Using Common Sense to Pick a Breeder or, Just Do What The Dog Snobs Tell You.

4 Feb

So, you’ve decided on a breed and now you are looking at a breeder**. Did you pick that breed because you saw it on TV and the wikipedia article looked pretty good? If so, we’re going to need you to start over. We’ll wait. Okay, you’re back.  Did you go to some dog shows? Did you speak to some owners of the breed you want? Good, we’re all on the same page then.

You, Breed Educated Minion, are now member of an elite society. A society that’s members know it’s okay to spend over two hundred dollars for a purebred puppy, provided the parents of that puppy were health tested, titled and/or worked.  You know that the most appropriate place to get your puppy is not from the parking lot of your local Walmart, nor from the buy and sell mag where you got your slightly used but perfectly serviceable lawnmower, and certainly not from a pet store.

 

We know Minions, this is a scary step. We are here to help:

 

1) Don’t get sucked in by a slick website. While Paypal may be convenient it’s probably not the best way to pay for your puppy. Websites are advertising plain and simple. View them skeptically and remember that talk is cheap. Verify everything on a website yourself and if something doesn’t quite ring true research it further.

Shopping Dog

Only appropriate way to combine dog and shopping cart.

2. Double check the OFA results. While you’re at it, Google the bitch and sire. Your breeder told you both parents had excellent hips and there were Champions four thousand generations back? That’s great. Now go look it up. Back Yard Breeders are getting wise and they will tell you anything. Trusting your breeder is important, but make sure you have a reason to trust them first.

3. Titles are cool. Real titles that is. CGCs are cool for pet owners, but your breeder supposedly has made the commitment to breed the best {Insert Breed Here} she can. A CGC doesn’t prove the dog is the best, it just proves it was acceptable… on that day… to that evaluator. Instead, look for titles in the sport YOU want to compete in (Yes, we’re considering conformation a sport. It’s like cheerleading) . “But Dog Snobs,” you say, “I just want a pet.” To that we say, go to the shelter. Or breed rescue. Or a responsible breeder so you can have a dog as close to what your breed is supposed to be as possible.

4. Breeder of Merit does not mean what you think it means. AKC’s primary goal, as an organization, is to continue existing. Don’t get us wrong, we love AKC. We send them tons of money, but we know that at it’s base… it just wants to keep on keeping on. The BOM system ensures this, by getting breeders to badger their puppy buyers into registering their puppies with AKC. We aren’t saying being  Breeder of Merit is a bad thing. We’re just saying it doesn’t mean your breeder is god’s gift to the purebred dog fancy.


We use this meme a lot.You guys should be less dumb.

5. Conformation is not the be all end all in titles. That little Ch. in front of  dog’s name does not guarantee a dog that is breeding quality. Given enough time and money, most dogs can finish (barring any disqualifying faults). When the breeder finishes a dog… then what? Does it churn out litters until it’s uterus falls out? We call those Show Mills… and they suck. We aren’t saying the breeder has to be out there competing in other sports, Conformation is an expensive hobby. It’s nice to see a breeder out there having fun with his/her dog that does not involve trotting around in circles though.

 

6. Again, Conformation is not everything. There are perfectly legitimate breeders out there that have dogs that would be laughed out of the ring. Is that the way it should be? No, but conformation is a fickle mistress and not everyone chooses to play her games. Still, the dogs should be sound, working (or competing) animals that fairly represent the breed, whatever breed that may be.

7. How willing is the breeder to hand over a puppy? A good breeder wants to build a relationship with his/her buyer. That means long emails, phone calls, and, most of the time, waiting lists. Good breeders care who their puppies go to, they aren’t going to just let you walk in and pick up a puppy like you’re buying a new car.  Now we aren’t saying you need to pester your breeder with everything from what crate to buy to what colour collar looks best on your puppy, after all, some breeders even have a life outside of dogs.

 

8. Believe none of what you hear and half of what you see. If the first thing a breeder does is trash all the other breeders… well you can take one breeder off your list. Dog folks are notoriously gossipy, and breeders may be the worst of them. A good breeder lets the dogs she breeds speak for themselves and doesn’t trash talk everyone around her.

