You decide it's time to add a puppy to the family, but the process of finding the correct breeder looks daunting. Not only are there numerous breeds of Doodles, but there are hundred's of thousands of puppies available. And not even that, they range in price from a couple hundred bucks to well over $5,ooo a piece. Where do you even start? As a breeder, I feel this is a common question among all my potential families. As an experienced individual in the puppy breeding world I want to give my top 8 things to look for when you are searching for the best possible breeder.
1. Health & Genetic Testing: This is an essential. I don't care what the price of the puppy is or how it's been raised, if there has been no genetic testing of any sort completed on the parents that is the first red flag. Many health issues can be avoided by a simple genetic swab test showing pretty in depth results to decrease the chance of any common genetic issues showing up in the future. All the different tests that can be performed and more in depth detail on all that will be a post for a later date :)
2. Socialization: This is huge. The amount of exposure a puppy has in the first 8 weeks of it's life directly correlates to the health, temperament and ease of training for the rest of its life. Look for breeders who utilize the simple ENS (Early Neurological Stimulation) technique as well as exposure to different textures, noises, individuals, experiences or breeders who include the Puppy Culture curriculum in their breeding program.
3. Health Guarantee: A good, solid health guarantee is what can justify the difference of spending $500 vs. $3,000 on a puppy. Remember - a quality health guarantee is essentially an "insurance policy" on your puppy. Excellent breeders will back their puppies up from the day they are born & until at minimum of 1 year of age. Breeders with extended guarantees in the 3 years, 5 years or even for a life time in some cases are almost always worth the extra money if it ensures you aren't out anything if some major health issues occurs. You need to be careful though with some breeders who offer long guarantees but don't guarantee much of anything in their contract. More to come on this in a future blog post. ;)
4. Good Reviews or References: One of the best ways to get a good feel for how your experience with a breeder will go is to read about past buyers experiences or to ask to talk to a previous puppy buyer. It is a huge red flag if they don't have any previous puppy buyers that are willing to be a reference or if they don't have a 5 star (or close to 5 star review). If they give you a reference, ask lots of questions about their experience - did they feel updated throughout the process, are they satisfied with their purchase, what was the worst thing when dealing with the breeder (my personal favorite question - because it's always good to know what to be expecting when you go into something.)
5. Frequent Picture & Video Updates: One easy way to tell if the breeder is legit or takes good care of their puppies is to either ask for pictures and videos or to check out their social media pages & website (if they have these) and see how often they post pictures and videos of their puppies. If breeders don't show much of their facilities or how they raise their puppies it's almost a given that they are not comfortable showing you how their puppies are truly raised. Ask for in depth pictures or videos of their set up. Ask if puppies are born and raised in the house or if they are raised in a kennel. This is not to say that all great breeders raise their puppies in the house, but it will help inform of how your puppy is going to be raised rather than have it be an unknown piece of the equation or a surprise later on. Good breeders will update multiple times a week by pictures or videos so that you can watch your puppy grow and develop over the crucial first 8 weeks.
6. Do they take the time to answer your questions?: A high quality breeder will always take the time to answer any questions you have before you put a deposit down. They will want you to feel confident in your decision of choosing them as your breeder of your newest family member. If the breeder you are pursuing doesn't take the time to get on a phone call with you or correspond via email/text/messaging you will most likely have a rough time communicating with them and getting a solid response until you pick up your puppy. Don't necessarily look for a quick response (although that is nice) but look for a breeder who is available to answer all your questions & don't hesitate to ask the hard questions.
7. Do they offer a life-time of breeder support?: This should be one of the biggest factors in deciding which breeder to go with. If a breeder is just looking to make the sale and wipe their hands of the puppy, that's a quick no for me. When spending the kind of money you are most likely going to be spending on a high quality puppy, you will want to know that your breeder is there for the long haul. That they are willing to answer any questions you may have about the training process, puppy health, etc. This support is also super handy for first time Doodle owners who most likely will have a lot of questions when preparing and raising their first puppy.
8. Benefits & Extras: It's not all about the extras you get with your puppy or the things offered to go home with them, but this shows that you are working with a legit breeder who truly understands and cares about their puppies rather than a breeder who is just looking to make a quick buck on you. Look for breeders who micro-chip their puppies prior to them going home (those who offer pre-paid microchips are even better as all you have to do is just register the chip to your name). Breeders who offer special extra's of heart beat puppies, blankets or stuffed toys with mother and littermates scent is a huge bonus in helping the puppy transition as smooth as possible to their new home. A true breeder will want to see their puppy thrive in their new home from day one.
These are just a few of the many things to look for when trying to select a high quality breeder. Most breeders that offer all of these options will have significantly higher price ranges than those who do minimal work with their puppies. It all comes down to deciding how much risk you are willing to take. A lot of high quality breeders will offer significant guarantees to justify the cost of spending extra to get a high quality puppy. Most breeders who do no testing at all will not offer a guarantee or if they do it doesn't include much. Finding a good breeder can make all the difference in the world when it comes to your puppy buying experience.
Hope this article was helpful to those of you in your puppy search & please come back as we talk more about all things Doodle related.