Selecting Your Dog's Breeder

Becoming a Part of the Family
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Should you opt to go the route of a purebred dog and particularly seek a puppy, odds are that you will be talking to breeders even if you should ultimately find your dog through a purebred rescue. In fact, one of the hallmarks of a good, responsible breeder is that they are involved and supportive of their breed's rescue in the efforts of helping dogs regardless of their specific kennel or pedigree.

Some factors may seem more direct in relating to finding your dog, others may seem to relate just to the ethics and integrity of the breeder as a person. In fact, the two are intermingled, because the breeder that does not have the best interest of their breed at heart likely does not have the best interest of you, your dog or their dogs at heart either.

A responsible breeder will put you through the ringer and the Spanish Inquisition and then they will get serious about asking questions. You will be convinced that they won't let anyone have a puppy. They will only respect you more if you ask lots of questions regarding the breed, their kennel and proper care of a pup. Demonstrating that you've done your homework by asking questions about the health issues of the breed should only further indicate your interest and awareness.

The best of breeders will greet questions, especially the tough ones with solid answers that may not be conclusive, but they won't shirk the effort, nor will they be defensive. Statements like, this breed is not for everyone... is accurate for every breed. A breeder who is quick to determine that you are the perfect home for her pup or that her pup is perfect for you and tries to steer you from considering other options is one you would do well to steer clear of.

It goes without question that breeders will be active in their breed clubs, participate in dog shows and ideally performance events, have their breeding stock thoroughly screened for testable health issues, and not compromise on temperament, health or conformation as they breed. For the average pet owner, this may seem overkill. After all, you just want a pet. Why not buy one from the person down the street that has a male and female in their backyard. Assuming that the "backyard breeder" has even done the health tests, there is a host of reasons not to.

First would be that an breeder active in their breed is aware of proper conformation. Incorrect conformation (that which usually makes a puppy "pet quality") may not compromise a dog during its life, but by breeding it to another dog with potentially the same flaw, puppies can be born that are compromised. A backyard breeder or uneducated one will be oblivious to many such faults in their effort to justify breeding their dogs.

Second, a knowledgable breeder will be one of the first to know when health issues and medical break-throughs occur. Whether it is treatment or a test or a recently discovered drug allergy that the breed is susceptible to, it is something that your vet will likely not hear about (unless it is an extremely popular breed) and the backyard breeder wouldn't give a thought to.

Additionally a knowledgable breeder will be very discerning in the dogs chosen to be bred, and their mates. Complements will be sought for conformation but for temperament as well, helping to insure that your pup has the full potential that the breed was intended.

Finally, during the long years of the life of your dog (should you be so blessed), your excellent breeder will stay in touch for a myriad of reasons, because they care, because they need to know how their breeding program is turning out, because they have an interest in continuing your interest in the breed for the benefit of the breed. A lesser breeder, regardless of label, would be interested in little more than the selling of additional puppies.

In the process of finding out where your prospective breeder(s) fall in these areas, you may be fortunate enough to find several that seem exceptional (and that breed is indeed fortunate). If that is the case, resting your final decision with the one that you seem most comfortable with makes the most sense. The fact that one of them may have puppies available sooner is not a criteria that should carry weight. In the end result, what is a few months against the backdrop of many years with your dog?

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