Selecting a Breeder Questions

I see a lot of questions on line and we receive quiet a few questions and inquires on breeders.  I think that it is important that people be educated in their decision of who to get a puppy from.   I have put this information together and tried to consolidate it.  Below, I feel, is some good information, puppy buyers can use during their search for a puppy and a  good quality breeder.  Never Ever Buy a puppy from a pet store.

Here is a list of questions to consider asking the breeder:

1. Are the puppies' parents health "certified"? This means that certain breeds are often at risk for genetic conditions such as hip problems, heart problems and eye problems. Most of these diseases are inherited, meaning the disease is passed from parent to puppy. Many breeders will have their dogs evaluated and tested for that disease and ultimately "certified" by a veterinary specialist to be disease-free. Know about the breed and if there are any common genetic problems. A breeder will spend a fair amount of money having the hips x-rayed to identify potential for developing Hip Dysplasia the certification is called OFA. This can only be done after a dog reaches the age of 2. Some less than desirable breeders will only offer a one year health guarantee. It is important to discuss this with your breeder. If the dysplasia cannot be identified until the age of 2, how does a 1 year health guarantee help you? 2. What are the sizes of the puppy's parents? Know how big the parents are, to get a good idea of how big your puppy will be. Is that the size dog you want? 3.  When was the last time this female had puppies? How often does the breeder have litters available, how frequently does the breeder breed his females? Now make notes during this conversation, know how old the momma is too. How many females does he have? Are males on site? Normally females are able to breed twice a year. After your questions are answered, math them out. Make sure the breeder is telling the truth. Be aware of breeders that breed back to back litters and the poor females never get a break. 4. Ask to meet the dogs parents. If possible, meet the puppy's parents. Notice if they appear to be in good health and evaluate their overall temperament. Are they shy, aggressive, or well adjusted? If out of state ask if both parents will be on site to see when you meet your breeder or pick your puppy. 5. How have they socialized the pups? Have the pups been around other dogs? Other people? Socialization is critical in puppies 6 – 16 weeks old. Proper socialization consisting of good experiences of a puppy with other puppies and lots of different ages, sizes and types of people will give you the best chance at having a well-adjusted dog. Puppies learn a lot in weeks 6-8, they learn the most about bite pressure and appropriate play manners. Never take a puppy before it is 8 weeks old, even though it may not be drinking moms milk any more, they need that development with mom and litter mates. Some less than desirable breeders take pups away from mom at week 5-6 “because they are eating solid food and don’t need mom any more”. One should steer clear of that breeder. 6. What vaccines has the puppy had? How many shots has he received and when will the puppy be due for his next puppy shot? Is there a breed specific Vaccine protocol? I list the Vizsla Club of Americas recommended protocol on our web site at the bottom of the puppy page. Have the puppies been dewormed? All puppies are born with worms and routine deworming is recommended. 7. Have any of the puppies in the litter been sick? If so, what were the signs, the diagnosis and treatment? 8. What visits has the puppies had with the veterinarian? Have they been examined and declared "healthy"? If not, what problems have they had? Have they been on any medications? 9. What is their guarantee? What guarantee does the breeder give with their puppies? If the puppy is found to have a severe illness, what will they do? This is a difficult topic but one that is a lot easier to cover up front rather than later. Good breeders will offer a Life Time Guarantee against Genetic Defects, such as Dysplasia. They also will encourage you to take your puppy to your regular vet ASAP usually within the first week you get him or her. That way you can rest assured your puppy is healthy and free from communicable diseases.   A refund of the price of the puppy, your choice to return it or not, or your choice to get a different puppy. In the event of an issue, your breeder should be there to work it out and support you as well as the puppy they produced. 10. Recommendations? Ask the breeder for a couple references of puppy owners that they have sold within the past year. CALL them. Find out if the breeder was fair, if they were happy with their pups, and how any problems were handled. This is difficult because of course they are going to give you names and numbers of friends who will tell you good things. 11. Breeders contract? Does your breeder require a breeder's contract? If so, what is in it? Is the breeder willing to take back the puppy at any time, if you can't keep it? A good breeder will take the puppy back no questions asked at any age of the pups life. Whether the dog is sick, the owner may be very sick or terminal, loss of job, change in life style, marriage to someone who is allergic, all are reasons that later in a pups life it may be best to go back to the breeder. Good breeders do not want their puppies to put stress on shelters and rescue groups so they take full responsibility for them and take them back and often re-home them or keep them themselves. 12. Limited registration. Some breeders require that you spay or neuter your dog BY or NOT BEFORE a certain age. If you are interested in breeding your dog, they may require you to prove that the pup is an asset to the breed’s genetics by doing some forms of competition with your new pup. By putting AKC and other Tittles on your dog, it shows they are of sound mind and temperament to accomplish the job at hand and physically able to do so as well. This is what your breeder should have done and been doing with the parents of your puppy. It increases the chances of producing the best dogs to breed standard possible and gives marked proof of accomplishments and contribution to the breeds gene pool as a whole. Its another reason you choose a pup from a quality breeder and in many cases pay a bit more money for it. But in the long run it may be a cost savings. A discounted puppy could turn into a very expensive less that 100% healthy dog for the rest of its life racking up vet bill after vet bill for issues that could have been identified in more prudent breeding practices. 13. What is the family history? Ask if the breeder has information about the breed line. For example, ask how long the dogs have lived and what they have died from. Write it down. This may be important for monitoring your pet as he gets older. What are the parents and grandparents like in personality? 14. What is the breeder currently feeding the puppy? Regardless of what they are feeding, it is ideal to continue feeding the same food for the first few days at home to minimize the risk of gastrointestinal disturbances. If you choose to change the diet, do it gradually. Most breeders will send you home with a little food to help you get started and swap over to a new puppy food. Some breeders require a certain quality level of food. Also take not that they feed the pups good food not just puppy chow or something such as that. 15. Does the breeder belong to a breed club? Call the club and see that the breeder is in good standings. Maybe ask the club representative if they would feel comfortable recommending the breeder to a friend of theirs. 16.  Will they help you with questions as the puppy grows? If out of state, do they have a contact in their area you could set them up with for help in training if need be? Get your questions answered and feel very comfortable with your new puppy. Proper and responsible breeding, appropriate health care and correct puppy socialization will make a big difference in how healthy your dog is and what kind of dog your puppy will turn out to be.

