Chapter 5
How To Know The Best Source For Your Dog

How to talk with a Breeder

When you're looking for a breeder from whom to get your dog, there is some information that you absolutely must know. Marketing Information is Meaningless. When breeders design websites, place ads in magazines and newspapers and reach out to potential buyers in other ways, they almost always start their pitch with marketing talk. Breeders say things like "high quality," "selectively bred," "champion bloodlines" and "world class dogs." In reality, this information doesn't tell you anything. It's just the breeder's attempt to create a positive perception of his dogs in your mind. You need real, concrete information when you're evaluating breeders; not a sales pitch. Photos can Provide Good Information. If you're looking at a breeder's website or marketing materials, look at the photos. If you're looking at show line breeders, are there pictures of dogs in the show ring, or dogs with show ribbons and awards? For working dog lines, are there pictures of the dogs competing in dog sports and activities, or working in real-world applications? Real, responsible, quality breeders love to show off their dogs and typically use these photos in their marketing materials. Breeders who have only informal pictures of their dogs in their home or backyard are likely less serious breeders and may be irresponsible breeders. Determine the Breeder's Focus. Different breeders typically focus on different aspects of a dog in their breeding programs. Show line breeders focus on the appearance of their dogs and may use phrases referring to toplines, gaits, and other show-related terms. Working line breeders focus on the performance of their breeds and may use phrases containing the words drive, focus, courage and other performance-related terms. If you're looking for a show dog or a working dog, those terms may be a good indicator that the breeder is focusing on the aspects of the dog that are important to you. However, if you're looking for a pet dog, you should look for breeders who are more concerned with the dog's temperament and health than meeting performance or confirmation standards. Keep in mind that show dogs or working dogs may not make the best pets; working dogs may have high drives that make them challenging for owners, especially first-time owners, who may not be completely prepared what they are getting. Prices. First and foremost: breeder prices aren't negotiable. In fact, many breeders get offended if you attempt to negotiate the dog's price, and may conclude that you can't afford to properly care for the dog if you can't afford its purchase price. When a breeder tells you his price, you should assume there is no room for negotiation and accept the price as-is. Prices themselves may range from as low as about $300 to over $4000, depending on the breed and the breeder. Rare breeds typically cost more than common breeds. Show lines and working dog lines generally have higher prices than pet dogs. Ultimately, you'll need to price dogs with several breeders in your area to know if you're getting a reasonable price or if you're being asked to pay too much. Beware of breeders that ask far above or far below normal prices for the breed. Some breeders ask extremely high sales prices as part of their marketing tactics for selling dogs. They might say things like "this dog is more expensive because it's a superior dog" or "because it's from a championship line." While championship dogs generally are more expensive, that doesn't make them better companions, and this kind of marketing is typically just a way to part people from more of their money; not an indicator that you're actually getting a higher-quality pet. Conversely, extremely low prices can indicate a problem with a dog or the litter. For example, if a breeder is only asking $200 for a Cocker Spaniel puppy, it might not be a purebred, or its sire or dam may have health issues. Backyard breeders, commercial breeders or puppy mills typically churn out puppies as quickly as they can, and may sell them at a lower price just to sell as many puppies as possible. If a breeder is offering a particularly low price, it is in your best interest to find out why or perhaps move on to a more reputable breeder. Beware of breeders who are charging a higher price for dogs with registration papers. If a dog has registration papers, you are entitled to those papers; the breeder gets them free of charge from the AKC. You, as a buyer, pay the registration fee when you register the dog with the AKC after you purchase it. Breeders who charge extra money for papers are just taking advantage of buyers.