Tips on Choosing a Good Breeder?

If you are wondering what is the right dog for you, this is the place to be. In this introductory forum we talk about topics such as breed vs. mix, size, age, grooming, breeders, shelters, rescues as well as requirements for exercise, space and care. No question is too silly here. This particular forum is for getting and giving helpful, nice advice. It is definitely not a forum for criticizing someone else's opinion, knowledge or advice. This forum is all about tail wagging and learning.

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dog-sitter in- charge.
Barked: Sat Jul 7, '12 12:58pm PST 
it's unfortunate that the conformation ring is seen as a 'beauty contest'.. though I understand the sentiment.

I think that a good example of a breed has to also be typical in phenotype. I can find lots of really great all American mixes at the agility or obedience ring, but it doesn't mean those dogs should be bred, for example.

A good breeder is concerned with not only performance (and not all dog breeds are going to be interested in agility or ob either) but also with preserving breed type. I find that the best breeders have a balance between the two concern and knowledge about pedigree and health.

ETA: Toto, I like the concept you talked about for the Retriever club. In my breed it's called a bonitation.. a panel of judges record the physical measurements of a dog as it applies to the standards, then there is also a temperament/drive testing of sorts. The dog is then issued a bonitation code. It's non-competitive in regards to the scoring.

A passing code is required for dogs to receive breeding rights in the origin countries. So it is not necessary for dogs to go to dog shows or be championed, but still it preserves a venue of judgment.

Edited by author Sat Jul 7, '12 1:03pm PST


Barked: Sat Jul 7, '12 5:53pm PST 
"I can never figure out why people get stuck on 'show ring champion' as a gauge on if a dog is breedable.. I mean average public not breeders themselves exactly. But Seriously depending on what breed or job you're looking for a dog for show ring could be less than useless for your cause. "

You could not be further from the truth. The OP is looking for a working breed dog. A good breeder who produces a dog that is a true example of the breed will have highly alert, intelligent dogs, that require an insane amount of exercise and training. These dogs are meant to go all day every day. Any breeder who promises laid back dogs who just want to be couch potatoes is intentionally breeding out very important breed traits. If you don't want the breed traits associated with a dog then the breed is not a good match for you.

A mutt is exactly that, a mutt. It has a mishmash of physical and personality traits. Each dog needs to be evaluated as an individual. HOWEVER, a breed is supposed to have set physical and personality traits. I should be able to walk up to any lab and find an intelligent, calm, alert dog with a great drive, innate love for water, a soft mouth, a desire to please, a ground covering stride, and conformation suitable for covering long distances.

That is why it is a BREED. An unbalanced, hyper, dumb lab who hates water and has no drive is a failure. It is poor example of the breed and under no circumstances should the genes be based on. That does not mean the dog can't be a great pet but it isn't breeding quality.

The world will always have oops dogs from unplanned litters and average quality dogs that come from good breeders. There is no place for average breeders who intentionally breed dogs who do not possess the breed traits. A breeder who promises whippets with no prey drive to sell is intentionally creating a poor example of the breed. A good breeder who has a "dud" can responsibly place the dog lacking drive with a pet home. A good breeder finds a suitable home and knows that no matter how sweet, or cute, or fun the whippet is it should not be breed because it does not have an important traits that all sight-hounds possess, drive. Huge difference in intention.

A good breeder should have scrupulous business practices and the highest standards.

Every breeder I have worked with has met all of the criteria I listed and then some. These are also the type of people who will rehome dogs from previous litters if the owner's circumstances change. This can be a great opportunity to get an amazing dog that's already had the foundation work put in.

OP. If you really want a specific breed then you should seek out the best breeder possible who is breeding a true example of the breed. If you just want a large, athletic, dog then why not go to a shelter or go through a breed specific rescue?

Spooky Mulder
Barked: Sat Jul 7, '12 6:21pm PST 
Golly gee, if only dogs who's hip scores came back as "excellent" were bred, we'd have to say goodbye to breeds like the Clumber, or the St. Bernard. There would literally be none left.

Might as well say bye-bye to Goldens, Labs, GSDs, and most other popular large breeds too, as the sheer number of dogs you would have to eliminate would inevitably cause the total collapse of the breed's gene pool, thus leading to their extinction.

Golly gee, think of all the sad, disgruntled "average" or "casual" pet buyers who will have to turn to pet stores and puppy mills, because the "best" breeders ONLY sell to people active in the performance world.

Think of all the breeders who have been producing dogs since before most of us were even born, who KNOW their breed, know their bloodlines, can get with and look at and work behind a dog and know its quality, without ever HAVING to title it. Geez, shame on them, they really shouldn't be breeding, how irresponsible.


Edited by author Sat Jul 7, '12 6:22pm PST


Member Since
Barked: Sat Jul 7, '12 8:14pm PST 
Oye! You are 100% missing my point. If only phenomenal breeders produced dogs then there would still be enough "not quite breeding quality" or great dogs that are "duds" are far as breed traits. Those dogs would be amazing pet homes or performance homes or barn dogs or whatever. Even the best breeder does not produce the perfect dog 100% of the time.

I understand that a lot of breeds would have a hard time being held to those standards. Does that make it okay? Shouldn't breeders strive to create quality dogs that are not only aesthetically pleasing but also structurally sound?

Where did I say that a dog should only go to a performance home? A well bred working dog has attributes that may make it unsuitable for a pet home. Then again, if a pet home is an active hiker, loves playing ball, etc. it is possible to meet that need but it is important to recognize the energy requirements of a breed.

