Searching for the right breeder is not an easy task. In my years of breeding, I have seen a number of things that appalled me. It is easy to find an inexpensive puppy. However, many of these puppies hail from true puppy mills. And, supporting these substandard breeders only perpetuates the puppy mill cycle. So, I thought it would be nice to provide a list of things for which to look, even if you don't choose us to provide your next best friend:
1) Health testing - I can't stress enough the importance of finding a breeder who health tests. There are a number of diseases that have been identified to be problematic within the breed. Genetic testing companies and universities have developed DNA tests that allow us to identify these genetic traits. A dog can be affected, a carrier, or clear for each of these traits. Breeding affected or carrier dogs can result in puppies that are affected by these sometimes debilitating illnesses. Hip and elbow dysplasia is another condition that is thought to be at least partially inheritable. Only choose a breeder who has tested BOTH parents for DNA disease traits and hip & elbow dysplasia. This involves an x-ray of the dog's hips and elbows that is sent to the Orthopedic Foundation for Animals (OFA) for scoring. Scores of hips are: excellent, good, fair, borderline, mild dysplasia, moderate dysplasia, severe dysplasia. Some breeders claim to health test, but don't test ALL of their breeding dogs. So, always ask to see documentation that both parents are tested. A responsible breeder will be flattered that you are concerned about these things and will be more than happy to oblige. In addition, you can search the OFA database (link is below) to determine if the puppy's parents have undergone hip or elbow x-rays/scoring. We only allow dogs with OFA Excellent or Good hips to remain in our breeding program.
2) Breeders should focus on breeding for temperament. They should be familiar with the temperament of each dog in their program. Since our dogs live indoors and are part of our family (rather than in an outdoor kennel), we can be assured of the personality of each dog. Our puppies are always born indoors, with several experienced whelpers in attendance and a veterinarian on standby.
3) A breeder should be willing to take back any puppy whose placement in his new home is not successful. In short, they should genuinely care about the welfare of the puppies they place. We require that any placement that is not successful allow us to 1) be involved in the rehoming process/selection or 2) the puppy be returned to us. We NEVER want to see one of our puppies end up in a shelter or in a less-than-ideal situation.
4) A good breeder should be willing (and even anxious) to provide you with references, including their veterinarian and past puppy buyers.