9. If at all possible, go meet the breeder. Nothing can give you a better feel for your future puppy than meeting its family. Hopefully you have already met some relatives at all those dog shows you went to researching the breed but if your breeder is too far away, try to arrange to meet a past puppy closer to you.

In this case, they’re all assholes.

10.  Use your common sense.  If something seems off, it probably is.  If you have any questions/concerns, ask knowledgeable dog friends to take a look at the breeder you’re considering.  There are lots of resources out there to help you decide on a breeder, so don’t be afraid to use them.

**We really don’t want this to turn into a rescue vs. breeder conversation, so please don’t go there. Yes, we KNOW a rescue can do sports. And make lovely pets. In fact,  all three Dog Snobs have rescues and have been involved in rescue, shelters, etc.  This is not about the merits of rescue vs. breeders, but rather if you’ve decided to go the breeder route, how to make sure you are going to a legitimate one.

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27 Responses to “Using Common Sense to Pick a Breeder or, Just Do What The Dog Snobs Tell You.”

  1. Diane February 4, 2014 at 3:57 am #

    The best way to get to know breeders is to hang around places where they’re found in nature. Join your chosen breed’s local breed club (or clubs, if there are more than one in your area). Then you’ll know when the breed specialty shows happen and you can be there and say hello to people you actually know by name. Clubs also do social events like picnics, fun matches, etc. Not only do you get to know your breed’s breeders, but they get to know you so it’s not “who the hell is that person looking for a puppy?”

  2. Jessica February 4, 2014 at 4:03 am #

    I purchased a thoughtfully bred puppy last year. I also work at a municipal animal shelter. Thank you for not judging my decision to purchase from a responsible breeder.

    • Robin August 24, 2014 at 4:21 am #

      I would never adversely judge a person for choosing the route you took to your new puppy.
      However, I would adversely judge a person who threw a hissy fit over someone that didn’t default to a shelter dog.

  3. The Verdant Home February 4, 2014 at 4:44 am #

    OhmylovingGod, did you ever nail the part about gossipy breeders! All we wanted was another sound (physically and emotionally) Papillon. Little did we know what kind of a shit-storm we would be walking into! In the end, we got another as a rescue/rehome from a friend who had one and did not like her at all because they didn’t understand the breed. I bet you never heard that one before.

    We got lucky. The dog is awesome. She understands that we understand her and we have a calm, dog-friendly house. Since we lost two other dogs in the past 6 months from old age (CHF, to be exact), we have been poking around looking for another. I think we may be certifiably crazy.

  4. The Verdant Home February 4, 2014 at 4:52 am #

    Boy, you nailed it when you described the gossipy breeders. We had a Papillon that was getting on in years and wanted to get another before he passed. Little did we know what a shit-storm we would be walking into! Good grief! Are these people all crazy?! In the end we got a rescue from a friend who had purchased a female from a breeder for a LOT of money….and because she didn’t research the breed, found out she didn’t LIKE Papillons. I bet you’ve never heard that before. In this case it ended well because her dog found a new (and final) home with us. She is actually an awesome dog, but we understand the breed and enjoy their quirks. In the past 6 months, we lost our elderly boy and have been thinking about getting another, but……just the thought of dealing with these people makes me want to get a Schnauzer or Pom instead. (Likely a rescue.)

    Yeah, we are crazy small dog people, but we understand the little stinkers and what it takes to manage their kind of squirrely behaviors. Thanks for the terrific posts!

  5. The Verdant Home February 4, 2014 at 4:53 am #

    Oh crap. Sorry for the duplicate posts. The original did not show up right away, so I thought it was deleted. Feel free to smack it out. 🙂

  6. Claudia February 4, 2014 at 1:44 pm #

    Seeing the poor breed representatives that achieve titles in the conformation ring, and the horrid change done for the sake of form over function, I’d focus on obedience and/or performance titled parents.

    A breeder should also require a contract covering spaying/neutering if the dog is a pet, and for the dog to be returned to him/her, no matter the reason, for the dog’s entire life, if he/she needs to be rehomed.

    And run, don’t walk, from any breeder who thinks a health test means a simple vet visit, requires you to use a certain supplement, and/or offers a 1 year health guarantee.

    • Sharon M February 4, 2014 at 10:44 pm #

      What specific horrid change was done for the sake of form over function? Also, I don’t always agree with the judging, but I don’t see poor breed representatives finishing on a regular basis.

