Choosing A Breeder

Before choosing a breeder, you should have taken a considerable amount of time to consider:

  • which breed is right for you
  • the amount of exercise and grooming required
  • the size of the adult dog
  • the cost to keep the dog throughout its life
  • the reasons for selecting your chosen breed
  • some of the activities you and your family would like to participate in with your dog

We highly recommend attending dog shows to help with your decision. You will be able to talk to breeders and exhibitors at the show and potentially discuss the actual purchase of your new family member. Breeders are always on-hand at shows to answer questions. They are the best source for obtaining a healthy, well-raised and well-bred puppy.

So, you’ve decided what breed is right for you, congratulations! Where you go to get your dog is just as important as what kind of dog you get, a good starting point when looking for breeders is contacting the breed club.

When purchasing a puppy from a Dogs SA breeder, you should always check that their membership with Dogs SA is current. Members of this organisation and bound by its Code of Practice for the breeding and welfare of puppies, and also confirms that they are able to provide you with registration papers for your new purebred puppy.

Responsible Breeders

A responsible breeder is the best source for a well-bred, healthy dog. The breeder will carefully select the parents of each litter to emphasize desirable attributes and minimise faults in their progeny.

Some people breed dogs only to produce puppies to sell. These individuals have no regard for the advancement of that breed; they are motivated solely by profit.

Responsible breeders will never breed a litter without considering the advancement of the breed. Each litter should improve the quality of breeding stock, resulting in healthy puppies with improved breed soundness, that is, physical and mental health that are an advancement toward the ideal.

Another good reason to buy a puppy from a breeder is that it gives you the opportunity to interact with the puppy’s siblings and dam, also possibly the sire. You can, therefore, form a general impression of what the future holds for the puppy you take home.

Buying from a breeder means that you are part of an extended family. Most breeders expect a call if the dog has a crisis at any stage in its life, so they can help you understand and cope with the problem. This can be especially comforting for the first-time dog owners who can’t even imagine what kinds of questions they’ll have in the future.

Visit as many breeders as possible for your breed. Examine the premises to make sure they are clean and that the dogs appear to be well cared for. Puppies should be clean, well fed, lively and friendly, without any signs of illness such as runny nose or eyes, skin sores, or dirty ears or fleas. Ask as many questions as you have and expect thorough answers. The breeder will also have questions for you as they will want to ensure their puppies re going into loving, responsible homes.

You should see the dam (mother) of the puppies and she should be friendly, in good condition and well cared for. You should ask to see the sire (father) of the puppies. He may not live at the same place but if he lives close by, you should arrange to see him. If there are known hereditary diseases which affect that breed you should ask to see certificates which show that the sire and dam have been tested for those diseases.

What you should expect from the person who sells you a puppy:

  • A vaccination certificate which shows vaccinations given, when the next ones are due, and evidence of the puppy’s age (it is against Dogs SA’s Code of Practice to sell a puppy under eight weeks of age).
  • ANKC Registration Certificate (papers)
  • When it was treated for worms and how often it needs to be treated in future
  • A feeding chart
  • Information on the puppy’s likely nature, temperament, size and care requirements.
  • Details of any hereditary diseases or health problems which are known to affect the breed.
  • Information on responsible pet ownership, in particular care and welfare of the puppy, the time and facilities required for proper management (socialisation, exercise, adequate fencing, sufficient space and proper shelter)

Choosing a Breeder

Once you feel confident the breed you have chosen will suit your lifestyle, it’s time to find a breeder. And hopefully, a new addition to your family will be forthcoming in the near future!

Before choosing

What to look for

Breeding quality dogs of sound mind and body is taken very seriously by registered breeders. Many hours are spent comparing dogs and pedigrees before decisions are made regarding matings.

Responsible breeders will always consider the advancement and improvement of the breed before breeding a litter. Some people are purely motivated by profit and only breed to produce puppies for sale – see Consumer Protection warning. At the breeder’s premises, look out for other litters of your chosen breed and of other breeds. Ask when the next litter is planned.

All Dogs SA members are bound to adhere to a Member’s Code of Ethics relating to the keeping, welfare, breeding and selling of dogs.

What to expect

Responsible breeders care. They raise happy and healthy puppies. This should also be reflected in the condition and temperament of the adult dogs living on the premises. Their living quarters should be clean and all dogs should appear to be well cared for. The puppies should also be clean, well conditioned, lively and friendly.

Responsible breeders should proudly show you all the dogs on their premises and allow you to handle all the puppies in a litter as soon as they have been weaned. The mother of the puppies should be in good condition, clean, happy and active. If the father lives elsewhere, you could ask for the owner’s contact details or to see photos of him.

A responsible breeder will help you with your choice and your selection of a puppy. They can answer indepth questions about the finer details of the breed. Importantly, they will be willing to provide ongoing support and advice as your puppy matures.

Be aware

Most breeds have some hereditary conditions. Ask about test results and scores of parents and other members of the family and whether there are other potential health problems to watch for. Be wary of those who deny any such conditions exist in their breed, as this is unrealistic. Also ask whether the breeder is prepared to have the puppy checked by your own vet and whether you can return your puppy if any health problems eventuate.

Puppies should not leave their breeder until they are eight weeks old. They should have been treated for worms from approximately 2-3 weeks of age, and have had their first vaccination at approximately 6-7 weeks of age. Vaccination records, a copy of the pedigree record, and a puppy care and diet sheet should be available to you when, or before, you collect your puppy.

Are you a match?

Responsible breeders should ask you questions! After all, you are the potential owner of their baby who they have put so much time and effort into breeding and raising.

They should want to know things like:

  • why you chose the breed
  • how you propose to care for your puppy
  • what facilities you have prepared at home for him to live in
  • whether your premises are secure
  • whether he will be required to spend time alone
  • how your children feel about your new family member
  • … and more!

Making a choice

For details about dog shows and events, where you can view purebred dog breeds and chat to registered breeders, please click here.

To search for a quality breeder, please click to visit our official Registered Breeder Directory.

Ten Questions to Ask a Breeder

Getting a puppy is a big decision. When you’re looking for a dog, you want to make sure you get the right one for you — and that starts by talking to a responsible breeder. When you contact a Dogs SA breeder they will be interviewing you as much as you interview them, so you should have a list of questions handy too. This will enable you to get to know your breeder, your breed, and your potential puppy better. Here are some suggestions:

  1. Can you tell me about the breed?
  2. How long have you been breeding?
  3. What requirements do you have for potential owners of your puppies, and how do you match puppies with their new owners?
  4. Can I meet the dam or sire to get a sense of the temperament?
  5. Have health tests been performed on the parents?
  6. How do you socialize your puppies?
  7. Are the puppies up-to-date on vaccinations/shots?
  8. When can I take the puppy home?
  9. Do you provide a health guarantee and a contract?
  10. How can we contact you after picking up the puppy?

Will your dog spend time with children?

If so, it would be a good idea to stay away from those breeds known to have strong guarding and herding instincts. Dogs that want to guard, possess and chase are not a good match for households with children. How much exercise will your dog receive daily? A dog whose parents were bred to work all day hunting or herding may require a great deal of exercise on a daily basis in order to live peacefully in your home.

How often to you plan to groom your dog?

Some breeds have long hair or a dense hair coat that requires daily brushing. Other dogs need to visit a professional groomer once every four to six weeks for coat maintenance.

What size dog do you want?

It is important to remember that a small puppy could grow into a 60 kilo adult dog. Choose a dog that you will feel comfortable handling when it is mature.