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formerly JaLa Garden Yorkies
What is in a Website?
By. Karen Peak, West Wind Dog Training
Will O'Wisp Shelties

Written in 2007
This can be reprinted in total or in part for educational use as long as full credit is given.

The internet has made it very easy for potential dog owners to learn about different
breeds and find breeders. Sadly, it has also made it easier for those with less than
honorable breeding practices to have an outlet for their puppies.  It is easy to be caught
up by pictures of adorable puppies and wonderful sounding phrases. For those who
opt not to adopt, it may be difficult to determine the quality of the breeder when gazing
at those daring faces.  Before you hit that email button or grab your phone, stop and
look deeper.

When perusing at a breeder's website, there are a few things to look for to help you
determine if this is a breeder truly working for the betterment of the breed or just trying
to sell puppies.  Here is a bunch of
red flags to look for:

Mini/Toy/Teenies/Teacups/Precious Baby dolls – Know your breeds before you start
looking at websites or calling breeders. For example, some breeds have Mini and Toy
varieties; many do not.  There is a Miniature Poodle and a Miniature Schnauzer.  There
is no mini Sheltie. Shelties should be between 13 and 16 inches at the withers.  A 13-
inch Sheltie is actually quite small when placed next to a 16-inch dog. No good breeder
will intentionally breed undersized dogs. Even in breeds in the "Toy" group, there is no
such thing as a teacup. In actuality, "teacups" may be more prone to medical issues. Do
a search on the health issues associated with "teacups," it should be more than enough
to dissuade you.  These dogs are bred to do nothing but appeal to those following in
the steps of some ding-a-ling public figure or people who think they need something to
shove into a purse.

Giant/Enormous/Oversized/Monster – Just as no ethical breeder will intentionally breed
undersized dogs, no breeder will intentionally breed dogs over sized.  Sadly, many
phrases used to describe oversized dogs are used in breeds such as American Pit Bull
Terriers, Rottweilers, German Shepherds, etc.  Again, know the breed standard. The
UKC standard for an American Pit Bull Terrier is males between 35 and 60lbs with
weight in proportion to height.  Rottweiler males are between 24 to 27 inches at the
shoulder and males average about 95 to 135 lbs (in proportion to height and build).
These dogs are often being bred just to make money and appeal to the macho/tough
image of some people just as teacups are often bred to appeal to those who want a
living toy.

Rare Colors/Rare Coats – A breeder intentionally breeding undesired traits is not
breeding ethically.  Yes, sometimes breeders will get something not in standard; it just
happens, no matter how well a breeder plans, genetics are genetics recessive genes can
crop up.   Fuzzy Mastiffs, black and tan Labradors, dilute Shelties, white Dobermans,
etc can all crop up from time to time. However, a good breeder will not treat them as
something rare and special nor will they ask a significantly more amount of money for
one. If you see catchwords such as "rare" raise that red flag.

We breed only for loving pets – A good breeder breeds for the betterment of the
breed.  Along with breeding to the standard and for health and temperament, they will
also be proving their dogs deserve to have their genetics passed on. Since competition
in many sports is costly and time consuming, not all breeders are involved in all sports;
HOWEVER, they should still be producing puppies that CAN go into other events. In
every litter there will be puppies not to the standard and these will be sold as pets or
performance only dogs. Someone breeding solely for pets is not proving that they are
trying to improve a breed. In fact, these breeders are doing damage to breeds in the end
to a greater degree than the "show" breeders are.  If a breeder is only breeding for pets,
this does not absolve them of needing to do health tests and screenings.

We always have cute puppies for you – You cannot always tell a good breeder by how
many litters they produce a year. A good breeder breeds first for their needs and the
puppies they do not keep or place in other show/performance homes go to carefully
chosen pet homes.  For some breeders, this may be a litter every two or three years, for
others, they may breed several or litters a year.  However, if a breeder always has young
puppies available, then this is a red flag.  Even some breeders who show and test their
dogs may breed quantity trying to get quality. Use your gut here.

What breed do you need?  We probably have it or can get it – Most good breeders
limit themselves to a breed or two, or three.  The more breeds bred the harder it is to
maintain quality.  Some breeders who are also handlers may have quite a few different
breeds on the premises but themselves are only actively breeding their own dogs. If you
see a site with lots of different breeds, this should be a red flag. This person is
probably also a broker. A broker is the intermediary.  They either purchase pups for
resale to private homes or stores.

