It is so depressingly easy to find a not-so-good breeder, the people who don’t really care about what they’re doing or what they’re producing. They don’t do anything to try to ensure the health of their puppies, and provide no significant guarantee. Once that pup is out the door, it is out of mind and not their problem anymore. And there are lots and lots of perfectly good dogs in this world who have come from breeders like this, but there are also dogs who are unhealthy and poorly tempered, and no fun to live with. Genetics are tricky- it is possible to breed a dog with certified good hips to a dog with certified good hips and end up with a dog with lousy hips. We don’t know everything about the contributing factors of hip dysplasia, and environment and upbringing play a role too. But by choosing a breeder who is contientious about health testing, you are doing what you can to stack the odds in your favor. And by choosing someone who stands behind their puppies, you are going to have support if something does go wrong.
Several weeks ago we talked about some things to research before looking at breeders. This week we’re going to talk about where to actually find a breeder.
Look at National Registries.
The AKC is usually the organization that people think of when they think of dogs, but there are also other reputable organizations out there (The UKC is another reputable multi-breed registry that is more focused on hunting breeds and also on the American Pit Bull Terrier). All of the AKC Breeds have National Breed Clubs, and most of them have websites and breeder referral programs. Breeders listed on these pages are members of the breed club and have generally agreed to a Code of Ethics. These things do not guarantee that the breeder is a good one… but it gives you a place to start. An breeder involved in their breed club is much more likely to be an active and engaged breeder, not just someone producing puppies for cash.
Local Breed Clubs
The AKC offers on its website a very nice Club Directory. On it you can search for anything from Obedience Clubs to Conformation (breed shows) Clubs in your area. Here, for example, is the website for the Lancaster Kennel Club. They have a breeder referral hotline (both phone and email) and can help connect you to a local breeder. They also list their events! This is great, because going to events is a fantastic way to get out there, see some nice dogs, and meet the breeders.
Which leads us to the third suggestion: Go to events!
There are all kinds of events out there– dog shows large and small, meet the breed days, agility, retrieving, and obedience trials, hunt tests, flyball tournaments– and knowledgeable dog people are going to be attending all of these. The Harrisburg Farm Show Complex hosts multiple large dog shows every year that are open to the public. The 2014 Agility, Obedience, and Rally Obedience National Championships will be held in Harrisburg this coming March (very exciting for dog nerds!). Here is a quick primer on attending dog shows— it can be a bit intimidating to someone unfamiliar with that world, but many exhibitors are more than happy to talk to you about the breed and about their dogs if you know how to catch them at the right time (hint: not when they’re about to go into the ring!) These people love dogs. They devote a lot of their time and money to showing and breeding their dogs. They want other people to love dogs, too.
Hopefully this will give everyone some idea of where to start looking for a breeder. It does take time and effort to do the research, but it is worth it to find someone producing dogs who are going to measure up to what you are looking for and to have a person who stands behind the puppies they produce, someone who will have your back if you run into difficulties. It is a very different experience than the cash-and-carry of a petstore or a Craig’s List ad. It is so much better.
In the next post in this series we’ll look at how to decide whether a breeder is a good one or not. Looking forward to it!