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Good dog breeders are usually dedicated enthusiasts of a particular breed, their only aim in producing a litter being to improve and better their breed in terms of temperament, health and conformation. This is achieved by selecting only the best, most suitable male (stud dog) to mate with the most suitable female of that particular breed. However, it’s not as simple as it may sound and all breeders are not equal. Buying a pup from an unethical breeder can end in tears, so please read on to discover more about the often murky world of dog breeders.

You will find the best dog breeders have spent years upon years studying their chosen breed (normally after years of owning them!) learning about canine genetics, health and behaviour and, when they are confident they are up to the job, researching everything involved with dog breeding from mating and whelping to rearing litters to finding good homes and supporting the new owners should the need arise. Good dog breeders are normally themselves mentored by other good breeders who are often even more experienced and knowledgeable about the chosen breed.

Unethical Dog Breeders
Those who breed dogs purely for financial gain are frowned upon in the dog world, and not without good reason. Most of the time those trying to make a quick buck out of dog breeding are unethical breeders. Unethical breeders care little for the dogs they breed, and they don’t give a hoot about the problems that they ‘pass on’ to the unsuspecting buyer (which may only manifest themselves later in the dog’s life). Some unethical breeders are also referred to as puppy farmers and backyard breeders. Puppy farmer is normally the label given to those breeders whose sole purpose is to produce (farm) as many puppies as they possibly can without a care in the world for the health - present or future - of the pups or that of their studs and bitches. They rarely test their breeding stock for ailments and disease as recommended by the respective breed clubs – meaning pups may be born with certain diseases or have an increased predisposition to such diseases or other illnesses. If you buy from a puppy farmer, they win, you lose - they are happy with the money they make, but you cry the tears when your poorly-bred pup has to be put to sleep 6 months down the line because of a disease it contracted or was born with due to the puppy farmer not bothering to health test the parents. The best way to stop unethical breeders is to not buy from them – if they stop making money they’ll stop breeding and the chain of misery is broken.

Backyard breeders is the label given to people who know little about dogs (let alone breeding!) and decide to mate their bitch with a convenient stud dog (probably also owned by another unethical dog breeder) in an effort to make a quick buck. They generally use a whole number of excuses to justify the breeding, but these are often just a mask to hide their underlying motive, money. However, what they don’t realize is that a number of complications can lead to them spending more money than they ever imagined or worse, their bitch could die.

Ethical Dog Breeders
Anyway let’s get back to good dog breeders. Ethical breeders, as they are generally referred to, are the complete opposite of the unethical dog breeders we just talked about. Ethical breeders can invest thousands of pounds acquiring the best possible ‘stock’, sometimes even going to the expense of travelling abroad to view that stock on numerous occasions. They will also spend a great deal of money and time in owning, showing and learning as much as humanly possible about their chosen breed as well as studying all aspects of breeding and taking time off work to look after the litter when they are born. It’s not uncommon to find that the good, ethical dog breeders rarely make much money from breeding, because they generally invest all they have (and sometimes lots they don’t!) in the breeding and bettering of the breed they love.

How to find a good Dog Breeder?
So where do you find a good dog breeder? First you should research your chosen breed as much as possible, and pay particular attention to anything which is specific to your breed – especially which illnesses it may be prone to and what health tests are recommended by the breed’s breed club. Having a good background knowledge about your breed will make it easier for you to tell which breeders are devoted experts and which ones are not. Ask lots of questions of any breeder you contact, and don’t be afraid to try to catch them out about health tests etc – the good breeders really won’t mind such questions, in fact they will appreciate the fact that you have gone to the trouble to learn about the breed you are considering bringing into your life.

Take a look at breeder guidelines set out by dog clubs and societies such as the Kennel Club, and Breeders Charters which sites like Dogsey ask any breeders wishing to list with them to adhere to. You could always print them out and ask the breeder the questions over the phone.

Most good dog breeders have a waiting list so be prepared to wait for a pup. Consequently you rarely find these dog breeders ‘advertising’ puppies for sale either in free-ad type papers or other printed publications – generally it is sufficient for them to get ‘listed’ as a breeder with their respective breed club and on an all breeds website (like Dogsey) that has set out a strong and clear code of ethics (Breeders Charter) that those breeders wishing to list their details must agree to adhere to.

Unfortunately there is little legislation to protect you when buying from unethical breeders, so you really do need to spend that extra bit of time before going out and buying a pup – it may help ensure your dog is healthier and happier in the long run, and could save you a lot of money and heartache too.

