Tips for finding a quality breeder.
Since we at Western Hills limit our
production of puppies, we often help people find their
new puppy. So before you fall in love with the first
adorable Australian Shepherd face you see, take the
time in an initial phone call to ask the following
questions. You may not find a breeder who fits 100%
of these criteria but don't settle for anything less
than one or two negative responses. At the end of the
list you will find questions to ask yourself. You should
be able to answer all of them affirmatively before
you begin your search. Remember to look at puppies,
but don't go uneducated and take the first one home
that jumps in your lap. Also realize with most good
breeders you might have to wait on a list for a puppy.
You are adding a new member to your
family for the next 10 or more years. NOW IS NOT THE
TIME TO BARGAIN HUNT!! Prepare to spend at least $600-$1500
for a well-bred puppy. You may have known someone who
has, or you yourself have purchased a "backyard" bred
dog or a pet store or puppy mill dog and had great
success. They were lucky. Why take the chance? Don't
avoid show lines because you don't want a show dog,
in every litter there are pet puppies, but they all
have the same genes. Responsible breeders will do all
they can to avoid health and temperament problems by
researching pedigrees and screening parents for certain
inherited problems before breeding.
Tips for choosing a knowledge breeder.
1. Look for someone who has been in
the breed for more than three years.
2. Select someone
who offers information on problems in the breed, as
well as the breed's good points.
3. Select a breeder
who asks many questions about you, your family, your
schedule, why you want a dog and the type of puppy
personality you feel would be most suited to your home.
Don't be surprised if you are expected to fill out
4. Select some one who knows the pedigrees
of the pups, and who can tell you details about grand
parents and great grandparents.
5. Ask if they are
members in good standing of any breed or training clubs.
The correct answer should be "yes".
Tips for recognizing a profit focused
1. They make their living from
selling dogs. They usually have a number of breeds, sometimes
as many as 10-20 that they are breeding.
2. They don't ask you many questions, and they
don't want to answer many, either.
3. They do not test their dogs for genetic
4. Price comes up early in the conversation,
5. They will sell to anyone, for any reason.
6. They will not let you see the facility where
the dogs are housed.
Questions to ask the breeder:
Keep this checklist by the phone when
you make your calls and Good Luck!
1. Where did you find
out about this breeder? Responsible breeders will breed
only when they have a waiting list of puppy buyers. They
usually don't find it necessary to advertise in newspapers
or with a sign out in the front yard.
2. Do both parents
(the sire and dam) have a hip clearance from the OFA
(Orthopedic Foundation for Animals) or PennHip? Ask to
see the certificates. "My vet okayed the x-ray" is
not a valid clearance. And NEVER go for, well the dog
was too young! Also if the dog is over 2 years old and
still has a pre-lim number from OFA ask why they never
got the final x-ray done.
3. Do both parents have current
eye clearances from CERF (Canine Eye Registry)? This
must be re-done every year. Ask to see the certificates.
Avoid answers like "my dog see fine to work, that's
all that matters."
4. Are both parents at least
2 years old? Final hip clearances cannot be obtained
before that age.
5. How often is the dam bred? If it
is every heat cycle, THIS IS TOO OFTEN, and may indicate
that profit is the primary motive for the breeding.
Do all four grandparents, siblings of the parents and
any other puppies that they may have produced have these
clearances? A responsible breeder will keep track of
these statistics and honestly discuss any problems that
have occurred in the lines and what has been done to
prevent them from reoccurring.
7. Is the breeder willing
to provide you with references and telephone numbers
of other people who have purchased puppies from them?
8. Will the puppy have a limited registration
with a mandatory spay/neuter contract? A breeder who
cares enough about the breed to insist on these is
likely to be a responsible breeder.
9. On what basis
was the sire chosen? If the answer is "because he lives right down the
street" or "because he is really sweet",
it may be that sufficient thought was not put into the
10. WILL THE BREEDER TAKE THE DOG
BACK AT ANY TIME, FOR ANY REASON, IF YOU CANNOT KEEP
IT?! This is the hallmark of responsible breeding (and
the quickest way to make rescue obsolete).
11. Is there
a written guarantee against congenital health or temperament
problems, promising another puppy or your money back?
Not require you to return your puppy or euthanize it?
