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Evaluating a Breeder


Kennel and their dogs. Possible questions to ask the breeder.



Topics on this page include:


    Visit the kennel; What to look for.


    Observe the other dogs on the property


    Evaluate the breeder


    If you are looking for a Livestock Guardian


    Questions the Breeder May Ask You


    What a Breeder offers their Puppy buyers


    Health and Temperament Guarantee


    Your Contract


    Questions You Could Ask the Breeder






Visit Kennel


If at all possible, you should go visit their kennels. You can tell alot about a breeder by seeing where their dogs live and how they are kept.


With long distant placements this can be hard. In this case make sure you have references to contact that have first hand knowledge of the conditions where their dogs live. I.e.; past clients, vet's, other breeders etc.


Ask if they can send you some pictures, or have a website that shows the kennels and their dogs.




Kennel Conditions


Some breeders have their pups in an area of the house, some have outdoor runs and exercise yards. In both cases it should be clean, and free of excrement.


Is goes without saying that the puppies should also look healthy and clean.


Human contact is very important in the first few weeks of life in order for the dog to bond to humans.


Ask how much human contact that the puppies receive. 


Observe how the dogs act around people.


q       Are they shy and reserved?


q       Or do they buzz around the newcomers, begging for attention?


q       Observe the other dogs on the property


q       Are they friendly and appear happy and healthy?


q       Are their coats clean and brushed? (In the case of livestock protectors it's reasonable to see some dirt on these dogs, given their surrounding. But they should appear; well fed, Bright eyed, healthy, and not so matted they appear miserable.


q       Are their kennels clean and is there fresh water provided?


q       Are they aloof (wary) of you as a stranger, yet accept you once the breeder introduces you?


q       Friendly and outgoing toward people? A well bred Pyr is not aggressive, they are "aloof" or wary of strangers, but they should never be aggressive without provocation.


Pay particular attention to older dogs.


You will want to meet the parents of the pups. Some breeders do not own the sire and he is not readily available. But you most DEFINITELY want to meet the dam. As she will be the one teaching the very important early lessons to her bite inhibition. If she seems grumpy or aggressive in any way, say thank you very much, and leave.


If the sire is not available, then you will want to ask for the information to contact the owners of the sire.


See advice on evaluating a litter and an individual puppy.



Evaluate The Breeder


Choose a breeder that you feel comfortable with.


Are they easy to talk to?


Do they answer your questions readily and honestly?


Remember, there are NO stupid questions. Any good breeder with nothing to hide, will NOT be offended and will answer you honestly. In fact they will see you as someone trying to be a responsible dog owner. 


A responsible breeder will try to educate you, rather than berate you for some ignorance about the breed. ***Although, hopefully you will have been responsible enough to have done some research yourself, before contacting a breeder***


(See some sample questions you could ask the breeder below.)   


v   Do they appear to be very knowledgeable about their breed?


v   Do they appear to care alot about their dogs well-being?


v   Do they try to educate you on the breed? 


v   Do they try to help you choose which puppy would best suit your personality and family situations? 


A good breeder will try and pick the pup that they feel will be a good match for you. Not all pups will be good in every home.


Some will have a more dominant (guarding) instinct then others...this pup would be great for a livestock guard placement, but one with a more amiable temperament would be better suited for a companion home with kids.



If you are looking for a livestock guardian:


 Don't shy away from breeder who also offer's show dogs....  Just because the parents were brought up with sheep, or they were brought up in a mansion....they are guardians at heart. And a good knowledgeable breeder can tell you which pup from the litter has the temperament to make a good guardian. Or at least if they don't have the knowledge about guardians, a responsible breeder will be honest and tell you so.


Beware of a breeder who tells you ALL the pups from this litter will make good guardians. This indicates that they are not as knowledgeable about the breed as they claim.


Yes, they all will have that instinct to some extent. They are natural guardians and this is ingrained and not taught.


But some will be more suited to the job. Some will be less likely to leave their charges. For example, an excessively shy pup, won't be reliable as a guardian, and can developed future fear aggression.


