Choosing a Good Breeder

What are the hallmarks of a good breeder?

*A good breeder breeds to the standard. What does that mean? All breeds have a standard by which they are measured. The standard is what makes a Siberian Husky a Siberian Husky and not an Alaskan Malamute. Do your homework. ( is a good place to start) Know the breed standard for the breed in which you are interested. Don't fall for the idea that you are getting a "rare color" or some other variation that is outside the standard for your breed. There is a reason the standard exists.

*Good breeders participate in dog shows as well as a variety of other competitive events, and use the information they learn to determine where their dogs' strengths and weaknesses are and what they need to address in their breeding program. They look at their dogs with a critical but loving eye. This is always to the benefit of the breed and to you, the consumer.

*A good breeder provides information regarding health testing. All dogs should have, as a minimum, testing for eyes (CERF) and hips (OFA or PennHip). If you have done your research on a breed, you will know what health concerns there are in your breed of choice. ALL breeds have health concerns. If a breeder tells you the breed has no health problems, look someplace else. All breeders know their breed's health issues and by acknowledging this are able to use this information in making breeding decisions. This is why they do health testing. The breeder should be able to show the documentation of all tests. Responsible breeders will list the tests and the dogs' scores or clearances.

*A good breeder is a member of a local and/or national breed club and registers puppies with a reputable kennel club such as the American Kennel Club, United Kennel Club, or Canadian Kennel Club

*The registry used tells you a great deal about a breeder. In the U.S., registration with the AKC (American Kennel Club) UKC (United Kennel Club), ARBA (American Rare Breed Association) or the foreign registries - the CKC (Canadian Kennel Club) or FCI (Federation Cynologique International) -- are considered acceptable registries. Many other registries were started after the AKC instituted the Frequently Used Sires (FUS) requirement, which requires DNA certification of a male dog used to sire more than three (3) litters in a year or seven (7) litters in his lifetime. Some litters have been turned down by the AKC because of violation of this requirement, and some breeders boycott the AKC as they cannot, or will not, meet AKC's more stringent requirements for breeders. Many new registries were begun in response to the FUS requirement.

Some examples of registries that should set off alarms that you are not dealing with a responsible breeder include:

ACA (American Canine Association)

APR (American Purebred Registry)

APRI (America's Pet Registry Inc.)

ARU (Animal Registry Unlimited)

CKC (Continental Kennel Club)

FIC (Federation of International Canines)

NAPDR (North American Purebred Dog Registry)

USKC (United States Kennel Club)

WKC (World Kennel Club)

WWKC (World Wide Kennel Club)

Please note that some of the registries have similar or the same initials as the older, well-established, traditional registries. This can cause confusion for consumers. Don't be fooled.

Even if the puppy you are getting is registered with a traditional registry, think twice before buying from a kennel that also utilizes alternative registries. If the breeder is raising healthy dogs in a manner which complies with the high standards of a traditional registry, why wouldn't all their dogs be registered with them?

*All good breeders will sell with a contract. If you are buying a pet, the contract should be for limited registration with a spay/neuter agreement. Good breeders are concerned about the pet population, and they're also concerned about THEIR puppy! They knowthe extent of work and commitment that goes into raising quality dogs. Offspring of dogs sold on limited registration cannot be registered with legitimate registries.

*If you are interested in showing your dog in conformation, the breeder should be seeking to mentor you or know that you have a mentor that understands the ins and outs of conformation. Know what you are signing. Do not agree to "puppy back" agreements if you are a novice, unless you know you have sufficient help in not only whelping a litter but in making decisions about placement of the puppies. Do not allow yourself to be pressured into making a decision to show or breed your dog. There is a lot involved, and a good breeder knows that a female is at risk when whelping, particularly if she is with an inexperienced owner.

*A good breeder does not allow puppies to leave their mother before at least eight (8) weeks of age. Even when a puppy is weaned, it is being socialized in the litter. Puppies thus learn how to interact with the world. Bite inhibition is just one example of a lesson missed by puppies removed at an early age from their mother.

*Good breeders focus their attention on only one breed or a couple of breeds. A lot of time goes into learning about their breed of choice. They know they can't spread their efforts over more than one or two, or possibly three breeds. Their efforts are in the quality of dog, not the quantity.

*A good breeder is going to ask you questions to make sure you and the breed of dog you're looking at are a good match. Responsible breeders want to make a placement for life. They're careful where their puppies are placed so that they're truly members of the family. Be honest with them and you can learn a lot.

*A good breeder is willing to answer your questions about the breedand may have books or websites they refer you to for more information.

Take the time to read the Should You Breed Chart.

For more information on finding a responsible breeder, visit these websites: