Finding a group breeder is something that so many people struggle with is real.
So in this piece, I want to talk to you about exactly how to do that, where to do that, and some red flags that you can look for along the way.
I’ve been a big supporter of the phrase we set up for success, and there’s no way better to set your puppy up for success than buying a wonderful puppy from a really great breeder.
I then come in in the next step and go, “Hey, this is how you train them to become a wonderful dog!”. This is how you turn that that awesome clay that your beeder has given you into a phenomenal that’s what I do.
This post has been mainly AI Generated from the video below! If you notice any weird phrasing?
Ping me an email and let me know, because I clearly missed it when editing!
The better the dog that you get at the start, the easier it’s going to be the entire way through, okay?
Do you feel confident approaching breeders? Do you feel confident that you can tell the difference between a good breeder, an okay breeder and a bad breeder?
The latter is the dangerous side, the middle is middling, and top end is the top end for a reason.
So I want to talk to you about that.
Good Breeders are not unicorns.
I promise you, they are around.
They’re just hard to find.
I will discuss the reasons why they are hard to find, okay?
My Experience With Breeders
I do totally get it though, with puppies and not knowing where to go. Because like I mentioned earlier, I made a pretty big mistake with Indy. And despite the fact that Indie is a phenomenal dog now. And he is he’s, he’s wonderful. I mean, I know he’s my dog, and we all are totally biased. But he is he’s awesome.
That took a lot work.
Would it have taken as much work iif he were really well bred? Almost certainly not.
So I’ve been there, I’ve been you, I made the mistake. I’ve also learned the lesson and vowed that my next dog will be the pinnacle of breeding! Consequently, as a part of my journey in training, I’ve looked into a lot of what makes a good dog, biologically, and in upbringing, so I’ve gained the “What to look for” aspect of this, and the where to start.
And now I’m trying to help you avoid the mistakes I made and hundreds of thousands of people make every year.
Okay. So I also want to say really, really quickly, I am speaking in broad terms in this there will obviously be the occasional person who is better, the occasional person who is worse, the occasional person who knows how to sound like they are, what they are, and then they’re not, or the one that just lets you down.
At the end of the day, we are dealing with humans and animals and certain things are totally not predictable.
Why is breeding important?
Let’s start there. Why is good breeding important? Well, by supporting good breeders means that we will start increasing the quality of the dogs that we have, as opposed to decreasing the quality of dogs that we have and creating more jobs for people like me who are trainers.
My biggest mission in my job is to make myself and other people like me entirely redundant.
I don’t want you to need trainers.
I want you to need a little bit of guidance in how to create a phenomenal dog and member of your family – but I don’t want to see any more big stressful problems for dog parents. Those enormously problematic issues for you and your family and your bank balance and your stress levels.
A tough dog is hard work and I will be the first to admit I’ve cried a lot over mine over my dog. I would rather you guys found the easy way of doing it and the easy ways getting a good puppy to start with trust me.
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The Potential Fallouts of Poorly Bred Puppies
To understand better why you need a great puppy sometimes it’s good to consider the consequences of a poorly bred puppy – you know – the flip side of the coin.
A well bred puppy is much more likely to be a healthier puppy. Because they mean yes, whilst most crossbreeds dogs have no discernible breed tend to be “healthier” that’s not always the case.
They can still show health problems and various other things.
But for purebred dog for or even for a design across dog or whatever it is that you’re opting for. If they come from stock that has poor health, they are infinitely more likely to have the same problems, okay?
It’s the reason that golden retrievers keep breeding in cancer. It’s the reason that German Shepherds are so known for hip and elbow dysplasia, and cruciate ligament issues. Frenchies and English bulldogs and the various other brachycephalic dogs (dogs that have the flat faces), and when they’re bred flatter and flatter, it creates more and more issues.
So yeah, health is health is huge.
Okay, now there is an old phrase that says “it’s all how you raise them”.
Let me tell you now, that’s not true.
Okay, so if you have a reactive dog, and you’ve had them since a puppy, like I did, you’ll probably know that you made some small mistakes. But nothing significant enough to create this, this issue. You’ve never abused the dog, you’ve never not mistreated them, you’ve never fed them poorly, they’ve always had the very best of what you could do.
And for a “normal dog”, that would have been perfectly sufficient, and they would have ridden that pretty well.
But a dog with poor genetics can be a totally different animal or totally different based as it were.
And when they develop things like reactivity, anxiety, these quirks these behaviours, even like a fear of fireworks can be genetic, for storms can be genetic. Meaning that if the mother has it? The Father has it? That can go through down to the litter too.