How To Recognize a Responsible Breeder

  • A good breeder will only sell a dog under contract, which will set forth that breeder's policy regarding health guarantee, refund/return policy and other rights/responsibilities between buyer and seller.
  • A good breeder will be knowledgeable about the breed and the common genetic diseases in that breed.
  • A good breeder will offer you support with your new puppy, and always help you place the dog (or take it back) if for some reason you cannot keep the dog.
  • A good breeder will be able to show you both parents, and in the case of a male that lives off the premises, will have a photograph and history available.
  • A good breeder will carefully screen potential buyers to ensure that the dogs will be placed in an appropriate home.
  • A good breeder's kennel or home will appear clean and well maintained.
  • A good breeder will be willing to answer your questions about the breed and the appropriate care for your dog.
  • A good breeder will be willing to let you see the environment in which the dogs are bred and raised.
  • A good breeder will allow you to see the pups but may not allow you to handle all of them. Exposure to many different people can increase the risk of illness in the pups. Only serious buyers should be allowed to handle the pups to limit exposure.

Choose a Healthy Puppy

When choosing your puppy, try to make sure he is healthy and well cared for. At eight weeks of age, the pup should have had at least one vaccination for distemper, parvo, hepatitis and parainfluenza and received at least one dose of dewormer. Also, look for the following traits:
  • Active, playful and well-socialized; puppy should not appear fearful
  • Bright eyes, with no discharge of any sort
  • No nasal discharge
  • Clean ears and skin
  • Pink gums and correctly aligned teeth
  • Well-proportioned body
  • Shiny coat
  • Good eyesight and hearing-check this by jingling your keys and seeing if the dog responds. Always have your new puppy examined by your veterinarian as soon as possible. If there is a medical problem, you should be able to return the pup to the breeder.

