Good Breeder? Bad Breeder? – How to tell the Difference

Havanese puppies

The table below lists some of the differences between reputable, ethical breeders and disreputable, questionable breeders as well as tips to help you tell the difference.

We hope this is of some use to you in choosing a breeder you can trust.

Also check out List of Questions to Ask a Breeder and About Pet Store Puppies....What is so wrong with buying a puppy at a pet store.

 

The differences between reputable, ethical, and disreputable breeders:

  A Good Breeder A Questionable Breeder Tips to help you identify kennels you should perhaps avoid, Red Flags to warn you and little things that bear closer scrutiny
Why they Breed Havanese
  • breed because they love Havanese
  • breed to preserve the Havanese breed for the future.
  • breed to improve the breed
  • breed quality not quantity
  • breed for quantity
  • breed Havanese because they are becoming popular
  • breed for supply and demand
  • breed 2 or more of the "upcoming" popular breeds
  • will tell you Havanese are "perfect" for you regardless of your  family circumstances or plans
Puppy Availability
  • breeds sparingly
  • may have only a few litters per year
  • generally has a waiting list
  • commercial breeders have many litters in a year, always has puppies available and you can pick and choose which puppy you like
  • many litters a year may indicate a love of money rather then the breed
  • if they don't have what you want they may offer you a different dog perhaps even a different breed
  • always seem to have puppies available or upcoming regardless of when you contact them
  • cater to impulse
  • often will offer you a puppy that you can have now
How Many Breeds Do They Breed
  • specialize in 1 or 2 breeds
  • perhaps 3 or 4 breeds if a very knowledgeable breeder
  • very knowledgeable about their chosen  breed(s)
  • a backyard breeder may have only 1 breed
  • most commercial establishments have 3 - 10 breeds of dogs
  • some puppy mills breed 20 or more types of dogs
  • more than 3 breeds may indicate a Commercial breeding operation
  • a commercial breeder may have general dog information in a brochure format or only know the basics that apply to any breed of dog
  • may also breed cross bred dogs or mixed breed dogs
Basic Information and Questions
  • willing to answer questions
  • willing to talk to you and discuss anything
  • well informed and knowledgeable
  • proud of their name and Kennel name
  • will tell you if they feel a Havanese is not the right breed for your family (and why)
  • keep learning continuously
  • a commercial breeder does not want informed customers as they know they would not stand up to the scrutiny
  • leaves questions unanswered
  • basic contact may be through a general box number
  • may have remote staff to take calls or remote answering
  • may only get a first name
  • may not have a kennel name
  • a commercial breeder may have general dog information in a brochure format or only know basic information that can apply to any breed of dog
  • have little information about their dogs or puppies
  • say they are selling for a friend. relative or other person they are supposedly "helping out"
  • may sweep questions aside as unimportant and avoid them by rushing you to buy a puppy NOW
  • contact person has little to no information about the dogs as they are rarely in contact with them
Membership
  • generally a member of 1 or more clubs such as:
  • National Breed Club
  • Canadian Kennel Club
  • regional association
  • usually are members of more than 1 club
  • are active in the clubs they belong to
  • rarely a member and if so, it is in name only and rarely participate in club activity
  • some Commercial breeders do have a membership to the Canadian Kennel Club as it lends them an air of respectably, and allows them advertising venues
  • Commercial breeders are rarely involved in breed clubs, national clubs, or regional clubs
  • if a member, it is in name only and rarely participate in club activities.
Activities
  • may train and compete in one or more activities such as  : Showing Obedience, Agility or Pet Therapy
  • will refer you to other breeders for information about activities you may be interested in
  • rarely involved in any canine activities
  • rarely refer you to others for activity information
  • commercial breeders rarely take the time or expense of training, competing and campaigning their dogs
  • while they rarely do such activities themselves with their own dogs and have nothing personal to tell you about it, they will be quick to point out that Havanese in general can do any or all of the activities you express interest in
Pictures & Stories
  • will have many pictures and stories to share with you about their dogs
  • usually have albums full of pictures
  • regale you with all sorts of stories about silly antics and special moments
  • often have no photos
  • may promise photos but never have them available
  • commercial breeders may only have one or two photos
  • there may be bad photos taken in haste
  • alternately they may have one or two professional photos to show or perhaps a brochure. These lend an air of credibility and are meant to impress
  • if there are photos, it is usually the same ones used over and over for years, not current
  • may be cute puppy pictures to help sell
Housing
  • dogs are a part of the family
  • each dog is special
  • some large  reputable breeders do have a kennel building which houses their dogs. They usually spend many hours each day in the kennel with the dogs.
  • kennel is clean, roomy, airy, well maintained and temperature controlled - dogs are happy
