"Responsible" Breeder Checklist
By Carol Keen
Let me start by saying that the word "responsible" has been pulled into all sorts of things by many people at this point in time. It can be used to deem a breeder worthy of working with or owning a dog from, or it can be used to trash them and wreck their world! I have seen it go both ways. I have seen many, many lists of definitions of this term. I have dealt with confused potential puppy owners who don't know where to go, or what to do from all the confusion. I will remind my readers that though I do breed, *EVERY* breeder had to buy their dogs from somewhere to start their breeding program. I hope that the pit falls that I have walked through will never be dealt with by other buyers and it is my hope that this web page will help ease the confusion and answer a few of the questions. On this page you will see many of the things that I hold myself to, similar to my own "Hippocratic oath" for any animal that I raise.
1) How long will the person I buy a dog from stay in my life? What if I need them??? Will they be there for me if I have a problem or a question? The answer to this question should be a resounding yes. It is something I have had people I bought from refuse to do for me. That just made it more important to me that my puppy owners understand that I am here for them and their dog as long as they want or need me. Preferably, all the days of that animal's life! Forging a friendship born of a beautiful puppy is the goal. For me it is never just a sale. There is always an exception though. If you are the one to cause that exception then your breeder might not be able to work with you anymore. For example, if you buy a pup or a dog and then give it away and expect support you that is not going to work out well. If you fail to listen to your breeder when they are giving you sound advice that doesn't work out well either!
2) Is willing to answer questions, no matter how crazy they sound! After all, if we do not ask we can not learn!!! If the person I buy from can't tell me about my dog and normally their parents what is really going on there? My life has taught me that it is normally much better if the person you are buying from OWNS BOTH the Dam (Mom) and the Sire (Dad). This goes against what you will read in many places, but it goes hand in hand with the personal knowledge of that dog's background. Yes, sometimes a breeder will only own either the Dam or Sire. More often than not though I want to work with someone who owns them both. This breeder can tell me whatever I need to know about either parent, or put me in touch with the owner of the other mate if need be. If the pup was the result of breeding to someone else's dog, then I will want to know why they chose that mating. What was or is the reason(s) behind that mating?
3) Socializes the puppies! Puppies need interaction. They need their Dam and litter mates until at least 6 weeks of age, and in most of my pups that extends to 8 weeks or more of age. I realize that many breeders are afraid to say how their puppies are raised, but best ones I have worked with will tell you! They will tell you the personality and temperament of the pups. As a breeder I work to match the puppy to the new owner(s) for a perfect and proper life long match! Beyond color, and size, is a match that has to be made much like finding the right person when you are dating!
4) Will make arrangements for a buyer to return a dog at any time in that dog's life! This doesn't mean a refund or even an exchange if someone isn't happy with their dog suddenly. This is a solemn sworn PROMISE to the lives that we brought into this world that they will be cared for even if the person who thought they could suddenly can't anymore. They are not going to wind up in a shelter, or homeless. They will ALWAY ALWAYS ALWAYS have a home back where they were born.
5) Breeders aren't God! We can't promise you a dog will turn out a certain way! We can give you an estimated weight grown, or tell you this one has great promise, or looks like it has good show potential. No one can honestly tell you with 100% certainty that a dog is going to turn out just so. Too many things can happen in-between. This isn't to say you can't be told this dog should be about 6 pounds. That is an honest estimate. It isn't to say that a breeder can't say to you that this dog looks like it will be Championship quality. This IS to say that if you wind up with someone who tells you anything along the lines of a promise that this dog will be X pounds with out question, or be a Champion with out a doubt, those people haven't learned yet that you can't foresee the future. You can not promise things like that, and a "responsible" breeder will have learned that.
6) How long has this person been breeding? Have they worked with other breeds? Do they have a background that helped them become a breeder? While you don't want to buy from someone raising many many breeds of dogs...that should set off major alarms in your mind, you can benefit from a breeder who has worked with several breeds over their lifetime. Or even a breeder who does choose to work with 2 or 3 breeds. In those cases I often find they focus primarily on 1-2 breeds, but are also working with another breed for a really good reason. Don't be too harsh on someone who has more than 2 breeds, give them a chance. That said, do learn why they have the breeds they do. What drew them to those breeds? How long have they been working with those breeds, and why? In my case I am a 4th generation "Breed Preservationist" or breeder. I have learned much from those who came before me, including just working with breeds that I personally never bred. I was around them long enough to know that while I love all animals, that was not the breed that owns a large part of my heart, but a Pomeranian is one of those breeds. Don't fall for someone who is breeding many breeds with out really caring for them, but find a breeder who has a passion for the breed or breeds they are working with.