You want an all around good "farm dog". Pet and guardian.


A good article about choosing a LGD breeder is at: 



Catherine de la Cruz:


On the other end of the spectrum, be cautious of a breeder who claims that every pup from this litter is "show" quality.


That is just not possible. Even if it was, no breeder can fully guarantee, what this 8 weeks old pup will turn out like as an adult.


A knowledgeable breeder can tell you that do to their experience, a particular pup has all the qualities that one looks for in a show far.


Proving their stock- Is the breeder your considering involved in showing either in conformation or working trials (depending on the breed)? 


Are they a member of their breed clubs?


A responsible breeder knows it is important to have their breeding stock "evaluated" by an independent judge.


This is one of the purposes for dog shows. To see how their dogs stand up to the breed standard. To prove themselves against other specimens of the breed.


Without this independent evaluation, it is only the breeders opinion that their dogs are wonderful specimens. We all think our dogs are gorgeous!


Breed clubs are a wealth of information for breeders. They give breeders an opportunity to keep up with the latest health concerns, what is important in their breed, feedback form other members etc.


A responsible breeder is always learning.


Does the breeder seem more interested in you, and your home environment, then you are about them?


A responsible breeder will be more concerned about where their pups will be going, then about selling them to you.



Questions the Breeder May Ask You


They will ask you alot of questions, PLEASE do not get on the defensive and think they are being intrusive! Instead consider their curiosity as; they genuinely care about their puppies, and want only the best for them. This is the ONLY type of breeder you want to get your pet from!


They will probably want to know, among other things, if:


t    Have you educated yourself somewhat about the breed?


t    Do you have a Fenced yard?


t    Will the Dog be living in house?


t    How many children? What are their ages? Have they been taught the importance of respecting animals?


t    What are your plans for the dog? (companion/livestock guarding/show/breeding)


t    Will you provide proper veterinary care? They may want a vet reference. As well as personal.


t    Are you familiar with proper nutrition?


t    Do you understand the importance of Socialization, training, obedience classes? If not they will explain this to you.


t    The importance of spaying/neutering (if applicable) If the dogs will be a companion or guardians they will insist that the pup be spay/neutered. Some will already be early spay/neutered before they go to their new home.


****Neutering will NOT effect the guardian's instinct to guard. In fact, it is HIGHLY recommended to have your livestock guards neutered. They will be far more reliable to stay with their flock, if some female down the road comes into heat.


With females, the heat cycle can cause them to totally ignore their duties, and go in search of a male....any male!****


Additionally, the breeder may want you too keep in contact, to see how the pup is progressing. They may also want to visit the pup, in their new home.



A Responsible breeder will offer their puppy buyers:


o       Information about the breed


o       Advice on puppy care, feeding instructions. Advice on grooming, and training etc. Some provide a puppy kit, with puppy care information, Breed info, recommended reading, basic training, sample food etc.


o       They will explain the Genetic problems in the breed.


o       They will provide the Pedigree of the puppies. Or if this is not ready yet, they will send you a copy.


o       Test results on both parents (hips, eyes, etc.)


o       Registration papers (In Canada it is against the law for a breeder to sell a dog as "purebred" and withhold the papers or charge more for them....see on the CKC web site; Your Rights and Animal Pedigree Act of Canada.


In the USA, it is perfectly acceptable for some breeders to withhold the papers until proof of spay/neuter is shown.



Health and Temperament Guarantee


They will provide you with a written guarantee, regarding health and temperament of the pup against genetic defects. This guarantee should be for at least one year. Yet alot of breeders provide a 2-3 year guarantee, on genetic health. As many of health problems, like hip Dysplasia, may not show up until after their second year.


Their guarantee will include a statement to the effect; That they will take back the dog, at anytime in their lifetime for any reason. Most will actually insist, that you MUST give the breeder first right of refusal if you can no longer keep the dog.


They will want to approve or disapprove any new home placements.


The breeder will be available to offer advice and support for the life of the dog.



