Updated: Feb 1, 2022
A great breeder - one that shows world champion dogs, wins sporting events and titles wherever they go, has genetically perfect parents going back 3 or 4 generations, who’s dogs are obedient to the point of civility …and who can leap over tall buildings in a single leap.
Seriously now, what does separate a truly exceptional breeder from the rest - and certainly from a ‘poor breeder’? Let's get some of the givens out of the way - an excellent breeder will health test and today, genetically test their dogs before allowing them to enter the breeding program. An excellent breeder will look for significant genetic diversity in selecting breeding pairs. An excellent breeder will show their dogs in conformation to prove they are a fine example of the breed standard. An excellent breeder will only breed temperamentally sound and balanced dogs. These are givens - every reasonable breeder will do these things to one degree or another, so what sets the best breeders apart?
In short, they care. They care about their dogs and they care about you. With their dogs, they have a relationship with them - and they likely share their homes with them. They provide the best for them - in nutrition, in exercise and in socialization. They see a family member in their dogs and it shows. Visit your breeders home and see how they live, see how they relate to the dogs and how the dogs relate to them. Visiting your breeder is a critical part of making your decision.
In you, your breeder sees someone with more questions than answers, with concerns about what to do with a health issue that comes up or in a new situation. They see someone who needs guidance and support and who can draw upon their wisdom. With luck they will see new friends. A great breeder is someone to show you the way when you are scared for your dogs life, when you are unsure of what to do, someone who can recommend dietary choices, training programs, and when to seek veterinary advice. A great breeder is someone who wants to hear from you, to know that their pup is doing well and thriving with his or her new family, in their new home. The best breeders are empathetic with the owners of their pups and have the integrity to stand their ground when the going gets hard - being there even when the unexpected happens or in the worst case, when their puppy needs a new home and comes back to them.
When you seek a breeder, look for someone you can relate to. Your breeder is going to be someone who’s number you have in your phone and whom you feel you can call with a question. Look for a breeder you believe has the integrity to do what is right and to uphold their end of the contract you signed, yes, but look for a breeder you can talk to and trust. The best breeders love their dogs, want the very best for each of them and will do what is best regardless of the circumstances - for both the dog and for you.
Producing outstanding puppies is a ton of work. Be sure to spend a little time learning about who you are entrusting that work to so you can surmise how well that work will be carried out.
What do you look for in a great breeder?