How to Select a Good Breeder


A good breeder will be extremely choosy in accepting prospective puppy buyers. A prospective owner should be equally choosy when selecting a breeder. A prospective owner can begin to evaluate a breeder's expertise by noting whether she ranks the puppies' mental well-being and physical health above their good looks. Assess several factors:

· whether your prospective puppy's parents, grandparents, great-grandparents, and other relations live to a ripe old age

· whether the breeder's adult dogs are all people-friendly and well-trained

· whether your prospective pup is already well-socialized and well-trained, i.e., evaluate the breeder’s socialization and training program.

Basically, this breeder is under the impression the dog is so dumb he can not tell the difference between two simple instructions such as "Sit" and "Stand." Look elsewhere. Just because the breeder is prepared to live with dogs that haven't even been taught to sit does not mean to say you should! Also, if the puppy hasn't even been taught basic manners, there are probably many other things the breeder has failed to teach.


The single best indicator of general health, good behavior, and temperament is the overall life expectancy of a kennel line. Long-lived dogs advertise good temperament and training, since dogs with behavior and temperament problems generally have short life expectancies. Check to see that your prospective puppy's parents, grandparents, great-grandparents, and other relations are still alive and healthy, or that they died at a ripe old age. Conscientious breeders will have telephone numbers readily available of previous puppy buyers and of the breeders of the other dogs in your prospective puppy's pedigree. If the breeder is not eager to share information regarding life expectancy and the incidence of breed-specific diseases, look elsewhere. You will eventually find a breeder who will accommodate your concerns. Before you open your heart to a young pup, you certainly want to maximize the likelihood that the two of you will be spending a long and healthy life together.

Meet The Parents

Meet and test-drive as many of your prospective puppy's adult relatives as possible. Friendly dogs are self-apparent when you meet them. Friendly dogs are living proof of good socialization by a good breeder.

Beware the breeder who is only willing to show you puppies.

A good breeder will take the time to see how you get along with adult dogs before letting you anywhere near the pups.

A good breeder wouldn't let you leave with a puppy if you didn't know how to handle an adult dog, which your puppy will be in just a few months. Make sure the breeder teaches you how to handle and train her adult dogs.

You want to evaluate as many adult dogs as possible from your prospective puppy's family and line before you let a litter of super-cute puppies steal your heart. If all the adult dogs are people-friendly, well behaved and well trained, it is a good bet that you have discovered an exceptional breeder with exceptional dogs.

Assess Socialization & Training Program

Observe: Are the puppies being raised indoors?

Is there a specific doggy toilet in the puppies' living area?

How many piles and puddles are in the toilet versus on the floor? This will offer a good indication of where the puppy will eliminate if she comes to your home.

How many hollow chewtoys (such as Kongs, Biscuit Balls, Squirrel Dudes, or sterilized bones) stuffed with kibble and treats can you see in the puppies’ play area?

Ask the breeder:

To demonstrate the puppies' basic obedience skills, for example, to come, sit, lie down, and roll over

How many people have handled and gentled the pups daily?

How many children, men, and strangers have trained, and played with the pups daily?

Have the pups been exposed to loud and unexpected noises, such as adults shouting, children crying, television (male voices shouting and screaming on ESPN), radio, and music (Country, Rock, and Classical—maybe Tchaikovsky's 1812 Overture)?

For a progress report on the litter's ongoing errorless housetraining and chewtoy-training program.

Remember: You are choosing a pup to come and live in your home and adapt to your lifestyle, so please make sure the puppy has been prepared for domestic life in general and is suitable for your lifestyle in particular.

Beware of statements like:

"We haven't taught the puppies to sit because they are showdogs." or "He's the scaredy-cat of the litter."

Certainly in any litter individual dogs will display different tendencies toward approaching strangers (you), but no eight-week-old puppy should be scared to approach people. Any shyness, fearfulness, or tendency to avoid people should have been noticed and dealt with as early as four weeks ago. The shy puppy should have been supersocialized. A single scaredy-cat puppy in a litter indicates that the breeder has not been vigilant in assessing day-to-day socialization. There are most probably other good puppies in the litter, but I suggest that you be vigilant when assessing their socialization status.

Adapted from BEFORE You Get Your Puppy by Dr. Ian Dunbar

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