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Owning a Dog Part 2: Finding a Reliable Breeder

Let’s say you’ve decided you want a puppy. Better yet, you’ve decided what breed of dog you want to buy. Finding a breeder may not be as easy as it sounds. You can’t just open up the phone book and find a listing. Finding a breeder capable of providing you with a puppy can take weeks, even months, depending on the breed. (more after the jump)

First, let me run over a few quick things you should know about breeders. Anyone who has a dog with puppies can call themselves a breeder. Just because you see an ad in the paper doesn’t mean the person is a legitimate breeder with credentials. If you’re looking for a well-bred, breed standard, healthy puppy who has been well cared for in its first few months, you need to find an accredited breeder. I’m not saying this is the only way to go, by any means. If you want to adopt from a pound or purchase puppies from your neighbor, have at it. But if you want papers and a guarantee that your dog comes from credible, breed-standard bloodlines, you absolutely have to choose the right breeder.

Strider's Mother and Sister (Julie Fisher)

To find well accredited breeders, you have to play the role of a super-sleuth. There’s a lot of investigative work that goes into locating a breeder. I’ve figured out a pretty easy way, however, to quickly find nearby breeders. Start out with a basic Google search. Type in criteria along the lines of “*breed name* breeders in Texas” Most of the websites that come up will give you limited information unless you subscribe; however all you need is the name of a breeder or their kennel to continue your search. Using that name, go back to Google and redo the search. Nine times out of ten the breeder you searched for will have their own website. If they don’t, then they aren’t usually worth buying from.

Look around on their website, and see if they look serious. Usually, they will write about how much they love their dogs and will have pages dedicated to their breeding stock. They usually post information on available litters as well. While examining their website, your main concern is to make sure the breeder isn’t actually part of a puppy mill. Mills contain dogs in very poor condition, and puppies bought from these places usually have severe health problems and behavior issues. You can usually tell if a breeder is part of a puppy mill if they don’t include many pictures of their dogs, or if their website is lacking information. Good breeders don’t breed a female more than once a year.

If you decide the breeder seems legitimate, and you feel comfortable with their kennel, it’s time to contact them. Usually the easiest way is to e-mail them.  A good breeder will care about the home their puppy is going to and will ask you questions about your lifestyle, so feel free to include this information in your e-mail. Also include what you are looking for as far as color, sex, and personality.  The big questions you need to ask them are: when is their next litter is available, do they have a health guarantee, and how much do they require on a down payment?  Don’t just e-mail one breeder.  Shop around and contact a number of breeders.  It’s always good to have a backup plan.

Strider was a hard dog to find. Evidently collies are rare dogs in West Texas, and it took me weeks to find a breeder even in the state. The breeder I chose was near Austin, and when time came for her dog to give birth, no puppies came. It turned out both of her expecting females had false pregnancies, leaving me puppy-less. She referred me to a breeder in Texarkana with a male for sale, so I sent them the down payment and got my next-day news shift covered. The next day I set out for east Texas, a trip that got me lost in Arkansas and ended up landing us with a hotel bill.

All that is to say don’t think a down payment guarantees you a puppy. Sometimes what seems like divine intervention will change circumstances at the last minute. Always have a backup plan and be prepared to go to great lengths to get the puppy you want. Carefully choose a breeder you trust and keep in close contact with them. If you put in the hard work, the puppy you get will almost always live up to your standards.

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