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Questions to Ask a Breeder


Adding a new puppy to your home is a 10-15 year plus commitment and investment.  We understand, all puppies are cute and it is easy to instantly fall in love with their sweet faces.  However, taking the time to research a potential breeder and their program can ensure that you are getting a healthy dog that was given the best head start in life.  Below we list out some questions you should ask breeders, why the question is important, and what to look for in a response.  

How many litters do you have each year?

Breeders may not always announce or publish information about all of their litters, so asking directly is the best way to learn this information.  A red flag is a breeder that seems to always have litters or puppies available.  Yes, it can be tempting to think these puppies are adorable and I can reserve one or take one home now.  But stop to think, if a breeder has numerous litters throughout the year, how much attention is each puppy getting individually?  There is more cleaning and laundry than you can imagine when raising a litter.  And that is just the basic care required.  Do you want a puppy that was produced in a factory like setting, or one that was given individual attention, socialization, and training?  Of course you can train your puppy when you bring him or her home.  But, the critical socialization period for a puppy is from birth to 12 weeks.  Therefore, the amount of socialization and training your breeder puts into the puppies in those 12 weeks can shape a puppy for life.   We are strong believers in the puppy culture program as we have seen incredible success with our puppies adapting easily into their new homes.   We are not suggesting that to be a reputable breeder you must follow a specific program, but some type of socialization and training, and preferably in an individualized setting at times, will prepare a puppy to succeed in a new home.  Additionally, when a breeder spends time with puppies throughout the first few weeks they get to know their puppies personalities.  A breeder with this detailed knowledge can suggest the puppy that will be the best fit for your family.  

What health testing do you do?

We have come a long way in health testing and breeding out genetic defects.  A simple DNA test can rule out Primary Lens Luxation (PLL).  A quick eye exam by a specialist can rule out any eye abnormalities that may be inherited.    Patellar luxation can cause arthritis and other issues for dogs as they age.  A patella exam can be easily done by a veterinarian.  These basic tests on breeding dogs ensure that puppies have the best chance for a long healthy life.  Additionally, if a breeder tells you that they do not do a certain test, you may want to inquire as to why.  For example, we may not do a PLL genetic test on a breeding dog if both parents were clear and thus, the dog would be clear by parentage.  

How many dogs do you have?  And where do your adult dogs live?

Russell Terriers are not a kennel breed.  As with most dogs, they thrive on being with their people.  We have found that each dog has such a unique personality.  How can you fully get to know the personality of the parents when the dogs are living in a kennel?  We breed dogs that WE would want to live with.  If our dogs lived in a kennel, we would not be able to tell potential puppy buyers how the parents are to live with in a household setting.  

Do your dogs compete in any shows or events?

Yes, you may want "just a pet."  However, breeders that compete with their dogs in conformation dog shows or performance events often have a goal in mind for their breeding program.  Such breeders are generally looking to improve the breed with each litter.  Further, dogs with aggressive or excessively fearful personalities generally are not able to compete in shows or events.  Even for shows, you may see a dog that walks around the ring for a few minutes.  However, that dog is taken out of it's home and has a stable enough temperament to behave and follow commands in a loud, crowded building, with hundreds of people and dogs.  The dogs also must be examined by strangers.  The result is that you get a "pet" from parents with stable temperaments, structure, and health,  that was created by hours of thought and dedication.    

What happens if I can no longer keep my puppy?

Reputable breeders will take a puppy back at any time in their life if the owner is no longer able to keep the puppy.  A contract should have this provision outlined.  

How are puppies chosen in the litter?

Breeders that are breeding to improve the breed will often plan to keep a puppy for themselves.  It is not uncommon for the breeder to reserve the right to keep their choice from the litter.  Other puppies that have potential for showing or performance events may be held as well to see how they mature. Next, breeders usually try to match up the puppy's personalities with the family.  For example, a puppy with a stronger, dominate personality may be a better match for an experienced dog owner rather than a first time puppy owner.  A red flag is when a breeder allows puppy buyers to chose their puppy based on who put in a deposit first.  

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