DO a Google search (or whatever search engine you use) and look for the AKC parent club for the breed you are interested in. They will have helpful information about the health issues of the breed, temperament and what to look for in a breeder along with questions to ask of the breeder. Many also have breeder referral lists.
Educate yourself on the health issues of the breed you are looking for. You can get that info from the parent breed org. or from CHIC.
Find out what the health issues are in that breed and ask the breeders you go to if they had the parents tested for those issues before breeding & if there are any of those issues in the history of their line. If you have gotten that far then just use your own good judgement from there.
To start with, hold your breeder to high standards - and do the same of your criteria for your pet. Do NOT settle for a puppy because it is the right sex, color, price, or it's available now. Pick your breeder, and THEN your puppy.
If you're going to get a puppy from a breeder, it needs to be because you want to know that your puppy was well bred, by an educated breeder, who looks at breeder as their passion - not a way to make a few bucks or because it's fun. You want to know that your breeder knows more than you do - and that you can't learn everything they know in a weeks worth of research.
You want a breeder who doesn't JUST breed. They should be a member of some sort of dog club (breed club, AKc chapter, or at least a training club). That shows a commitment to the breed and their desire to do a good job. You want a breeder who does the breed specific testing recommended for that breed and understands what each problem is, how they inherit, and thus how to avoid producing puppies with that problem. You want to know that the sire and dam of your puppy were also well planned from knowledgeable breeders who also take the time and effort to insure they are breeding sound, healthy dogs.
The best places to find a great breeder is to either contact your local AKC chapter/club OR go to a dog show. Find out when the breeds you like are showing, watch them in the ring, talk to the breeders/handlers who have them in the grooming areas, meet their dogs. Good breeders LOVE when potential pet owners want to get to know their breed first hand. Not only is this a good way to interact with breeds your considering - but in a lot of cases, it's the best way to meet "committed" breeders.
You CAN find good breeders on the internet - but you have to know what you're looking for.
And don't look for a "bargain" puppy. You often get what you pay for. Responsible breeders keep their pet prices reasonable. If it's insanely higher in price than most of the breeders you talk to, it's probably out of line - but if they show, test, attend educational seminars, feed good food, groom their own dogs regularly... these are all things that show committment to doing things well.
It should be about the dogs, and about you. NOT about money.
And things vary from breed to breed. In some breeds, a performance title means more than a conformation title. But you want a breeder who does something other than pop out puppies and sell them for a couple hundred dollars. They should also have 1-2 breeds. More than that, probably a Puppymill/Farm.
The only thing I wanted to add to wait everyone is saying. Unless you are looking for an AKC breed, there may not be a AKC club for it. I breed mini aussies, we are a rare breed not AKC reconigzed so we don't have an AKC breed club.
You can never ask to many questions. Don't feel like you are bugging someone. If you call a breeder, and they try to dance around your questions, or shoo you off the phone. Good chance they are just in it for the money. Ask if you can see the dogs and where they are kept. Even if you don't plan on it, act like it. Found out about the airports. Listen to their voices, and see if they sound nervous. Sometimes it is worth the plane ticket to go see a kennel before you purchase from it. I tell everyone who calls they can do a turn around and a couple of hours if interested in seeing me.
MOST IMPORTANT as far as I am concerned, is a signed health contact before the balence is given. A deposit is normal, and then the contract should be sent back and forth for signing. I would never give the balence of a pup before the signed contract comes back to me. I also would not buy from anyone giving less then 2yr health guaratee. I wish you tons of luck
I like what Abbylynne had to say, go to the dog shows and mix with the handlers, many of them are also breeders and they are breeding for a show quallity dog. Not all pups in the litter will be show quality so you should be able to pick up a pet quality a bit cheaper.
When I am at a show even if my dog is not yet in the ring I may be preparing the dog for the ring or standing ring side while my breed is in the ring studying the judge to try to pick up on the judges pattern. When I am doing that I do not want to be bothered by questions or conversation. After my dog is done I will be more than happy to educate someone but I am investing entirely too much money into my dogs and shows to not study what is going on in the ring or preparing my dogs for their turn in the ring.
