Choosing the right breeder

I know, I know.....a bunch of boring text and no cute pictures.  Don't leave this page without reading!  This may very well be the greatest learning experience in your search for a new puppy and prevent you from making a huge mistake.  Whether you adopt a puppy from me or not, I want you to know some hard cold truth.


First locate the Breeder's name and address on the website. Second search the internet for lawsuits on them. Third Google Earth their address to see how they live and make sure there are no dog cages outside. No name or address on the website???? RED FLAG. Leave their site immediately!


IMPULSE BUYING - Well, we do live in a world today where we have become quite used to convenience.  Everything is at our fingertips and we simply don't wait for anything.  Have you ever heard the saying, "Good things come to those who wait?"  The point I'm trying to make is that purchasing a puppy isn't the same as running to the store and buying a new toaster or at least it shouldn't be.  Some people might check reviews on toasters before buying one.  I admit, if my toaster breaks down, I'm just throw it away and go buy a new $30 toaster without a whole lot of thought going into it.  I'm not going to plan at all, because I want toast in the morning!  If I end up hating that toaster, oh well, I'm out $30.  Why can't I just do that with a puppy?  Well, you may not know it now, because you are only thinking of getting that furry creature into your arms ASAP or you have a precious little child nagging you daily for that much sought after dream of his/hers.  All this is quite understandable.  However, we have to think long-term and make a decision based on knowledge, not emotions.  How does a puppy differ from a toaster?  Image removed.  Well, other than the very obvious reasons, I can tell you that your entire family is going to be completely in love with this puppy in about 24 hours or less and that loving bond will grow into something you may or may not have imagined.  At that point, you are so emotionally invested, you would do just about anything for this furry little piece of heaven.  If you don't have children at home, this will be your child.  If you do have children at home, this puppy will come 2nd only to those 2 legged family members.  Are you starting to see the difference between the puppy and a toaster?  OK, you know I'm being funny here but also trying to make a very important point.  I would like you to read very closely what follows.  I'm going to WARN you of some very important things to avoid while shopping for a puppy.  This IS a very big emotional investment and you want it to be the right choice for your family, not the fastest choice or the cheapest choice (because cheap up front is not the same as cheap in the long run).  It can be life enhancing or seriously life altering.  I know you want the best chance possible for a positive experience for you, your family and this new puppy.  Just consider all the FREE therapy.  If you've ever had a special canine friend, you know exactly what I mean!


BROKERS - There are websites out there who are masquerading as a classified ad site with local puppies from within your state.  If you google "Goldendoodle puppies Indiana" (put any state in place of mine) you will see right at the top of the list, a broker site.  I'm not going to name names but you can find it for yourself.  All the puppies are pictured with nice little blurbs about each one and an inflated price tag to make sure the broker gets paid.  They try to lure you with "Lifetime Guarantee" and such phrases.  These companies have been on the news and have change their names 3 times now that I know of.  I've seen it personally.  These puppies come from all over the country and the breeders are not screened as they claim.  Many of these are puppy mill puppies and you'll never speak to the breeder so they don't have to be held accountable at all.  Don't expect health testing on the parents or optimal health on the puppies.  There have been lawsuits filed against these businesses, because people received their puppy in terrible health and sometimes the puppies were so ill they didn't make it. Thus, so many lawsuits arise they change their business name. They have even stolen my website, more than once, because I have to get it taken down. They even leave my name on the website and only change the phone number, email address, and the puppy pictures. 


BREEDERS - This is a hot topic.  Breeders come in all shapes and sizes, ethically speaking.  I'm not judging anyone, but I am hopefully educating many.  It is up to you to decide what risks you are willing to take.  Some people just see raising dogs as something fun to do while pocketing a little extra cash.  They probably just have one or two dogs and maybe another family member owns the sire or something to that nature.  Usually what you'll find in these situations are people who aren't trying to get rich, but they just haven't put any thought into it at all.  Their dogs may or may not have the right personalities.  They most likely will not have any health testing, nor did they come from breeders who did health testing.  So, you will probably get a much cheaper (up front) puppy, but even if there is a warranty of some kind, what difference will that make if your dog ends up with a debilitating genetic disorder?  Then, in many cases, the only way a breeder will make good on a warranty is to take back the original puppy that your whole family has fallen in love with.  That is a flaw I see on many warranties from all kinds of breeders.  Another type of breeder I have seen is your low investment breeder, not investing in high quality Breeding Dogs.  If a breeder can charge $1,500+ for a puppy, is it really too much to ask that the parents be carefully chosen and extensively health tested before breeding them?  If a person wants to hand over $2000 (for example) for a puppy that is no better bred than one from the pet store, that's up to them.  In that case, someone was in an awful big hurry (See above "Impulse Buying") to get a puppy and they had one "RIGHT NOW" (of course they had one available because they have 50 breeding dogs and 10 litters of genetically unsound puppies, at any given time) or they just don't realize they are in the process of paying the same price for less quality to a person who is just in it for the money.  Their breeding dogs could be anything from another breeder's backyard bred dogs to Craigslist freebies.  Trust me, I've had breeders admit this to me.  Don't be fooled by nice websites.  Ask the right questions and get proof.  That's the only way to find out what kind of breeder you are dealing with.  