  • "home raised puppies" usually means in the house and underfoot, cared for and attended to personally
  • dogs live in kennels
  • rarely in the house
  • dogs may be cared for by employed caretakers not by the breeder
  • a commercial kennel area can be a shed or barn
  • conditions may be clean but basic or overcrowded and unsanitary
  • dogs spend most or all of their time in the kennel
  • the term "Home raised puppies" is used in advertising as it sounds more respectable. In many instances it may simply mean born and raised somewhere on their properly, does not necessarily mean personally attended to in the house that the term "Home Raised" insinuates.
Registration
  • all of their breeding dogs are registered with the Canadian Kennel Club
  • all puppies will be registered and will receive registration papers within 6 months of the sale of the puppy
  • no additional charge for registration papers
  •  
  • puppies may or may not be registered
  • may prefer to sell unregistered dogs as it allows them to better hide the true numbers of puppies they are producing and is also less paper work for them to attend to
  • Note: in reality, the costs of registration processes and "papers" are minimal, though less reputable breeders often indicate high costs as their reason for not providing papers. It is a ploy to sell unregistered dogs or to charge extra. 
  • commercial operations may have many dogs, not all of them registered and not all of them purebred
  • often call it "papers" rather then Registration
  • will tell you that papers don't matter if you are getting a 'pet"
  • commercial breeders may sell puppies with the option of with or without registration papers
  • may charge a higher price for "with papers" indicating a high cost for registration.
  • promised papers often "get lost", are delayed or never arrive
  • may have mixed breed or cross bred dogs passed off as Havanese without papers
  • registration may be with unofficial organizations
Breeding Dogs
  • may have only a few dogs or may have several
  • few reputable breeders have more then 15 dogs
  • should be willing to tell you how many are breeding, old and retired, young and upcoming
  • know their dogs intimately and can tell you about them
  • may have many dogs
  • unlikely to tell you how many dogs they actually have
  • only have young dogs in their prime (2 to 5 years old)
  • may not know much about the dog
  • excuses of selling for someone else
  • uninformative answers such as they are "really nice"
  • have almost exclusively many females and only a few males
  • dogs are sold when they are no longer useful to the breeding program so commercial breeders rarely have any older or retired senior dogs
Titles
  • usually have titles(s) on one or more of their dogs
  • rarely have titles on their dogs
  • rarely spend the time, effort and money to do so
  • occasionally a commercial breeder will have one of their dogs shown to a Championship title to help give themselves an air of credibility
Pedigree
  • always have extensive, multi generation pedigrees on all of their dogs
  • happy to discuss pedigree information
  • one or both parents are often champions
  • may be many champions in any given pedigree
  • pedigrees are questionable
  • avoid pedigree questions
  • commercial breeders often do not have pedigree information or are unwilling to spend the time talking about it
  • a commercial breeder often refers to dogs by call name only. They may occasionally talk about parents but rarely about grandparents or great grandparents. Or they will say the Breedline is "good" or a dog is "nice"
  • will brag about a "championship pedigree" which in truth may only contain a few champions many generations past
  • parents are rarely champions
Genetic Testing
  • keeps up to date with genetic issues in the breed
  • does genetic screening on their breeding dogs
  • does eye exams yearly
  • willing to share results of genetic testing
  • doesn't care about genetic issues
  • may cite high costs as a reason for not health testing
  • Note: In actual fact many health tests are quite inexpensive. A patella check can be done as part of a routine veterinary examination. A CERF eye exam costs in the range of $30 to $50.
  • says they don't have any problems in "their" breedline
  • if they don't test, there is no way to know
  • will "say" that their dogs are tested and fine but not willing to show the information to support this
Breeding
  • is happy to share why they chose a specific pair of dogs to breed
  • breed sparingly
  • does not over breed a female or male
  • does not breed a female before at least her second season or 18 months of age; and are sure to allow sufficient time for her to recover before breeding another litter
  • little if any thought is used in breeding
  • any male and any female are used together
  • female may be bred as early as first heat and may be bred at each one after that
  • have no time to discuss this with you
  • place emphasis on the puppy you can have rather than the parents or background
  • may only have one male and multiple females and use the same  male for all of them whether the match is right or wrong
  • avoid answering questions
  • may respond defensively with the comment that "if you don't trust my breeding decisions, then maybe you should not get one of my puppies"
  • commercial breeders do not want informed puppy buyers and will try to get rid of them
  • this effectively stops further scrutiny but also leaves the question unanswered
Type
  • can discuss with you  *coat type * color * size and build *aptitudes *temperament