Temperament is really, really important. And if the mom or the dad are not great in the area, then it’s probably a good idea to give the potential litter a mess.
So What Do You Do To Find A Great Puppy Breeder?
The first thing is you need to ask loads of questions.
I mean loads and your breeder will if they are a good breeder, they will like that you’re asking all the questions in the world because they will ask all the questions in the world of you. Because it is their God given right to do so.
The idea is, is that this bloodline that this breeder is creating that they are crafting is phenomenal high.The idea is, is that the bloodline that they are creating is, is like their life’s work. It’s their masterpiece, right? So if I was selling my masterpiece is to someone, I will be wanting to know if you are the right person for my work, for my pride and joy.
So a great breeder is going to ask you a lot of questions. And don’t be afraid to answer them and answer them honestly. You’re better off having a clearer picture of one another and understanding how each other work so that this relationship can work, you know, going forwards, ad infinitum. Okay?
So, ask your questions, ask everything you want to ask (we’ll go into that next!)
The Potential Parents Of Your Future Puppy
I want you to look into the parents of your new potential puppy to the utmost that you absolutely can.
Whilst there are no criminal records for dogs, hopefully. And that’s not possible to look up and you can look into, like, their lineage, okay, you can
Look Into Their Kennel Club Lineage.
Whether that’s the American Kennel Club, Canadian Kennel Club, French Kennel club, Kennel Club in the UK, whoever it is, you can look into those, you can make sure that whatever is in their line hasn’t been crossed back, shall we say, and that they are not inbred? Because inbreeding does create a higher likelihood of problems. I wouldn’t even look at dogs like that. So please just avoid that if you can.
Why Did They Breed These Two Particular Dogs?
Okay, this question is really, really interesting. Because as soon as you ask a breeder that they should be like, Oh, okay, and I want you to see your breeder really engaged with this question.
Your breeder should go well, actually, this girl is the third daughter of my original Golden Retriever that she has shown this temperament she’s the best mother out of these she’s she’s very caring she’s very relaxed, she births well she births nice size litters. Her litters so far haven’t had problems.
And they should be able to like real most of that stuff off of the top of their head.
Because this is their lifeblood. This is what they’re passionate about.
You want to be able to meet the parents – both mum and ideally the father too (in rare breeds, sometimes this isn’t possible because they ship sperm from all sorts of places to prevent in-breeding and diversify their lines)
This way you can discuss with the mother and fathers family, what they’re doing, what they’re like, what he what considerations like do not yet have a chat with them and just make sure that you know, everything is above board is if you can check that the dog is you know, sound of temperament that they are happy, healthy and enjoying their general life. Because it’s very difficult sometimes to, to know. Like, when you get a puppy what they’ve come from, and if you’ve seen the parents.
It will give you an idea of whether they’re too bouncy, whether they’re too passive, whether they’re not energetic, or they are too energetic or whatever it is, you’ll get an indication of whether the potential litter is going to be a dog you can live with.
Health & Happiness
You also want to make sure that they are health testing, mom and dad that you want to make sure that ideally they are Kennel Club registered of some descript, don’t care which Kennel Club but you know, the fact that they prescribe to some of these elective rules that they can follow is a good thing, right?
I mean, anytime that you can add in a level of separated like, regulation of such loosely termed as regulation, the easier and more obvious it’s going to be okay, so you want to ask them how many litters they’re going to have every year. You don’t want somebody who’s churning out as many letters as they can, because it means that the health of the mother is not their main priority.
The health of the mother impacts the health and temperament of the puppies. So you need to make sure that mom is cared for to the utmost. Okay, she needs to be a pampered Little Princess, essentially. And she needs to be feeling love care, no lack of resources, warmth, all of that needs to be there for the puppies to come out in a nice manner. That’s really, really important.
Make sure that she’s at least two years old, too.
The other thing with Titles, and health testing and things like that. I do want to say with health testing, you can check what your breed is meant to have at the Ofa.org.
They give a guide as to what health tests each breed should have. And they will give you a really nice indication as to what you should be looking for. Okay. And your breeder should have those at minimum.
Any health testing on top of that is fine plus.
Then do they keep track of their puppies? Do they keep track of the parents do that? And by the parents? I mean you do they keep track of the new puppies parents and see how they’re progressing? Do they mentor you in any way shape or form do they like if say you are a first-time Puppy parent?
