How to Choose a Breeder...
I often get asked how to find a good breeder. The first two things you should know are:
1. The practice of breeding dogs is not regulated by any organization.
2. The AKC Registration does not guarantee health, quality or a temperamentally sound dog.
Anyone can put two dogs together and have a litter. It is up to the puppy buyer to educate themselves on how to find a reputable/responsible breeder and to ask for health testing.
If you have children living at home with you, I encourage you to be absolutely concerned about the temperament of the puppy you are bringing home.
When looking at Breeders, how do you know what to look for?
Breeders Should be...
1. Providing Proof of Health Testing via OFA or copies of certificates
2. Providing AKC Registration
3. Involved in Performance and/or Conformation Events
4. Adhering to the National Breed Club Code of Ethics
5. Interested in meeting you before they send a puppy home with you
6. Asking potential owners to fill out a puppy application or interview questionnaire
7. Sending a puppy to a new home on a detailed contract
8. Providing a "return to breeder" clause in their contract (they will always take a dog back no matter what)
9. Concerned about the health and well being of their puppies
10. Only want to produce healthy dogs of sound mind and body with excellent temperaments
11. Very interested in how you will care for your new puppy
12. They ask that you wait to spay/neuter your puppy before an age beyond 12-24 months
13. They should ask many questions about you, your family, your lifestyle and how you plan to raise your puppy
A Reputable breeder....
their dogs for genetic problems. They should be able to tell you about the
genetic problems in the breed and show proof that the parents of the litter are
free of those problems.
...does not breed dogs "to make money" or so "our children can experience the miracle of birth." A reputable breeder breeds to advance their breeding program and for their love and devotion to purebred dogs.
...will tell you the good points as well as the bad points of the breed. They want to make sure you are fully aware of what to expect before you buy the puppy. Cute little puppies grow into big dogs. Will you be happy when that cute little ball of fuzz turns into an 80 pound, shedding fur factory?
...usually only breeds a litter if they intend on keeping something out of the litter. They are breeding to further improve their breeding program, not just to produce puppies for pet buyers.
...should be able to explain the reasoning behind breeding a particular dog to a particular bitch. They should be attempting to reach perfection as defined by the breed's standard. In the attempt to reach this goal with the resulting puppies, they should be able to explain the good points of each dog and what things they are trying to improve. If when asked about the breed standard, the breeder looks at you with a blank look on their face-RUN! If they don't know what a standard is, they shouldn't be breeding dogs.
..should be able to provide you with a pedigree of the puppies, not just a copy of the parents registration papers. A pedigree usually has at least three generations of the puppies' ancestors listed.
...does not breed a volume of puppies. A breeder with 7 adult bitches is not going to breed all 7 in a single year. Bitches are seldom bred on consecutive heat cycles.
...usually participates in some sort of dog-related events such as dog shows (conformation), obedience, agility, schutzhund, sled dog racing, herding, field trials, lure coursing, earth dog trials, etc. They do something with their dogs.
...usually belongs to some sort of dog club (i.e., all-breed club obedience club, breed club, etc.).
...is willing to give you references from previous puppy buyers. Those new to breeding should be able to give you references from other breeders of their breed or dog club members. They aren't offended if you ask them for references. Talking to references will help you to judge the character of the breeder.
...may ask you for references or ask to visit you at your home. The breeder wants to be sure that the housing or yard is suitable for the dog. A large dog wouldn't necessarily do well in a small apartment. Some breeds need to have a fenced yard with secure fencing for their own protection. The breeder is looking for the ideal situation for the puppy. They want the owner to be happy and not return the puppy because it was ill suited for the environment or life-style of the buyer.
...believes in service after the sale. If a puppy buyer has any questions regarding grooming, feeding, or training questions, the breeder will be there for you long after the puppy is no longer a puppy.
...will usually insist puppies sold as pets be spayed/neutered or placed on an AKC limited registration. The limited registration makes the dog exempt from having any of its offspring registered by the AKC.
...will take back any dog of their breeding at any age. Reputable breeders do not want to find out a dog they bred has been left given up to an animal shelter or dumped by the roadside. They assume a lifetime responsibility for the canine lives they have put on this earth.
...would never sell puppies through a retail outlet, animal broker, or laboratory.
HOW DO YOU FIND A REPUTABLE BREEDER?
the Rhodesian Ridgeback Club of the United states... www.rrcus.org to refer you to breeders in your area
Do not Purchase a Puppy if the Breeder...
