Six Signs of a Great Breeder

Look for these clues, and you'll go home with a healthy, happy puppy.

By | Posted: Wed Nov 10 00:00:00 PST 2004

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And, as the Silberhorns learned, even very young puppies need lots of interaction with people.

When her puppies reach 5 weeks, Klimke-Williams moves them from the whelping box to a puppy pen in her dining room. "They hear and see a lot of noise and other dogs," she says. "[And] as I do in-house boarding, they also get handled by the owners of boarding dogs."

Such exposure and handling can guard against extreme shyness and other temperament problems.

They Push Paper
Great breeders also accept the importance of paperwork in puppy raising-particularly when they sell their puppies. When you buy a pup, you should receive at least the following papers from a breeder:

A contract. This document specifies the terms of sale to which both buyer and seller agree. Mercer's six-page contract includes provision s that specify when the puppy can go to the new owner's home, deal with any health problems that occur immediately after the sale and detail requirements for spaying or neutering.

Requiring the spaying or neutering of puppies not destined for the show ring "protects the breed from falling into breeding programs that do not have the best interest of the breed at heart or 'accidental' breeding," Snyder says. The contract should also specify your obligation should you no longer be able to care for your dog: Many breeders will require that you return the dog (without a refund).

A pedigree. Essentially a record of the puppy's family tree, this document "helps the owners know the background of their new puppy," Klimke-Williams says. A pedigree typically lists the puppy's parents and grandparents and includes information about show titles, canine sports achievements and health clearances.

Registration papers. Once you purchase your puppy, the breeder will give you the forms that enable you to register your pup with the American Kennel Club or another registry. The AKC will register any puppy whose parents are both registered. "The AKC is the premier [dog] registry in the United States," Snyder says. "They hold the breed standard for each breed and do checks on breeders to make sure they are being responsible with their record keeping and matings of their dogs."

Among the perks of registration: eligibility for AKC-sanctioned dog sporting events, discounts on pet health insurance and free publications that help you care for your new pet. Depending on the breed you have selected, registration with the United Kennel Club, American Rare Breed Association or another organization may be appropriate.

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