How many dogs do Breeders actually have????  I list all my dog's on my website and their health testing records. One reason other breeders can not do this is they only list the current litter they have on their website.  Not the 60 dogs they have or have in Guardian Homes. I have been to a Breeders Kennel that told me she had two hog buildings off site full of dogs, unfortunately this is more the normal then the exception.  I have seen many horrible dog kennels.  Again I should have Goggle Earthed her address and looked closer into the hog building a few hundred yards from her house down the hillside.  It does look like I have more dogs on my website than I have here, because my children each have dogs they breed. We are one dog loving family.  Abby has 6, Brittany has 4, Austin has 1, and Rhiley has 1.  I list all their dogs on my website and that is while when you click on some litters you are taken to Abby or Brittany's website.  Abby and Brittany both work here during the week helping with my dogs and puppies.


WARRANTIES - This can be overwhelming.  Everybody has their own warranty. Some short, some long, some fair, some not, etc.  There are some serious red flags I've seen in various warranties.  First, you should NEVER be expected to return your original puppy if it has a serious enough genetic disorder to cause the warranty to be utilized.  If you want to treat your dog's illness and keep it, that should be an option for you.  It isn't likely you could just throw him out and get a new one or put him in the recycle bin like the toaster.  It seems like one of the most heartless and ridiculous things to put into a warranty.  Why even have a warranty and create such obvious loopholes.  It isn't a shirt you bought, discovered a hole in it, and now you have to exchange it!  OK, with that said, most breeders only honor a warranty if the dog's life is seriously altered where it requires something "extra" for it to live (surgery, expensive treatments, etc.).  This can be a gray area.  Because it generally says seriously life altering or life threatening.  Seriously life altering is that gray area, because that is totally a matter of perspective.  Make sure you trust your breeder.  Make sure they are not just out for the money or they will always find a way out of backing their warranty.  With that said, some people expect everything to be covered and that just isn't ever going to happen.   I'm being completely up front so you understand what to expect.  One other serious red flag I ran into....a breeder actually stated that they would not cover hip dysplasia if the vet used a sedative on the dog while taking the x-rays.  OK, here is something most puppy buyers aren't aware of.  Sedation is ALWAYS used during hip x-rays.  If you don't make sure the dog is totally relaxed, the dog will almost always tense up while being awkwardly positioned for the x-ray.  That, in turn, causes the joint to appear tighter.  Therefore, the results will not be accurate as the hip joints will appear much better than they actually are.  Every breeder knows this and if this is in their warranty, they cannot be trusted.  If they really don't know it, I'd look for a breeder that is more knowledgeable anyway. I myself don't like Breeders that add clauses such as you have to send them pictures of your dog every six months or it voids the warranty. You have to feed a certain food or it voids the warranty, most likely the food type they are demanding you to buy through a link and they get a commission on the sale. Look for the issues in the health warranty that void the warranty.


BREEDING DOGS - It is up to you, the buyer, to ask as many questions as you can think of.  Thinking of them can sometimes be the difficult part.  Your questions should be more geared toward things concerning the parents at first.  I would be specific and ask questions such as:



1.) Have you treated either parent dog for ear infections or allergies in the past year?  If so, how often does this occur?  Allergies and ear infections can be a chronic problem and can be passed down to offspring.  It may sound petty, but it is financially draining and never goes away.  What you end up doing is treating the symptoms just to offer some relief.   If a Breeder had such dogs they should have removed them from their breeding program, small breeders can;t take the financial hit, so they continue to breed them.


