IDENTIFYING A RESPONSIBLE BREEDER
by Nadine Tare
There are a number of things to look for, to make sure a dog breeder is reputable and responsible:
1. Any puppy you purchase should come with a signed veterinary health certificate, plus a WRITTEN health guarantee from the breeder, including a guarantee against congenital defects. The puppy should have had its first shots, been wormed and be well socialized.
2. Health and genetic screening such as ACVO (CERF) eye screening, and OFA or Penn Hip certification are imperative to help avoid serious problems down the road.
3. A responsible breeder will have a written contract specifying the rights of the seller and the buyer, health information (vaccine used, etc.), altering and buy-back/return policy, and requirements (such as a fenced yard). Pet quality puppies should be sold with Limited AKC Registration (meaning any offspring are not AKC registerable) and/or a spay/neuter agreement, or the breeder is not being responsible!
4. A reputable breeder will provide the AKC or CKC registration papers when a puppy is purchased.
5. A good breeder knows the lineage of his/her dogs going back many generations, and will provide a multi-generation pedigree ("family tree"), plus routinely has dogs tested for problems and passes this information along to buyers. Beware of breeders who do no genetic testing, or who do not supply a pedigree. The more champions ("Ch" in front of the names) in a pedigree, the more likely the puppy will match the breed standard; that is, be more like what that particular breed is SUPPOSED to be like.
6. A good breeder cares about placing puppies in appropriate homes and will interview potential buyers, ask for references and refuse to sell a dog if necessary. The buyer should not be afraid to ask for references from the breeder.
7. A responsible breeder will not sell puppies younger than 8 weeks, and many hold them until they are 10 weeks of age. Backyard breeders often sell puppies at 5-7 weeks (too young!). Another BYB/puppy mill ploy to watch out for: "both parents on premises" -- a GOOD breeder is constantly working to improve the breed, which may necessitate breeding his/her female to a champion male located elsewhere.
8. A responsible breeder will be there to answer questions and to help with any problems, for the life of the dog! He/She should be willing to take the dog back or help the owner place it in another loving home if necessary, at any time in the future.
9. Remember, ANYONE can be a breeder (even a puppy mill owner is a breeder!); what you want is a *reputable, responsible* breeder.
10. If money is tight, please consider a rescue! Most rescues are already trained and well-socialized, and make wonderful pets.
For more information, including how to find a good breeder, breeder referral sources, and rescue contacts, please see the breed-specific pages on the AKC web site.
There are also some excellent web pages concerning this subject:
The online Dog Owner's Guide, finding a responsible breeder and questions to ask.
Cyber Pet's finding a responsible breeder
Finally, please realize that it is BUYER BEWARE. You get what you pay for! You will most likely save in vet bills (and heartache!) later, if you spend a little more up front for a quality dog. Don't forget, a dog is a 12-15 year investment and will be a long-time member of your family!
Tare Miniature Schnauzers
firstname.lastname@example.org or Copepoda@aol.com