7) Genetic issues. Just typing that in many groups opens up full scale warfare! I do ask you to read the other links I have placed under my Information link. The is one imperfect world folks! You want a dog who is as sound in health as the breeder can be sure of, but don't be paranoid either. No, you do not want patella's that are bad, nor hips with dysphasia, or heart issues. But if you are working with, here comes that word again "reputable" breeder, then that person will be able to explain to you what they do, and why. Many buyers are not aware of the fact that the actual testing for hips and patella can cause them to hyper-extend and cause the dog to be in pain for the rest of their life! What about the risk of the anesthetics that was used to get the x-rays and run the tests? TALK TALK TALK to the person you want to buy from about why they do or do not do these tests. What do they feel the risks are for their dogs? Have they had these issues in the bloodlines?
8) In the Pomeranian breed, and it varies from breed to breed, but the AKC says that female Poms can be bred by the age of 8 months old and that males can start to sire litters by 7 months old. Personally I don't do that often, but there is a time and a place when it happens. While I don't want to buy from someone who breeds all their females at 8 months old, I wouldn't pass on the right puppy just because the Dam was young. Many health and genetic reasons are starting to emerge and be researched that may change the current common ideas about the age and number of breedings that are popular! This one is going to require the buyer to get to know the breeder, to talk to them and for the breeder to give the buyer honest answers. This really ties in with the above things I have listed.
9) It should go with out saying, but it doesn't. (Sighs!) NEVER EVER EVER sells their animals to Pet Stores! As a buyer you want to be able to work with the person who raised your puppy. If you are getting a pup from a pet store, there is no way to know how many times that puppy has changed hands since it was born! Did its own Dam even raise it? Was it shipped from several "facilities" until it wound up in that store? If a place is USDA inspected, ask WHY!!! Normally USDA is only needed if dogs or cats are being sold to pet shops. If your pup starts behaving a certain way at a certain age, you want that breeder there to help you, or maybe even tell you something as important as....his Sire did that! <G>
10) The breeder will not let me come to their house. What does that mean? Ask them why! I can tell you why I do not let people come to my home 99% of the time. First of all, our world has made many changes, and many are not for our good. If you search you will find that people have been killed in their own homes by puppy buyers! Cases abound where buyers didn't like the prices, didn't like the breeder, were mad because they couldn't buy the adult dogs even! As a result homes have been broken into and robbed, owners killed or threatened, dogs have been stolen or poisoned!!! Scammers will come to a home or kennel and then claim injuries even! This is not a risk I am willing to take! Other breeders feel this way too. Yes, many are still in safe places where they are not worried about opening a viewing area to their buyers, but many others of us are concerned. For all breeders concerned about these issues we are more than willing to meet you when it is possible in a safe open public location for the safety of ourselves, our dogs and yes, even our buyers! If you live states away, then you need to talk to that breeder until you are secure with getting a dog from them. Most breeders like myself will send you many pictures of the puppy you are interested in, and will arrange to meet with you if possible, but that doesn't mean that if it isn't in their home that they are a bad breeder.
11) Scams...How I hate to write this! This happens more and more often of late. It is so very sad! I am going to use a true story from my life to help other see how this sort of thing works. I had a great home being considered for one of my puppies. The only problem was that the potential new owners were "on hold" with another puppy. A waiting period was put in place for the buyer to get a wonderful cheap puppy who just needed a "good Christian home". The current owner was reported to just "not have enough time for the puppy anymore, due to Ministerial obligations overseas. This scenario is a SCAM!
It makes me so mad! Not only do these scammers often use the name of God to try to cheat people, but they often scam the ones who are good honestly Godly people! UGGG! :p This is how people loose money and still wind up with out a dog. The way the rest of the scam works is that the seller will have the buyer send money overseas, or to someone who is only in the USA for 2 weeks or so. They take the funds, and the dog is never shipped.
What this means for you as a buyer, if it sounds like the deal of the century, ASK someone! E-mail me, or ask people you trust! These scams make all of us that are honestly working to find our pups the right homes angry and frustrated for buyers to be taken advantage of like this! I still believe that most of us online raising our pups are "responsible" honest breeders. However, those few bad apples that make everyone afraid of the barrel are out there. It doesn't have to be that way and it does not have to happen to you!
I sure hope this page has helped! As ALWAYS with me, Please feel free to ask questions!