Have a little understanding of the breeder or handler at a show and I find many of them are willing to talk to anyone after their work is through.
Renorey - I always try and get the spectators who approach me engaged in what is going on in the ring and tell them they are more than welcome to ask questions once the ring is done and I've shown my dog. I also try and explain to them what is going on and what the judges are looking at. I get a lot of people who think dog shows are "beauty pagents". And while I agree that I have shown to my fair share of judges who look at the end of the lead... it is NOT like that as often as many think it is. I am "nobody" (breeder/owner/handler... I don't handle for others, I handle my own dogs... so the judges only "know" me that I've shown to several times) - but I put points on a dog this weekend over the handler who has the #1 Sheltie in the country right now (obviously beating him in the classes - not in Best of Breed).
I'm glad you pointed out that it's nice to wait and try and really question the handlers after the ring is done. It's not necessarily a cake walk to show dogs (I have one who is a challenge at the moment - it's just as much training as Obedience or Agility - just different commands). I really enjoy being able to explain to spectators why a judge probably liked a specific dog (strong movement, sturdy rear, nice front angulation) and explaining that it's not a beauty pagent at all - but that the judge should be thinking about the purpose originally intended for that breed and whether each individual would be able to physically excell at that task.
illusion - I agree with a lot of what you've said... however - I think it's really easy to verify the legitimacy of a breeder if they are active with their dogs. It's as simple as going to the OFA site and typing in dogs names from that breeder to prove they have tested hips. If they are active with their dogs you should be able to get a verifiable reference. There may be some rare breeds this is more difficult with... I really prefer to be able to look up a breed club online and call their breeder referral contact and ask for in put on the member that I'm looking at a dog from. It works wonders. How a breeder treats their peers is a BIG red flag for how they will treat their pet families. It's not a competition - or it shouldn't be with great breeders. It should be a bunch of educated people working together to produce excellent, sound examples of the breed. If a small group of mature adults can't be friends and work toward a common goal, I wouldn't want to work in that breed... the level of quality would concern me because every breeder has to breed outside their own program eventually - and if every other breeder in the breed dispises them... who are they going to get new blood from?
I've gotten a lot of paranoid pet owners lately that want pictures taken with the puppy and a piece of paper with their name on it or some other such thing... really, the easiest and best thing to do would be call the breeder referral for my Sheltie Club... tada, some other random person who knows me can vouch for me as a breeder. Any random person on the street can snap a picture of a piece of paper... it doesn't make them a good breeder. I'd be less concerned about scam artists and more concerned about lousy, uneducated, lazy breeders. I always accomadate requests... but I challenge pet owners to dig deeper and have higher standards. There are A LOT of amazing, wonderful, educated breeders out there... easy access doesn't mean great breeder. You'll often be happier if you do a bit more leg work to find a breeder than jumping on the first ad you find on the internet.
On the picture note... I also am frequently stumped by how many breeders take crummy pictures of their puppies and dogs... and pet owners don't have an hesitation as a result of the lazy, poor quality photos. For me, a breeder should always present their best foot forward... if their pictures stink, I'd be concerned about their standards on every level. It doesn't take a rocket scientist to get clear, well lit pictures of a well groomed, well trained dog...
I have not disagreed with anything you have said except in dobermans more often than I care to admit it is not the dog that is being judged but the breeder or should I say handler. Most of the handlers do belong to more than one clubs and do get judge assignments for certain judges and the loyalty is repaid in the show ring.
That aside the only point I was trying to make is anyone would get as much as I can offer them if they wait until my dog is done. My first responsibility at a show is my dog and I do study the judges to pick up what they are looking for in the ring.
Although the DPCA has very specific standards with little left for the interputation of the judge it is often what the judge thinks they like in the breed. The standard calls for a medium size square dog with distance from the chest to dock equal to the distance from the whithers to the floor and the deepest part of the chest is 1/2 the height of the dog between the whithers and floor (a square dog). I often find judges that place all long back dogs and the short back dogs that meet the standard place at the bottom. There are other judges that place more on movement than the actual conformation of the dog, others make their decission on the head of the dog. The standard clearly states if any one part of the dog stands out more than the other parts the dog is not correct. The judges should be looking at the whole as a sum of the parts and not the parts themselves.
