Choosing a breeder

As a breeder of Keeshonden for several years now I have had the misfortune to hear many stories of bad experiences from puppy buyers.

I have heard of people who buy puppies and then have a lifetime of sickness or worse the puppies die. I feel compelled to write this in the hopes that it helps some of you to find a good breeder.

There is so much information out there on how to chose a reputable breeder, take the time and do your research!

Here are my tips:

1. Find a breeder that you feel comfortable with, a breeder should offer a lifetime of support to you and your new puppy, make sure you can talk freely with your breeder. If a breeder does not respond to your initial inquiry within a short period of time think about how hard it will be to contact this breeder down the line when you have a issue related to the puppy that you need help or guidance with. You should not have to try to contact them over and over. If they are truly engaged in what they do they will respond within a very short time. Being ignored by a potential breeder should tell you that you are not worth their time and when THEY have time for YOU, they might get back with you.

2. Make an appointment to go to the breeder’s home and meet them. Take the time to see how they raise puppies; what conditions the puppies will spend their 1st eight weeks in. Make note of the breeder’s home and facilities for their animals. If it is not clean or up to your personal living standards then they are not the breeder for you. If the breeder lives in below average housing then there is a good chance the puppies will have below average care at the most crucial time in their development. Throughout the stages of pregnancy, whelping, nursing, weaning and the months following mothers need much extra care. If that is not provided then the puppies will suffer, maybe not right when you take them home but possibly down the road. When purchasing puppies is imperative to find breeders that have the knowledge and commitment to good health, not from people who are looking solely for a “paycheck”.

3. Make note if your breeder smokes! If your breeder or other members of the household smoke in the house that should tell you that health is not a big priority. If your breeder smokes so does your little puppy!! With all the knowledge out there on the health risks of smoking and being around people who smoke, why chose a breeder that smokes?

4. Ask for client references. A good breeder should be able to hand over 10 or more references within minutes, if they cannot then keep looking. Just 1 litter should give several references so any breeder who has been around for a while should have many. Verify the references and make sure the references given are those who actually bought a puppy not just a friend who is going along with it or more commonly just made up names and statements made up by the breeder him/herself. If you see good reviews don’t be surprised if the breeder made them up and put them there themselves. is the easiest place to make up your own reviews, hence why I do not put any there. Also know that puppyfind allows you to immediately delete bad reviews!

5. Ask for the breeders vet reference, call the vet and make sure their adults are current on their shots and that they in fact bring the litters in for health checks at 6-8 weeks of age. Ask if at 6-8 weeks the puppies are tested for all parasites and what the common results are. If a breeder is not controlling something as simple as worms and fleas then I would be concerned about the long-term health and wellness of the adults and all puppies from those adults.

6. If a breeder does not want to let you in their home, question that. Not saying you should get a walk through tour but they should be open to you seeing where and how the adults and puppies live. Do they have adequate room for the puppies, is the house clean, do the adults and puppies have room to run and play? If they are stuffed in a bathroom or laundry room then they probably are not being socialized and well taken care of.

7. Are the puppies raised in the home or in a kennel? Puppies should preferably be raised in a home environment with all the noise and through traffic of a normal home. Those raised in kennels away from the house will need more intensive socialization training to ensure they can cope with daily life as a pet. Kennel environments, no matter how nice and shinny clean, are not the same as being in the home. If you are looking for a pet to be in your home and part of your family it only makes sense to get a puppy from that environment.

8. How many breeds does the breeder have on the property? Does the breeder interbreed them and try to come up with new designer names for that mix breed? If you see that this is not an ethical breeder. There are plenty of mix breeds at the shelters and for free in the classifieds, as breeders we do not need to contribute to that. If a breeder is mixing breeds and also asking money for that puppy well that should be a huge red flag.

9. If a breeder states they have done health testing of any kind but yet will not give you the results prior to placing deposit ask yourself why. It is not impossible to fake health testing and if the testing is on the shady side the breeder will not want you to have that until after they get their money.

