This was a title of a discussion suggested to me by a puppy-buyer...a lot of us can perhaps not answer as we are breeders ourselves.
It will be interesting to see what comes out of this discussion now that the "boot is on the other foot" :-)
i have to say that i look for all the things like, cleanliness where the puppies are kept, i would only buy from a breeder who keeps puppies inside the house and not in a outside kennel [my personal preference], meet the mum first and possibly the dad, if i wasnt able to meet the dad then, hopefully the breeder can give information on him and that the puppies are healthy happy and socialized . i think the breeder should be knowlegeable about the breed and provide a puppy pack and be there if you need to talk to them after you have taken your pup home. when i bought holly, my vizsla, we arrived at the house and thought oh my god, it was a small house, lots of people and lots dogs and cats!!! but after meeting the breeders, we found them lovely warm people, the puppies were getting lots of interaction from adults, children and cats, hollys mum was so beautiful that i was totally having one of her pups!! so we bought holly and she has been a fab puppy. alfies, my setter's breeder was just as good, knowledgeable, and i even got to meet alfie's dad and grandma, as well as his mum, again all the parents were lovely dogs and my five yr old little boy absolutely took to the setters instantly, i dont think i would have got out of the door without buying alfie!!. i think i have been very lucky with the breeders i chose to buy from. i think you should research the breed you want AND the breeder you want to buy from.
I have to be confortable with the person who I am getting a puppy from. Their dogs have to be healthy and happy. I feel you not only need a knowlegeable breeder but also one that is going to be available to you no matter what happens with your pup. I was lucking with Scout's breeder as she was so helpful whenever I had questions and when he became ill she was so supportive.
From a purely external point of view I would also look for cleanliness, how the puppies are kept, whether they have access to the garden and the house (since I'd be buying a family dog I would not want a puppy from an outside kennel), I would observe the breeder and the way in which he/she interacts with their dogs and puppies - whether they actually have a connection with them or whether they just interact with them because someone is coming to have a look. I would try and find out how well they have already been socialised, have they been in contact with children, other dogs, unusual noise, well basically anything that is part of socialisation, and also look at the puppies, of course, whether they've been well fed, look healthy and lively and happy.
And from the "internal" health point of view I would like to know the hip scores of at least the dam and sire and see the pedigree of the puppies. I would ask about any known health problems in the dam and sire in the hope to get an honest answer.
I think most of the time you can probably see whether you can trust the breeders from the way they keep their dogs and the way they interact with them. But as I can imagine it's more difficult for the breeder to assess the puppy buyer.
I read a lot of books before we got a puppy and having grown up with lots of dogs I knew more or less "intuitively" what to look for but it's also possible that we were just very lucky. Also, some countries obviously have more regulations for breeders than others so you may be able to trust some kennels more than others.
In a way it is a pity that we (most of the time) are so poltically correct on this site.
We are missing out on all the puppy-buyers that will tell you that they bought their puppy from a filthy place, where the breeder was mostly drunk, and they never ended up getting all the papers.
The reasons for buying were:
1. They felt so sorry for the puppies, in fact they felt so sorry for them they bought two straight away.
2. They saw they could not go near the bitch as she was growling and snapping, but the puppies seemed so sweet.
3. They thought the breeder was terrible, but felt that had basically nothing to do with the puppies (they bought a puppy and not the breeder).
4. They never got any papers and were told they would follow later...the kennelclub had screwed up.
5. It was very dirty, but then what DOES one expect with lots of puppies?
6. They never saw the bitch becourse the breeder said she was very sensitive and would realise that her puppies were going to be taken away, so lets not upset mum!
All the reasons given above are 100% true and told by sensible and well-educated people.
7. Buyers only ever saw the one puppy that was bought outright - after all, as the breeder said, they could obviously not see mum and ALL the pups in case they (the buyer) brought in an infection.
Don't get me wrong, I wasn't meaning to sound politically correct; I was just illustrating ideal puppy buying conditions for me and what I would do. Also, I've just been lucky so far that each breeder we've been to see has actually be OK. If I was faced with a worst-case scenario, in which I felt so sorry for the puppies to be with those breeders and felt the need to "rescue" them, I couldn't guarantee that I wouldn't do just that, though - I just hope I'll never have to make such a decision.
My sister was in a situation a few years ago when she went to look at Belgian shepherd puppies with an apparently reputable breeder and when she and her family arrived he said there were no young puppies left but there was a 5 month old which they could have. Her children had in the meantime found the puppies hidden in a shed a bit further away and when the breeder saw this he got terribly angry and told them all to leave! And this was a breeder registered with the Swiss kennel club.