1. Cannot provide proof of health testing via health certificates for hips, elbows, eyes, cardiac, DM and Thyroid
2. Is unwilling to give you registration numbers for you to look up the breeding dogs testing yourself
3. Dogs live outdoors in kennels and do not live in the house, they seem unhealthy, dirty, unsocialized
4. Is not willing to let you meet their dogs prior to taking a puppy home
5. Asks you to pay a hefty non-returnable deposit even if there is no puppy from the current litter
6. Does not participate in either performance or conformation events
7. Is purposely (advertising) breeding outside the breed standard, ex. overly large Ridgebacks 100+ lbs
8. Is vague about any of the items in the above list
9. Sells puppies on a basic agreement only guaranteeing the health of the pup at sale time
10. Do not communicate regularly with you about the puppies/breeding, etc, before you pick up your puppy
Why Purchase From an Ethical Breeder?
An ethical breeder is different from pet stores and backyard breeders. They have a vested interest in their puppies, and the health and well being of their dogs. When you purchase a puppy from an ethical breeder you are getting a support system for the life of your puppy. They are always available to ask questions if you ever encounter any problems, day or night.
An ethical breeder has a reputation to uphold. They will do everything in their power to produce the best dogs of sound mind and body that they can. Ethical breeders do not breed unscrupulously. They breed with a purpose and goal, to improve upon the written breed standard.They usually breed to keep a puppy for themselves or for prospective performance homes looking for quality bred dogs.
Ethical breeders are held to a high standard by their peers, their national breed club and the American Kennel Club. They are also governed by a code of ethics, that they must adhere to.
Ethical breeders do not breed because they want to make money, they breed because they are passionate about the dogs, protecting and preserving the breed and about the future of the breed. They breed with generations of health testing, and show championships behind their breeding dogs. Ethical breeders do not breed to make pets, they breed to improve upon a dogs pedigree, in structure, health and temperament.
Pet puppies are a side effect of breeding ethically. Reputable breeders will never coerce someone into taking home a "show-puppy" who is interested in a pet puppy. A reputable breeder understands the quality of a good home versus the need to put a championship on a dog by having the owners show their puppy in conformation.
What to Expect from an Ethical Breeder
Making the decision to breed for a Reputable/Ethical breeder, takes a lot of time and effort. Both sire and dam are to be carefully selected, and pedigrees researched to ensure that nothing gets passed onto offspring.
Both Sire and Dam should be sound, healthy, and as close to the written breed standard as possible. Sire and Dam should be AKC Conformation Champions of record, or be well on their way. They should have strong performance and/or conformation pedigrees behind them. This means they should either be a Field Champion or AKC Conformation Champion.
Both sire & dam should have all health testing completed, at the very least to include: OFA hips & elbows, MSU Thyroid, Cardiac, CERF, & DM (click here for further health testing information).
Reputable breeders have a waiting list in motion, and any prospective owners should be prepared to fill out a lengthy application. Reputable breeders may invite you to come and visit their home or ask to meet you at an event. They also may have you wait until puppies have arrived. Their dogs will be kept indoors, and should appear clean and healthy. Typically the breeder will only have the dam/mother of the litter on site as usually the stud dog lives in another location. However the breeder should be able to provide you with photos and other information about the stud dog.
Be prepared to wait to find the right reputable breeder, as most make out their list of prospective homes BEFORE the breeding takes place. (Prospective adopters should be prepared to wait for at least as long as up to six months or up to a year).
Reputable breeders will match you up with a puppy according to the information you fill out on their puppy application... be honest! Remember, that a reputable breeder has lived with the litter since the day they were born, and has a much better idea of personalities, and quirks. A prospective owner has a limited knowledge about each puppy's individual personality. For this reason prospective owners will have to trust the breeder in which puppy they take home.
Click here --> How to find a reputable breeder
What is a Back-Yard Breeder?
A Back-Yard Breeder or "BYB" as commonly known in the rescue world, is someone who has decided to breed their pets. BYB's have no regard for completing any health testing on their breeding dogs and do not participate in any AKC events. The dogs are not AKC Champions and therefore have not proven their worth of being bred in the dog world.
The reason why people breed their pets is many.....
BYB's want to show their kids the miracle of birth... at the expense of their pet.
BYB's want to make a few extra bucks by selling puppies.This can easily and frequently backfire.
BYB's breed dogs with faults and/or health problems... whether that is producing puppies with hip displaysia, or some other congenital disease. For Ridgebacks, ridgelessness and thyroid disease come to mind.
