The theme here is to plan ahead. You are not going to be able to do an impulse buy with a good breeder. Here are some tips to find a reputable breeder. There is much “due diligence” involved. Good breeders NEVER send their puppies to retail stores so stay out of Petland and designer dog stores. Never buy a puppy on line, use a puppy broker, or a puppy concierge. They are selling inventory from puppy mills and will tell you that the puppy is coming from a nice family in the midwest, or some other lie. Not only will you be buying a dog that survived abusive practices like living in excrement and living in a cage with the mom and the litter, but you will ensure that your puppy’s mom will continue to live her life in a filthy cage until her uterus is no longer useful to the breeder. There are no guarantees. You could get a great puppy from a puppy mill, or you could get a sick or fearful puppy from an excellent breeder.
Research your breed:
You can start by going to AKC.org to look at breed standards, temperament, and what they were selectively bred to do. This is important because the behaviors that they were selected to offer are unlikely to go away easily even with training. If your family has young children in the home, consider what their activities are going to provoke from a herding breed.
You may also like to go to one of the AKC “Meet the Breed” events. There is usually one in Florida each year. I have been to the event in Orlando, and there was an event in Tampa on 4/24/22. You can meet dogs from each breed and speak to their owners about what to expect and perhaps some contacts for good breeders.
Go to dog shows in your area and watch the conformation trials for the breed that interests you. You can find an event at this link . Do not approach any handlers near the ring. Instead, find the place where the dogs are resting in their crates and if you find the owner or handler, express your interest in the breed and ask if they would be willing to discuss the breed and breeders. Do not be put off if they seem rushed. There is a lot of pressure at these events. After the event, you can research the winners of the different age groups in your breed and get the contact information of the breeder or owner. Infodog.com posts results of AKC conformation events. Start a relationship with the breeders. The are not just selling you a puppy. They have put love, time, effort , and lots of money into the sire and dam (mom and dad). The have carefully chosen two healthy dogs of good temperament, and may be selecting these dogs for specific behaviors, work, or sport. They have passed many tests to ensure these dogs are not passing any genetic disease that is common to the breed. Good breeders do not overbreed their dogs. So you may have to get on a wait list for a litter that is planned months in advance. Be prepared to give many references and answer questions about your home and your lifestyle. Do not be offended. They are not Petland. Good breeders want their puppies in good forever homes. Reputable breeders are breeding for purpose and proving the merits of their breeding dogs in some way. That can be conformation, performance venues, or other avenues that prove their dogs are valuable to the breed. They may want you to breed the dog. If the puppy is not to breed standard, you may be on a no-breed contract. You are buying in to a relationship with a breeder that cares very deeply about the breed and likely will keep in touch with you over the life of the dog. The owners of River’s (my Rottie) mom and dad gush over the pics I send of River and her adventures. I am always thanking them for this wonderful dog and they thank me for the life I have given to her.
Research the breeder:
Once you have found a breeder that has selected a sire and dam titled in conformation and genetically tested for disease common to the breed, you will want to know where your puppy will spend the first 8-10 weeks of his life. Run away if the puppies are not raised in the home of the breeder. No barns, no sheds, not even fancy kennels. Puppies should be raised with the sights, sounds, smells, and touches of humans. Visit the breeder’s home in person and ask where the puppies will live. If this is not possible, do a zoom call and ask them to show you around the house and where the puppies will live. When you pick up the puppy in person at 8 – 10 weeks old, it better be the same house you saw on the zoom call. Pick up your puppy in person! Good breeders will also provide lots of enrichment for the puppies. Look for a safe place for the puppies to explore toys of different shapes, sizes, and textures; uneven surfaces; moving surfaces; dangling toys; and human interaction. What does puppy enrichment look like? Prepare to be delighted by these videos courtesy of Joanne Bartkoski, Sky Valley Rottweilers, Snohomish, WA and Shari Sprague, Mercury Australian Shepherds, Loganville, GA.
What if you have your heart set on a mixed doodle breed? Keep in mind that most of these breeders know nothing about genetics and not all of the puppies in the litter will be “hypo-allergenic”. Ask for references on previous litters and have a zoom call with the owners of the litter mates. Know the common genetic diseases for each of the mixed breeds and require proof of genetic testing of the sire and dam. Then do your due diligence on the breeder’s home as described above.
What about a rescue? Rescue is a gift of a home and family to a homeless puppy or adult dog. Pupquest.org has information about finding a reputable rescue (see links below). I also did a cautionary blog about rescues that is linked here.
PupQuest.org has valuable resources on breeders and other puppy sources. The website can be difficult to navigate so I provided links to each of the pages below.
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