And please be honest with your breeder about this, I don’t care whether they want new puppy parents or not. If you show you’re responsible and that you’ve already got this under control, they’re more likely to take you anyway.
And especially if you want them to talk to me (or another trainer!) and so that you’ve already pre signed up to pupdates and things like that we can definitely have chats but the fact that they will keep track of their puppies and like help you with any potential problems is always handy because like I said, the mom and the dad literally the genetic makeup of your puppy and the term and temperament and sometimes behaviour comes from them. So the chances are if you’re struggling with something, they’ve dealt with it and if not they are and should be an expert in their breed and their tendencies
The next thing is, is I know a lot of people get impatient for a puppy.
And when you want a puppy, you want a puppy now or ideally yesterday. But try not to, because waiting lists are a good thing, it means that those puppies are in demand, which means that you’ve caught onto something kind of good.
It feels tough, and it’s kind of rotten, but it’s a good thing in the end, okay.
How big is their breeding programme?
How many females that they have, and it’s also a good indicator, because if they have an unreasonable amount, that would be hard to careful which you should roughly know. I mean, we’ll I mean, I find three dogs tough to, to, to live with and handle on an all day basis, or regular basis or whatever, it’s hard work, there’s a lot of stuff to be done. And it creates a lot of work.
Consequently, if there’s if there’s more than sort of 345 you might want to sort of start going hmm, they may not be the ones for us. So don’t get me wrong, some big breeders are great, but there’s also the instance where you know, that’s where it that’s where the puppy mill label starts coming in.
Really big red flag just so you know, a couple of red flags here is if they won’t let you meet the parents. That’s one I should have noticed when I had to get Indie I didn’t wasn’t allowed to meet mum wasn’t allowed to clearly she had issues then there is if they breed for colour and particularly recessive colours or peculiar colours or non-breed standard colours, you can check on like the AKC website or in guidelines for your breed, what the standard colours are but I mean sometimes when they go off of those standard colours is absolutely fine.
Where You Find A Good Breeder
Then do where can you actually find a good breeder? Because I’ve given you all of these things that say, big red flag, don’t do this look for that. Where do you find a good breeder that’s actually going to work with you and help you with a puppy and get and ensure that you bring home the very best puppy for the job as such, because even if the job is being a pest in the job, because every household is different, and trust me, it takes a lot of work, sometimes. breed clubs.
Once you’ve actually decided on a breed of dog that you are looking for, and if you’re struggling, please, by all means, get in touch with me, this is actually something that I do offer as a service to discuss with you what your needs are, and try and isolate potential breeds.
I want puppies in happy homes, where they belong, and like they sort of innately understand one another. Sounds really simple, a lot more complicated than it seems because there are over 400 registered breeds across the various kennel clubs across the world, not going to say I know more, but I know a good chunk of them. And typically, we can find something that will work for you.
Head to breed club, and your local one and ask, just go, Hey, who are the breeders in the area? And who would you really, really recommend? Who do you love, you know, you’ll get a very quick understanding when you start doing stuff like that.
are another great one. All like competitions, for example. Competitions are a great place to go because it usually means the dogs are titled at a title dog. And I mean, these can be any event now they can be like, Rally obedience, they can be flyball, they can be dock diving, I don’t know I’m listing stuff off the top of my head now. Or like IGP sports like protection work the German Shepherds do or modern ones do, they can be titled on that. But make sure it’s a title that’s going to ideally, provide the qualities you want.
For example, if you’ve chosen to have a German Shepherd, and I’m using shepherds a lot, slightly bias. If you’ve chosen a German Shepherd as the breed one, but you don’t want a really high Dr. Shepherd, that’s going to be a lot of work. Don’t go to a protection sport place and ask them for recommendations, because they’re not going to give you recommendations that you want. Okay, so do consider that. And again, if you are stuck, ping me a message, we can always chat about it, that’s fine.
And then other recommendations because like people like me, a dog trainer typically know how to find good breeder, okay. And sometimes when they I mean, I had some in the, in the UK that I had started, like making list of certain breeds. But now I’m in the US have lost those, which is a bummer. But hey, we’re starting to get in, that’s fine. I’m finding new breeders and I am working with it.
Places Not To Go
❌ Craigslist, Preloved, Pets4Homes etc
❌ Puppy sites
Um, the places not to look. And this is gonna sound really, really silly, but do not look on Google. I know, I know. It’s like our default thing to go Google or like into your search bar, which defaults to Google. And you go, Where do I find a puppy? Where can I get a Pomeranian Puppy, and then you sit there and you scroll and scroll and scroll?
