary advice, etc. This may sometimes be a good breeder but is likely to be way more trouble than you want. In special situations good breeders may offer a co-ownership but we advise against doing this unless you're very experienced. Though a breeder who cares about her puppies will encourage you to keep in touch, a breeder who cannot let go of control can be very difficult.

6. A written health record for your puppy.
This should include the date of whelping, any health problems he 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 needs.

Sharyn & Walt Hutchens
Timbreblue Whippets ~
Lexington, VA ~ Rescues sometimes
Dog Questions?

From: Codywhippet Sent: 20/12/2003 21:17
Start with the national club for breeder referrals.....after you have done your homework. for whippets I used the American Whippet Club

From: HaleyWhippet Sent: 21/12/2003 00:47
This is on our Longview Kennel Club site

Did you know that a healthy puppy can live 15 years or more depending on the breed?

Did you know that an unhealthy puppy can cost you many times the purchase price in veterinary fees?

Here are some questions to ask a breeder about his puppies. A good, reputable, responsible breeder will be more than happy to answer them.
It is your right, as a purchaser, to ask QUESTIONS and GET ANSWERS.
You can print a text version of this page to take along with you.

1. How old is this puppy?

2. How long have you been breeding this breed of dog?

3. What are some traits of this breed? Are they active? Are they a good family dog?

4. How old is the mother of this puppy?

5. How many litters has she produced?

6. How many litters do you produce each year?

7. Are you involved in a breed club for this breed?

8. Are you involved in breed rescue for this breed

9. Where do your dogs live? In the house or in a kennel?

10. Can I meet the sire and dam to this puppy?

11. If you don't have the sire, can I contact the owners?

12. Have these puppies been socialized? Have they been handled by people?

13. Do you have references from your vet, groomer, or people who have purchased puppies from you?

14. What health guarantee do you offer with this puppy?

15. What health problems are common in this breed?

16. Have the sire and dam been checked and certified free of breed specific problems? Are they certified free of hip dysplasia?

17. Are the sire and dam registered with a kennel club? With which club?

18. Have the sire and dam been shown and, if so, do they have titles?


1. Puppies need to be with their dams and littermates long enough to develop good social skills and immunities to diseases. From their littermates, they learn bite inhibition, acceptable toilet habits and how to interact with others. Puppies do not begin to develop immunities until they are about 8-9 weeks old. It does not matter when you VACCINATE, it matters when the puppy's system is DEVELOPED.

2. The breeder may not have sufficient experience with this breed to answer breed questions.

3. Some breeds require extreme activites and exercise to keep them happy and prevent destructive behavior. Some breeds are notorious for being "one-man-dogs". Some breeds were developed to live with sheep or cattle and do NOT make good house pets.

4. A female should not be bred before its second "heat", about one year of age in small dogs. Some breeds (bassets, bulldogs, ridgebacks--for a few) mature slowly and should not be bred until the females are two years old. This is a real biggie with basset breeders. Giant breeds such as wolfhounds and St. Bernards are generally not bred until they are 2-1/2 - 3 years old.

5. Responsible breeders only breed their females once a year or twice in three years.

6. A breeder who produces more than two litters per year should be suspect, even if he has many females.

7. If the breeder is actively interested in improving this breed, he will belong to at least one breed club.

8. Most responsible breeders are quick to take in rescues and NEUTER or SPAY them.

9. Most responsible breeders have kennels but their dogs are parts of the family and live in the house. Puppies especially need to be with people when they are developing their social skills, from birth to 10 weeks.

10. Does the mother look like the breed she is supposed to be? Does the father? Are they friendly? Healthy? Some females lose some hair during and shortly after pregancy but should look healthy otherwise.

11. The owner of the sire should be more than happy to hear from you.

12. Puppies should have been handled by at least 7 people by the time they are ready to go home (see the "Rules of Sevens"). The owners count as ONE person, the vet, and 5 strangers. You don't count as one of the strangers.

13. The veterinarian will be more than happy to write letter of recommendation if he truly believes this breeder is responsible and the animals are healthy. Groomers are not necessary with all breeds. Satisfied purchasers will also supply those letters.

14. If the breeder is sure that puppy is healthy, he should offer a written guarantee to replace the puppy within a specific amount of time. Some offer the guarantee for 6 months, some for the expected lifetime of the dog.

15. Some breeds have specific problems associated with their physical attributes. You can check for web sites that are devoted to your breed or check the GUIDE TO CONGENITAL AND HERITABLE DISORDERS IN DOGS.

16. There are several certification programs available and if there is a problem, the parents should be certified to be free of them.

17. There are many clubs with which dogs can be registered. In the US, the largest is the American Kennel Club (AKC) followed by the United Kennel Club. If you plan to show your dog in AKC shows, the dog must be registered with the AKC or one of its recognized sister clubs.

18. Not all champion dogs come from champion parents and not all champion parents produce champion offspring. If the breeder is a responsible one, either parents or grandparents will have championship titles. Conformation shows are held to judge breeding stock. If the parent has competed in shows and has received no points, find out why not.

From: KarenzK9z Sent: 22/12/2003 02:46
Something I feel should be stressed VERY much is a written contract, understood and signed by bother parties. Each party should have a copy of this contract. It can save untold misery and disputes in the future, as some people "remember" things differently than others. It's often a very good idea to have a third person, impartial if possible, witness the signing of the contract, and hear with his/her own ears what the terms are. Our Sheltie breeders have wonderful, clear, explicit contracts; we couldn't be happier with them. When we've left their house with a puppy, we know exactly what is expected of us, and exactly what is expected of them. Saves a LOT of grief, though, thank God, they are wonderful people, and have never given us a moment's trouble.
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