I do not handle my own dogs in the conformation ring I pay someone to do that for me because the competition im my breed is tough and I don't do the dogs justice and I know it. I do handle my dogs in the obedience ring because there I can do the dogs justice. Because the doberman is a working breed I believe I need to show them in obedience as well as conformation. I spend a lot of money on my dogs and to develope my breeding program.
I know anyone who gets one of my puppies be it a show or pet quality will be getting a good dog. I do all the testing and do not breed to my stud dog if I think there is a better stud out there for that paticular bitch.
All that said, I am willing to share any knowledge I have with someone interested in my breed, but not when I am working and I do tell them if they are willing to wait I am willing to educate them.
I also believe if the breeder does not put you through an interview to see if you are right for one of his/her puppies and if they do not have a contract where they have 1st right of refusal if for any reason you must give the puppy up then walk away from that breeder because they do not have the best interest of that puppy in their heart. You bring a life into this world you are responsible for it, human, canine, feline, or anyother life for that matter.....
Renorey, I watch the Dobe ring every chance I get! Shown my whole life, but the Dobe ring is not one that ever appeased me to be in, lol. I have a single Dobe girl, love her to death, will never put my hand in the ring though. I have seen everything you speak of too BTW.
The last pup I sold, I was explaining the first right of refusal to them. I stated that I will take back any of my babies at any time in their life. I take responsibility for what I produce....they were shocked. Apparently no one ever did that before, unfortunately it is not as common as it should be with breeders. Most prefer to get the money and deal over.
Renorey - I didn't think you were disagreeing with me - and I wasn't disagreeing with you... I was trying to ellaborate rather... I think you made some excellent points and I wanted to add to them. Probably a little awkwardly put on my part! Sorry!
I don't see anything wrong with sending dogs out with handlers. In fact, I often work for one (though I'm usually ringside... I only get to take things back in the ring if too many win their class... I'm more used for hauling equipment and the grunt work grooming. It's worth it to learn what I've been able to learn!). I agree their are breeds that having a handler means that your dog is exhibited better... and with the larger breeds especially - or more competitive ones. Shelties are usually about 50/50 on professional and owner handlers. I like that and appreciate it.
Showing is fun - but the primary goal for most of us as breeders is to prove the worthiness of our breeding stock in soundness. Sometimes you get judges who don't know the breed better than the spectators! But more often you get ones that are fair and knowledgeable. At least in my part of the country anyway... :)
I thought you agreed with most of what I said except the "Leave me alone until I am done working part" I thought you disagreed with that part.
Sorry for the misunderstanding
Know what you mean. One day my wife and I sat down and figured a ball park of how much money I have invested in our dogs and I can truley say we are not in it for the money because my bitches can never produce enough puppies to come close to capture what I have invested in them.
Something that I don't think anyone has mentioned yet...a good breeder will ask YOU as many questions as you ask THEM. The breeders we bought pups from asked us tons of questions...why did we choose the breed, what did we know about the breed, what would we do if, etc, etc.
Also, both breeders REQUIRE us to return the dogs to them, at any time, if for ANY reason, we are no longer able to keep them.
Oh, I agree... As soon as I think I may be making headway on expenses, I think of something else I want to do with/for the dogs (testing, repairs, supplies). I've started just looking at things on a year to year basis. It makes me to sick to think of how much I invested before I even started having puppies... I'll never come close to breaking even in my head if I realistically look at all that!
I agree Catlover... That's in my contract too. I have first option to every puppy I produce if the person who bought it from me no longer wants it (for any reason) and doesn't have an immediate family member who wants it. If they have a sale home lined up and I agree to it (after screening) then that is one thing. But in most cases I prefer to take the dog back and find a new home myself. I have a 1 year old boy here that was returned when his family had some unexpected medical issues come up. They called, said they needed to bring him back, and back he came. That is a huge part of being a good breeder. I actually have a clause in my contract with a penalty if they ever take it to a Shelter or Rescue without giving me first option.