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Choosing a Dog Breeder

Updated on May 21, 2009
Whitney05 profile image

Whitney has over 10 years of experience in dog training, rescuing and dog healthcare.

Dog Breeders

It can be pretty easy to find a person who has bred his/her dogs and who is willing to sell you a puppy, but it can be much harder to find a dog breeder who is looking out for the well-being of his/her puppies.

There is a big difference between a guy who bred his dogs and a dog breeder. Backyard breeders just put two dogs together and hope for the best, which is why they're dogs are typically much lower priced and possibly not the best dog health or temperament- wise. Dog breeders spend a good bit of time putting the perfect dogs together to ensure that temperament is ideal and that the puppies truly exhibit the characteristics of the breed standards.

Dog breeders will frequently turn down people from purchasing their puppies, whereas the guy who bred his dog (the backyard breeder) will sell to anyone who offers him cash.

When you're considering bringing home a new dog, you always want to consider adopting a dog before you run out and check out what dog breeders or people who have bred their dog may have available. It's not uncommon for purebred dogs to be in animals rescues, but if you can't find what you're looking for, then check out breed specific rescues. If you're not planning on showing or competing with your dog, then in all reality, there is no reason to purchase a dog from a breeder.

If you do opt to purchasea dog from a dog breeder, then you want to make sure that you are aware of the red flags that determine who is a reputable dog breeder and who is a backyard breeder.

Who to Avoid When Choosing a Dog Breeder

These are very common red flags that you want to avoid when choosing a dog breeder.

Those people who are new to the breed.

  • A novice will limit their attention to only knowing current events within the breed, meaning he will not know much about history, performance, conformation, etc.
  • When a breed becomes popular due to a movie, commercial, or celebrity, you'll find many people who are ignorant of what constitutes as a good specimen within the breed and will lack knowledge of breeding. They just know that the breed is popular and they want some money.
  • There are breeds that have different bloodlines, and many novice breeders and backyard breeders will not understand the difference between them, much less realized that there are different bloodlines. Dogs should be bred with other specimens within the same bloodline in order to further the look and characteristic that makes up that bloodline; by mixing bloodlines you're creating a litter that will have mixed characteristics, which is not typically desired, as selective breeding has defined that bloodline and one novice backyard breeder can mess it up with just one litter.

Those people who do not offer health testing.

  • There is no breed of dog that does not need to be health tested, which means that if the guy you're thinking about buying from does not health test his breeders or puppies, then he's not a serious breeder. He/she is not offering specimens that are guaranteed to be healthy from basic disorders that are generally pretty common, such as hip dysplasia.

Those people who try to explain that breeding away from the standard is better.

  • A good grasp of the breed's standard and characteristics will simplify matters, keeping the breed grounded when fads sweep through the breed. Serious dog breeders know what their breed standards are and they do not stray from them. Reputable breeders feel that you are either breeding towards what is correct or deviating away from it.

Those people who claims that other breeders are jealous of him and his dogs.

  • A defensive attitude should be a strong warning that this guy really did just pair two dogs together in hopes for a nice financial return.

Those who charge ridiculous prices for puppies because they are a certain color of claim to be from a famous line.

  • No color is consider to be more special or better than another, so if the backyard breeder claims that a certain color puppy is more rare than another, it does not necessarily mean that it is worth 5 times more.
  • As for the puppies being of a famous bloodline, you'll find that the serious breeders have already used all offspring from any bloodline that was famous, meaning that the famous line of dogs has already rapidly decreased and more than likely ceased. It is more important to preserve and augment certain qualities in a dog than it is to make a line.

Choosing a Dog Breeder

When choosing a dog breeder, you want to make sure that the breeder is willing to help you and is willing to help you choose the best puppy of the litter that will best suit you, your experience, and lifestyle. You don't want to choose a rambunctious puppy that is head strong if you would prefer a more laid back puppy, and a reputable dog breeder would help you make that decision, versus leave it all up to you.

A serious dog breeder will focus more on the quality of the offspring than the quantity, meaning a serious breeder will breed the dogs once a year, or every other year, versus several times a year. He will carefully pair the male and female so that the puppies are as close to the breed standard as possible. He/she will be also be a part of national and local clubs that pertain to the specific breed, which will help keep him/her up with current news about the breed.

Distinguished dog breeders will breed champion dogs, and will generally compete with their breeders, so that the breeding dogs have titles, whether in show, obedience, agility, herding, tracking, or in another competition such as weight pull, dock jump, Frisbee, or schutzhund. This, in turn, creates a high potential for offspring that have the potential to be champions that sport the ideal characteristics of the breed.

The more focused a person is with the breed's history and keeping up with new challenges and news about the breed, as well as general dog health, nutrition, grooming, and training, the more reputable the breeder will probably be. By focusing years with one breed versus one year with this breed and another year with that breed, the dog breeder has a better understanding of the breed and what the ideal characteristics are. Plus, by having the one main focus, the dog breeder will be able to best answer any questions that you may have.

It can take several times talking to someone to determine whether or not he/she is a true serious breeder, but if the dog breeder is truly in it to better the breed, then he/she will not have a problem talking to you and answering any questions that you may have.


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    • James A Watkins profile image

      James A Watkins 

      9 years ago from Chicago

      Outstanding Hub filled with helpful advice. I like it. I am especially glad you brought up folks who buy a certain breed because they saw it in a movie or something. There was a big problem with Dalmations about a decade ago because so many people got one and later didn't want it. Thanks.


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