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How to Find a Responsible Dog Breeder

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After you've found the perfect dog breed, it's time to find the dog perfect breeder. How do you find a responsible, trustworthy professional  breeder? Here's a handy list of resources to help in your search:

  • The American Kennel Club has a National or Parent Club for each dog breed, as well as contact information. The Club can direct you to breeders in your state or region.
  • Area kennel clubs
  • Obedience training clubs
  • Veterinarians
  • Groomers
  • Boarding kennel operators

What breeders want to know about you

Gail Miller, former director of marketing for the American Kennel Club (AKC), grew up in a family that bred bearded collies. "My mother would screen people scrupulously over the phone before she ever made an appointment for them to come meet the dogs,'' Miller said. "She was very concerned about matching the right family, or individual, with the right puppy.''

That's what responsible breeders do -- screen, question and evaluate prospective buyers -- because they care about where their puppies grow up. They're in it for the love of the breed. Good professional breeders are committed to producing healthy, well-socialized puppies and preserving breed characteristics.

What to look for in a breeder

Kitty Worthington bought her first Pomeranian, Queenie, from a breeder listed with the AKC. "I had heard from dog-owning friends that this was the only way to go since the AKC is an old and reputable organization, so I knew that I could trust the breeders they recommended.''

She found a breeder on Long Island and liked the way the woman sounded on the phone. "She invited me to come and look at her dogs, and to see how she raised them,'' said Worthington. "She also told me that I was under no obligation to buy one.

"I took her up on her offer and visited her home where she kept 11 dogs; some were her pets. They were beautifully groomed, healthy looking, frisky and alert. After seeing the dogs and asking questions, it was clear that she was raising the dogs in a very responsible, humane and loving way. I picked out a puppy, and the following week I brought Queenie home.

"I liked that my breeder screened me,'' Worthington said. "She told me that if I decided to part with the dog, I could sell it back to her.''

This reassured Worthington and enhanced the breeder's credibility.

Satisfaction guaranteed

Although Gail Miller's family raised bearded collies, her companion dogs today are two well-loved and thoroughly exercised Dachshunds, who are much more suited to her physically active, New York City lifestyle.

A characteristic that she requires from breeders is that they care about the well-being of their dogs after adoption. Even after four years, when her long-haired Dachshund developed a problem with its chest fur, Miller called her breeder to get advice. "This is someone I have a relationship with and that knows my dog's health lineage better than anybody,'' she said.

A love match

Keep in mind that you are not just being matched with a breed; you are finding a love match with an individual dog.

"Queenie is about 8 pounds,'' said Worthington, "with a face like a little teddy bear and long, gorgeous, ginger-colored fur. She just yanked at my heartstrings. She's a total lap dog. Loves cuddling, affection, being held - all a good fit for me.''

Then she adds with surprise and conviction, "I was never really a dog person but since adopting Queenie, I'm a complete convert. She's been a revelation as well as a joy.''

Credit: Reveiwed by Amy I. Attas, V.M.D.
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