"Think of all the breeders who have been producing dogs since before most of us were even born, who KNOW their breed, know their bloodlines, can get with and look at and work behind a dog and know its quality, without ever HAVING to title it. Geez, shame on them, they really shouldn't be breeding, how irresponsible. "

Am I missing something? I don't understand. Of course that is irresponsible.

Why would a good breeder not want to prove their dogs in the field or in the ring? If they "know know the breed" and produce quality animals then why aren't they being shown? Why are these stunning dogs not out in the ring or field showing other breeders what they should strive for in their own stock? It is easy to tout having great dogs when they never face competition. How can you better a breed without competition? Besides the opinion of a supposedly experienced person, what makes these animals worthy of breeding? How can breeder know for sure that they are making forward progress with their program without having that dog judged by an qualified judge against the breed standard?

I don't think purebred dogs need to be some weird elitist thing but I do think that breeders should strive to produce the best dogs possible that meet the breed standard. Intentionally breeding away from the standard (be it physical or personality traits) just doesn't make any sense. Standards are there for a reason. Why not support breeders who do everything possible to meet standards?

Spooky Mulder
Barked: Sat Jul 7, '12 8:53pm PST 
Am I missing something? I don't understand. Of course that is irresponsible.

Where to even being.

There is no title for the dog who works the beat with his K9 handler, or the PPD who guards his family's home.
There is no title for the dog who stalks out into the woods each seasons and trees his owner's quarry.
There is no title for the dog who bays that pesky hog, or holds it in place for his owner to catch.
There is no title for the dog who guards his master's flock tireless day in and day out.
There is no title for the dog who rats his owner's farm with more passion than most people will ever know in a single lifetime.

Show titles and conformation ratings only mean so much. You talk about working dogs "proving" themselves, yet a title proves ONLY that the dog is CAPABLE of being worked, not that he is actually a good worker. Only actually WORKING can do that, and there are few titles for dogs who are actual workers, and not show ponies in the ring.

Furthermore, who the breeder is and what their experience is speaks volumes. I would take a dog from an untitled bitch who's breeder had been producing exceptional dogs for decades and dozens of generations, over some hotshot with a titled dog who didn't know squat about the breed or what actually went behind it.

Nothing is ever so black and white I'm afraid.

ETA- what makes a breeder "phenomenal" is entirely subjective, and while the things you've listed are certainly all nice things to have, they do not embody what ALL good breeders do or don't do.

Edited by author Sat Jul 7, '12 8:56pm PST


The Boy Wonder
Barked: Sun Jul 8, '12 3:50am PST 
Lilith... just as an aside I'm a border collie person. I run stock dogs... and I have yet to see a border collie come out of the show ring that I'd touch for stock work. Yes many of them 'prove' themselves in a trial ring but that's the difference between competition martial arts vs actually being able to defend yourself in an emergency.

Being able to do one doesn't mean that an individual can do the other.

Add to that, the narrow interpretation on what a 'good border collie' looks like is so narrow as to cut 99% of the working population out. And calls for a coat and actually a structure that is highly impractical for work. The border collies in the show ring are as a group to heavy boned, to long with out the grace and structure that makes a good stock dog. Yes stock dogs have a general structure that is suited to their work, but it's not anywhere close to the 'breed standard' that was drawn up by people who had never worked their dogs. There are other working breeds who's traits have been so exaggerated that they are no longer Able to do their traditional jobs. Or even a job at all.

Dexter, you and I will have to agree to disagree that Ch. means Anything at all when looking for a good dog. Because to me in the breeds I work with, not only my border collies but also my preference for German Shepherds, Dutch shepherds and Belgian Malinois the show titles don't mean a thing towards my wanting a working dog. Actually it's more likely that the titles mean that the dogs I'm looking at won't Have the correct temperament for work.

And to elaborate on Mulder's statement on 'competitions'

I've yet to see a herding trial that really shows real world requirements for a stock dog. That doesn't mean I don't trial my dogs but usually those that do best in trials are least useful to me as a true working stock dog. The amount of grit needed to work tough stock every day is considered bad form in most 'trials'.

dog-sitter in- charge.
Barked: Sun Jul 8, '12 8:56am PST 
Happy -

I understand that within some breeds, but even in the circle of working breeders, are they breeding to some interpretation of their own physical standards, or none at all? I never said the club standard was THE standard, after all. Independent breed clubs can also have their own conformation standards and ways to judge that.

Standards as they are accepted within the AKC are dictated by the national club. It's unfortunate within some breeds, the majority of club participants are people who don't work their dog and don't keep the standard to reflect a realistic working dog.

People who love their breed, IMHO, should always join the breed club. Leaving it up to others or feeling like it's all hopeless anyway, is what caused the problems in the first place.

Well, at least, I think so. But then again I do recycle all my cans and cardboard too.. laugh out loud

Edited by author Sun Jul 8, '12 8:57am PST

Bruno CGC

Honorary Kelpie
Barked: Sun Jul 8, '12 12:01pm PST 
Oy. Can we agree that a good breeder is someone who loves and is knowledgeable about their breed (and dogs in general), breeds with a goal in mind and strives to improve on their dogs, takes responsibility for the pups they produce (making sure they only go to good homes, refunding or replacing defective ones, taking them back if unwanted), and can prove to you that their dogs are able (physically and mentally) to do the job you intend for your puppy... whether it's showing, agility, herding, protection, hunting... or just being a great companion.

Obviously there are many ways to be a good breeder, and many different "benchmarks" (various health tests, show and performance titles, etc) that may be all-important or meaningless, depending on your breed and your intentions for your pup. But I think these traits are pretty universal across breeds.
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