      • Steph February 5, 2014 at 7:10 pm #

        Bulldogs that can’t breed or give birth w/o surgery. Basset and Daschund oversized chests. German Shepherds in the ring running on their hocks. Collies with elegant (squished) heads. This is just a start.

      • kim February 16, 2014 at 7:08 am #

        Fat Labrodors that huff and puff around the show ring. It is obvious that many are so heavy boned, fat and short that a day in the field in out of the question.

    • Jennifer February 5, 2014 at 2:03 am #

      Hence why people who are dedicated to their working breeds state that a BALANCED DOG HAS TITLES ON BOTH ENDS. For instance, I work with a Vizsla breeder. Vizslas are Hungarian Pointers. We believe in Hunt titles.

      I, personally, believe Vizslas should be titled in Conformation AND Hunting before being bred. Form following function. Because a dog can’t do its work, and do it well, if they are not correctly conformed to do said job.

    • Andrea February 7, 2014 at 4:16 pm #

      Some breeds have been highly modified. Many have not been and are still lovely and have forms that are perfectly lovely and functional. The vast majority of Sporting, Herding and Hounds are not overly exaggerated. Yes, some breeds are really structurally uhm….. messed up. Most aren’t.
      Vizsla, Weim, Flatcoat, Aussie, Mal, Corgi, Pharaoh, Ibizan, Basenji…. That’s just a start.

      • Kaki February 7, 2014 at 5:44 pm #

        I agree, it really depends on the breed you are tLking about., and if you have done your home work investigating the breed before you get into it, you will know what you need/want to avoid. – in my breed there really isn’t a different between performance and confirmation lines. Most of the breeders compete in multiple venues.

    • Debora C February 15, 2014 at 3:25 am #

      So true about form over function! The hip problems many GSDs have are one of the best examples. And the multiple problems English Bulldogs are having…. And to what end?

  7. 25castleson25clouds February 4, 2014 at 1:47 pm #

    Your are very right. If people go down the breeder route then they should make sure it is a responsible breeder that they are contacting!

  8. Connie Kaplan February 4, 2014 at 5:07 pm #

    All the items you mentioned are true. If you are looking for a performance puppy look for titles in siblings of parents and pups of parents, really shows more potential.

  9. GoJesyGo February 4, 2014 at 5:21 pm #

    If everyone chose a responsible breeder, rescues wouldn’t need to exist. Educating the public about this choice is one of the best ways to help reduce the number of dogs ending up in shelters.

  10. Janet Ledford February 4, 2014 at 5:29 pm #

    Thank you. I love all your stuff. Also I want to add a good breeder will inform you how much real life grooming your chosen breed will need. I just saw a Doodle site that said “Doodles only need grooming once or twice a year” lol.

    • kim February 16, 2014 at 7:14 am #

      Mixed breeds create another issue that most don’t realize. One should ask why the original breeders of the Labradoodle quit their breeding program. It didn’t work out as intended. Unpredictable outcomes of temperament, intelligence, and now new health issues unique to this mix. Not to mention the incredible “designer” price. Btw, I have both pure bred dogs and rescues. I also help in rescue locally and in my breed club.

  11. laurararah February 4, 2014 at 10:23 pm #

    Great post! We’re getting a puppy from a breeder in 6 weeks. I just recently wrote a similar (though not nearly as thorough) blogpost about some steps we took to vet our breeder. You can read it here: http://pitterpatterofpaws.wordpress.com/2014/01/20/its-a-boy/

  12. Amanda Rizner February 5, 2014 at 1:14 am #

    Fabulous article!!

  13. thehowtodog February 5, 2014 at 9:36 pm #

    Great post. I’m a shelter dog person these days, and my mom is too now, but when I was younger and lived with my parents we used to go to breeders.

    I want to add one thing we did when we were getting my rottie, Paige. We asked the breeder if we could look take tour of their home. Some people might be wary of this, but I think it’s important.

    Is their place a mess? Does it smell like dog feces/urine? Are there dogs EVERYWHERE? These are things you might want to look into.

    Thankfully the breeder we got Paige from was great, and there was nothing out of the ordinary about their house.

    http://www.thehowtodog.com

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