Your Contract:


 All responsible breeders will have a contract for their new puppy owners to agree to and sign as well. These will differ from breeder to breeder, but most will have stipulations such as:


    If not already spay/neutered, you agree to have the pup done by the age of six months, and to provide proof to the breeder that this was done. (if not for show/breeding)


    You agree to provide the proper shelter, care, food, veterinary care required for the pup.


    You agree to provide the proper fencing required to keep the animal safe, and agree never to allow dog to roam free unattended.


    They usually insist that you agree;  If at any time in the future it becomes necessary to give up ownership of this dog, the breeder will be notified and will have the option of reclaiming this dog at no charge. Or that the breeder must approve of the home that this dog will be given to.


    They will also stipulate  that you agree; at no time will this animal be turned over to the pound, humane society, rescue, or animal shelter.


    That any violation of their contract by the owner, will give the breeder, the right to reclaim the dog.


Again, don't be offended with these stipulations. The breeder is not trying to control you. Their main concern is the puppies welfare, they are being responsible....And this is the ONLY kind of breeder you want to acquire a puppy from.



Questions you could ask the breeder:


   Were the puppies born on the property?


   Does the breeder only place puppies that are at least seven weeks of age?


   Are you a member of a breed club?


   Are the sire and dam at least two years old?


   Were both sire and dam tested for genetic health before the breeding?


   Do you have information on the health testing of most of the immediate relatives of the sire and dam?


   Do you offer a guarantee against genetic health problems for at least one year, but preferably two years?


   Does the health guarantee require that you return the puppy? Can I read the health guarantee, before I decide?


   Will you be available to offer advice and support for the life of  the dog? Will it be alright if you contact them about a problem you are having, or with questions you may have?


   What are some of the problems some people have with the breed?


   Have the puppies been introduced to children? To other animals?


   If in the case of a companion/LGD- Will I be required to spay/neuter the puppy? (You want this to be- yes!) Or are they already early spay/neutered?


   Information on the sire: What is the Sire's registered name, Temperament, Titles, Accomplishments, OFA number, CERF number, Cardio results, Other test results, Additional health background information. Sire's strengths and  weaknesses.


   Information on the dam: What is the Dam's registered name, Temperament, Titles, Accomplishments, OFA number, CERF number, Cardio results, Other test results. Additional health background information. Dam's strengths and weaknesses.


   Can I contact any previous puppy owners, Vet, personal trainers/handlers etc.?


   Can I get information about the health and temperament, or better siblings, grandparents, etc.


In conclusion, getting a dog from a reputable breeder is your ONLY line of defence from future problems.


Please note, that it is impossible to breed the perfect dog. It is also impossible for any breeder to 100% guarantee that nothing will go wrong with the animals it produces. But with a responsible breeder you will be guaranteed that they will do everything in their power to make it right.


Furthermore, good breeders make it a priority to only breed the best of dogs. 


No breeder wants to take back a 2 year old dog with health or temperament problems, that they can't place or may have to euthanize. So they will do everything in their power to see that that does not happen. By thoroughly researching their breeding lines, and only breeding the best possible specimens.


The likelihood that something will go wrong is far less with such a breeder, than with one that does not.


It is also VERY important for you to familiarize yourself with the "GPCA Code of Ethics" on their web site, that responsible breeders must follow. The code not only serves to protect the future of the breed, but you as a purchaser as well! You can also view the Official breed standard and they have a great illustrated standard as well!




A great many wonderful dogs can also be found through rescue. These dogs are all evaluated by the rescue. Given the appropriate needed training, and medical attention. They try their best to match the right dog with the right home.


There are more than a few positive reasons to consider a rescue dog. Most are past that puppy stage, and are house trained, have basic obedience, manners etc. Not to mention you will be giving a loving dog a second chance at happiness.


If this sounds good to you, please see my links page for rescue contacts. Most can put you in touch with a rescue near you. Or search the thousands of dogs on Petfinder below.


Written by


Sariena Foley Regalia Great Pyrenees                                           

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