You’ve done your research, conducted an extensive cost-benefit analysis and you’ve finally made your decision – you’re adding a puppy to your family. A few hundred dollars later and you have a crate, an orthopedic bed (nothing but the best for your baby!), high quality puppy food, cute puppy collars, a leash and enough of the latest toys to turn all the other neighbourhood puppies green with envy. All that’s missing now is the puppy who’s going to be cute enough to make all your friends jealous.
You’ve contacted a few registered breeders and discovered the true definition of sticker shock firsthand. $2,000-$2,500+ PLUS tax?! And even more for show pups?
Curiosity kicks in and you quickly search Kijiji. Now the real shock kicks in. $500, AND it’s only 15 minutes from home – no need to drive aaaaall the way up North! I know the temptation is real my friends, but here’s why your purebred puppy from a registered and reputable breeder is totally worth every extra penny … and then some.
The Definition of a Good Breeder
Good reputable breeders plan each litter carefully; they’re not in it to see how much money they can make. Rather, they have a genuine love and passion for the breed, and each litter is a deliberate attempt to improve the breed. Pairings aren’t just based on convenience or chance or who’s not currently pregnant – they’re based on the thorough evaluation of health, longevity, temperament, confirmation to breed standards and any other qualities the breeder may be working to improve, be it performance in agility, schutzhund or the show ring.
Breeders screen potential parents using a variety of health and DNA testing, all of which cost money. And what’s a responsible breeder to do after investing thousands in care, training and health tests, only to get a negative result on the last health test? Well fix the dog of course, so that the defect won’t be passed on to future generations, write it off as a sunk cost, and start the investment process all over again with a new dog. And unlike for-profit breeders, these dogs won’t be discarded just because they no longer have breeding (i.e. money-making) potential – they usually live out the rest of their lives with the breeder or a carefully screened home who will provide all the love, care and attention they deserve.
Breeders also offer written health guarantees. While the specifics will vary from breeder to breeder, they will be written, they will clearly spell out what is covered and what isn’t, and they will specify how the guarantee actually works (e.g. medical costs will be covered, puppy will be replaced, etc.)
Possibly most important of all, breeders offer lifetime support for their owners. Need a bit of guidance on how to handle an unexpected issue or health concern? Want to start training but aren’t sure who to train with? Not sure which vet to entrust your precious puppy’s life with? Your breeder will be an invaluable resource throughout your puppy’s life.
If you aren’t totally convinced on why you should stay away from Backyard Breeders (aka Greeders) or Puppy Mills, consider the financial impact it’ll have on your own wallet. Sure, you may have saved yourself a nice chunk of change up front, but the money you’re more likely to spend on lifelong health issues will far outweigh the initial savings. Plus, supporting BYB will only encourage them to keep breeding, many of whom employ unscrupulous practices, like breeding females way too young and/or back to back. Reputable breeders keep puppies in safe and sanitary conditions until at least 8 weeks of age, socialize and expose the puppies to different people, situations, sounds and can often help you pick out the puppy whose personality would best match yours.
How to choose a good breeder:
- Start off with the registered breeders for your local kennel club.
- Talk to other owners of your chosen breed. Ask if they have any recommendations for breeders and find out what they have to say about their breeder. Dog parks are great places to meet other owners, and if you want to get real serious, check for groups on the Meet Up app.
- Join breed-specific forums, go through some of the old posts and see if there are any breeders that come highly recommended or that are warned against. Do take everything with a grain of salt; some people love breeder bashing and one negative review doesn’t necessarily mean you should eliminate the breeder immediately, but do take reoccurring complaints seriously.
- Consult reputable trainers to see if they have any recommendations (or warnings!) Established trainers will often become very familiar with how each breeder’s dogs handle and may be able to steer you towards a breeders whose puppies will align with your personality and lifestyle.