Puppy Contract

The contract that you sign when you buy your dog from a breeder is much more than a simple bill of sale. It guarantees your rights and the seller's rights in the transaction, sometimes for the life of your pet. It outlines all of the care requirements of the puppy and protects you and the breeder from disagreements down the road. It is also a meaningful document in the history of generations in your dog's family line. A written breeder's contract can take many forms; its stipulations can be negotiated between you and the breeder. Many factors come into play – whether you intend to show your dog, for example, or past experiences either of you has had in owning a purebred dog. A responsible breeder is more than happy to discuss every aspect of your dog's future with you, to ensure that he's putting the dog into a good home. But even if the two parties are best of friends, a comprehensive contract helps guarantee they will remain so. AKC Registration Application The breeder's contract must guarantee that your dog qualifies for registration. In the United States, registration with the American Kennel Club is the most common proof of pure breed. The AKC, however, recognizes over 150 dog breeds, while the Continental Kennel Club recognizes 444 plus some crossbreeds. A few other organizations, such as Dog Registry of America, also track purebred lineage. Reputable breeders won't hesitate to answer any questions you have about registering your dog. Still, before reaching a final agreement, it's best to check rules and regulations on the Web site of their breed registration organization. The American Kennel Club requires breeders to keep complete records and do a fair amount of timely paperwork. A breeder must register each litter with the AKC, listing the registration numbers of each parent, as well as clearly distinguishing each member of the new litter. Once the litter is registered and the puppies are old enough to part from their mother, the seller must give you a properly completed AKC registration application. This application must contain the breeder's signature as well as the dog's full breeding information, which includes:
  • Breed, sex and color of the dog
  • Date of birth
  • Registered names (and numbers) of the dog's sire and dam
  • Breeder's name It's up to you to complete the application and send it in with a fee. Some breeders do ask that you place their kennel name ahead of the dogs registered name. For example “BGK Huntin with a Little Swagger” You can ask your breeder about this as well. The AKC warns that as the buyer, you are responsible for submitting your dog's registration. They caution you to think twice before buying a purebred dog without an accompanying AKC application. Although it takes a few weeks for a breeder to obtain one after the pups are born, the process allows plenty of time for the application to arrive if the breeder is prompt and efficient. If your breeder cannot produce a promised AKC application at the time of sale, you must at least get a signed statement containing all the information listed above to submit to the AKC. Remember that just because the AKC or other breed organization certifies your dog's breed, it cannot guarantee your dog's health or how closely it meets the highest standards for the breed's physical conformation. It's still important for you to do your homework in picking a reputable breeder in the first place.
  • Added Clauses Once the basic provisions of a minimal health guarantee and lineage are included, either party can add provisions to the breeder's contract.
  • Health. Many breeders want to follow your dog's health and agility throughout her life so they can trace any problems or strengths in her lineage, such as hip dysplasia, personality problems or other hereditary defects. You may find that your breeder is willing to guarantee good natural health in your dog for one or two years. In return, he may ask you to seek prompt veterinary care any time your dog exhibits an unusual health problem. Occasionally, a breeder will even require you to give him a necropsy report if your dog should die without a veterinary diagnosis.
  • Reproduction. Unless you buy your dog to compete in shows, your breeder could require that you spay or neuter your pet. Or, a clause in the contract could specify that you will neuter your pet at some point in the future, if the breeder determines that your adult dog does not exhibit the best standard characteristics of the breed. The contract also might specify that you will not breed your dog until she is 2 years old, after many genetic flaws have had a chance to manifest themselves.
  • Title or show dogs. An entire set of rules governs the breeding and purchase of dogs that are to be raised to compete as champions. Briefly, you may require a guarantee from the breeder that your dog will be fertile and free from hereditary defects. Your breeder could require that you show the dog for a specified amount of time before breeding her.
  • Finding a new home. Your breeder's contract could require that you notify him if you have to give up your dog. Besides having wide contacts with trustworthy people who might be interested in adopting your dog, the breeder wants to be sure he can follow your dog through life. Breeders often remain so involved in the lives of their dogs that they themselves will care for your pet if you can no longer keep her, or if you must be away from home for a long time.