  • willing to discuss which will be most suited to your family
  • rarely any consistency in the dogs they breed
  • they may have all different sizes and builds
  • cannot tell you the difference between types or tell you it doesn't matter
  • will tell you that ALL Havanese are similar and that it does not make any difference
  • usually avoid such questions
  • general comments such as "parents are both really nice"
Visiting
  • happy to have visitors
  • happy to let you see the dam and sire if possible
  • parents are a good indication of the temperament of the pups as adults
  • seeing parents is also a good indication of how the dogs are cared for
  • does not encourage visitors
  • sell many dogs by Ads in papers, internet and other means
  • avoid personal contact
  • discourage visitors to the kennel
  • dogs are often poorly cared for and will be unkept and dirty and may be shy or scared or otherwise poorly tempered
  • do not want you to see them so will actively discourage contact
  • will place emphasis on cute puppies
Socializing
  • have definite socializing program in place
  • avoid such questions
  • will often "say" that puppies are socialized simply because it sounds good and as potential puppy buyers become more informed it's a question that is often asked
Newspaper Advertising
  • often have a waiting list and have little need to advertise in the newspaper
  • some choose to advertise a litter locally to announce the new arrivals. This may facilitate placing puppies closer to home where they can more easily watch them mature and grow up and is not done in an endeavor to sell more puppies
  • regularly advertise in newspapers
  • multiple ads in many locations
  • may have a regular ad posted almost every week
  • try to reach as many people as possible
  • advertise regularly
  • may always seem to have an ad
  • may have an ad in many newspapers in many areas at the same time
  • may have a box number or email address only rather than a phone number
Website and Internet
  • may have a webpage
  • focus in on breed information not puppies
  • may highlight their dogs and accomplishments
  • often have links to many other Havanese websites
  • may have a questionnaire to screen general inquiries
  • do not sell from email or internet inquiries alone
  • Email and Internet inquiries are used as a starting point for questions, phone calls and extensive contact
  • may have a website
  • rarely have links to other breeders or informative sites
  • minimal breed information
  • advertise puppies for sale on websites
  • focus on puppy availability not breed
  • choose your own puppy
  • Internet listing are usually just lists of available puppies with contact information
  • may have lots of puppies that you can pick or choose from
  • may be listed on general "find a pet" websites
  • transaction may be completed totally via Internet with never any personal contact with the breeder at all
  • transaction may be completed quickly ( within a few days)
  • rely on uninformed people
  • cater and promote impulse puppy purchase
Questionnaire
  • may have a lengthy detailed questionnaire for prospective owners
  • stringent criteria for adopting a puppy/dog
  • will have many questions for you about family, lifestyle, goals and expectations to determine suitability
  • know that Havanese may be wonderful family companions for many but are not suitable for everyone
  • sell only to carefully screened buyers
  • never sell to pet stores or through third parties
  • may have a questionnaire for basic information only
  • may sell to pet stores
  • may sell to or through a third party "puppy broker"
  • may have a basic questionnaire as a formality or in an effort to gain respectability
  • questionnaire is usually based on contact information and puppy choice
  • usually inquire about basic puppy preferences such as breed, sex and colour
  • they may ask about other preferences but little if any attention will be paid to them
  • pressure to sell and to make immediate or impulse puppy purchase "if you don't want it we have several other people waiting for the puppy" "if you don't take it now, it may be gone" "we only have one like this and it's just what you want" "we have the perfect puppy for you available right now and it can be shipped tomorrow"
References
  • happy to provide references from the Club, from their Veterinarian , from previous puppy owners
  • often will offer references
  • may or not have references
  • may stall or delay or promise references and never follow though
  • a line often used by Commercial breeders is to skirt around the issue and make the potential puppy buyer feel in the wrong with comments such as  "if you don't trust me, then perhaps you should not get one of my puppies"
Choosing a Puppy
  • most will choose the puppy for you or guide your choice according to suitability
  • carefully match puppies to the family most suited to them
  • no care is take to match puppies and families
  • puppies are assigned on a first come first serve basis
  • puppies sold to who ever wants them
  • may allow you to pick your own puppy from pictures or descriptions
  • puppies usually assigned exclusively by colour and sex
Pet/Companion
  • litters are a mix of show potential and companion puppies
  • are very particular and exacting about which puppies are placed as show potential
  • ALL the puppies in a litter are called Show potential
  • or they specifically breed "pets" only Caution - If a breeder does not show or exhibit their dogs but offer show puppies , what assurances can they give you that the puppy actually is "Show" potential. Can they discuss the merits and faults of all the puppies to be able to tell you  why one puppy is show potential while another is pet.
