Finding a responsible breeder you trust is your first and most important step in finding your new puppy. Breeders are invaluable resources-- they do much more than help you find the perfect addition to your family! A good breeder should be a person you can contact with questions throughout your dog's life, whether it be questions on socialization, feeding your puppy, training questions, and much more.
Here are a few tips to help you find and work with a responsible breeder:
Get to know your Breeder. During this time of COVID-19, it can be extremely difficult to get to meet your breeder in person. Additionally, breeders who raise puppies in their home may be extremely reluctant to have visitors, as it is very easy to unknowingly transmit germs and infections that can be dangerous or deadly to small puppies. However, your breeder should always be willing to communicate with you, whether via phone, e-mail, texts, or even video conferencing. This will give you a chance to get to know your breeder. Does he/she show a real passion for their dogs? How are the litters cared for? How do the dogs interact with the breeder? What steps does the breeder take to begin socializing their dogs?
Ask questions. A good breeder is someone who can be counted on throughout your dog’s life. When you’re meeting with a breeder for the first time, come prepared with a list of questions about the breed and the puppy – you can never ask too many, and there are no dumb questions! See how he/she reacts to your questions. Is he/she patient with your questions? Does he/she explain things clearly? Do you feel like you have a good rapport? Responsible breeders want to see their dogs in happy, loving "fur-ever" homes and will be happy to share their knowledge.
See the pup’s parents. There’s no better way to see how your dog will grow up than by looking at his parents! It will give you a sense of your dog’s temperament, size, and appearance. Remember, though, that Mother Nature has the final say in things! We once bred two dogs who were in the 20-25 pound range. Most of the puppies ended up being that size, except for one that ended up being close to 40 pounds! He's a wonderful, kind dog -- he's just a big larger than any of us expected!
Get a full medical history. Reputable breeders will perform important health screenings before breeding their dog, and they will be happy to show proof of those screenings, such as OFA and CERF certificates. They will also explain any health conditions that typically affect that particular breed so you know what to watch out for in the long term.
Be patient. Don’t expect to meet a breeder and bring home a puppy the same day: usually the breeder will keep the puppy at home or at the kennel for the first two months of its life, so it can mature and socialize with its mother and litter mates. This transition is important, and it’ll give you time to puppy-proof your house and to get the necessary supplies before welcoming him home.
Expect your breeder to care about the whole lifespan of your dog. Your breeder should be interested in more than just selling you a quality puppy. As mentioned above, a good breeder should always be willing to answer your questions throughout the life of your dog, and if they don't know the answer, be willing to research and help you find the needed information. Additionally, should it ever be necessary to re-home your dog, your breeder should be willing to be your first contact and willing to help you find a new, l0ving home for the dog.
Once you find the breeder you want to work with, make sure to:
Get documentation of everything regarding your puppy. Your breeder should be happy to provide you with the pedigree for your puppy, going back several generations. He/She should give you a warranty and make sure to answer any questions. The breeder should also have you complete a "spay and neuter" contract, guaranteeing that you will spay or neuter your puppy by a certain date. A good breeder doesn't want any poorly bred accidental puppies coming from one of their dogs. Be wary of a breeder who hesitates to give you papers, or wants to charge you more for AKC papers, or tells you he/she will mail them to you at a later date. Many reputable breeders will put some of these documents on their website for you to read ahead of time.
We at Llewellyn's Grove Labradoodles are committed to being an honest, reputable breeder. One example of this -- we were planning to breed a litter from our dog Maple this past spring. We had planned to get her eye testing (CERF exam) and hips/elbows testing (OFA/Penn Hip) done over the winter. However, because of the COVID-19 virus, it was very difficult to get dogs into the veterinarian for any elective procedures. Unfortunately, Maple went into heat before the hip/elbow testing was done. We made the tough decision NOT to breed her at that time. We knew she was probably fine -- she's got excellent parentage. However, we wanted to know FOR SURE that she is a good candidate for breeding, and thus we decided not to breed her during that cycle. It was a difficult decision to make from a business standpoint, but it was completely the honest, ethical thing to do. A good breeder should always put the health and well-being of their dogs and puppies ahead of any other business decisions.
We wish you good luck in finding a good breeder and a wonderful puppy as your new family member! We hope you will consider us as you do your research. We are always happy to answer your questions openly and honestly.