BYB's have a pet that they think they can reproduce by breeding.
BYB's breed on the thought that because their dogs are "registered" with a kennel club, they are 'quality' dogs. This couldn't be further from the truth.
BYBs do not think of the impact breeding will have on their pet, or the puppies who they now must find homes for. Many times they cannot find enough homes, and they contact rescue or shelters for help.
Other times, their dog has complications during the birthing process and must be humanely euthanized. This is not what they were expecting to happen. Many times these puppies go to their new homes, under-socialized, over-vaccinated, sickly and improperly raised. The average pet owner has no idea the cost for whelping a litter of puppies, and many times they cut corners resulting in jeopardizing the life of the puppies.
What is a Puppy Mill?
Puppy mills are designed purely for profit and not for the well-being of the dogs. The puppy mill business has absolutely no regard for the health and welfare of its animals and the continual production of puppies is dependent solely upon supply and demand. The puppy mill business has turned puppies into a "Cash Crop".
Dogs are kept in tiny cramped cages filled with feces with no access to the outside world. The dogs are bred every time they come into season or "heat". They are bred until they can no longer produce, then they are inhumanely disposed of by way of gunshot or dumping. The mill owner sells his puppies to local pet stores and brokers.
Typically, a puppy mill is usually located in a rural area, that way the noise and smell do not bother other neighbors. Often a mill will go unnoticed mostly because the dogs are kept in outbuildings or sheds, out of sight. Mill owners regularly sell puppies over the internet, and often take PayPal or credit cards. They will also usually ship anywhere if you have enough money.
Believe it or not, purebred Ridgebacks with Registration papers can, and do come from puppy mills. Puppy Mill owners are in it only for the money. They do not care about the well being of the breed, and do not care what diseases or poor temperaments get passed onto their dogs offspring.
Mill dogs, as they are known, frequently come into rescue. Typically when their breeding life is over. They are usually extremely traumatized having never seen life out of a cage. They are under-socialized, often aggressive, and scared of everything. Many of these dogs have had limited exposure to people as well. Most have never walked on grass, or played with a toy. They don't know what it's like to live inside, or have a soft bed to lie on. They have never walked up a flight of stairs, or seen any children. They are have sometimes been abused or beaten and do not trust humans. Mill dogs are treated like trash.
ALL PUPPIES in a pet store, come from a puppy mill. No matter what the owner or employee tells you, all of the puppies behind the glass window were raised the same way in the conditions described above. In the case of pet stores, they use a broker or middleman that purchases puppies from the puppy mills then sells them to the pet stores for profit. PLEASE DO NOT buy a puppy from a pet store, as you are only fueling the need to produce more puppies in these staggering deplorable conditions.
You Get What You Pay For...
You Get What You Pay For...
If you pay bottom dollar for a Ridgeback puppy, you will be dealing with all kinds of problems later on... and when your puppy develops hip or elbow displaysia at 8 months of age and you try to contact the "breeder" you will be hard pressed to get a response... and will then have to turn around and pay $1600-$4000 for corrective surgery... this is just an example of situations that happen every day, when someone purchases a puppy from a "breeder" who is not responsibly and ethically breeding dogs. The Ridgeback breed is plagued with Thyroid disease and Hip Displaysia... make sure you are getting a quality puppy who's parents are screened for these problems.
Show Quality VS Pet Quality
Know the difference between a show quality and pet quality dog.
A show quality dog exhibits characteristics at 8 weeks of age, that make it appear to be successful in the conformation ring. However, this does NOT guarantee that the pup will receive a conformation Champion title.
A pet quality dog is an otherwise perfectly healthy dog that exhibits some characteristics that makes it unable to be shown in the conformation ring. These things do NOT mean the dog is unhealthy, they are purely cosmetic blemishes. Such things as excessive white, no ridge, extra crowns, less than two crowns, over or under-bite, would make the dog unable to be shown. Also, removal of a dermoid sinus, entropion, monorchid or cryptorchid, would cause the puppy to be pet quality as well. These puppies are 100% guaranteed healthy, just like the show quality puppies.
How Much Does it Really Cost?
Many people don't understand why reputable breeder's puppies cost more than the average pet store puppy, or back yard breeder. To be honest... A reputable will spend anywhere from $5,000- to well over $10,000 for the dogs training, championship titles, performance titles, obedience titles, and health testing before she is even bred to have a litter of puppies. Backyard breeders don't do any of those things, essentially pocketing any money they make, and producing poor quality dogs, with sketchy temperaments, and health problems.