  • Red Flag - Commercial breeders may offer you the same puppy for sale as either a pet or show or breeding dog, depending what you want, but  will charge a higher price for the same puppy if you want it for show or breeding.
Getting Your Puppy
  • puppies will not go home prior to 8 weeks
  • 10 to 12 weeks is very common
  • puppies may go home as early as 6 weeks
  • 7 - 8 weeks is average
  • commercial breeders want to get their stock moving as quickly as possible. As puppies grow they need more care and attention, so they want to get rid of them as soon as possible
Shipping
  • often prefer personal puppy pickup
  • may ship carefully and cautiously
  • take precautions to ensure safe arrival
  • would rather ship-- *discourage personal contact
  • may ship to a contact point rather than directly
  • may ship multiple puppies or entire litters at once
  • will offer to ship to "save you the trouble" and expense of coming to pick up the puppy
  • puppy available now, arrangements to ship can be made faster then time and travel arrangements to go in person
Cost and Payment
  • usually willing to discuss or consider alternate payment options if needed
  • often charge the same a reputable breeders
  • may charge more for specific sex
  • may charge more for certain colours
  • may charge more for certain sizes
  • may deliberately breed outside the standard and may charge more for these by suggesting they are rare. Ie.Mini or pocket size.
  • may discount puppies that have a genetic defect
  • may discount puppies that remain unsold past a certain age
  • discount puppies and dogs to try to get rid of them
  • may discount 2 puppies bought together
  • no payment options
Health Guarantee
  • should have a basic health guarantee at the time of sale
  • usually has a genetic health guarantee (2 years is average)
  • guarantee is spelled out as well as what will be done in the case of a problem
  • may have a health guarantee listed on their contract
  • health guarantee (if any) is just listed as such
  • has no details or what it covers or not
  • has no details of what will be done in the case of a problem
  • may indicate only unacceptable or unrealistic options
  • likely to blame the owner for problem
  • will not take responsibility for problems
Sales Contract
  • always has a sales contract
  • specifies that it is a purebred Havanese and that it will receive registration papers (registration papers to be forthcoming within 6 months of the sale of the puppy)
  • financial matters, ownership transfers and breeding rights or restrictions are clearly spelled out
  • for dogs sold as pets or companions - many breeders withhold registration papers until the pet is spayed or neutered as part of the contract 
  • should have a return clause on their contract for what do to in case a placement does not work out
  • usually has a contract
  • basic contract may be very short or only 1 or 2 paragraphs long
  • contract does not spell anything out
  • be wary of contracts that specify that you owe puppies or entire litters back when your dog is bred. One puppy back may be legitimate, but numerous puppies back should be examined very carefully. This pyramid is a way that commercial breeders advance their gains by using  trusting unsuspecting owners. Such diversification helps to shield their shady operations. All too often a deemed "show or breeding quality" puppy may not even be a good example of the breed and should not be bred.
Puppy Package
  • often give written instructions on feeding, training etc
  • many breeders also include copies of the latest CERF exam, pedigrees and CKC certificates and other information
  • many breeders also include extras such as photos, a toy, book, blanket or other personal little touches
  • may or not come with information
  • rarely comes with puppy packet
  • rarely includes health information and certification about the parents
  • rarely includes personal tidbits
  • may have a few sheets of basic information
  • information may not be their own information but may be copied or plagiarized from other sources
In the Future
  • happy to spend time talking to you
  • will answer all of your questions
  • available to you for the lifetime of the puppy
  • available for any questions you might have as your Havanese grows up
  • request and expect follow-up contact about their puppies, like to get updates about how the puppies are growing up
  • are always happy to hear stories and get pictures about dogs they have bred
  • take responsibility for every life they create
  • will take a puppy or dog back if a placement does not work out or help to re-home a dog if needed
  • no time or commitment to dogs they have bred
  • no time for new owners
  • little desire for follow-up or updates
  • do not want to hear about any problems, but may be happy to hear about significant accomplishements and then use that in their own advertising to further promote their kennel and sell more puppies
  • have no time to spend talking to you
  • once they have your money, you are no longer important to them
  • any future problems are always blamed on the owner
  • generally will not take a puppy back regardless of circumstances

One item is not enough, you must look at everything as a whole. One or two items on the "questionnable" side may simply mean you need to ask a few more questions but many red flags should be a warning to investigate thoroughly and perhaps look elsewhere to find the breeder that is right for you. We hope this is of some use to you in choosing a breeder you can trust.