By Laurel Tofflemire

From what resource would you have the best chance of finding a nice healthy pet with lifetime of support from it's breeder? I feel it is odds on from the hobbyist show breeder. While anyone who produces a planned registered litter is a dog "breeder", some hardly fit the traditional meaning. Today we need to define breeder farther. Please remember there are personally honorable and less than honorable people in each group and that AKC papers are NOT a guarantee of quality.

Hobby Breeder
Very responsible or they don't rate the designation. Their dogs are their pets as well as show dogs. Often their "kennels" include the couch or bed. The hobbyist feels the only reason to breed is to strive to produce the ideal dog of their breed. They breed "the best to the best" no matter how much time, research, money and effort it costs. They are creating a work of art and have thoroughly educated themselves .Having champions in the pedigree proves nothing toward breeding quality of an individual. Therefore they breed a dog only after they prove themselves in their field, be that a show Champion, a hard pulling sled dog, or a good sheepdog or retriever. They do all available genetic screening for known health problems in their breed. They spay or neuter any dogs that produce health problems, no matter how beautiful, or how much they have won. They breed to the written standard of excellence for their breed, not to a showring fad. These breeders are committed to every dog they produce for life. Expect pet quality to be sold on spay/neuter contracts only to protect the breed and written guarantees to protect you. Many only sell their puppies by referral, although some do advertise in the paper or magazines. They would not trust their mother to screen a prospective home, let alone a retail pet shop. When you have located a hobby breeder expect to be grilled about your home and life and maybe to wait a awhile for a puppy. You may even run into resistance when you ask about buying their dogs. Best to ask price last, it may well depend on how good of home they think your family will be! The hobbyist is surprised if they break even on a litter because they invest so much "doing it right". When you do acquire a puppy from a true hobby breeder you will be joining a new family, Dog-in-laws.
So how do you find the quality kennels and Hobby Breeders? Your local kennel club should have a breeders list. Also visit the dog show calendar at AKC's site, at Infodog or inquire with your local kennel club to find a dog show nearby to attend. It is a great place to find out more about the breed you are interested in and talk to the breeders. The extra effort will be well worth the time invested.

Large Show or Working Breeding Kennels
May expect a profit and produce numerous litters for the show and pet market. They do not make their profit by cutting costs, but by increasing their price based on their reputation. They sometimes do genetic testing , not quite with the "in home raised" attention a hobby breeder can give. Sometimes I feel they do not have the time to properly mentor the people to whom they sell pets and show/breeding potential dogs. When people, new to the dog show sport, get frustrated if they don't instantly win, they breed the dog to "get their money back" adding to the backyard category. These large operations are less than willing to take dogs back as older dogs because of the numbers involved and add to rescue problems. These breeders sell their own dogs, pets may be sold on spay/neuter contracts. They often advertise in the national dog magazines.

Commercial Breeder, USDA licensed (Puppy Mill or Puppy Farm)
These are wholesalers, the government considers this agriculture, they produce a product to sell for profit and that is their only reason for raising dogs. To do so they must keep costs down, so puppies are only guaranteed to arrive live at a broker's or pet store and so ends their involvement. The dogs get the bare minimum in quality of care and food. Genetic testing for heath problems is rare. Some raise their dogs in clean kennels or on wire floors in raised cages (like rabbits) and so are in reasonably good condition when they are shipped. But puppy factories seldom socialized the pups, so many have lifelong behavior problems. The adults are livestock. Once they produce as many litters as they can they are usually either killed or sold at auction. The worst puppy mills are too horrible to describe here, suffice to say, short cuts in costs often lead to suffering and abuse. Most puppies are sold to pet shops. The new scam in larger cities, are "Breeders Outlets" and clever "home" retailers that advertise in the local paper to hide their puppy mill origin, watch out for one phone number advertising several breeds.

Backyard breeder
Starts with a family breeding their beloved pet. The majority of purebred dogs come from this category in many popular breeds and the majority of purebred dogs in rescue or destroyed in pounds. Their reason to breed is honorable but uneducated; they think it will be fun (wait till the thousandth dirty newspaper or the midnight visit to the vet), They think they can make back the purchase price of their dog (The hobby breeders who do it "right" lose money on most litters), they want the children to see a birth (At 3 AM most kids are not interested enough to stay awake), because their friend or relative wants one too (They don't consider what they will do with the other six dogs they brought into the world, if no one calls off the ad in the paper so many end up in shelters). Most don't get involved enough to know if the dog is breeding quality and breed to the closest male they can find. Some are sold as registerable when papers were lost do to lack of paperwork, and the litter will never be registered at all. The majority are sold locally through newspaper ads and the responsibility ends with the sale. Often they do not have the knowledge to properly raise a healthy socialized litter or to help the new owner with any problem that might arise. Some backyard breeders turn into small time unlicensed puppy mills, keeping a few bitches to breed for profit without consideration of quality or health concerns, and selling them locally.
A retail pet shop, no matter how clean or well run, will only have stock from the above two sources. If they say their dogs come from local breeders, it will be of the backyard variety. The sales people can not know each breed like a hobby breeder knows their own. Many do not care if the breed or individual puppy will be right for you, most will be more than willing to make the sale. The average pet store's commitment to the dog is a 48 hour guarantee at best.

