Most people who want to buy a puppy use the Internet to do their searching. That’s fine as long as you understand that the bad breeders aren’t just using ads on supermarket walls or in cheap places any longer. They know how to find and attract buyers.
It’s essential that, as a buyer, you should do proper research. Sure, it may seem confusing because the bad breeders will tell you many of the same things as the good ones. Here are a few pointers to help you tell the difference:
- Good breeders will have their own website to show off their dogs and the feats they have achieved. Bad breeders only use sites to show off and sell puppies.
Good breeders have websites full of pictures of their dogs doing everything. Field breeders will show their dogs holding a duck or on point. Flyball breeders will show their dogs action photos. There could also be some great photos with their family or some candid photos but it’s obvious that the breeder is focused on more than simply pets.
Bad breeders will only have photos of the dogs sitting down or, the absolute worst photos are of female dogs when they’re pregnant or they’re nursing (hanging low). If you see a photo of a dog behind wire, that’s a glaringly obvious red flag, especially if you don’t see any shots without wire. If the dogs are dirty, that’s also a bad sign.
Good breeders will often show casual shots, but the dogs pictured will be clean, washed, blown and nicely stacked. Their formal shots are winning photos.
The good breeders don’t use headings such as “dams,” “sires,” “Mommies” or “Daddies.” They might use “Females” and “Males” but the dogs are never shown to be puppy producers. They’re shown on the website and highlighted for their own abilities and accomplishments, regardless of whether it’s in the agility ring, the field, or show ring. Having puppies is an important aspect but certainly not the main focus of their website.
- Good breeders know and use the right language for their specific breed. Bad/careless breeders try to use the right language but invariably get it wrong. The good breeders describe a bitch as “typey and square, the chocolate coloured bitch has a lovely open sidegait and runs true down and back again. The careless breeders will say “She’s got a nice stride” or “he’s burly and big.”
Good breeders will use such words as: sidegait, typey, sweep (in a Cardigan it means a long dog who’s beautifully put together and well balanced), down and back, rear, front, balanced, conformed and socialised.
Bad breeders like: stride, burly, big, thick, confirmation, acclimated, back legs and front legs. They’ll love using silly phrases like: domestic breeding, relationship stature and trained in socialisation. One ad said they breed using the biggest available bloodlines.
- The good breeders never try to highlight the superficial aspects of their dogs. They don’t ramble on about the puppy’s colour or markings or the attributes that make the puppy worth buying. They never breed undersized or oversized dogs. They try to choose average size dogs where possible. This is because under/over-sized dogs face lots of health troubles so you must consider their size when making a buying decision.
Good breeders never brag about coat lengths, unusual colours, ear shape, eye colour or use “rare” when describing their dog. These breeders have enough trouble finding high quality dogs in typical colours. They’re hardly ever attracted to the lower-quality dogs in rare colours. If a good breeder does have a puppy with odd coloured eyes, hair or coat type, it’s usually sold to somebody as a pet on limited kennel club registration instead of being sold at a higher price as a rarity.
- Good breeders rarely sell a single puppy prior to eight weeks of age. Bad breeders sell puppies as soon as possible. Sadly, the bad breeders never try to match the puppies with owners. Before the puppies have reached an age where they can be graded they are usually sold. So they’re matched solely based on colour because it’s the only element possible to use prior to the age of seven to eight weeks. Never buy from a breeder who uses colour as the only determining factor.
- “Runt” or “the pick of the litter” are phrases never used by good breeders; only bad breeders ever use these expressions. Phrases such as a “show pick” or “small at birth” are fine to use but the other two phrases are derogatory and only bad breeders use them. It’s also a myth that a runt is found in each litter.
Puppies who start small soon grow up to match other puppies in their litter and may end up as the best show dogs of the litter in the end. If a puppy is sick and can’t grow normally, it must never be sold as a pet.
With regards to “pick of the litter,” this is irrelevant if you’re simply buying a pet. The breeders who use this phrase are simply trying to get you to buy the puppy. If you hear it, ask what they mean by it. Most people will say it refers to colour, markings or something else superficial. They have no bearing on what it takes to make a puppy a good show dog.
The word “throwback” should also ring alarm bells if you hear it. Those bad breeders use this to make excuses for a puppy that doesn’t look like a purebred and is ugly. “Seventy-pound Dane?” “Throwback?” “Both are stupid terms.
- Good breeders don’t list their dog’s weight except as an incidental whereas bad breeders write it under the dog’s name in bold writing to try to impress with the size of their dog (big or small). Good breeders don’t use this ploy as they breed to a standard. You’ll know their dogs fall into a specific range. Bad breeders try to go down or up from that standard level, often producing 1 kg Yorkies or 45 kg Labradors. They focus on a specific weight as being highly desirable. It’s yet another way they’re selling based on superficial attributes, not the basic soundness of the puppy.
Think about buying your puppy with your eyes shut. Do you have plenty of information? Can you get enough accurate information from the website so you can make an educated buying decision? Or has that breeder only given you basic information such as: eye colour, coat colour, type of coat and other information?
- Bad breeders sell puppies as long as they’re cute. Once they become ‘ugly,’ they stop selling the dogs. Good breeders don’t ever drop the cost of an older puppy. In fact, they price is often increased. The better breeders sell dogs whose maturity gives them extra value. They’ll often sell retired older dogs for a small amount of money to cover desexing costs, but you won’t ever see them dropping the cost of a puppy just to get him off their premises.
- Good breeders possess an innate sense of where in the breed their dogs fit. They can discuss dogs in the pedigrees with clear knowledge, even if they have never seen or owned them. They won’t talk about the dogs having “pretty colours” or as being “nice pets.” You’ll hear them talk about how a grand-sire is a top herding dog or another one has multiple show titles. They’ll understand the main health issues faced by the breed. They’ll discuss the uniqueness of the challenges facing owners, breeders, exhibitors and trainers of such a breed.
You should be overjoyed to have your dog for his whole life and your breeder should provide support gained from experience if you have any problems. There should be a feeling of value that’s unrelated to the dog’s “cuteness” factor and you should come away with your puppy, feeling like he’s the best of the breed available at the time. If a breeder can’t provide these things, don’t buy from him. If you don’t care about correct breed type, don’t buy a dog. Rescue one instead.
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