- please consider rescue. Each rescued dog means one
less that is euthanized due to overpopulation.
you have decided to buy a puppy instead, everyone knows you
should get your puppy from "a good breeder."
But how can you tell who's a good breeder? Raising good
puppies makes some very specific demands, so there are signs
-- we call them traffic lights -- that the careful buyer can
good breeder will have all or most of the green lights from
the list below, few or no yellow lights, and no
red lights. Some of these may show up in advertisements,
others are things you can check on the telephone, by email, or
during a visit. There may be exceptions to the
rules--you should always ask questions if in doubt.
you buy a puppy,
please buy from a reputable breeder.
for proof of the
parents' OFA hip clearances and other health
the breeder's vet references.
the mother if possible. If both parents are on the
premises, this may be actually be a warning sign.
Do you know why? Check the yellow light warnings
Check references from
past puppy buyers.
they did the breeding?
they have other puppies?
is their next litter due? (Too many puppies, too many
litters is not good!)
Lights -- Avoid These Breeders!_
Breeder advertises "Puppies always available."
That means lots of litters per year. If a puppy is to have the best
chance to be happy in your home, he must be hand-raised with lots
of attention and love in a home setting. It's impossible to do that if
you're mass-producing puppies. Many good breeders limit themselves to
one or two litters a year (depending, of course, on the size of the
litters) but NOT form the same mother. The dam on the left has
been seriously overbred.
Any sign that the whole deal can be completed with one phone call or
A good breeder spends plenty of time talking to you, not only about her
puppies, but about the breed in general, your home, and whether this is
the right breed for you. Most require a written application. If the
conversation consists mostly of "This is how much they cost, you
can pick up your puppy Saturday," that's not a breeder who cares
where her puppy is going.
Credit cards accepted.
Good breeders are small volume - - they can't afford to take credit
cards, unless they run it through another business, such as a pet
supplies store, grooming shop, etc. Any breeder, however, can use Paypal
or other online payment methods. If you need to use a credit card to buy
your puppy, ask about those plans, or get a cash advance.
Advertising oddball or specialized varieties.
Rare longhaired whippets, Warlock or white Dobermans, teacup Yorkies,
extreme large or big boned dogs. Purebreds must meet a breed standard.
If a breeder isn't following the standard on size, coat, etc., how do
you know what other oddities there may be? Because these 'improvements'
are often done by mixing in other breeds, the advertised animals may not
even be purebred.
contacting any breeder, you should read the breed standard and know what
it says about color, size, and so on. Many kinds of unintended
faults are okay for a pet. For example, the breeder might say "This
puppy is going to be oversized, so we won't be able to show him,"
or "Look at the way he carries his tail -- that's a fault."
your breed standard at the AKC web site and be sure you understand any
breed fault in a puppy you're considering buying and whether the fault
is realted to health. For example, light colored eyes are a fault in
whippets but they don't cause any health problems--it's strictly a
cosmetic issue. Floppy ears in a German Shepherd Dog are also cosmetic.
In some breeds, white coats are simply a color choice -- in others, a
white coat can be associated with severe health problems.
Offers of stud service to the public, breeding pairs, or a contract that
does not require spaying/neutering if the puppy is intact when sold.
breeders are stewards of their breeds. This means they are very careful
with their bloodlines. They do not offer service or sell breeding
animals to anyone who has not made an extensive study of and commitment
to the breed. Breeding dogs should not be undertaken casually; a good
breeder will offer to mentor someone who wants to learn, but will not
encourage everyone who enters the door with cash in hand to breed.
Dogs registered with any registry other than the American Kennel Club
(AKC), United Kennel Club (UKC) or (for Canadians) the Canadian Kennel
Club. Rare breeds which have not been recognized by these organizations
are exceptions, as are field/hunting dogs registered with field
registries maintain the pedigrees of purebred dogs, so that if you pay
for a purebred you can be sure you actually get a purebred. As
registry standards have been tightened, however, breeders who breed
carelessly or sell mixes as purebreds have established several
registries with no standards at all. Saying a dog is registered with,
say, the Dog Registry of America means "I mailed in his name and
$15." Many of these registries are happy to register mixed breeds
as well. We know of a cat registered as a "French Cocker
Spaniel" with one of these registries. Papers from these off-brand
registries do not mean your puppy is a purebred.
term registered by itself is meaningless and the same is true of pedigreed.
A pedigree is just a family tree, and every dog, even a mixed breed, has
one simply because he has parents and grandparents.
"Ready for Christmas!"
usually mean lots of confusion and just going to a new home is plenty of
stress. Good breeders know that Christmas is the worst time to take a
puppy home if you have children, and most won't even sell you a puppy as
a Christmas gift. Some may allow you to take a puppy home at that
time if you can convince them that you'll keep things calm, but a
breeder using Christmas as a marketing tool does not have the best
interests of the puppies at heart. Even many shelters won't allow
adoptions during Christmas week.
Puppies sold at a public place like a flea market, shopping mall, or pet
only humane way to sell a puppy is with an interview and plenty of time
to talk about your new family member, ask questions, and get answers.
The poor little fellows sold at flea markets and other public places are
handed to the first person who shows up with cash or a credit card,
whether or not that person will provide a suitable home. Never buy from
these places even if you feel sorry for the puppy. For every one bought,
another litter is bred, and the more clever salespeople encourage you to
feel sorry for the puppies so you will "rescue" them. The
only way to stop the practice is to boycott flea markets and pet stores
where puppies are sold...and let management know why you're staying
Lights -- Get More Information!_
Few localities require any sort of license for a small scale breeder.
Even if a license is required, it has nothing to do with puppy quality.
So why is the breeder advertising this?
