Finding a good breeder is the key to finding the right dog
Finding a good breeder is the key to finding the right dog
From Dogs In Canada Magazine

Many people will naturally turn to a pet store or the want ads in the local newspaper to find a dog. This is definitely NOT the first place you should look! Buying from a reputable breeder is the best way to obtain a puppy. (Rescue organizations, which are often run and sponsored by breed clubs are another option.) The reasons for this are many.

First of all, most pet stores that deal in large numbers of different breeds are obtaining their puppies from the infamous "Puppy Millers". Puppy mills have only one purpose; to turn a profit. They breed for quantity, not quality, and never health check their animals. Puppies from these places are probably not properly socialized, vaccinated or wormed. There is no consideration given to true breed type or correct temperament.

The parents of such puppies are often kept in filthy unsanitary conditions and may live out their entire lives in cages, often without proper shelter. You have as great a chance of being able to predict the eventual looks and temperament of a puppy mill bred pure bred as you do of a mixed-breed from the pound.

The same is pretty much true of the 'backyard breeder', who's ad you'll find in the local paper. Most of these people are not out to make a profit, just careless or misguided. They want their bitch to have a litter to teach the children about the 'joys of birth'. Or they want another 'just like mom'. Or they forgot to get the bitch spayed in time and now they have this 'surprise' litter who all need homes.

And, of course, there's always the profit motive. These people have no idea what goes into producing a fine, healthy, sound temperamented specimen typical of the breed. They have no more intention of standing behind this puppy than does the pet store beyond the usual 48 hour health guarantee.

Neither the pet store nor the backyard breeder is capable or willing to be there at 2 am when you're concerned that perhaps there's something wrong with the puppy. Although you might pay less for the breed of your choice from a pet store or backyard breeder, it's almost a given that in the long run, you'll pay a good deal more in vet bills and perhaps emotional bills (if the dog has to be euthanized due to a health or temperament problem), than you would from a reputable breeder.

Most breeders of purebred dogs breed dogs for one reason; they are head over heels in love with their breed. Their goals are constant improvement of the breed from litter to litter. When you purchase from a concerned breeder, you can be sure that everything that can be done to insure correct and typical temperament, good health and conformation has been done.

Breeders who care about the breed and their puppies don't lose interest in you and the pup once the check has been cashed. They are always there to help and guide. They want to know when there is trouble and will do all they can to assist you. When you buy from a good breeder, you can almost always plan on adding a new friend to your life in addition to the puppy you've purchased.


1. Compile a list of breeders through the Dogs in Canada Annual, your local breed club or the parent club for your breed, for breeder referrals.

2. Visit area dog shows and talk to breeders. Also, attend some local dog training classes and get input on the breeds from the instructors.

3. Ask for references from your vet and other obviously satisfied owners.

4. Talk to several breeders. Ask about care, temperament, genetic problems, etc.

5. Inquire about price and puppy availability, but do not make your choice based on these factors alone.

6. Make an appointment to see the puppies. Now, hold on to your resolve. Look for happy, healthy, outgoing puppies of average size for their breed, with no apparent problems. Do not buy a puppy because you feel sorry for it. Be prepared to do some comparison shopping, and ask for references.

7. Visit the facilities where the puppies were raised. Check for cleanliness and the condition of other dogs in the kennel.

8. Ask to meet the puppies' mother (and father, if possible). Note her temperament and general health.

9. Ask for the breeder's credentials. Most good, serious breeders will be able to back up their claims with an account of show-ring or field successes. Although this is not always the case, remember that the show ring is where the visible merits of breeding stock are acknowledged. Be suspicious of those who show little, or never, but breed a lot.

10. Inquire about common hereditary defects prevalent in the breed, and ask to see the results of tests that have been done on the puppy's parents to ensure they were free of these defects.

11. Ask about what guarantees would be provided against the puppy having hereditary defects. Also, ask about return policies should things not work out.

12. Inquire about registration papers (it is illegal for a breeder to charge more for these documents), special arrangements such as nonbreeding contracts, spay/neuter agreements, etc.

13. Ask about feeding, vaccinations, worming and general care. A written sales agreement should accompany the puppy, covering the aforementioned information, plus a three-generation pedigree and any other pertinent facts.

14. Obtain books and pamphlets on your chosen breed and the care and training of young dogs.

PLEASE NOTE: Membership in a breed club does not necessarily guarantee a breeder's scruples. Neither does placing an ad in a dog magazine, such as the Canadian Kennel Club's 'Dogs In Canada' or the American Kennel Club's 'Gazette'. Any breeder (good or otherwise) can place an ad.

The same applies to having a website. Many breeders have what is known as a 'vanity website' ... (such as this one) ... pages with pictures and info to proudly show off their dogs, and a place to share information about their beloved breed. The web is a wonderful resource, but in all cases, the buyer should be aware, and do their home-work. Never 'shop on-line' for a puppy.

Ask the breed club whether they have a Code of Ethics and ask the breeder if he or she has subscribed to that Code of Ethics!

clipboard A CHECKLIST

1. Can I see one or both of the puppy's parents? YesYes NoNo

2. Will I be given a pedigree (minimum three generations)? YesYes NoNo

3. What is your return policy if the puppy does not work out? YesYes NoNo

4. Do you acknowledge any hereditary defects prevalent in the breed? (If so, what are they and what steps have you taken to minimize the risk of these defects being passed on to your puppies?) YesYes NoNo

5. Do you offer any compensation against hereditary defects and do you provide this in writing? YesYes NoNo

6. Do you offer a general health guarantee on a puppy, and over what period of time? YesYes NoNo

7. Will you provide a record of inoculations, worming, etc.? YesYes NoNo

8. Will you provide CKC registration papers? YesYes NoNo

9. Are you willing to take the time to talk to me and provide all the information I need? YesYes NoNo

If a breeder answers "No" to any of these questions without providing a plausible explanation, he or she is not the right breeder for you!

For a PRINTABLE version of this Checklist click here.
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