10. If a breeder has not done any health testing that alone should make you question the breeder’s ethics. Health testing SHOULD be a breeders #1 concern and they SHOULD want to do everything possible to make sure the adults are healthy enough to even be bred. Screening should be done prior to breeding.

When a breeder says, “Well my vet says my dogs are healthy” ask for their vet’s name and phone #. I will promise if you call that vet they will tell you all breeding dogs should be health tested before breeding. They should be screened for breed specific genetic faults. Many of these breeders are fully aware of issues but knowingly chose not to stop breeding.

11. When you see breeders advertising “quality kees” ask the breeder to define what they think “Quality” means. If this is just a sole opinion as some will just say, “Well my dogs are the best” what defines that to them? If you want actual proof that your new puppy will be of good health and represent the breed correctly the breeder should be able to offer something as showing true quality such as health testing or pedigrees. AKC Pedigrees are public information and anyone can purchase AKC Pedigrees of any registered dog online. So if a breeder will not share that information with you immediately then I would question why not? What is there to hide? If they state Champion bloodlines then they should be willing to show that to you prior to your final decision to place deposit with said breeder. Champion bloodlines should be within the 3-generation pedigree not 4-8 generations back.

12. Get EVERYTHING your breeder promises you in writing, especially health agreements. Much like a breeder wants clients to put certain things like spay/neuter in writing you should also make sure you get a health guarantee in writing from the breeder. If you do not like the guarantee that is presented don’t feel awkward to ask for more specific things in writing. I often revise my contracts to state specific things that a client may request. If you both agree then there is no reason not to put it in writing. If a breeder refuses to do this then that means they refuse to stand by what they say, period!

13. If you think you might have a breeder picked out take 3 months and watch their ads. If they are continuously contradicting themselves in the ads that also should be a flag. If they say yes I health test…… but not this litter, be leery. If a breeder has several puppies over 8 weeks old and now also has more litters coming that is a good sign they are not breeding for the right reasons. If a breeder has not sold a litter by 8 weeks then they certainly should not be planning another one. If they constantly have to “reduce” their prices to get their puppies sold that also should be a warning.

14. When looking at OFA website to check on parents testing, if you see Elbows listed as tested normal and nothing about hips chances are that hips did not pass. Same goes for hips being done but not elbows.

Hips and elbows are routinely done at the same time and sent to OFA together.

OFA will not post bad results unless permission is given by the breeder, so they will list the good elbows or hips but keep the elbows or hips that tested poorly private from the public at the breeder’s request. There are kennels that continue to breed their dogs knowing they have been diagnosed with scores of Mild, Moderate or Severe Hip Dysplasia. Watch for this tell tale! It is a shame people can knowingly produce puppies after this testing has been done. This is yet again one example of breeders producing puppies for profit and giving no thought to the future health of the puppies.

You will find many breeders are very good salesmen/women but when it comes to the health of their dogs they just will not spend the money to make sure what they are selling is what they are telling. If they truly cared and wanted to offer the best in quality they would spend the money and prove it.

If a breeder is not willing to do the simple testing but yet they are selling for top dollar it is a very obvious sign they are in it for the dollar not the health of their puppies.

When paying for quality that is exactly what you should get.

Do the homework and take the time to make sure that you are purchasing a healthy puppy that will be a member of your family for many, many years.

Help put and end to Unethical Breeders and Puppy Mills

If you purchase from unethical breeders you are supporting them. Don’t rush out and just buy a puppy cause you need a puppy now. Take the time and support breeders who are contributing to the breed and not lowering the breed standard.

Continuing to buy puppies from puppy mills and poor breeders only encourage these people to continue to breed in unacceptable conditions and more importantly unhealthy adults.

It really is as simple as not giving them your money!

This breed deserves better.

ERBEKEES-KEESHONDEN 433 Gunter Hollow RD Fayetteville, TN. 37334 931-557-8884 or 814-691-4902