Author Topic: How To Find A Reputable Breeder  (Read 47334 times)

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Offline Jane S

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How To Find A Reputable Breeder
« on: August 24, 2008, 11:00:42 PM »
    What is a Reputable Breeder & How do I find one?

    It can be very difficult for people looking to buy a Cocker puppy to know where to find a reputable breeder. Cockers are hugely popular which has meant there are many breeders who produce puppies purely for financial gain – they have little interest in the health & temperament of their puppies & will not be willing or able to provide any after sales help or advice. Distinguishing this type of breeder from the caring, responsible breeder who does everything possible to breed happy, healthy puppies is not always easy. Here are a few pointers which will hopefully help would-be buyers avoid the common pitfalls:

    Reputable Breeders Do…

    • Have a longstanding, serious interest in Cocker Spaniels - they often take part in activities with their dogs such as showing, field trials (in the case of Working Cockers), agility, obedience training etc. Most reputable breeders will be a member of a least one Breed Club, such as The Cocker Spaniel Club (the parent Club for Cocker Spaniels) as well as other regional Breed Clubs.
    • Try to ensure that any puppies they breed go only to the most suitable homes. They will ask as many questions of you as you should be asking of them. If a breeder does not ask you any questions at all, ask yourself why they apparently don't care what sort of homes their puppies go to? Commonly asked questions relate to how long a puppy would be left alone during the day, whether the would-be buyer has children & how old they are, what sort of home & garden the buyer has etc.
    • Make it clear to potential buyers whether their puppies are working or show strain. As the two distinct strains can be quite different, it is important that breeders ensure their buyers understand these differences and are getting the type of puppy they want, whether this is a Working Cocker or a show-type puppy
    • Understand that breeding & rearing a litter of puppies with care takes enormous effort & commitment & therefore only have a few litters a year which will be carefully planned with health & temperament as top priorities. They will make every effort to ensure that puppies are well socialised before they leave for new homes (something that is impossible to do if the breeder has numerous litters at the same time)
    • Willingly offer advice on the breed to potential buyers (even if they do not have a litter) & will honestly discuss the breed's requirements (e.g. grooming) & the hereditary problems that are known to occasionally occur in the breed (e.g. the eye conditions, CPRA, GPRA & Glaucoma and the kidney disease, Familial Nephropathy) They will explain what steps they take to avoid these hereditary problems e.g. annual eye-testing, Optigen/Antagene DNA testing of dogs used for breeding and be able to show buyers certificates as proof of their health testing program. Please note that basic health checks by an ordinary vet in general practice are NOT what is meant by heath testing for hereditary conditions. Check out for more information on known hereditary problems and the tests currently available to breeders. NB:If you want to check whether the parents of a litter you are interested in have been health tested, register with MyKC and enter their KC registered names in the Look Up A Dog tool
    • Provide back-up help & advice on a long-term basis to their puppy buyers. They will also make clear that if the owner of one of their puppies is unable to keep the dog for any reason, then they will take back that dog & find it a new home where possible.
    • Provide puppy buyers with all the necessary paperwork at the time the puppy is collected. This will include a copy of the pedigree, a diet sheet, worming certificate & the Kennel Club Registration Certificate. Many will also provide comprehensive information on grooming, training etc. It is also common practice to provide free insurance for the puppy for a minimum period of 6 weeks (depending on the insurance company preferred by the breeder)
    • Encourage potential puppy buyers to meet their dogs, including "Mum", all the puppies in the litter & possibly other relatives too. If all the breeders' dogs seem happy & pleased to "meet & greet" visitors, then this is a good indication that a puppy from this breeder will have a happy, outgoing temperament. NB: Be wary of breeders who own both parents of a litter – reputable breeders will sometimes use their own stud dogs in their breeding plans but this can also be an indication of “backyard” breeding (see below) so do your homework!

    Reputable Breeders Do Not......
    • Sell puppies under the age of 8 weeks. NB: Selling puppies before this age is against the Cocker Spaniel Club Code of Ethics and is actually against the law if the breeder is licenced (ie breeds commercially).
    • Breed puppies purely for financial gain as a business
    • Sell to agents/dealers/pet shops or sell to buyers they have not met personally and screened for suitability
    • Have more than one or two litters at the same time or advertise multiple litters from a wide variety of popular breeds (those who do are clearly commercial breeders or dealers)
    • Offer to deliver puppies to buyers (unless in exceptional circumstances) or offer to meet potential buyers in locations such as motorway service stations. Puppy farmers often use these tactics to prevent buyers from seeing the conditions in which puppies have been born
    • Charge buyers extra if they want a puppy with KC registration
    • Charge extortionate prices for so-called "rare" colours
    • Sell puppies without KC Registration unless this is clearly explained to the buyer at the time of sale
    • Register puppies with commercial registries such as The Dog Lovers Registration Club (DLRC) which sell registration certificates based solely on information supplied by the breeder/owner. DLRC papers are considered to be worthless by many as there is no verification of pedigree information supplied by breeders - someone could easily register a litter of cross-breeds as "Cocker Spaniels" with the DLRC, using completely fictitious "pedigrees" without any problems at all!
    • Claim the breed has no hereditary problems - every breed generally has at least one or two. Good breeders also will not say they don't need to test their dogs for hereditary problems because they know their dogs are all problem free - no breeder can ever claim that!
    • Go for the "hard sell" approach & try to persuade enquirers to buy one of their puppies as quickly as possible, "before they all go!"
    • Advertise puppies in free-ad papers/publications or on their equivalent websites. Puppy farmers/dealers frequently advertise in such papers whereas reputable breeders rely more on word of mouth & recommendations from other breeders or Breed Clubs

