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A Breeder's Concerns


Much has been written on how to find a reputable breeder. All in an attempt to put a stop to pet mills and abandoned dogs. But too many prospective puppy buyers are just as irresponsible as some breeders. So now, serious, quality breeders, have taken steps to protect both their dogs and their privacy.


Times have changed a great deal, so have puppy buyers and breeders. More people live in apartments or have small yards. As the population ages and there are more `empty nests', demands for companion pets have changed. Small dogs that are easy to keep inside and dogs that require less exercise room are becoming more desirable. So why should looking for such a dog be any different than looking for some of the more common, large breed dogs? Let's go step by step with an explanation from the breeder's point of view.


Pick of the litter. This comes from the large litters that big dogs can have. Large dogs can have 10 or more pups, while small breeds may have 1 to 4 pups in a litter. Large litters usually have a couple of large pups and maybe a smaller "runt". The smallest pup in a toy breed litter is usually small because of careful breeding, not the weakness usually thought of in "runts", These are also the most sought after. If the breeder has a waiting list, the best pup will go to someone wanting a show dog. A person wanting a pet and only paying pet price will not get to "pick" the show puppy. A direct quote from Cornell University's DOG WATCH Newsletter, Vol.1, No. 8, Oct 97, states "No one has yet been able to find a direct correlation between a dog's behavior at seven weeks and at two years." Good breeders try to match the person with the pup the buyer desires. Another quote from the same source states " good breeders who know their dogs and how to interview the prospective owners often can do a better job of picking the right pup than the prospective owners themselves."


Seeing the parents. Many times only the mother of the pup is available for the buyer to see. Good breeders often go to someone with a superior male to improve the quality of their dogs. Buyers should not be discouraged to see only one parent of the puppy. Buyers may not understand the toll that having pups takes on the mother. If she is a long-haired breed, she may have been clipped by the owner for her comfort and for the good of the pups. She will not look ready for the show ring at the time the pups are ready to go. These things need to be considered when seeing the parents.


Viewing the kennel or home. This is where the greatest change is taking place today. Small and rare breed dogs are more popular than ever. A buyer usually does not realize the number of calls a breeder can get every day from people who just want to see what a particular breed looks like, with no intention of buying a dog. Directly related stories and personal experiences of breeders indicate that potential buyers and "window shoppers" abuse his piece of advice the most! Breeders have outside jobs, family obligations and , of course, the dogs. They are rarely sitting around for the sole convenience of visitors! Here are just a few ways that the words "kennel inspection" have been interpreted and abused by some claiming to be looking for a puppy to add to their family: they are on vacation and in your town. They phone and want to see your dogs (in the next 15 minutes)---only because you happen to be nearby when they run out of sights to see! OR a family or friend are visiting for the weekend, so looking at your pups would be a good way to pass the time. OR, the grandkids are visiting and it is time to take them out for a while!


None of these people called to make an appointment. None had any desire to buy a dog. They used the "kennel inspection " excuse to treat the breeder like a free petting zoo, there to entertain them when they have nothing else to do. Now add to this the number of people who are truly doing their beat to find the right dog for them.


Breeders have other things to worry about in addition to inconsiderate, bored window shoppers. Puppy diseases are easily spread by even the most casual contact. The best breeders will not allow their puppies to be seen or handled until the puppy has had it's first shots, usually not before 7 weeks old. By this time, the breeder may have deposits on the pups from people who are more familiar with the breed and the breeder's pedigrees. This can be frustrating to the pet buyer who is taking the advice usually printed about finding a breeder.


Buyers should not be offended if the breeder suggests a first meeting at a dog show or other place. This gives the breeder time to meet the potential owner of one of their precious babies, and gives the buyer the chance to see other dogs of the same breed.


Unless the breeder is also a public groomer or boarding kennel, they may not carry the type of insurance that would protect them from minor lawsuits. This can be a problem when people insist on bringing a small child or their current dog to see the pup. Children have been known to to wander around the breeders home, peering into kitchen cabinets, pulling flowers and bulbs from the garden, and even attempting to enter bedrooms, basements and garages! Careless parents have handed small puppies to a child, only to have the child drop the pup and break it's leg!


Some adults are worse (because they should know better). They do not seem to understand that they are in a breeders HOME, and do not respect the breeder's privacy. Some breeder's do not allow others to see or handle pups that have a deposit on them, as these pups are now the property of others. This disturbs some buyers, but remember, the breeder will protect the pup YOU buy, from strangers. There are some people who do not know when to leave. The breeder may have to go to work, cook supper, take care of children, answer the phone or any number of life's activities.


Then there is the breeder's nightmare, thieves! I am a member of a large, all-breed, show-sponsoring club. At our last show, flyers had to be posted warning owners to watch their dogs because of a recent rash of dog thefts. Small breeds of dogs are popular, hard to get and easy to carry off! Breeders have had pups stolen from their home when they went to answer the phone while the "prospective" buyers were looking at the pups. Others have lost pups after showing the pups, only to have the "buyer" return when the owner was not home, to break in a steal all the pups. Even more disturbing, some have had their home robbed of personal property several days after showing the pups and allowing a "kennel inspection", even though they had NO kennel, just a spare room for the puppy nursery.


There are some very dedicated breeders who live alone. In society today, they have to exercise even more caution to insure their safety and peace of mind. They may not desire to have a stranger visit, but they may still be producing wonderful dogs. To not consider one of these simply because you cannot go to their home may deprive you of the very pup you are searching for!


Some want to bring cameras and take pictures of the pups and the home.


This is truly an invasion of privacy! Besides the obvious objection to this, the pictures may not be well taken. Many breeders go to great pains to have quality pictures taken of their dogs. If you want pictures, ask for some from the breeder, they will be happy to give you good ones. If you buy a pup, do not take photos at the breeders home without permission. After all, the pup will not change in the time it takes for you to get to your own home.


References. This is another area that needs to be re-considered. All the things that apply to the breeder also apply to those who own a pup. They did not get a dog so that strangers can call or even attempt to visit to see a dog that they bought as a family pet. Add to this, that this is probably the most inaccurate way to determine a breeder's quality. Anyone can give you the phone number of a friend. Even Vets do not make good references, as many have no idea of the standard for the breed, although they should be knowledgeable on health matters.


A much better way to compare breeders is to look at the guarantee that they offer. Do not expect every guarantee to be the same.


Breeding practices have changed because of buyer education. Now buying practices need to adjust to better serve the buying public and protect the breeder and puppies


So what should you expect to do to get a great pup? First, know the breed. Do not expect the breeder to supply you with a library of information simply because you have a casual interest or are investigating several breeds. Call the National Breed Club and see what information they will send you. Go to the library and read up on the breed if you know nothing about it. If you have never seen the breed, go to a dog show, It is not the breeder's job to put on a private show of all their dogs just because they may have a pup for sale. You are not entitled to see all their dogs--only the parents! Then you will be prepared to ask the breeder specific questions relating to their dogs and your desires.


© Carol Bixler

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