You are adding a new member to your family for the next 10 or more years. Now is not the time to bargain hunt. Prepare to spend at least $1000-$1500. We have all heard the term “backyard breeder” and you may have known someone who has had good luck. Key word “luck”. You just don't know what you are getting. They probably don't know what they are breeding, just that they can. Where you might think you are saving money going with a backyard breeder, may likely end up with a great deal more spent in future on vet bills and heartache. Why take the chance?
Don't avoid show lines because you don't want a show dog, in every litter there are pet puppies, but they all have the same genes. Responsible breeders will do all they can to avoid health and temperament problems by researching pedigrees and screening parents for certain inherited problems, and doing genetic testing before breeding.
A reputable breeder will look like this:
- Someone who has been in the breed for more than three years, or has a mentor who has been in the breed for many years and are guiding them step by step.
- Will be forthright with information on problems in the breed, as well as the breed's good points.
- A breeder who asks many questions about you, your family, your schedule, why you want a dog and the type of puppy personality you feel would be most suited to your home.
- Has a potential buyers questionnaire.
- Is someone who knows the pedigrees of the pups, and who can tell you details about grandparents and great grandparents.
Things to avoid in a breeder.
- They make their living from selling dogs. They usually have a number of breeds, sometimes as many as 10-20 that they are breeding.
- They don't ask you many questions, and they don't want to answer many, either.
- They do not test their dogs for genetic problems.
- Price comes up early in the conversation, usually first.
- They will sell to anyone, for any reason.
- They will not let you see the facility where the dogs are housed.
Questions to ask the breeder.
- Where did you find out about this breeder? Responsible breeders will breed only when they have a waiting list of puppy buyers. They usually don't find it necessary to advertise in newspapers or with a sign out in the front yard.
- Do both parents (the sire and dam) have a hip clearance from the OFA (Orthopedic Foundation for Animals) or PennHip? Ask to see the certificates. Under no circumstance, do not buy from a breeder who's dog have not been OFA. Also if the dog is over 2 years old and still has a preliminary number from OFA ask why they never got the final x-ray done.
- Do both parents have current eye clearances from CERF.
- Are both parents at least 2 years old? Final hip clearances cannot be obtained before that age.
- Do all four grandparents, siblings of the parents and any other puppies that they may have produced have these clearances? A responsible breeder will keep track of these statistics and honestly discuss any problems that have occurred in the lines and what has been done to prevent them from reoccurring.
- Is the breeder willing to provide you with references and telephone numbers of other people who have purchased puppies from them?
- Will the puppy have a limited registration with a mandatory spay/neuter contract? A breeder who cares enough about the breed to insist on these is likely to be a responsible breeder.
- Will the breeder take the dog back at any time, for any reason, if you can't keep it. This is the hallmark of responsible breeding (and the quickest way to make rescue obsolete).
- Is there a written guarantee against congenital health or temperament problems, promising another puppy or your money back? Puppy returned.
- Will the breeder be available to answer any question you might have for the life of the dog? Is this someone you would feel comfortable asking any type of question?
- Is the breeder knowledgeable about the breed? Is he or she involved in competition with their dogs (herding, obedience, agility, or conformation)?
- Are the puppy's sire and dam available for you to meet? If the sire is unavailable can you call his owners or people who have his puppies to ask about temperament or health problems? You should also be provided with pictures or videos.
- Have the puppies been raised in the home - not in a barn or the back yard?
- Does the breeder provide you with a 3-5 generation pedigree, a contract to sign, copies of all clearances and guarantee, health records and material to help you with feeding, training and housebreaking?
- Do the puppies seem healthy, with no discharge from eyes or nose, no loose stools, no foul smelling ears? Are their coats soft, full and clean? Do they have plenty of energy when awake?
- Do the puppies have their first shots and have they been wormed if needed- vet checked?
- Do you feel comfortable with this person, after all you are entering into a decade-long relationship? Are you feeling intimidated or pressured? If so, keep looking!
- Does the breeder know the genetic problems within their lines? There are no clean lines at this point. A good breeder will find out the problems and breed away from problems.
These are just some of the main questions to ask your Breeder in order to determine if they are reputable or not.