Copyright Laurel Tofflemire 1998-2005 . This article may be used freely but only in it's entirety and with credit on the web or in print.


By Gina Heitz

A reputable breeder feels responsibility toward the breed, toward the dogs he or she breeds and to the families who choose to live with dogs from their kennel. Support after placement is an investment of the heart, and provides personal gain through satisfaction of knowing that dogs from their kennel are placed in loving homes as family members, not just animals…

Affiliation, a reputable breeder will hold membership with the national breed club, in the case of the Golden Retriever, that affiliation is; The Golden Retriever Club Of America In addition they may belong to their local breed club and one or more performance club/All Breed Kennel Club.

Passion and responsibility is what set's apart a true responsible breeder from some one that just raises dogs. A responsible breeder is motivated to create perfection; Puppy raisers and dog dealers are motivated to make a profit only.

Reputable breeders will carefully screen potential new owners, most sell with awritten agreement, that provides for the dog and they will ALWAYS take a dog back at any time for ANY reason, regardless of age or health. States or puts it in writing, that they must be consulted regarding the re homing of a dog from their kennel. Insisting that they must approve the new home.

A reputable breeder will show you the pedigree and appropriate clearances for both sire and dam as well as ancestors, explain the bloodlines, heritable traits etc. You will usually be invited to visit the puppies and the mother, when the breeder feels the time appropriate. Prior to having puppies most breeders are willing to have you come to visit more freely and usually encourage this. After the puppies are born, there are factors, which each breeder takes into account and may limit visits and have rules regarding the handling of puppies. Please respect the wishes of the knowledgeable breeder here.

What to look for when you visit:
1. Cleanliness. Normal dog odors are unavoidable, and puppies are not bathed until close to go home. Adult dogs and the facilities should be clean. Puppies should appear to be clean and in good condition. It's perfectly ok to inquire about routine management of environment.

2. Attitude. Happy, healthy, well-cared for puppies are bright-eyed, energetic, and curious about strangers. Mom's depending on how old the puppies are can look a bit rag tag, and will have coat loss due to normal hormonal changes. Other dogs on site should look happy healthy and well cared for.

3. Appearance. Are all the dogs on site clean and groomed? Remember that puppies can be messy, but unkept adults on site is a sign of neglect.

4. Behavior. An additional health factor and a very important point to observe and question; unhealthy or injured puppies will usually behave differently than the rest of the litter. A reputable breeder will take notice of this and not offer for placement a puppy that is "off". A reputable breeder will be able to tell you something about each puppy and it's general attitude in the pack and away from the pack. Ie: how each puppy interacts with children, adults, other pets and other environmental factors.

5. Information. A reputable responsible breeder will supply a pedigree, not just show a display of pedigree and awards their dogs have obtained. A breeder will provide you with written feeding instructions and a feeding schedule. A lot of hand outs in a package called the go home book. You should be provided with the puppy's immunization record and schedule, listing the dates and types of vaccines used, worming and other pertinent medical info. Pedigree and registration papers do not guarantee health or quality. Any dog that is pure bred from registered purebred parents of the same breed are registrable with the AKC and other registries.

6. References. Ask for a list of others who have dogs from the breeder. A reputable breeder should gladly give you several contacts. Ask if they would purchase another dog from the same kennel. As well ask for references from other breeders of the same breed, this breeders peers.

7. Written Contracts. The written contract should be reviewed and explained in depth. Be sure to go over the terms of the contract and ask questions. Often breeders misuse the word guarantee in place of warrantee. Be sure that you are getting a warrantee. No one can guarantee you health and temperament.

8. What warrantees do they offer? What penalties are imposed for violation of contract? Be cautious of contracts/warrantees that that have conditions in them that you might not understand or feel are unreasonable. Ask for further explanation and/or amendment to parts of any agreement you do not feel you can uphold. Remember a contract is legally binding and by entering into any contract you are saying yes I agree.

9.The pup will come with AKC registration, and "pet puppies" not intended for breeding, should be placed only on a limited registration. The registration application form must be completed and signed by the breeder per AKC rules and regulations at the time of placement if available. If not available, a bill of sale should be given, until the registration application is received by the breeder from the AKC.

