The breeder is registered with the CKC (or AKC), so they must be breeding healthy, quality puppies.
- The Canadian & American Kennel Clubs are only a registry. CKC/AKC registration does not guarantee you a quality puppy any more than DMV registration guarantees you a quality car.
The breeder's dogs have won a lot of shows, so they must be good.
- Not all show breeders are good breeders! Some live for the excitement of winning, and breed far too many dogs in search of the greatest possible number of champions.Sometimes such breeders are little more than glorified puppymills. Most responsible breeders have only a few dogs, and keep them in the house just as you would your own pet. Screen all breeders carefully!
I'm getting a cockapoo because mixed breeds are healthier and have more hybrid vigor.
- Responsible breeders will not sell their dogs to people who are deliberately breeding mixed breeds.Thus, people breeding mixes usually have dogs that are not of high quality and have not been health tested.
- "Hybrid vigor" in dogs is a myth because all dogs are dogs. A hybrid is created when two different species are mixed together, not when two different breeds of dogs are bred together. In reality,, breeding two different breeds of dogs together, then interbreeding the puppies intensifies the risk of genetic disease. For example, toy poodles can be subject to eye and skin diseases that are not found in Cocker Spaniels, while Cockers have some eye disorders of their own not found in poodles. When toy poodles and cockers are bred together to create cockapoos, the resultant puppies can now carry the genes for the disorders found in poodles as well as those found in Cockers!
- If you really want a cute little mixed-breed, rescue one from a shelter. Don't support disreputable breeders.
So many times, you click on a website to see "Champion Lineage", or "X number of Champions in Pedigree" The puppies have a "champion background"!
- Most times where this is used as a selling point, the puppies have one grandparent who is a champion. This means nothing. It is too far-removed to have much effect on the pup. It is the general background of the puppy, and the specific background (especially health!) of the pup's parents that is important.
I don't want a fancy show puppy. I just want a good pet.
- The most important job that any dog has is to be a good pet!
- There are several qualities that a dog needs to have to be a good pet. It should be healthy and well-socialized (to children, other people, and other animals). In addition, it should grow up to look and act like what you would expect of a dog of that breed- after all, you chose a breed based on the characteristics that it should have. A Golden Retriever puppy should grow up to be a 70-pound easily trainable retrieving maniac that loves everyone and can play all day. It should not grow up to be a 120-pound dog that fights with other dogs, hates kids, cannot be housebroken, and refuses to retrieve.
- If someone simply breeds two unevaluated Goldens together, the offspring may not look or act like a true Golden should. If these offspring are bred to other unevaluated dogs, pretty soon you will have dogs that are Goldens in name only but that look and act nothing like a well-bred Golden Retriever.
- In addition, anyone who buys a dog as a family pet want to ensure that the dog is healthy. Responsible breeders will ensure this by doing the proper genetic testing to ensure that the parents of their puppies are healthy. Less reputable breeders are unlikely to know that such tests exist, let alone do them.
- Your best chances of getting a healthy puppy are to buy one from someone whose motivation for breeding is to produce the finest possible dogs. That means someone who breeds only dogs that are themselves good pets and good representatives of what their breed should be. It also means someone who tests their parent dogs to make sure that they are free from any genetic defects before they are bred. It means someone who knows the background of their dogs well enough to know what they should produce.
- In most cases, the people who are truly responsible breeders do show their dogs, in order to determine that they do indeed resemble the breed that they are supposed to be. Show and performance events are how responsible breeders make sure that their dogs both look and act how their breeds are supposed to look and act. And they keep their dogs as house pets, so they know that their offspring will be good pets as well.
- Every litter of "show puppies" has some dogs that will never be the show ring. They may be Shelties that are a half inch too big, Pugs without enough curl in the tail, or Dalmatians with spots that aren't far enough apart. These pups have been raised with as much planning, medical attention and socialization as their show-quality littermates. They make the best possible pets.
The breeder said both parent dogs had been checked by a vet, so I guess the pups should be healthy.
- Most vets are not experts in canine reproduction. They also may not want to lose business by telling their clients not to breed. In addition, the breeder may have heard only what he wanted to hear, not what the vet actually told him!
- No vet can tell that a dog is free of genetic disease just by looking at the dog. Most genetic tests require special examinations by qualified veterinarians. Your best bet is to know what genetic tests are needed for the breed that you are interested in, and to ask the breeder to show you the results of those tests.
I don't know what OFA or CAER/CERF are. What are they and why are they important?
- Dogs- both purebred and mixed-breed- can have a wide variety of genetic defects. Responsible breeders test that their dogs are free of such defects before they breed them, thus a purebred dog from a responsible breeder is more likely to be healthy than one from an irresponsible breeder that does not test. Here are some of the common abbreviations and terms you may see...
- OFA- Orthopedic Foundation for Animals. They are most well-known for certifying hip x-rays to determine if a dog is free from hip dysplasia, a crippling malformation of the hip joint. Your best chance of getting a dysplasia-free dog is to choose one from a pedigree where at least the last two generations have OFA clearances. OFA also screens dogs for a wide variety of other genetic maladies, including elbow dysplasia, copper toxicosis, etc. Their databases are searchable online, so you can check if a certain dog has been certified by OFA.
- CAER (used to be CERF) - Companion Animal Eye Registration. This organization certifies that a dog's eyes are free from visible genetic disease. A breeding dog should have a current exam, done within the last year. Their database is also searchable online.
- Penn-HIP- This is a test of hip joint laxity. The lower the number, the tighter the hip. It is not an indication, on its own, of whether a dog has dysplasia.
- SAS- Subaortic stenosis, a heart defect common in several breeds, including Mastiffs and Newfoundlands. Responsible breeders of possibly affected breeds have their dogs screened for SAS by a canine cardiologist.
- Thyroid screened- Hypothyroidism is a common defect in many breeds, and responsible breeders screen susceptible dogs to make certain that they have an acceptable thyroid level.