When you’re looking to buy a specific type of dog, you want to find a reputable breeder with a history of producing healthy, temperamentally sound puppies for show, work, and home. Such breeders breed few litters, and they often have waiting lists for the puppies they produce, so you may have to wait for your ideal dog.
Don’t let your desire for a puppy right now send you to a less-than-reputable source. Hopefully, you’re going to live with the dog you choose for a decade or longer; it’s worth waiting a few months to get a dog who has a better chance of making those years happy ones.
The breed or breed type you choose and where you get the puppy has a great deal to do with how happy you’ll be with the dog later. So, take time to find the right breeder. Make a few phone calls and ask numerous questions of a person who has lived for years with the breed you want. A serious breeder can tell you more than you possibly imagined there was to know. Take a few field trips to see for yourself how some dogs shed hamsters, others drool rivers, and others are canine perpetual-motion machines —always on the go.
A good breeder’s commitment to the puppy you buy doesn’t end when the sale is final. You get technical support that would be the envy of any software company.
Attending a dog show is probably the most enjoyable way to start tracking down a breeder, but you can also turn to the canine magazines — Dog Fancy, Dog World, the AKC Gazette, and Dogs In Canada — have breeder advertisements, as do a couple of notable annuals: Dogs USA (put out by the Dog Fancy folks) and the Dogs In Canada annual.
These magazines don’t screen breeders, however, so proceed with caution. If you can’t find anyone locally for the dog you want, call the nearest breeder, who likely belongs to a national or regional breed club and can give you a referral to a breeder nearer to you if there is one.
Joining a club devoted to your breed puts you in contact with reputable breeders through a subscription to the newsletter and contacts with other members. National clubs for AKC-recognized breeds are members of the American Kennel Club, which is a club made up of smaller breed and activity clubs, run by delegates from its member clubs. (The Canadian Kennel Club offers memberships to individuals; the AKC does not.)
How much assistance you get from a national club varies widely by breed. From a club devoted to a popular breed you may get little more than an information sheet; a club for a less popular breed may send you a list of club members actively breeding.
The American Kennel Club maintains a list of contacts for its breed clubs, as do other registries.
A more recent way to connect with reputable breeders is though the Internet, where you can join a group or discussion list devoted to your type of dog. Just type the breed name plus “group” into your favorite search engine.
Be aware that bad breeders know how to use the Internet and will happily sell you one of their puppies. Auction sites have also popped up, where the puppy or dog in question goes to the highest bidder, no questions asked. Good breeders use their Web sites to educate; bad ones to move the merchandise. Proceed carefully!