10. Some breeders will only provide registration applications after all fees have been paid, and/or spaying/neutering is proven, etc. This depends upon the contract and the breeder and is perfectly reasonable and legal.

11. A reputable breeder will allow some time (min. 48 hours to 10 days) for return of pup/dog, in the same condition as time of sale, for any reason with full refund of purchase price. (?) This allows you time to have your pup examined by your own vet. However, remember a reputable breeder will take back any dog for any reason regardless of age. You may not receive a refund if it is determined you are the cause of the reason for return, or may be asked to wait to receive a refund pending investigation of such.

What You should Expect over all:
1. Sells by written contract. Or has presented you with a good verbal agreement you feel comfortable with. At the very least some sort of a written agreement is strongly encouraged. Even a simple document that states the basics of the breeders intent to be responsible for the dog and fair with you as the new owner.

2. Sells puppies with a health statement and some promise of a warrantee given there might be a problem down the road. Not all reputable breeders care to spell out exactly what they will warrantee in a document, and this should be respected and appreciated. For instance in many warrantees there are conditions such as, but not limited to the warrantee is null and void if you feed anything other than brand XXX feed. Or if you allow your dog to be run on uneven ground the warrantee is null. Written warrantees are only as good as what is written. A verbal agreement in many cases is much more user friendly and often will cover more than the basics.

3. Insists upon getting the dog back if the buyer is no longer able to keep the dog.

4. Does not have more litters than they can keep well groomed and well socialized.

5. Tests breeding stock for known hereditary diseases and breeds with the aim of decreasing the incidence of such diseases. Does not breed affected animals of even unknown hereditary diseases.

6. Is very concerned with producing puppies with excellent temperaments and health.

7. Can identify each puppy and chart its growth and development from birth.

8. Is willing to help educate you and answers questions about the breed and their individual dogs. May supply a forum for sharing on line with others who live with dogs from the kennel, a list group. Or sends out kennel updates and/or questionnaires. Or simply contacts you with some degree of frequency, or requests that you keep in contact. Remember a responsible reputable breeder is in high demand and while they are interested it might be up to you to make the contact.

9. Wants to be informed of any health or temperament issues puppies might develop through out the lifetime of each dog. As well as positive information.

10. Is available for help, advice, and education to the buyer throughout the life of the puppy/dog.



It's not cheap to breed dogs and you sure don't get rich doing it but here is some info on how to start as a good breeder . When you plan to breed have a waiting list of homes ready and waiting long before you need them, most good breeders do.

  1. Join your nearest Alaskan Malamute Club and become an active member.

    Seek out an experienced reputable breeder to become your mentor.

  2. Become active in conformation showing and / or working sports.

  3. Read the Alaskan Malamute Standard thousands of times and ask as many questions as you wish to, so you fully understand what a Alaskan Malamute should be.

  4. Start a savings account so you have plenty of money for health testing, stud fee's, whelping costs, vaccinations, worming etc etc... you will need a fair bit tucked away for all this.

  5. Wait until they are at least 2 years old, and get all the proper health clearances first, (CHD, HD, CERF, etc. and NOT breed if ANY of them are not clear). Understand that there are other problems which mean a dog should not be bred with... like bad temperaments. Are you going to show them to their championship?

  6. Get to know Mals 'bloodlines', your mentor will be invaluable here.

  7. Understand genetics - Have you read books on dog genetics and do you understand how certain traits are inherited? Your mentor will help as well but read, read and do more reading on genetics. Your Alaskan Malamute club mentor will be able to recommend several good books.

  8. Most important, become active in helping with Alaskan Malamute Rescue / Educating the public about Mals.

  9. Having a litter of puppies may seem like a lot of work but realize that the future of the Breed lies in you hands, it is a huge responsibility.

Consider the Responsible Breeder

1 - Care about each dog you bring into this world. Treat it as part of your extended family when you place it in a new home.

2. Take positive steps to make sure the dogs you create will never land in a shelter or in rescue. Take the time to become familiar with shelter dogs. Volunteer and you will be able to help some dogs and have clear vision about what kinds of dogs end up in the shelter. Do what you can to make sure your dogs don't end up dead before their time.
* Make sure that you have homes for the puppies before the sire and dam ever meet. Require deposits to encourage commitment.
Interview interested parties to ensure they are a suitable match for the dogs you will be placing. Verify the information you were given.
* Be honest about the qualities of the dogs you are placing. Explain the good points, and the not so good.
Never promote your puppies in a way to encourage reluctant buyers. If they need a special price or some incentive to buy they aren't the right home for your puppies.
It must be very clear that the person taking home your puppy chooses to do so. No surprise gifts no matter how earnest the belief that the giftee wants the dog.
Promise to take in, or help place, dogs or puppies you have caused to be created, no matter how old they are.
Remain available to serve as a resource, advise and support for typical problems encountered in raising, training and caring for your dogs.

