How to pick the right breeder to get the best puppy!
Before you fall in love with the first adorable Cardigan Welsh Corgi face you see, take the time to make an initial phone call to the breeder to ask the following questions. You may not find a breeder who fits 100% of these criteria, but don’t settle for anything less than one or two negative responses.
Remember you are adding a new member to your family for the next 10 to 15 years. NOW IS NOT THE TIME TO BARGAIN HUNT! Prepare to spend at least $ 1,000.00 to $ 2,000.00 or more for a well-bred healthy puppy.
You or someone you know may have purchased a “backyard” bred dog or a pet store or puppy mill dog and had great success. However, the high number of serious problems seen in the breed today makes this event unlikely to reoccur. Chief among these are temperament problems ranging from aggression to shyness to hyperactivity. Eye problems causing blindness, heart defects that can severely shorten life span and autoimmune disorders and cancer are also becoming prevalent.
Responsible breeders will do all they can to avoid these problems by researching pedigrees and screening parents for certain inherited problems before breeding. Caution!! Pennsylvania is now the leading puppy mill state due to the high number of backyard breeders and puppy farmers who have found it more profitable to raise puppies than poultry. Pennsylvania does have a puppy lemon law.
Keep this checklist by the phone when you make your calls and good luck!
- Where did you find out about this breeder? Responsible breeders usually 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.
- Are both parents at least 2 years old?
- Do both parents (the sire and dam) have certificates on health issues. “My vet okayed the x-rays” is not a valid clearance.
- Do both parents have eye clearances?
- How often has the dam been bred? If it is every heat cycle, THIS IS TOO OFTEN, and may indicate that profit is the primary motive for breeding.
- 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 occurring.
- 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.
- On what basis was the sire chosen? If the answer is “because he lives right down the street” or “because he is really sweet,” it may be that sufficient thought was not put into the breeding.
- WILL THE BREEDER TAKE THE DOG BACK OR HELP MAKE ARRANGEMENTS IF YOU CAN NOT 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 that does not require you to return your puppy or euthanize it?
- 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 (field, obedience, or conformation)?
- Are there a majority of titled dogs (the initials: CH, OTCH, CD, JH, WC and so on before or after the dogs names) in the first two generations? The term Champion lines means nothing if those titles are back three or more generations or there is only one or two in the whole pedigree.
- Are the puppy’s sire and dam available for you to meet? If the sire is not available, can you call his owners or people who have his puppies and 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 kennel, barn or the backyard?
- Is the breeder knowledgeable about raising puppies, critical neonatal periods, and proper socialization techniques? Puppies that are raised without high exposure to gentle handling, human contact and a wide variety of noises and experiences, OR who are removed from their dam or litter mates before at least 10 weeks, may exhibit a wide variety of behavioral problems!
- Does the breeder provide you with a 3 to 5-generation pedigree, a contract to sign, copies of all clearances and guarantee, health records, and materials to help you with feeding, training and housebreaking?
- Have the puppies’ temperaments been evaluated? Can the breeder guide you to the puppy that will best suit your lifestyle? A shy puppy will not do well in a noisy household with small children, just as a dominant puppy won’t flourish in a sedate, senior citizen household. A caring breeder will know the puppies and be able to show you how to test them so that good matches can be made.
- 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 yet calm down easily when gently stroked?
- Do the puppies have their first shots and have they been wormed and vet checked by the time they go to your home?
- Does the breeder have only one or at most two breeds of dogs and only one or two litters at a time? If there are many breeds of dogs being bred, the chances are the breeder cannot devote the time it takes to become really knowledgeable about the breed, and if there is more than one litter at a time it is difficult to give the puppies the attention they need. That may indicate that the primary purpose for breeding is profit, rather than a sincere desire to improve the breed.
- Does the breeder belong to a NATIONAL BREED CLUB and/or local all-breed club?
- 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!