That is like the quickest way to getting scammed. Just can tell you that. Because most breeders and I mean this with all the love in the world, they don’t need a good website. They don’t need a website that ranks on Google. Usually, if they’re going to rank on Google, it means they’re a new company first, and it means that they are they know what SEO is they know trust me I’ve it’s hard to rank on Google.
I have tried and I am good at SEO and I’m now six months in, but it’s hard, only a few of my pages rank on the first page. So if they are ranking on the first page of Google, these people are pros.
And they are probably spending more time on SEO than they are on puppies if they’re spending any time on puppies, okay? So Google’s not really a great place to start.
And I hate to tell you that Facebook, never less than optimum place to look for a puppy. Because you are going to get a lot of people on Facebook go, “Oh, yeah, my puppies are great is I mean, my puppies are great. Why not come see our lovely litre of specialist French beagles?”
But, you know, this is what happens on Facebook. Okay, people will sing you a song and they will tell you what you want to hear, as opposed to what you need to hear. Because they want to make a sale.
Okay? And it’s really hard to not know, I mean, look at how many people get catfished every year by other human beings who just aren’t the human being that they think they are.
So Facebook, just don’t, okay, because it’s you can be anybody you want to be on Facebook, and nobody’s going to stop you. So Facebook’s dodgy.
Next one. Similarly, Craigslist. This is more of an issue in the States. In the UK, you’ve got things like pets4homes and preloved and places like that. Usually, these are the really casual breeders, the really, and it’s so hard because you just don’t know where to start.
And I know this because it did it. And you hop on and you go, I want a German Shepherd 20 miles from Townsville, and I want them now. Essentially, you go on and he goes about and you got to choose from. And you scroll through the list and you go, Oh, that one. Let’s try contacting them. Again, you don’t know what they’ve got. You don’t know whether they’re good.
Then usually (if you’re anything like me) when you go on pets behind website, and you come away with a German Shepherd puppy that was labelled a German Shepherd puppy and I kid you not he was sold as a German Shepherd puppy until I got there. And then I found out that his mum was half Japanese Akita. And then it was like, Ah, I’m here now and I’ve got a puppy in front of me what? Oh, isn’t he cute? I’ve got to take him. It’s just okay. It doesn’t matter. And yeah, tada, mug. That was me. So I really don’t blame you. If you’ve been there. I’ve been there.
And then like puppy sites, there’s like, some of them are better than others. But there are like brokers essentially, who will facilitate breeders and say that they’ve been checked and say that they’ve been vet checked, and they’re ready to do this. And they’re this age, and they’re that and blah, blah, blah.
You know how many times I’ve seen negative stuff come back about these sites like time and time and time again, because it’s, it’s set up for failure. And these little pops are going to set you up for failure, unfortunately. So if you can avoid it, avoid it, because it’s just not worth it.
Ticking Timebomb Theory.
The takeaway from this, if you can be patience, a lot and lot of patience is going to help look into getting a puppy at least like a year before you actually want a puppy. And I know that’s really boring.
I know it’s not what you want to do. But it’s what you should do, because I’ve said it before, but a poorly bred puppy is basically a ticking time bomb in your house.
It’s a time bomb that you’re one of those like 40 thrown together time bombs. I don’t know no maybe that you don’t know if it’s gonna go off. You might be lucky it might never go off. But if it does go off, if they do end up with anxiety, if they do end up with behavioural problems if they do end up with a whole heap of veterinary problems. Just kind of put your stress levels through the roof and it’s what keeps people like me in the job and I don’t want us to be in a job anymore.
It’s Not Right, But It’s Okay.
It’s not right. But it’s how the world is and the only way that I know how to combat it is to educate you guys. So, remember that a good breeder may have a website, they may not have a website, they may have social media, they may not have social media.
They, they are going to be hard to find finding a good one is going to be somewhere that can you and so, on that note, I am going to leave you guys and if you have any questions on this, ping me if you want more information, leave it in the comments. And please like and subscribe and share this video and make sure that we start spreading this sort of information.
If you need any help with finding a puppy? Get in touch and let’s book in a session to discuss your needs and help you narrow down some options!
Author, Ali Smith
Ali Smith is the Positive Puppy Expert, dog trainer and is the founder of Rebarkable. She is passionate about helping puppy parents get things right, right from the start. To help create a puppy capable of being a confident and adaptable family member and keep puppies out of shelters.
Ali has won multiple awards for her dog training, and has had her blog (this blog!) rated as 2021’s worlds’ best pet blog!