"We ship anywhere."
Many good breeders will ship your puppy. But most prefer
that you pick him up if at all possible. That's much less stressful and
dangerous for him and most breeders want to meet you face to face. Advertising
shipping usually indicates more interest in making sales than in finding
"We'll meet you at the rest stop."
Some kennels really are hard to find, but anyone can take
directions. Often this just means "We'd rather you not see our
kennel." A puppy from a dirty or overcrowded kennel is very likely
to have parasites and/or other communicable illness. Corners probably
have been cut on other breeding practices.
"I'm sorry but the mother is (at the groomer, at the vet, or
elsewhere...) so you won't be able to meet her."
Offer to come back when she's available and if you can't make
arrangements, look elsewhere for a puppy. Mom's influence makes up for
about 75% of your puppy's temperament, and if you don't like her, you
don't want her pup.
"Both parents on the premises."
Many of your back yard breeders own both parents and
breed for free. Good breedings are done to a male that is the best match
for the female not what is convenient. When the sire is also on the
premises you want a dog with titles that is being shown either in
conformation or a working venue.
Offers to sell puppies that are less than eight weeks old.
Puppies need to be with mom and their siblings for eight weeks or more
in order to learn skills that are near impossible for humans to teach.
You can consider buying a puppy from this breeder (if other lights are
okay) but do not take your puppy home before he's eight weeks old. Some
breeds mature more slowly so these puppies should stay with mom at least
another week or two.
must be exposed to humans regularly before 12 weeks of age, and that's a
big part of the breeder's job. A puppy that has this contact but has
stayed with his litter at least eight weeks will easily bond to your
family at any age.
'Easy payment plans.'
Payments are usually way too much trouble and risk for the small
breeder. She's already sunk a lot of her own money into this litter, and
most breeders are not wealthy. A good breeder doesn't want you to buy a
dog you can't afford. If you can't pay for the dog, how will you pay for
Special deals that require you to allow the breeding of a litter from
A good breeder sometimes will sell a male puppy and ask that
you not neuter him without permission, in case she needs him as backup
to her bloodline. A breeder with a rare bloodline (or a rare breed) may
have a good reason for not wanting to lose a certain female, but usually
that breeder simply won't sell the dog. Whelping a litter of puppies is
emotionally and physically draining for the owner as well as the bitch
and there's a lot that can go wrong. Ask why the breeder wants a
litter from your pet -- if it's just to collect more money from the
sale, look elsewhere.
Signs that the breeder has more dogs than she can properly care for.
Everyone has a bad day sometimes
and a lot of dogs can mean a lot of confusion and noise! A breeder's
home doesn't have to be something out of House Beautiful, but if
conditions that don't look right to you, ask questions. Maybe the dog
with the infected eye has an appointment this afternoon; perhaps most of
the dogs are crated when company comes to simplify the visit. But dogs
in dirty pens, matted or smelly dogs, those who appear to need medical
care and have not gotten it, or dogs stacked in crates for most of every
day cannot be healthy, well-adjusted dogs. You don't want a puppy from
Green Lights -- This
Looks Like A Good Breeder!_
A list of specific health checks done before breeding and/or on puppies
Examples might be CERF (eye), OFA (hips, heart), thyroid tests, von
Willebrands Disease (blood clotting) and BAER (hearing) as appropriate
to the breed. You must know which problems are likely to occur in
your breed and what checks should be done. 'Vet checked' is too general
-- that statement is a yellow light, particularly if given as the answer
to "What health checks do you do?"
A lifetime takeback guarantee with a requirement that you return the dog
or get approval for a new home if you cannot keep him.
Good breeders do everything in
their power to prevent their puppies from winding up in an animal
shelter or a pen in some friend of a friend's backyard.
A detailed written (or on-line) application required.
Good breeders put too much work into their puppies to sell them to just
anyone, and they have learned by experience what kinds of home are
likely to work out and which ones probably will not. Most, but not all,
require a written application.
The breeder makes sure you know the breed's drawbacks and any special
All breeds have some drawbacks. If the breed you're
considering drools a lot, is hard to housebreak, does not live long, or
may instinctively chase and kill small animals, or (fill in the blank!)
a good breeder makes sure you understand those characteristics. If your
dog must be kept as an indoor dog, must always be leashed or fenced,
requires lots of grooming, or is subject to heatstroke, a responsible
breeder tells you these things upfront. If a breeder starts to sound
like a used-car salesman, telling you only the good things and she
refuses to talk about the bad ones, find another breeder.
A good breeder will gladly educate you.
A reputable breeder will send you home with all kinds of
information regarding your responsibilities regarding feeding, grooming,
crate training, obedience training and exercise.
A written contract with specific requirements and guarantees.
But watch out for extremely restrictive contracts -- for example,
specific feeding instructions or you forfeit the dog, no vaccinations
regardless of veterinary advice, etc. This may be a very dedicated
breeder but is likely to be way more trouble than you want. In special
situations good breeders may offer a special deal for retaining control
of the puppy. You get a cheaper price, but the breeder's name stays on
the puppy's registration papers as "co-owner." We advise
against doing this unless you're very experienced. Though a breeder who
cares about her puppies will encourage you to keep in touch, a breeder
who cannot let go of control can be very difficult.
A written health record for your puppy.
This should include the date of whelping, any health problems he had,
the date and kind of each shot he got, and the dates of worming and drug
that was used. Your vet will want this information and having it in
writing makes it much more likely that your puppy has gotten the care he
spay your female dogs and neuter your males
to avoid preventable sex-related cancers.
Save a puppy you may never know
Spay your female dogs and neuter your males.
German Shepherd Rescue of Central Colorado
PO Box 61
Buena Vista , CO 81211