Selecting A Dog Breeder Made Easy With These 10 Questions
Selecting A Dog Breeder
Imagine bringing the puppy of your dreams home and spending the rest of your life with this canine companion by your side. Healthy. Happy.
But you realize that in order to do that, you must find a great dog breeder from which to buy said dream puppy. You need some tips on how to select a dog breeder that qualifies as the best of the best. One who takes their role as your partner in your dog’s life as seriously as you do.
In order to find this person and commit to them, you need the following 10 tips for selecting a dog breeder. If you use these considerations as you interview prospective breeders, I can guarantee you success in landing your dream puppy!
Here we go…
10. Dog Health
Health testing must be a factor in your decision when selecting a dog breeder.
We have come a long way in recent years in the field of canine health and genetic testing and most reputable dog breeders do some or all of this testing on their breeding stock BEFORE breeding in order to both prevent disease in their puppies but also to track their lines for inheritable diseases.
That said, while I know some breeders who question the validity of all these tests, I do not know of any that I would consider reputable that doesn’t do at least SOME health tests on their breeding stock.
If you are considering a breeder that does not test their dogs, walk away… fast!
- Buying a Puppy: The Gap Between Desire and Reason
- The Fallacy of Dog Rescue – Why Reputable Dog Breeders Are NOT the Problem
9. Dog Behavior and Temperament
When selecting a dog breeder, I believe both the personality of the breeder and the temperament of his/her dogs is a consideration that cannot be minimized!
As I mentioned in my first post Do You Own A Big Dog Or Want To? Big Dog Mom Can Help! I have experienced the best and the worst when it comes to temperament.
I encourage you to read Linus’s story here, Life With An Aggressive Dog: A Letter To My Sweet Baboo.
Ask yourself, the following questions:
- Is this breeder someone I can comfortably speak to?
- Do I have a rapport with this dog breeder?
- Is this dog breeder willing to answer all of my questions without being defensive?
- Are they knowledgeable and experienced in the breed?
- Is this breeder respected by colleagues and experts in the breed?
- And, perhaps most importantly, is this dog breeder asking YOU more questions than you are asking him/her?
If your answer is no to any one of these, walk away!
Looking for tips on how to provide the best care for your big dog? Grab your FREE Do’s and Don’ts Guide to Big Dog Ownership today!
8. Pedigree and Lineage
When you are choosing a dog breeder, I strongly urge you to do your homework on the history of their pedigrees.
What you see is a strong indicator of what you will be getting. If you don’t like it, walk away… kindly.
7. Reputation in the Dog World
What are other people saying about this breeder?
Now, I’m not talking about gossip or Facebook silliness, but honest feedback from respected folks in the breed.
Does this person have a positive reputation? Can you speak to former puppy buyers, the breeder’s veterinarian, or maybe to popular handlers whom you trust to get information?
“Like” them on Facebook and observe how they speak to people and what information they share. I have found true colors are often seen in social media so go with your gut on this one.
Do your due diligence!
And if you would like help with what questions to ask prospective breeders and others to assess their reputation during this due diligence process, read the Top 7 Questions To Ask A Dog Breeder Before Buying A Puppy.
And when you are ready, download your free 40 Questions to Ask a Dog Breeder Guide to use during your interviews.
6. Long-term commitment
Selecting a dog breeder is a decision with long term ramifications.
Ask yourself if this person is committed to you, the prospective buyer, and to the puppies they produce?
Does this breeder have a solid contract in place for this puppy that protects both you and the breeder for the life of the dog?
As a Big Dog Mom, I do maintain consistent communication with Junior’s and Sulley’s breeders.
I have come to understand what an important and valuable relationship these are for me and for my dogs and how much I value the knowledge, expertise, and support they give me.
5. Honesty and integrity
Look for a dog breeder that will share with you the positives and the negatives about their dogs.
Ask yourself the following questions:
- Does this person gloss over the negatives or present them as positives?
- Does he present his dogs as though they are perfect?
- Does this breeder hyper-focus on some areas but not others?
In the world of Mastiffs, breeders who consistently tout and publicly report their dogs’ size and weight are a huge pet peeve for me.
When a Mastiff fits the breed standard, his size and weight will fall in line where genetics say they should. Therefore a dog breeder who focuses on his dog’s size and weight is doing both his dogs and the Mastiff breed a huge injustice.
In your breed, is it excessive wrinkle, angulation, or drive, etc.?
Don’t forget to grab your FREE Do’s and Don’ts Guide to Big Dog Ownership.
4. Early Socialization and puppy fear periods
Your dog breeder will be the one person solely responsible for the care and raising of your new puppy for the first 8-10+ weeks of his/her life.
Future posts will focus on the critical periods of development that a puppy goes through during these early weeks and what breeders can/should do to make the most of them.
Consider reading my interview with Jadem Mastiffs for an example of what good looks like in terms of a breeder’s role in socializing and stimulating puppies.Your dog breeder will be the one person solely responsible for the care and raising of your new puppy for the first 8-10+ weeks of his/her life.
3. Ask for feedback
If you have a family, consider selecting a dog breeder to be a family decision.
What does your spouse think? If not a spouse, a trusted friend or family member?
Don’t discount the feedback you get.
Don’t make excuses. Just listen and take it all in.
2. Trust your gut
Alright, time for a gut check. Is there anything still nagging at you or questions you have that have gone unanswered?
I have found that, especially when puppies are already on the ground and I have already fallen in love, this gut check is particularly challenging.
[READ: Buying a Puppy: The Gap Between Desire and Reason]
Like with human relationships, sometimes we have a hard time defining exactly what is in our gut.
However, if your gut is saying no, go with it!
1. Your future with this Dog Breeder
Now, after all of that, close your eyes. Imagine 10 years into the future.
