THE LIST BELOW WAS POSTED WITH PERMISSION FROM: Lisa Frankland
Below are some guidelines that I wrote when my club was at an information booth at a
pet fair a few years ago. Considering how much confusion people have over the definition
of responsible breeder (Most people seem to equate this term with "home raised,"
"AKC registered," or, my favorite, "both parents on premises."), I
hope this can help. Anybody who wants to use all or parts of this to promote responsible
breeding and pet ownership has my permission to do so.
Starting the Search:
*Attend a local dog show. Show catalogs list the names and addresses of the owners of
entered dogs. You can also talk to the owners and handlers of the dogs (though not when
they're about to go into the ring!) and get some leads that way.
*Write to the AKC and ask for the names and addresses of breed clubs. These clubs can
steer you in the right direction.
*Learn about your breed before you look to buy one. Read the breed standard, find out
about grooming requirements, typical temperaments, health problems that are common in the
breed, etc. Irresponsible breeders hate educated buyers!
*Price alone should not be a factor in deciding what breeder to buy from. While a high
price doesn't necessarily guarantee high quality, a very low price often does not turn out
to be a bargain in the long run. Find out what typical prices are for show and pet quality
puppies of your breed in your area.
*Be patient. You may have to wait a few months (or longer) to find the right dog from a
good breeder. This is a very short time compared with the ten to fifteen years that a dog
will live with you.
Responsible Breeders DO:
*Breed in order to improve the breed and produce the best puppies they possibly can,
and usually plan to keep at least one of them.
*Ask as many questions of you as you do of them.
*Show evidence of at least two or three years of serious interest in their breed, i.e.
dog club memberships (the AKC doesn't count!), show and match ribbons, and Championship
and/or performance (obedience, agility, tracking, field, etc.) titles.
*Breed only dogs that closely match the breed standard and are free of serious health
and temperament problems.
*Tell you if they think you would be better off with another breed of dog, or no dog at
*Provide referrals to other breeders if they don't have anything available.
*Use a written contract and guarantee, or at least an oral agreement, when selling a
dog, with clear terms that you can live with.
*Provide a registration slip, a pedigree, and up-to-date shots/health records with
every puppy they sell.
*Honestly discuss any special problems/requirements associated with the breed.
*Offer assistance and advice on grooming, training, etc., for the life of the dog.
*If, for any reason and at any time, you cannot keep the dog, will take it back.
*Normally breed only one or two litters a year, max!
*Have dogs that are clean, healthy, happy, and humanely cared for
Responsible Breeders DO NOT:
*Appear overly eager to sell/"get rid of" a puppy
*Breed simply to produce puppies to sell
*Breed a bitch on every season, or more than once a year
*Have breeding stock that consists of a "mated pair"
*Claim that all of their puppies are "show/breeding quality"
*Claim that their breed has no problems (some have fewer than others, but every breed
has at least a couple)
*Sell puppies to pet stores or to anyone that they have not met/screened personally
*Sell puppies that are less than eight to ten weeks old
*Sell puppies without papers (registration slip and 3-5 generation pedigree), or charge
extra for papers
*Have more than one or two litters at any given time, or litters of multiple breeds
*Guarantee their dogs, or if they do, attach such unreasonable conditions to the
guarantee, i.e., "dog must not be spayed or neutered, must never have been bred, and
the ears must stand correctly," that it is unlikely that they would ever have to
Phrases to be aware of in breeder's ads:
"Rare"--This is often because either the breeder is using the wrong
term for a common trait (i.e., "teacup" for toy size) or the dogs in question
have a trait that no responsible breeder would deliberately produce, either because it is
not allowed or is considered a serious fault in the breed standard, and/or is associated
with health problems in the breed (e.g. white Boxers and Dobermans, parti-colored Poodles,
"king" Labs, lemon spotted Dalmatians, and blue-eyed Malamutes). Although it can
also mean that the breed is not well known or widely recognized, it does almost always
mean that the breeder expects you to pay megabucks for the privilege of owning one.
"Aggressive"--Most dogs are naturally protective, the extent depending
on their breed and individual personalities. Why would anyone in their right mind
deliberately breed dogs with unstable temperaments?
"Champion"--A dog becomes a breed champion by earning points defeating
a specified number of other dogs of its breed in competition. A dog can have a whole wall
full of blue ribbons, yet still not have earned a single point, let alone a championship
"Grand Champion"--the AKC does not award a Grand Champion title. Some
other registries do, such as the UKC, but make sure the breeder explains how and where
that title was earned.
"Champion lines"--Almost all dogs have some champions in their
pedigrees if you go a few generations back. Ideally, at least one parent and the majority
of the dogs listed in the pedigree should have a championship or other title.
"Champion puppies"--Dogs cannot be shown towards a championship before
they are six months old. Maybe the breeder means that the parents are champions. Maybe it
means that you'd be better off buying from somebody that's honest.
"OFA puppies"--OFA stands for Orthopedic Foundation for Animals, a
registry that screens dogs for hip dysphasia. Dogs must be at least two years of age to be
screened. If a breeder claims that any dog younger than that has OFA numbers, run!
"Show quality"--What does the breeder mean by this? Expected to finish
a championship fairly easily? No disqualifying faults? Has "perfect markings and is
really cute?" Make sure you understand exactly what this means before you buy. By the
way, unless you are serious about breeding and showing, there is nothing wrong with a dog
that is "pet quality."
"AKC registered (or just 'AKC')"--The AKC (American Kennel Club) is a
registry that issues registration papers to dogs of the approximately 152 breeds that are
currently recognized, whose parents were also registered. While great to have (essential
if you plan to show and breed), AKC registration is no guarantee of a dog's quality, or of
a breeder's integrity. Other popular registries include the United Kennel Club (UKC) and
the American Rare Breeds Association (ARBA), as well as breed-specific registries, such as
(ASCA). One warning: There are a number of "effigy registries" whose sole
purpose is to provide "papers" for dogs who cannot be registered through one of
the legitimate registries (breeder may have been banned from legitimate registry, parents
may not be registered or register able with legitimate registry, etc). If you are not
familiar with the registry in question, ask around.
*AKC Breeder Referral
Cavalier King Charles Spaniel, USA - Registry
Cavaliers in the United States can be registrated in this providing they are qualified.
Many breeder continue to register their dogs with both group. Having a
Cavalier that is only registered in one and not the other does not de-value the animal,
it will however indicate which activities you can particate in with your dog. If you
desire to participate in conformation showing and or breeding of your cavalier then what
registry your cavalier is listed in can made a difference. If on the other hand your
interest is in a true companion who might do a little agility on the side, then you can
get an ILP number from AKC (which allows to participate in performance events, but not
breeding or conformation shows) or a "Performance Event Number" from the CKCS,
USA, which allows performance events also but not the conformation show.