Our dogs are the best – A good breeder knows that there will always be dogs of
superior and lesser quality. No breeder has the best dogs out there.

All puppies guaranteed – Sounds great but how long is the guarantee good?  Many
health issues can take years to show up so a guarantee of a few days or weeks or even
a year is insufficient.  A puppy can contract Parvo Virus before leaving the breeder and
not show symptoms until he has been in the house for up to a couple weeks. The
incubation period is about 4 – 14 days. Other things such as epilepsy may take three to
four years to show up. Good breeders will have well written, guarantees for many
years, even for life, and be very specific about what the parents have been tested for
and what they will do should the offspring inherit an issue. Included in the
guarantee/contract should be what will happen to the dog if for some reason, even ten
years down the road, you must give the dog up.

Oodles of Doodles and Uggles - There are many people breeding what are called
designer dogs. This is a crossbred dog (most often poodle and something else) being
sold as if it were something rare and special.  In reality, these are crossbred dogs. A
few of the designer dogs being sold are Labrador/Poodle, Golden/Poodle, Shih
Tzu/Poodle, Chihuahua/Poodle, Pug/Beagle, Bichon/Poodle, etc.  There are many
misconceptions regarding crossbred dogs such as they are naturally healthier. A
crossbred can inherit many health issues. These designer dogs are nothing special or
rare; it is a crossbred intentionally bred for the pet/money making trade. Do not be
fooled into thinking such. Why spend sometimes thousands of dollars for a crossbred
when you can go to a rescue? How can you tell if a pup is a legitimate breed or not?  If
you are in the US, check the American Kennel Club, United Kennel Club, American
Rare Breed Association, Canadian Kennel Club and Fédération Cynologique
Internationale (FCI) websites.  These entities will have the majority of recognized
breeds world wide listed amongst them.

"Cutesy" pictures/Costumed puppy pictures – On far too many sites you can see
pictures of puppies barely five weeks old wearing hats, sitting in flower baskets,
dressed in bows, etc. These pictures are to do nothing but try to get the viewer to
impulse buy. Think of window dressings in department stores or end cap displays at
your grocery.  They are designed to help increase impulse buys.

We cater to the stars – The stars go for the newest fad or set that newest fad, often
without proper research. They impulse buy, have a huge staff to care for their crew and
when the fun wears off, the dog is swapped out for a new one.  Catering to the stars is
nothing to about.  How many stars get their pups from pet shops? Quite a few when
you start checking around.

You found the breeder through a puppy sale/auction site – This may or may not be a
red flag.  There are people that troll the internet for breeder sites and link them without
asking permission. There are sites that contact breeders after a link has been put up and
then are slow in taking it down when requested (provided the breeder does not delete
the email as spam).  However, some breeders intentionally seek out these sites as ways
to unload animals.  You have to add up various factors. The breeder may not even
know someone unethical has added his or her website.

No indication of what the breeder is doing with their dogs – Does the breeder have lists
of titles their dogs have won? Remember, a good breeder is trying to better their dogs
and the breed as a whole.  You cannot do that without being able to prove your dogs
are able to perform/work/show successfully.  It is not hard to search to find out if a
dog has actually won titles either.  If in doubt a small internet search for the dog's
registered name can help.

Registered exclusively with XYZ – In the United States, you want to look for dogs
registered with the American Kennel Club, United Kennel Club, Canadian Kennel Club
or American Rare Breed Association. Though no registry is perfect and even the lowest
breeder can register if they make the minimum requirements, there have been a glut of
less than ethical registries cropping up to cater to those who do not want to meet the
requirements, who have lost privileges with other registries, puppy millers, etc.  Make
certain if you see just letters, that you verify the registry. Some less than ethical ones
have used names with the same initials as other registries. Is that A in AKC for
American or is it Arthur's Kennel Club?

It is easy to be blinded by flashy sites, claims, cute faces, etc. The internet has made it
very easy for unscrupulous breeders to lure the unsuspecting buyer in. If you choose
the breeder route over rescue, do all you can to ensure the breeder you choose is not in
it for just the money.

Please remember; always consider the rescue option when looking for a companion.
With too many owners willing to give up a dog as opposed to working through issues,
there will always be dogs in need of new homes.
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Breeder Websites - Red Flags