I think the points you give above are very easy traps to fall into if you are a first-time buyer, probably have never had a dog before and have not read up about buying a puppy and it almost doesn't matter whether you're well educated or not. It could happen to anyone - after all, the breeder MUST be right since he/she is a breeder and has been doing it for such a long time....!!
Oh Nicole, I was not going against you when I was talking about political correctness! :-)
And yes, its easy making fun of people on a subject they know nothing about. Exactly the situation that most first-time puppybuyers are in. My first puppy came from a puppy-mill, I never saw a relative of the puppy and instead of a well-needed bath, she was sprayed with air-freshener by the seller.
I was 11 years at the time, but my parents had no idea whatsoever.
They had just asked where to buy a puppy and got pointed in the direction of the puppy-mill.
But I keep thinking that was THEN and people NOW should at least attempt to find out, before they commit themselves to caring for something for well over 10 years.
I was getting my first Setter, well actually my first dog, (I wanted an English) looked at the papers, not dog papers, didn't know that they existed, didn't think to read books on the breed, (I would like to think that I have a little bit of common sense) but I think that it left me at this time, I just wanted a puppy.
Went along to the 'puppy mill' that was local to me, they didn't have any English, but there was an Irish, only one, and it had come from Wales, she was 12 weeks old and very tiny for her age...she did have all her papers but of cause no parents could be seen. I did have the sense to take her to the vet, he was disgusted that this poor thing was sold at all, and gave us a letter to take her back, because there was a no refund policy. They gave us our money back eventually....I must say that I have always felt guilty about sending her back, but some of the stuff she had wrong with her would have threatened my very young children at the time according to the vet.
I then talked to a friend, they showed dogs, and found us a puppy, Irish, (I had fallen for the Irish by then), of the same age, she was twice the size and in beautiful condition, both parents were there, only problem was that she was the only one left. But that was genuine. And that was that, 37 years ago, and now the advise that I would give to everyone wanting a dog,
1) Never buy from a puppy mill
2) Always go armed with knowledge... Be that from a friend or a book
3) Try to look at as many litters as possible before buying
4) Go to shows and look at the breed you want
5) and don't buy just because you feel sorry for the puppies, unless you have very deep pockets. These 'emotional' purchases can prove VERY expensive
6) And last.....when you have found your new 'friend' give as much love as you get, and that will be a lot.....
Any more suggestions from anyone??????
Try to look at the breed you have fallen for NOT just at shows but also in everyday life. At shows you will find dogs that are groomed, bathed and in great condition. They will also be wellbehaved. Same as people coming to look at my dogs at home.
I work and compete so much in obedience that my dogs will do what I tell them, go and lay down when I ask them to and once off the lead, they will come instantly when I call them and sit (straight) at my left side.
Anyone wanting to buy a puppy from me, I ask them to come to one of our local settermeetings to see the variations of dogs in real life.
Although all these dogs are friendly, you will also see overweight dogs, dogs in desperate need of grooming, dogs that pull the lead, dogs that dont come back however much the owner yells and calls.
And (depending on where we meet) dogs that are totally covered in mud, soaking wet, covered in slobber and happily jumping up at people.
If you STILL want an irish setter after that...
YES, you certainly are the buyer we are all looking for!!!!!!!! :-)
This is all excellent advice to new buyers I just wonder how many people actually make the effort or think it worthwile investigating before getting a dog. You really have to be sort of "into" dogs to do all this. Many people I know have a family and just want to get a dog for their children and think it'll be OK, since everyone else has a dog too. They have no idea about how much effort needs to be put into a puppy and then later the training, etc. unless the breeder tells them this. So, I guess this is another thing I would add to the list of a good breeder: whether the breeder makes sure the new buyer really understands what it involves owning, training and looking after a dog. I know that we wouldn't have got our boy had we not "promised" to work him or at least keep him very active. He has working lines in him and after observing him for two years now I think the breeders were right to ask that from the puppy buyers because I honestly think he would have had a very sad life in an inactive household.
Oh yes....I don't know of anything like that here, they must be fun, well it made me smile just reading about it, you will have to paint something and post it or perhaps a calendar, that would be better than all those dogs that are on the Irish Setter Calendars you see in the shops. As I read your descriptions I could just visualise all those dogs.....
I tend to let all my dogs mob the people who come in to look at the puppies, (I wish mine were as well trained), and watch for their reactions. The ones who step back and brush themselves down tend to be told that unfortunately they are all sold now, perhaps a small dog would do them better, or something like that....
If they get down and dirty with the dogs (so to speak) they are quite welcome to have a puppy if everything else is good