2.) Do you do health testing on the parent dogs?  If so, which ones as they all should not just the stud.  Do NOT just take the breeder's word for it.  Some breeders will tell you they have all been done, when indeed, the haven't had any testing at all.  Ask for proof of health testing in advance of sending in a deposit, at the very least they can take a picture with their cell phone and text it to you or send it to your email. This is the world of technology and there should be no excuse. DON'T let the Breeder tell you they will send copies of the health testing home with the puppy.   RED FLAG!!!  Don't let the Breeder tell you their house recently burned down, they don't have a scanner as most printers now include a scanner, lost documents, because you can look up OFA testing results at by searching dog names. DNA testing results are available online.  You have been emailing the Breeder, so they should be quite capable of going to a website and sending you the link. If you did not get the records in advance the Breeder will hope you forget when you come to pick up your puppy and/or you will believe they will mail them to you. Do not believe excuses such as my printer is broke and she will mail them later.  You will never get them after you have given them money. Been there and sadly burned more then once by that fast talking Breeder that promises you the world.  I can tell you that we fully health test ALL of our parent dogs and if they don't make the cut, they are spayed or neutered and placed in pet homes.  I've had breeders tell me, "Yes, we have all of our breeding dogs thoroughly examined by a vet."  OK, back to my original question, have you had any health testing done?  Of course, if that was their answer, you know they haven't done any testing.


3.)  Have you ever had to honor your warranty?  Hopefully, the answer is yes.  "What?" you ask.  Image removed.  The bottom line is, there are some breeders who can't bear to let anyone know they've had issues.  Honesty is the best virtue and the only honorable way by which to do business and live life.  I know they are just scared of what people will think.  However, let's look at the situation realistically.  A breeder can be educated, have worked very hard, have really awesome dogs, do everything right, and still have a puppy with a problem.  We see this happen in our own species!  Breeders can do their ultimate best but the bottom line is, only God can truly guarantee anything.  That's where you have to look at how the breeder dealt with the situation.  Are they still breeding that same pair of dogs together?  etc.  I would certainly raise an eyebrow if a breeder told me they had never seen a single issue crop up.  The longer they've been breeding, the less likely I would be to believe it!  What we want is an honest breeder with great ethics and great dogs.  A spotless track record would be awesome, but it just isn't realistic.


4.)  What do you do to make sure the puppies are well socialized?  I'm going to answer this question with regards what we do here at Hilltop Pups.  Our puppies are whelped in a nursery we built specifically for raising puppies.  Everything is easy to disinfect and we are able to cut way down on viral/bacterial exposure by having them isolated from people can bringing deadly organisms in on their shoes.  That is why we do not allow anyone in the nursery.   The puppies get used to sounds from when the kids come in the play with them, banging doors, many different people here with my two daughters and three sons working and/or visiting here, plus my husband does the evening chores. I have seen Breeder's puppies that are afraid of men, because they never saw or were handled by one.  We also play a desensitization CD at least twice/day.  It helps them, become more comfortable with the sound of kids screaming/playing, thunderstorms, fireworks and household noises.  We've never had anyone feel that their dog was poorly socialized.  They do not have to be raised inside a person's house to accomplish this.  We also bathe and groom all the puppies at least twice before they go home which is an excellent part of the desensitization process.  We are very fortunate to have a grooming facility on our property so we can start this part of their training.  What we have found to be important is to meet somewhere in the middle with all of this.  One thing that really turns me off is to go into a breeder's home and find that the place is overrun with animals and isn't fit for human living conditions.  We want to protect the puppies and socialize them really well, all the while keeping our house clean and pleasant.  So, this system has worked really well for us and we feel the feedback we've gotten has confirmed that as well.  All our puppies are individually held, cuddled, and handle daily along with providing Early Stimulation Training to create the calm trusting happy go lucky personalities.


5.)  Lastly, most people don't need to be told this one....What all is included with my puppy?  These days, the reputable breeders are micro-chipping puppies.  However, just because a breeder does micro-chipping doesn't mean they are automatically a good breeder.  It is, however, a good thing to do and expect it.  Vaccinations, health records, puppy's pedigree, health testing records on the parents etc. are all things that typically SHOULD come with a puppy.  The Breeder should be sending home belongings that have the scent of their puppy hood home to make them feel comfortable in their new home.



In closing, trying to find the right place to get your puppy can be a very difficult process.  One of the best words of advice I can give you is to make sure you stick to your guns when it comes to what is important to you.   Sometimes it is a good idea to make a list on paper.  When you find a breeder that has a puppy available, make sure you look at your list.  Does this breeder meet your "qualifications?"  If not, don't "just go look."  You'll most likely end up making a decision based on emotions.  A well-bred, quality puppy is worth waiting for and in the end, you'll feel good about your choice. I wish you and your family all the best, in your search for the perfect puppy, and a lifetime of happiness thereafter. 

FAQ Category
Health and Health Testing