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Recognizing a Good Breeder


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.

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.

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.


DCF Owner
Administrative Staff
Hot Topics Subscriber
LOL! You did, but I also moved it. :)


This is always a thoughtful reminder of what to look for in a breeder. Thanks again Jst.


One important bit of advice. BEFORE you leave a deposit, READ the contract first. If it is not fair to you and the breeder equally, RUN..... you work hard for your money and you deserve to get what you pay for.


New Member
One important bit of advice. BEFORE you leave a deposit, READ the contract first. If it is not fair to you and the breeder equally, RUN..... you work hard for your money and you deserve to get what you pay for.

Excellent point, common sense would dictate you read any and all contracts before hand, but unfortunately common sense seems to be rarely used anymore. :( I don't understand why someone would not read a contract before they sign it. I don't care if my mother wrote it LOL. Contracts are legal documents to protect buyers and sellers, and equality in contracts depends on law, not personal feelings on the matter, contracts are thrown out in court if deemed unfair and not following the legal statute, so make sure you check your local governments stand on contract law and animal sales to make sure what you are signing is legally enforceable as well. If your not comfortable, by all means look elsewhere.


Hot Topics Subscriber
I totally agree, its a contract, and if you are going to accept the terms of that contract by signing it, you dont have the right to complain later, when something doesnt go your way. Its no ones fault but your own, you cant blame the breeder or anyone else other than yourself.
If anything the situation will help you understand that next time you should read the contract fully, and if you dont like what it says, then choose another breeder, OR work with that breeder, to come to some sort of compromise.


I think most people go into a sale/purchase with the trust that neither the buyer nor the seller will ever need to enforce the terms of the contract.

Most reputable breeders that have websites will post their contract on their website so prospective buyers will have every opportunity to read and absorb the contract long before the puppy is picked up and the contract is signed. From the first launch of my website, my contract has been posted for prospective buyers to review and ask questions.

As a breeder, as I have grown and learned, my contract has changed in response to those life lessons. As a part of my discussion with all new puppy people I remind them to read the contract, and to ask questions about anything they don't understand. Most reputable breeders use similar contracts, and the object of the contract from a good breeder will be to protect the puppy, after all that should be what is most important to both the buyer and the seller.


Hot Topics Subscriber
I too watched that show on how man first began selecting dogs. It was interesting - As a result of selective breeding AKC now actually recognizes over 300 different breeder and in the past few years we have seen more new breeds added than in the past - If I remember correctly seems like last year or year before they add 4 or 5 new breeds all in the same year.

I remember when the neopolitin mastiff was added it was already considered an ancient breed and I had never heard of it. Makes on wonder how many breeds there might actually be. I know some of the breeds that are not recognized by AKC yet have their own breed registry. I am sure AKC is getting more excited now about adding new breeds. Wonder if they will ease up on the requirements for a new breed to be recognized???

Seems a better plan to me than to allow mixed dogs to show in AKC events. JMHO