Take positive steps to ensure that the dogs you produce are a source of joy, not sorrow.
* Know the typical genetic diseases for your breed. Test for them, and do not breed a dog that may pass on serious genetic disease.
* Do not let your love for your dog make you blind to your obligation to others. Your dog may be healthy, but may still pass on serious genetic disease. Do what you can to avoid causing heartache.
* Do not breed your dog if you have no information on the health and fitness of both the parents of your dog, and its prospective mate. You need more than a single generation to make a good decision.
* Research the pedigree for your dog (and any prospective mate). Find out the health and temperament of your dog's siblings, half siblings, cousins, aunt, uncles, parents and grandparents.
* Get an education in basic genetics to help you understand why two dogs that are perfectly healthy can produce puppies that will suffer serious genetic disease.

Make sure that the dogs you produce are capable of a full and happy life, sound in mind, body and temperament. Recognize that good physical health is not enough; the dogs should be raised to be great companions too.
* Even if you love your dog very much, and can forgive its faults of temperament, do not breed overly timid or aggressive dogs.
* Understand that your love of your dog can make you blind to its faults.
* An outside eye will help both you and your puppy buyers know that your opinions are more than just wishful thinking.
* There are plenty of good "just pets" in the shelters, if that is the best you can produce you aren't making the world of dogs any better.
* Obtain an objective evaluation of the health and fitness of your dog by testing it in a manner appropriate to the breed, in some activity, e.g. obedience, agility, hunting, tracking, search and rescue, stockdog work, conformation, flyball . . . The goal is to increase the probability that the dogs you bring into this world will make a good companion. You do this by demonstrating skills taking intelligence, problem solving ability, dedication or persistence, bidability or desire to please, stability of temperament among other things, and showing soundness and physical fitness

Ensure that the necessary time is invested to produce puppies that will make good companions.

* If you own the sire ensure that the puppies you are responsible for creating will get the necessary time and attention.
* In most cases a responsible person will need to be home full time from one week before the dam is due to whelp until the last puppy is in its new home.
* Provide the best opportunity for building self-confidence and individual identity. Give each puppy individual attention away from its littermates on a daily basis.
* A person who cares about producing the very best out of their puppies will limit their breeding. In most breeds that means no more than one litter at a time because one litter is about all the time one human has for proper socialization.

If you don't want to have the same responsibility for the progeny of your dogs then insist the dogs you produce be spayed or neutered. Remember, you are the one in control. You can require agreement by contract. If someone insists on irresponsible breeding you don't have to be a part of it. Use your power of contract to educate, and to enforce your role as a responsible breeder.

Contribute to the future well being of dogs. Support and participate in programs designed to collect and maintain standardized information on the health of dogs. Centralized data collection will provide a tool to better enable thoughtful breeders to spot and avoid problems.

Don't breed a very young dog. Mere physical ability to bear puppies is not enough. The dog needs to be completely physically and mentally mature. In most breeds that means at least two years old.

Learn the risks before breeding. Decide whether your goals are worth risking the life or health of your dog.

Never sell without a written contract. Make sure the contract is clear to both of you. Make sure the contract is fair to both of you. Think about it from both sides - the seller and the buyer, and always keep in mind the best interests of the dogs. Here is a sample of a guarantee from a contract.

Make sure the buyer has an opportunity to review the contract without feeling pressure. Send it to them in advance, or otherwise insist that they review it before they commit to taking a puppy home. Ask them to write down any questions or concerns so you can go over them together. That protects both of you. You want the person to understand both their rights and their obligations.

Don't expect the buyer to read the contract on their own even if you do give it to them in advance. Go over the most important provisions with them, and have them initial that location in the contract. Try your best to make the buyer feel comfortable about asking questions.

Make sure you know the laws and rules that may affect you. Check to see whether a Puppy Lemon Law , local regulations and ordinances or the rules of your breed registry will affect you.

Too many Malamute puppies are produced every year and that there just are not enough potential owners to go around that are qualified to own a Malamute. This breed sometimes attract people who simply have no idea the work involved in making them good pets. It's HARD to find good homes for Malamute puppies. Also, they are your responsibility to take back for re-coming - even 3, 5, 10 years from now! Do you have the facilities to house these "return" dogs?

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