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How to Read a “Dog for Sale” Ad

When you decide you want to buy a puppy of a specific breed, the words used in the ads or flyers announcing dogs for sale can give you clues to help you determine whether the seller has real experience with the breed or not. Clues to decoding some of the jargon include

  • Champion lines: The only thing it takes to get the word “champion” on a pedigree is to buy a poor-quality dog whose great-grandfather earned that title. Less than two or three champions on a pedigree — and on only one side of the pedigree, either the mother’s side or the father’s — indicates that the seller isn’t taking the dogs into the show ring to see how judges think they compare to the breed standard. So look for “champion-sired” or “champion parents,” which are the sign of a reputable breeder, as opposed to a casual one.

  • AKC-registered: Big deal. Almost any breeder will sell you a purebred who’s eligible for registration with the American Kennel Club or another registry, although a good breeder may hold back that registration until certain conditions — such as spaying or neutering — are met.

  • Extra: You see this a lot with the protection breeds, with people trying to produce super-sized Rottweilers and other dogs with a scary reputation. The aim is to produce the biggest, baddest dog around, but the result is likely a dog who’s not going to move as well as he should, or a dog with bad hips or other problems. Size limits in the breed standard exist for reasons; if you deal with people who don’t know about the limits or don’t care, you may find other problems the breeder didn’t know about.

  • Rare: Puh-lease. Any breed recognized by the AKC isn’t all that rare, although some sellers may try to make a little extra money from unaware customers.

  • See both parents: You should always be able to see the mother, but many times reputable breeders don’t have the father on hand because they scour the country for a male they believe can enhance the mother’s strong points and reduce her weak ones. That dog may be across town, across the state, or across the country; wherever he is, they send their female — or they arrange for artificial insemination.

    If both parents are on hand, you may be dealing with a seller for whom the only qualities important in a stud dog are proximity and price: The stud dog was there. He was free. So he was bred.

  • Must go now! and Will deliver: These words should may make you wonder where the breeder will be when you have questions or when problems pop up. And how are you going to see the conditions under which your puppy was raised or meet your puppy’s mother or siblings if the seller arrives on your doorstep as if she’s delivering a pizza?

    A reputable breeder wants you to come over. She’s proud of her dogs. She wants you to take your time, come over a couple of times, ask all the questions you need to — not just now, but six months or six years from now.

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