You probably don't picture Margie Denton as a BREEDER.
Margie is 68 years old. She lives in an apartment with her two Shih Tzus, Dolly and Buster. Margie tried to keep them apart when Dolly was in heat....but alas, Margie eventually had to put an ad in the local paper: "Purebred AKC Shih Tzu puppies."
Would it surprise you to learn that, even with her single litter, Margie is a BREEDER – that, in fact, MOST breeders are just like Margie?
If you picture a "dog breeder" as a professional person who knows a lot about dogs, owns a kennel of magnificent "pedigreed" dogs, and carefully plans each breeding to produce excellent pets for you and me, you're going to be VERY dismayed to discover how few and far between such people are.
The reality is that the vast majority of people you're going to encounter when you start looking for dog breeders won't fit your picture at all. Because most breeders are simply people who bred two dogs together, deliberately or accidentally, and got some puppies, which they're now trying to trade for some money.
So here's a new definition for you: A breeder is a person who owns a female dog who has a litter. One litter is all it takes.
- Even if that person simply owns two pets who were bred together and the puppies advertised in the newspaper.
- Even if the breeding was accidental.
- Even if the puppies are crossbreds or mixes.
If a person owns a female who has puppies, that person is the breeder of that litter.
So unless a mother dog is truly homeless and has no owner, every puppy born has a breeder. For each and every puppy, whether purebred, crossbred, or mixed, the question you should be asking yourself is:
Was this puppy's breeder knowledgeable and responsible....
or unknowledgeable and irresponsible?
You need to ask this question because the answer can make a BIG difference in whether that puppy turns out to be a good pet.
Puppies are not churned out of a mold, you see. Even within the same breed, the puppies from one breeder are NOT the same as those from another breeder. The knowledge and skill of the breeder – first, in how he selects the parents, and second, in how he raises the puppies – can make a big difference in how a puppy turns out.
Now, how do you tell the difference between a knowledgeable, responsible breeder and an unknowledgeable, irresponsible breeder?
You open my book, Dog Quest: Find The Dog Of Your Dreams, to page 226-228 and use my FAMILY COMPANION GUIDELINES ™ – the 15 things every breeder should be doing to produce puppies that will grow up to be good-natured, healthy family companions. You must have this list in hand before you start contacting breeders. If a breeder isn't doing these 15 things, you're taking a risk buying one of their puppies.
How will you know whether a breeder is doing these 15 things? On pages 293-331, I tell you how to evaluate the breeder's web site, looking for specific things that give that breeder away as "good" or "bad" or "risky."
On pages 332-345, I tell you how to contact the breeder by email or telephone – the exact questions you should ask, what answers you should expect, and which answers are "red flags" that mean you should stay away.
Finding breeders? Pages 229-260 and 286-292.
Did you know that in every breed, certain health tests must be done on the puppy's parents before they were even bred? Tests like x-rays of hips and elbows, eye exams by an eye specialist, a heart exam by a heart specialist, blood tests for thyroid and kidney function. Most breeders, unfortunately, ignore this requirement and never test the parents before breeding them. That means their puppies are at higher risk for developing those health problems as they grow up. If you want the safest puppy, you must be sure the breeder has done these tests....you can't just take his word for it....it's too important and breeders do lie!....so you must know how to verify that these tests were done. Pages 310-311 and 367.
Buying a puppy long-distance? Pages 346-348.
And if you decide to adopt a dog from the animal shelter or rescue group, instead of buying from a breeder, you're covered here, too! Plus temperament-testing, male dogs versus female dogs, and more.