A referral from a satisfied customer is perhaps the best starting point to find a reputable breeder. Ask your neighbors, friends, or co-workers where they found their designer dog, but only if they are happy with the breeder.
Another source of breeder referrals is the local pet store or vet’s office. Personnel from these locations will have positive referrals because it’s in their best interest to do so.
Locating a Pup
There are several online sites for finding dogs of all types, including rescued dogs (google “find a puppy” or “find a dog”). I located Alvin on puppyfind.com. This site lists all types of pups, features an excellent a PuppySearch engine and breed descriptor, and best of all, shows Buyer Tips in a separate tab. These tips include important questions to ask a breeder and ways to prevent getting ripped off when you’re buying online. Note that I have no knowledge of individual breeders on this site except for the one who sold Alvin.
Check Out the Breeder
Regardless of the source of breeder referral, it pays to check out the breeder in as many ways as possible. Yeah, the pup may be as cute as a teddy bear, but an emotional purchase may lead to disaster.
Is the breeder registered with the Better Business Bureau and are there any complaints?
Any breeder web site info should check out with the results of your interview with the breeder.
If the breeder is local, visit the kennel and note the conditions. If the breeder is halfway across the world, see if there’s a video of the pups interacting with other dogs and people of all ages. Kennel conditions should be highlighted in a video if the breeder is not afraid to reveal how he/she raises the pups.
If I purchase a pup online again, I’d visit the kennel if at all possible. There are two reasons for this: first, Alvin was traumatized by the plane ride from Missouri to Connecticut. A nine-hour trip in the cargo area of a plane is a formula for puppy nightmares. Second, the results of Alvin’s first vet visit were not good. Although his general health was okay, he arrived with an intestinal parasite, a urinary tract infection, ear mites, and possible skin mites. The origin of these bugs – most probably the kennel.
Admittedly, buying Alvin was an emotional purchase. I did check out the breeder, but not thoroughly. And I got lucky, Alvin is a delightful pup.
More on selecting a breeder and buying a pup in the next posting . . .