Many unscrupulous breeders will honor a guarantee only
after you have destroyed the original puppy, this insures
that they will never have to replace sick puppies.
12. Will the breeder be available
to answer any question you might have for the life
of the dog? Is this someone you would feel comfortable
asking any type of question?
13. Is the breeder knowledgeable
about the breed? Is he or she involved in competition
with their dogs (herding, obedience,agility, or conformation)?
14. Are there a majority of titled dogs (the initials:
CH, OTCH, CD, STD, OTD, WTCH, RN-S, CDX... before
or after the names) in the first two generations?
The term champion lines means nothing if those titles
are back three or more generations or there is only
one or two in the whole pedigree.
15. Are the puppy's
sire and dam available for you to meet? If the sire
is unavailable can you call his owners or people
who have his puppies to ask about temperament or
health problems? You should also be provided with
pictures or videos.
16. Have the puppies been raised
in the home - not in a barn or the back yard?
Is the breeder knowledgeable about raising puppies,
critical neonatal periods, proper socialization techniques?
Puppies that are raised without high exposure to
gentle handling, human contact and a wide variety
of noises and experiences OR are removed from their
dam or litter mates before at least 7 weeks, may
exhibit a wide variety of behavioral problems!
Does the breeder provide you with a 3-5 generation
pedigree, a contract to sign, copies of all clearances
and guarantee, health records and material to help
you with feeding, training and housebreaking?
the puppies temperaments been evaluated and can the
breeder guide you to the puppy that will best suite
your lifestyle? A very shy puppy will not do well in
a noisy household with small children, just as a very
dominant puppy won't flourish in a sedate, senior citizen
household. A caring breeder will know the puppies and
be able to show you how to test them so that good matches
can be made.
20. Do the puppies seem healthy, with
no discharge from eyes or nose, no loose stools, no
foul smelling ears? Are their coats soft, full and
clean? Do they have plenty of energy when awake? 21.
Do the puppies have their first shots and have they
been wormed if needed- vet checked?
22. Does the breeder
have only 1 or at most 2 breeds of dogs and only 1
litter at a time? If there are several breeds of dogs
chances are the breeder cannot devote the time it takes
to become really knowledgeable about the breed and
if there is more than one litter at a time it is very
difficult to give the puppies the attention they need
and may indicate that the primary purpose for breeding
is profit, rather than a sincere desire to improve
23. Does the breeder belong to the
Australian Shepherd Club of America and/or a local
Australian Shepherd Club. Have they signed a breeders "Code
Do you feel comfortable with this person, after all
you are entering into a decade-long relationship? Are
you feeling intimidated or pressured? If so, keep looking!
25. Does the breeder know the genetic
problems within their lines? There are no clean lines
at this point. A good breeder will find out the problems
and breed away from problems.
Questions to ask yourself:
Are you prepared to...
1. Take full
responsibility for this dog and all its needs for the
next 10 - 15 years? This is NOT a task that can be left
2. Invest the considerable time, money
and patience it takes to train the dog to be a good companion?
(This does not happen by itself!!!!)
3. Always keep the
dog safe; no running loose, riding in the back of an
open pick up truck or being chained outside?
sure the dog gets enough attention and exercise? (Aussies
need several hours of both, every day!!)
5. Live with
shedding, herding, and high activity for the next 10-15
6. Spend the money it takes to provide
proper veterinary care including but certainly not limited
to: vaccines, heartworm testing and preventative, spaying
or neutering and annual check ups?
7. Become educated
about the proper care of the breed, correct training
methods and how to groom? (There are many good books
available, invest the time to read a few.)
8. Keep the
breeder informed and up to date on the dogs accomplishments
9. Take your questions to the breeder
or other appropriate professional before they become
problems that are out of hand?
10. Have the patience
to accept (and enjoy) the trials of puppyhood, which
can last for five years, and each stage afterward?
Continue to accept responsibility for the dog despite
inevitable life changes such as new babies, kids going
off to school, moving or returning to work?
impulse buying, instead have the patience to make a responsible
13. If you answered yes to ALL of the
above you are ready to start contacting breeders. Start
early because most responsible breeders have a waiting
list ranging from a few of months to a couple of years.
Remember, the right puppy or adult dog IS worth waiting