Finding the Right Breeder- 8 Top Tips
For me and Darren, we were experienced with Newfoundland’s and Rottweilers and knew that we were going to get a big dog. I wanted to try out dog showing, and Darren wanted a working breed... one which he could persue a hobby with, in line with the dogs natural working abilities.
In the UK the largest dog show is Crufts, this was always going to be the starting point for us in choosing the breed and in turn the breeder. This lead’s nicely into my first tip:
Tip Number 1: Go to a dog show, if you are in the UK, Crufts is held in March every year at the Birmingham NEC. There is a really useful Discover Dogs section where you will find an A to Z of breeds and people representing the breed clubs. They are purely there for you to speak to about anything and everything to do with the breed you are interested in.
We represented the Bloodhound club at this year’s Discover Dogs- at Crufts and many people were surprised to see them – And most people said they didn’t realise how big they were. So, it’s a great starting point as you can ask the representatives anything and learn a lot about the breed before trying to find and contact breeders. It’s really important that you know exactly what you’re getting yourself in for - before getting any type of dog... future health problems, common behaviour issues, exercise requirements etc. So, you need to make sure it completely fits your lifestyle.
Tip number 2: Once you think you know enough about the breed and are certain its right for your lifestyle. Find and contact breeders. Again, if you are in the UK, the Kennel club have a list of Assured Breeders. They actually have 2 lists- breeders and Assured breeders. Always go with the Assured as these breeders go through extra scrutiny to get on this list, here is a link to the scheme requirements i
Tip number 3: Get to know different breeders. Arrange to meet the breeders at a show or at their home, add them on social media sites to see the individuals characters and start looking at the type of people they are. They should want to help you out no end with resources and advice. On the other hand they will.. or should do the same to you. Its a good idea to join a breed club.. or at least go and visit one of their events to meet the dogs and owners.. they will all have valuable tips to share with you!
Tip number 4: THE MOST IMPORTANT TIP
Be prepared to be profiled and quizzed about your life/ job/ home/ lifestyle. – THIS is Extremely important- If the breeders do not ask you your intentions or anything about your work/ lifestyle/ home environment- then this is a BIG RED FLAG to walk away and find another breeder. Basically the harder they make it for you, the better the breeder. These puppies mean the world to their breeders and for the future of the breed- they should want to ensure their puppies go to the best homes, not just anyone who gives them a cheque!
When we enquired with Ralph’s breeders, they were completely upfront about the hounds needs, and really questioned us why we want a bloodhound. I mean they are big, strong, drooling, stubborn, headstrong dogs… not to mention they are not at all loyal and are a nightmare to train. If you’re not experienced or at least be prepared to put in the time, they really will walk all over you, so if you are not confident and strong enough to persevere with positive training methods you will no be able to cope. The breeders really do need to make sure that people know all sides of the dogs character before putting them on a waiting list.
Tip number 5:
This is another SUPER important tip before you chose a breeder. ASK what health testing has been done to the parents and previous generations, to ensure your puppy has the best chance of perfect health from the onset. This is also a good oppourtunity to ask to see the pedigrees of both parents, if they havent shown you already.
For Bloodhounds this is Eyes, Heart, Hips and Elbows. Do your research on these at the same time as looking for a breeder so when they start talking about them it doesn’t sound like gobbledygook!
The health tests basically give scores to the risk of issues.. the lower the scores the lower the risk of issues- but do your research specific to the breed you are looking at and specific to the testing that is done.
Tip number 6:
See the dogs in their home environment- Where are they kept? How clean is their environment? Are they happy or scared/ nervous dogs? Are there areas on the property which you cant be shown? Do they have more than 1 litter or breed? You need to be super vigilant and really think about if the breeder is caring for all of their dogs and if they have good living conditions.
I will do another article on How to spot a potential puppy farm, soon. But for now my best advice is to make sure you are completely certain that the breeders set up is for the best welfare of the dogs.
Tip number 7:
Ask the breeder (If they haven’t already told you) for the COI’s of their litters . COI stands for the Coefficient of Inbreeding. This is a Measure of the level of inbreeding of a dog.
Its pretty obvious that inbreeding is bad, not just in dogs, but all species. A reputable breeder will A) know what this means (you would be surprised how many don’t) and B) fully explain this to you.
Ralph’s COI is 0.4 based on 5 generations.
From the UKKC website:
12.5% would be the genetic equivalent of a dog produced from a grandfather to granddaughter mating, or the mating of a half-brother/sister 25% would be the genetic equivalent of a dog produced from a father to daughter mating, or the mating of full-brother/sister
A good article explaining COI is here
Tip number 8: Once you are fortunate enough to have found a breeder, have passed their scrutiny and are 110% clued up on the breed and are driving away with your beautiful puppy in your arms... Keep in touch with the breeder, Even if you are not interested in going to dog shows or live far away from them to see them often, we are fortunate enough to live in a great age where we can text, call, and video call others. The amount of times when Ralph was a puppy, I was a super paranoid mum… is he breathing differently… he has a wonky nail, what’s that in his eyes – does he have allergies. I was constantly on the phone and sending pictures over to the breeder. This lifelong advice is absolutely invaluable. I mean there are lots of social media groups where you can get advice, but it is probably a lot more reliable coming directly from the breeders. They actually will be grateful you are keeping in touch and still asking advice, so don’t think that your relationship ends when you pull away from their driveway. that’s the scariest bit... but they will be there for you every step of the way!!
Loves, Hugs and Dog Kisses