    What is a Puppy Farmer?
    “Puppy Farmer” is a derogatory term used to describe breeders who produce large numbers of puppies purely for commercial gain - such breeders pay little regard to the health or temperament of their puppies & they will sell a pup to whoever wants one, no questions asked. Many of these pups are taken away from their mothers at an early age & are transported long distances to be placed on sale in pet shops & puppy supermarkets - these pups often have health problems & sadly may have poor temperaments due to bad breeding and/or lack of socialisation Some of these breeders operate outside the law & keep their dogs in appalling conditions, breeding from bitches every season until they are worn out & then discarding them. Other large-scale commercial breeders operate from reasonably clean conditions, are licensed by their local authority & register their pups with the Kennel Club but can still be classed as “puppy farmers” as the aim is still to mass produce puppies for profit – there will be no health-screening for hereditary problems, puppies will be inadequately socialised & bitches will still be over-bred. 

    For more information on the trade in puppies & puppy farming in general, have a look at these websites:
    Hope UK

    What is a Backyard Breeder?
    This term covers those breeders with no serious interest in or knowledge of Cockers but who may own a bitch & decide that it would be nice to have a litter on the basis that it would be educational for the children or will help pay for the family holiday! If they happen to own a dog themselves, they will use him and if not, they will use the nearest, available dog. Often no research will have been carried out into whether the dogs’ pedigrees are compatible & there will be no knowledge of possible hereditary problems & very little awareness of how to rear puppies successfully. This can result in a nice, healthy litter (more by luck than good judgment!) but can also result in puppies with health/temperament problems. Sadly such breeders will lack the knowledge/experience to provide any after-sales help to their buyers.

    “Just A Pet”

    Many people looking for a Cocker puppy make the mistake of thinking that as they want their dog to be “just a pet”, then it does not matter too much where their pup comes from, whether he has “papers” or not or whether he comes from health tested parents etc. But nothing could be further than the truth since fulfilling the role of “just a pet” is the most important job any Cocker Spaniel puppy could do. If you’re looking for a pet Cocker puppy, health and temperament should be very important priorities – no pet owner wants a puppy with a poor temperament or one who goes blind early or dies young from a preventable hereditary disease such as FN. Reputable, specialist breeders will breed for good temperament and will use the available health testing schemes to ensure their pups grow up to be as healthy as possible. If you want your puppy to have been given the best start in life so he can grow up to be a happy, healthy member of your family, then it really does matter where he comes from and you should expect nothing less than the highest standards from the breeder of your pet Cocker. So be prepared to ask lots of questions before deciding on a breeder and do your own checks eg use the Kennel Club's online health testing database to see whether the parents of a litter you are interested in have had the recommended tests by registering with MyKC and entering their KC registered names in the Look Up A Dog tool[/li][/list]

    General Guidelines

    Remember that price is not everything! Puppies are not like household commodities where you can shop around for the "best deal". Reputable breeders do not sell their puppies cheaply & whilst it might be tempting to respond to an advert offering puppies at less than the "going rate", the puppy may not be such a bargain in the long run. On the other hand, a high asking price is not necessarily a guarantee of quality either (remember to be wary of those asking four figure prices for so-called "rare" colours)

    Be patient! Reputable breeders do not have a constant supply of puppies & it may be that potential buyers will have to wait weeks, perhaps months for a suitable litter to be born. Mistakes are often made by buyers who will not wait … they want a puppy NOW & so will often rush out & buy in haste (perhaps ignoring the warning signs that the breeder is not reputable). Remember, you will hopefully have your Cocker for 10-15 years - what is a wait of a few months for the "right" puppy compared to this?

    Don't assume that because a breeder has an attractive website that they are reputable. Yes many good breeders do have their own websites where you can find information about their dogs but many not so good breeders (including some puppy farmers) also have professional-looking sites. Be wary of breeder websites which give no pedigree information and only mentions dogs by their pet names - this could be a way of preventing you carrying out your own checks into the dogs' background and whether any health tests have been carried out.

    Never buy a puppy because you have seen it advertised on social media sites like Facebook. Reputable breeders do not usually advertise litters on Facebook etc but more commercially minded breeders often do use Facebook as a marketing tool so caution must be used if responding to anyone posting about litter availability on this site.

    Never buy a puppy because you feel sorry for it, either because it appears shy & fearful or because you are unhappy with the conditions it is being reared in. This is a recipe for disaster - you could end up with a puppy with severe health & temperament problems (& you will be helping less reputable breeders stay in business)

    How do I find a reputable breeder?

    Cocker Breed Clubs are good places to start your search. The Secretaries of each Club should be able to recommend breeders who maybe have puppies available or who are expecting a litter. Contact numbers for all the Breed Clubs can be found here

    The Kennel Club has a Find A Puppy search tool on their website here: This list contains details of breeders who have registered puppies recently. Please note that the KC does not guarantee that breeders on this list are reputable - potential buyers should not assume this & should ascertain for themselves whether a breeder listed is the kind they would be happy to buy a puppy from. This applies to the KC Assured Breeder Scheme too. Membership of this scheme is voluntary and involves agreeing to follow basic good breeding practice and compliance with required health testing but does not indicate that all breeder members have necessarily been vetted and inspected (although most have been inspected)

    Breeder listings on websites Please note that puppy farmers/large-scale commercial breeders are often listed on such websites. When contacting breeders on online listings, enquirers should never assume that breeders are reputable without verifying this for themselves. One of the better listings sites is where it is easy to see what health tests parents of a litter have had but you should still do your own vetting and not assume a breeder is reputable because they advertise on this site

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