Well this weekend something unexpected happened…. I rescued a GSD puppy.
She clearly did not come from a great breeder. In fact I am certain she came from a backyard breeder. Which means long-term, I have no idea what I am in for. She could have hip problems or temperament problems etc. (As I do not want to get into that in detail here, more information on that topic can be found: https://www.puppyculture.com/shape-shifting-genes.html ). This whole experience got me thinking about reputable breeders, as I am this poor gals 3rd home, and at this point I am not sure if I will just be fostering her, or if I will be a foster failure.So here is some information I hope you find helpful:
What you should know before you buy a puppy:
First have you research the breed enough? Are you sure this is the breed you want? For example, certain breeds were bred to bark, such as a shetland sheepdog, do you really want a noisy dog? Do you want a dog that has a high drive and needs a job? What type home are you and how will this puppy fit in? What is your exercise plan for this puppy? Are you able to crate them?
How will you know if you are buying from a backyard breeder or puppy mill?
The price difference will sometimes rule out puppy mills and backyard breeders ( a term, in reference to individuals, whom just breed the two dogs they have in the backyard, despite not competing in AKC or UKC events, do not health test etc.) But not always, Back yard breeders are catching on and charging upwards of $1,000. Puppy mills generally produce large numbers of puppies and have to move them quickly so they sell them in pet stores. No reputable breeder, would EVER sell their puppies in a pet store. If they cannot provide you with references it is another huge red flag. I would specifically ask for one of the references to be their veterinarian. Also, ask if they belong to any dog training clubs or breed specific clubs, if they are not that is concerning, and I would not buy from them. Likewise just because they belong to a club does not mean they are reputable, you must look at the whole picture. Sometimes they put a bunch of information on their websites to look reputable, such as belonging to a certain club.
Why should a breeder compete in conformation (Showing in AKC events)? This information was taken from: http://www.stuhrgreatdanes.com/what-you-need-to-know-before-you-buy-a-puppy.html ) although it does pertain to all dog breeds not just Great Danes.
“The best way to weed out bad breeders is if they don’t compete in conformation (AKC Shows). I would not recommend buying from someone that gives you the old song and dance on why they don’t show. Most backyard breeders will not spend the money to show their dogs not to mention their dogs would not win and they would be out money and that’s what they are solely after. I have heard a million excuses of why someone would not show. Example: the show people are too political or because I have kids and I don’t have the time. Well I’ll tell you what, the Dane show community is full of different people, some are down to earth people and some retired people do this as a hobby and yes some are even political. It’s a melting pot just like our country, people of all types and I’m one of the very few that don’t have kids. When visiting a dog show please feel free to look around at all the kids and families that use this time as a family outing. When you get right down to it, the backyard breeder’s Dane cannot compete with the others and they won’t waste their money trying.”
Other RED Flags:
- Reputable breeders will encourage you to visit onsite as they want to get to know you as well. If they do not allow you to visit onsite, look elsewhere. Even if they say it is for biosecurity…. Reputable breeders have other methods in place to protect their puppies.
- How many different breeds do they breed? If multiple they are most likely a puppy mill or backyard breeder, shop elsewhere.
- Where are the puppies kept? Reputable breeders keep them inside their home.
- They say “Champion Bloodlines” What it should say on the pedigree information (you should ask to see) is CH in front of the parent’s names, or GCH. Anyone can advertise Champion Bloodlines if 6 generations back a dog on the pedigree was championed out, as it is technically a champion pedigree, however not a good one. Make sure the “Champion” title is in the same organization as the papers the Puppy Comes with. The Champion pedigree should come from the AKC. If the pedigree is not from the AKC and they come with AKC papers, that does not make sense and is a common thing BYB ( backyard breeders do) is a huge red flag. I have seen them advertise Champion parents in APRI ( not reputable at all) and sell them with AKC papers. These individuals in my opinion are taking advantage of others solely for a profit.
- If they allow you to pick up the puppies before 8 weeks. Puppies learn so much from their mothers and littermates during this time. In addition, they could go through another fear period it is best they are with their mothers, until they are at least 8 weeks, 9-10 weeks for pickup is all the better! To learn more about critical socialization period visit: https://www.puppyculture.com/?a_aid=57ee895db898d most states have laws about not picking puppies up before 8 weeks of age as well.
- They do not health test- You should ask for a copy of the health tests on the parents. GET the number and look it up online. For the recommended health tests for your breed and to look up the results visits: http://www.ofa.org/
- They are unable to tell you about any of the issues in their lines. Great Breeders are always trying to improve their breed, therefore they should be able to tell you what they are working to improve in their lines.
- They can’t tell you why they chose to breed the two dogs. As described by Stuhr Great Danes: “A lot of your reputable breeders will use an outside stud dog to better the breed. Why use the dog you have in the backyard when a better suitable male can be used via AI frozen, fresh chilled, or natural. Don’t get me wrong, some reputable breeders might breed a male that they own to their bitch because that was the best choice. Don’t be afraid to ask questions about the parents. Any reputable breeder can tell you why they bred that particular sire to their dam.”
- They do not offer at least a 2 year contract FROM THE DATE OF PICK UP. You cannot complete many health tests until your dog is 2 years old. So if the contract is only good until their second birthday and you can’t get them in on that exact day, you are up a creek without a paddle. look for a contract that covers you over their second birthday. Also google the breeder, ask their references, contracts are only as good as the people that sign them. Make sure that in the contract that there is something to the fact of the breeder will cover all genetic faults in the dog. If you are not sure what a great contract should look like, reach out to a kennel club in your area. They should be able to help you or reach out to the national breed club of the breed you are looking for.
- They do not take the puppies back. Reputable breeders have it in their contract, that if for any reason you cannot keep your puppy it must come back to them. Reputable breeders care about what happens to their puppies and do not want them to end up in a rescue.
- The breeder doesn’t have an application process- reputable breeders do their best to make sure the breed and the puppy will live well with your lifestyle. They care where their puppies go. They also typically have a waiting list, but not always.
Other things to consider:
- Websites can fool anyone. Check those references, and visit onsite. This is a person who is going to be there for you if have any issues or need help with your puppy. If they are not interested in getting to know you as well, I would not get a puppy from them.
- Ask to see a copy of the sire and dam’s OFA test results. If they do not provide you with that shop elsewhere.
- Ask to see the pedigree
- Contact local breed specific rescue sites or local pound to ask about the breeder
- Google them!
- Keep in mind this list is not all inclusive, but is meant to be an outline to help you get started in finding a great breeder. It is a buyer beware market and I hope you found this information useful. I sure wish I had something like this a few years ago…