Recognizing a Good Breeder

If you pick a good breeder, the dog you choose will have a leg up on life from the start. After all, it's in the breeder's own best interests to make sure the dogs he breeds are healthy, well-socialized and the best of their type. The breeder's role is an ancient one. It began when an early human and a wolf or wild pariah dog struck up a friendship. Over time, humans continued to favor intelligent dogs that enjoyed learning and being around people. Without understanding the far-reaching results of what they were doing, our prehistoric ancestors became the first breeders. They selected out agreeable dogs that could perform work to help the family by gathering food, pulling a sleigh or guarding and leading other domesticated animals. When these dogs mated, they perpetuated their abilities; thus, we domesticated the dog, just as we did cattle, goats and sheep. We also differentiated dogs, according to their roles in human society. Today, some 10,000 to 14,000 years after the first dog happily licked a human hand, there are as many as 850 dog breeds worldwide. The American Kennel Club (AKC) recognizes over 150 of them in its registry.

What the Breeder Does

Breeders strive to achieve physical conformation in their dogs. That means a dog must meet the standards that make his breed unique – size, body shape, the way the ears and tail are set, the angle of the stance. Above all, the dogs must be healthy, with each generation further minimizing the chance of genetic flaws. They spend countless hours with the dogs, training and caring for it. They spend lots of money proving their dogs in completion. It can be very expensive, but it is all done for the passion of the breed and for the goal of breed betterment. That is why some of the best quality breeders command such high prices for their puppies. The investment that they have in them id huge. It also lays the groundwork for you to have a, wonderful, happy, healthy, well adjusted, puppy out of parents that have proven they are illustrative of the best quality of breeding. In order to evaluate and choose a breeder, you must understand the characteristics that would make him top-notch. The majority of responsible breeders pursue their calling as a hobby; they are just enamored with a particular type of dog. They know everything there is to know about a breed's behaviors and potential health problems. Some also might make a living as professional trainers; they might show dogs. But they always make a lifetime commitment to each dog that they breed. They don't tally their rewards in purely financial gain. A breeder must know the ancestry of a pup and his parents for at least several generations back. He needs this information to understand each pup's personality and health tendencies, as well as to maintain good standing among fellow breeders and to meet AKC requirements. A good breeder also looks to the future: He usually requires buyers to keep him informed about a dog's health throughout his life; if tragedy strikes, he may even require a cause of death report.

Breeders Choose Buyers Carefully

Many breeders choose each dog's buyer as carefully as a buyer would choose a breeder. They'll ask for a history of your relationship with dogs and other pets; quiz you on your knowledge of the breed; even probe into your family's habits and schedule. Many breeders require you to sign a contract, stipulating how you will care for your dog. A responsible breeder raises a limited number of dogs. He does not over-breed; he breeds a dam only when he is certain he has enough responsible people to buy the pups she will produce. And he breeds when the parents are two or older, after the most egregious genetic flaws would be evident. A dedicated breeder also belongs to a local, state or national (or all) breed clubs. This allows the breeder to keep abreast of current information regarding their breed and to produce the best puppies possible. A breeder goes to great lengths to find a mate for his sire or dam. That means that both dogs are of age; proven to be healthy, intelligent, easily socialized; and capable of filling the roles they're bred for, be it hunter, herder, protector or companion. Even if the resulting pups won't be raised for showing, some breeders travel great distances with their dogs to make the right match. Once a female is impregnated, the breeder provides her with a healthy, calm environment; supports her through birthing and her puppy's early days. He socializes each puppy so they're used to humans and provides a stimulating environment for them. He interviews buyers and educates those he chooses to sell to. The fees you'll pay a breeder, beginning with a down payment, reflect the expenses incurred at every stage of the process, from mating through follow-up. Fees vary, depending upon a breed's rarity, geographic location and special requirements, such as cesarean birthing for certain breeds. But beware of breeders who overcharge because a breed is popular at the moment. In the true spirit of responsible breeding, it costs the same to breed a St. Bernard whether or not he resembles the pet movie star of the month. Responsible breeders know about their breed. Responsible breeders screen for genetic diseases and maintain good veterinary and breeding records. Responsible breeders offer a written health guarantee with each puppy they sell. Responsible breeders are always available to offer help and advice to their new puppy owners. Responsible breeders always breed their dogs with the thought of improving their line.


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