Presented by the Minnesota Purebred Dog Breeders Association with thanks to the Soft-Coated Wheaton Terrier Club.

You have decided that a Purebred dog is for you. What is your next move? What steps should you take to insure that your pup meets your requirements? Doubtless, this purchase should receive thoughtful consideration. It's no loaf of bread you're buying--this little pup will be a member of your family for a decade or more. Choosing a reputable breeder is primary to your objective.

Since it is almost impossible for YOU to know what any of these little pups will grow into physically and emotionally, you must rely entirely upon your faith in the person from whom you are purchasing your pup. There are three options open to you in choosing this person.

1. PET SHOP OR DEALER. The Worst Choice Possible! Pups are poorly bred and raised. They are thought of as merchandise (the loaf of bread) to be sold for a high profit. This high profit is possible because little has been put into the care of these pups. Many are sickly. Pet shops rely heavily on impulse buying via "the doggy in the window," which is no way to choose an addition to the family.

2.  BACKYARD BREEDER. Also a Poor Choice. This is the person who owns a pet "purebred" and thinks it would be "fun" to have puppies or maybe that it would be a great experience for the children. Even worse, perhaps it's being done to make money. Usually this breeder knows little about grooming and care, and still less of the breed history or the AKC standard or how his dogs conform to it. The backyard breeders do not do regular examinations by veterinarians on any possible problems with their breed, nor do they x-ray hips. They are not even aware of breed problems nor do they care. There goal is to produce pups and when the "fun" is over, sell them quickly.

3. HOBBY BREEDER. The Very Best Choice. The serious and dedicated hobby breeder regards their dogs as just that--a hobby. They do not expect a profit. When someone breeds dogs for enjoyment and for the pleasure and thrill of producing the very finest specimens possible, rather than for profit, the result is SUPERIOR. These breeders acknowledge responsibility for each and every puppy produced and stand behind every dog they have bred. Without question, your choice should be the HOBBY BREEDER.

It is an interesting fact that poor quality pups from pet shops and backyard breeders are usually sold for the same price and sometimes even more than those purchased from the serious hobby breeder. All three of the above breeders sell puppies that are AKC, ASCA or NSDR registerable--this is not an assurance of quality or dedication to the breed. So, the question is: How does one recognize the serious, dedicated hobby breeder? Prepared below is criteria that you should require your breeder to meet before you consider purchasing your purebred dog. Do not be afraid to confront them with these requirements. It is your RIGHT and you can rest assured that the dedicated breeder will respond positively and with pride.

Your Breeder should:

1.Belong to a local breed club or a national all-breed club. Ideally, he or she belongs to several. However, sometimes this is impossible if there is no local breed club in the area. The reason for this requirement is that this sort of participation indicates depth of involvement. This breeder is exposed to other points of view, learns more about his breed, general dog care, modern breeding practices and is kept up to date. He is breeding in accordance with a Code of Ethics.

2.Be involved in showing their dogs. This means that your breeder is not breeding in a vacuum. The breeder who does not show has no idea how good his dogs really are and is deprived of the opportunity to share information and ideas with others. Showing provides the competition which encourages breeders to produce better dogs. The breeder who shows wants to prove how good his dogs are in competition and is putting his breeding program on the line. He is not relying on just a pedigree to indicate quality. Even though you do not want a show dog, you deserve a pet that is the end result of a carefully planned litter--a pup which received the same care as a potential champion. The Breeder who is known by others and has a reputation to uphold will undoubtedly be as careful and honest in selling you your pet as he is in selling his show dogs.

3.Give you a period of time which to allow you to have the pup examined by a veterinarian to determine his state of health, so that both of you are assured as to its health. If a problem should arise, it can then be quickly resolved. This period of time is usually 48 to 72 hours.

4.Give you written instructions on feeding, training, care and grooming. You should also be given the pup's health/shot records. The breeder should supply you with information where you can purchase books about the breed.

5.Be able to show you proof that their stock has been x-rayed and is clear of hip dysplasia, preferably with an OFA certification number.  Should also provide current Eye Exams from a Certified Canine Ophthalmologist on both parents and the puppy.

6.Make it clear to you that their responsibility continues long after you have taken your puppy home. Indeed, until your pup has departed this earth. Many dedicated breeders will ask that the pup be returned to them or placed with new owners who meet with their approval if ever for any reason you are unable to continue ownership.

7.Be curious about what kind of dogs you have had in the past and what happened to them.

8.Ask questions like whether or not you have a fenced yard or if the pup will be walked on lead. They will make certain you understand all the negative aspects of owning a dog as well as the positive. Having the pup's best interests at heart to say nothing of theirs and yours, a reputable breeder will take great pains to place his pups properly the first time around. A returned pup is a traumatic experience for all concerned and therefore, the breeder who is always willing to accept a puppy back will want to make certain that this specific purebred dog is the breed for you.

9.Be able to show you a clean environment, well-socialized puppies and a dam with a good temperament (happy and self-assured).

10.Be willing to give you references--names of people who have purchased pups from him in the past or of others in the breed.

11.Perhaps be a bit hesitant to sell you a pup until they know more about you. Will not pressure you into deciding immediately, and encourage you to see other litters before making your final selection.

12.Provide a written contract and/or conditions of sale.

13.Require spaying or neutering of pet quality puppies. Breeders spend a lot of time and effort planning breeding programs designed to improve the breed. They selectively carry on their programs with only the best quality available. Pet quality puppies should be loved and enjoyed as pets. Reputable breeders don't want their dogs being used just to "make puppies" or worse yet, to have their puppies end up in "puppy mills" where they will be mass produced. Therefore, they will require that pets be spayed or neutered before being registered with the AKC and ASCA.

If your breeder meets all the above criteria, you are in good hands. If you find yourself with a negative response to any of these, think twice, discuss the situation with someone else. Don't be impulsive and DO ASK QUESTIONS.

Keep this in mind: You are probably going to pay for quality. Whether or not you get it is up to you.

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