Do you see your big dog, with his sweet gray muzzle and calming spirit, faithfully warming your feet as you send off random pictures of him sleeping to his breeder?
If not, what do you see?
As Franklin Covey says, “Begin with the End in Mind.” Can you see yourself working with this breeder for the next 8-10 years?
If you can, congratulations!! I can’t wait to see pictures of your new puppy!
Did I Miss Anything?
I am curious what you think about this list?
Are there other considerations you have used when selecting a dog breeder? I would love to hear from you!
Please leave me a comment and tell me what has worked well. What hasn’t?
Communication during the process/before picking out or picking up the puppy. Is the breeder responsive and transparent? Communicates well about selection process, wellbeing of puppies, pictures and/or videos, updates. I’m having a hard time with this one, and I’m not sure if I’m just a nervous mommy-to-be!
Thank you, Natalie! You have every right to be cautious and nervous, especially if your gut is telling you something that, perhaps, your mind and heart don’t want to hear. I hope that makes sense. I love your point about communication. I am someone that wants and expects over-communication from my breeder. When I don’t get it, I start to worry and question what is happening on the other end with my soon-to-be puppy. My expectations for most, even great, breeders is unrealistic though, so I try to have a little patience and grace if I don’t get updates every day or responses within a few minutes. Remember, they have lives too. 🙂 I have always said in a perfect world I would find a breeder who would just live stream every minute of every day so I wouldn’t miss a minute of my new baby’s life. Haha!
I found you in Pinterest of all places:) I am about to purchase a Mastiff but I see the breeder has a name and I cannot find it on the internet, I found the breeder on AKC but not when I google the name. Says he has breed three times and only have had the dog four years. How do I check the credibility of the breeders
I think finding a breeder who goes the extra mile is important. I was looking for a dog to be a therapy dog. I contacted several breeders and told them my intentions. I found 1 breeder who temperament tested his litter to get me a dog that had the best chances of passing the test to work as one.
He also refused to fly out his pups and wanted to meet the people who were taking his pups. He offered to travel over 400 miles in order meet us. We wanted to see his kennels and meet the parents personally so we traveled over 800 miles to pick up our baby. Now 4 years later our 180lb baby brings ton of smiles to those in the facilities he visits.
What a wonderful story of a truly great breeder! He was someone who not only understood what it meant and what it took to be a therapy dog, but also how critical it is to place each puppy in the right home. A breeder who sees the relationship from both sides is one I want to celebrate and thank! They are the ones who generally go the extra mile in the raising of the puppies too – exposures to new sights, people and sounds, stimulating activities, etc. I’m so happy for you and your 180 lb blessing! Thank you so much for your diligence in finding and supporting one of the great ones with your puppy purchase. I think of that 800 miles not as a price you had to pay, but as an investment in your future partner.
I think it is important to remember that selecting a breeder is a two way interview. A breeder is not obligated to sell you a puppy. Respect is key, and if a breeder has a website take the time to research the information on the website before you make contact as many questions are likely answered simply by reading the website. There is no bigger turn off than leading with “Do you have puppies in disqualifying colors for the breed standard/ how much?” followed closely by the assumption that one is entitled to a puppy simply because it is available. Red flags for the puppy seeker can be requiring a non-refundable deposit simply to have your name placed on a list for a litter that is not yet conceived. Another red flag is taking deposits for newborn puppies still wet: this may indicate a breeder who is producing puppies strictly for the sales market. It might guarantee you a particular puppy, but you may not like the temperament of that puppy and may be stuck with it or forfeit your deposit.
I couldn’t agree with you more, Theresa! It goes both ways and a reputable breeder has every right to refuse a sale as someone does buy a puppy. With the exception of one, all of the breeders I have gotten puppies from interviewed me as much as I interviewed them. The disqualifying colors is an entirely different, but no less frustrating issue for sure. I feel for great breeders. Thank you so much for sharing these thoughts and some additional red flags as well.
When you find an amazing breeder, it could be WAY more than a 10 year relationship! I have Newfs from 3 breeders, and I STILL have them all as mentors. I had a 3 year relationship with Christine before I was able to purchase a Newf from her. Now, one of my best friends, myself and my son’s family all have a dog from her! And I hope she breeds long enough that all the rest of my Newfs wil come from her. The relationship with your breeder is paramount. Be sure that you click philosophically too. And I am so grateful to Christine as I can call her anytime for advice. This article is great and I will share it, often!
Thank you so much, Lori!! I couldn’t agree with you more. People ask me all the time if I can recommend a great breeder for them, and it’s funny how I always draw from my shortlist. Of course, there are many out there, but when you’ve built the trust and respect with a certain breeder, their ethics, their standards, and dogs… I have a hard time moving away from them. Thank you so much for such a great comment! I’d love to know who this Christine is! If we ever move from this desert, we may be in the market for a Newfie!
It looks like i picked an EXCELLENT breeder! I did my research and we stayed in touch for 2 years until i was ready for my pup. He answered every question I had and i did the same for him. We visited his home a few times and met the parents of my pup who are actually champions. My baby is 5 1/2 months now and i share pics with him, vet visits, and he loves it. He tells me when the vet could just be looking for money and he helps me find solutions that work. He is amazing and i would recommend him to everyone and i have been doing just that! It’s so good to know that I picked right! He even gave me the name of the classes i need to get my puppy started in showing. Thing is he is far from me and the groups near me aren’t responding and he lives a nice distance from me so i cannot go where he went realistically. If you have any extra ideas on that for me i would appreciate it. I live in Hemet CA. By the way I love watching your YouTube videos and I am just learning about bigdogmom.com and i look forward to all that you have to offer as well. Have a blesssed day!