Diavolino Italian Greyhounds

                                                                                      ...world reknowned show dogs and world class companions

 
                                             
 
 

Choosing Your Breeder

Things are looking good... you decided to go to a breeder and you think you found a good one, based on things you identified in the website.  Now, what final steps can you do to ensure your breeder really IS a good breeder?

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In a perfect world, you will always be able to go and check out the breeder in person, and pick out your puppy in person.  However, that's not always possible.   If you have found a breeder you think you can trust, there is no reason not to buy the puppy, just follow some due diligence.

Ask for references!  You have the right to research your breeder as much as he/she will be researching you!  However, don't talk to just the people he/she gives you the names of.  Ask them if they know of anyone else who bought a puppy from Mr/Mrs Breeder and call them as well.  Why?  Because no breeder is going to give the name of someone they think might not give a good reference!  Ask specific questions, like:

  • Did you have any problems with your puppy from Mr/Mrs Breeder? 
  • What did he/she do about it? 
  • How long did it take you to get your puppy's registration papers from Mr/Mrs Breeder? 
  • Did you pick you puppy up in person? 
  • Were the dogs in the house? Did they act like they were used to being in the house or did they appear a bit uncomfortable? 
  • Were the dogs in good condition, with nails clipped and teeth clean? 
  • Were there any excessive odors? 

Ask for permission to speak to the breeder's vet. You will usually need to get written permission for this, as veterinarians are not allowed to discuss clients without permission. Ask the vet if the dogs have been in good condition, if the breeder hesitates to spend money when needed, if the vet would sell that breeder a puppy.

You might want to consider how long your breeder has been breeding and showing IGs. While many new breeders can and do have successful breeding programmes, it is usually only those that have a well established mentor system. Do not hesitate to ask to contact their mentor for a reference. Even if a breeder has owned IGs for many years, it takes at least a few generations and many years of breeding to be able to understand how the particular bloodline matures, and what health concerns can show up.

Once you are satisfied that all of the breeder's references are good, you can breathe a little easier!

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So let's go with the assumption that you are going to pick your puppy out in person.

Do not be offended if a breeder does not allow visitors 24 hours a day 7 days a week. We are people too, and work for a living, have friends over sometimes, sometimes don't feel well enough for company. And, we may not allow guests until the puppies are vaccinated, for their own safety. Additionally, with the rise in personal crime these days, many breeders will not allow you into their home until AFTER they have gotten to know you. If you want to visit me and my dogs, I expect that we will have had enough conversation ahead of time for me to feel safe letting you into our home.

Find out where the adults are raised! Many breeders either claim to or really do raise the puppies in the home, but the rest of the dogs are out in the barn or dark sheds, or in small cages that don't allow for freedom to run and play. Feel free to ask to see where the parents live, not just when having puppies, but the rest of the time. If they won't show you, or have some lame excuse why they can't, walk away. If they have a 'viewing room', walk away. The only breeders who would have a viewing room are commercial producers and puppymills. Some large scale breeders actually work in pairs... the dogs are kept mostly at one home, until someone makes an appointment to visit, then they are cleaned up and moved to another home. Just the ones that are being viewed, if course.

Once you walk into my house, you are where my dogs live. If you sit on my couch, you will most likely jump up from the sound of a squeaky toy being sat on, or a dog cuddled under a blanket may make a run for it thinking you will sit on it. You will find my decor a mixture of antiques and dog beds. My decorations vary from classic artwork to dog show ribbons to dog toys.

There will be dog hair in my house. There will often be disembowelled plush toys under my couch. There will be a half eaten rawhide bone on the mat in front of the fireplace. When I have baby puppies in my dining room, there may, no... there WILL be unpleasant smells and sounds from time to time.  I'm OK with it.  My dog are OK with it.  So sue me.

However, the house should be reasonably tidy. As I said, when there is puppies in the house, you WILL smell them.   Raising a litter takes a lot of time, so fun activities like dusting or washing the windows might get put to the bottom of the list!  Even the cleanest person in the world can't completely eradicate the smell of puppies.  However, if it stinks, then there might be a problem.

Have a look around... do you see anything that could present a danger to the dogs? Open steep stairways with no gates, fences that can be crawled through or jumped over? A breeder who has not taken every precaution with the dogs in their home may not have taken proper precautions in their breeding plans either.

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So the house looks good, the dogs clearly live in the house. Now it's time to sit down and look at some paperwork.

First, ask to see registration papers on the dogs. Not just the parents, but a cross section of the dogs.

Registration is only an indicator of purebred status, NOT an indicator of quality. Determining quality is your responsibility, based on your research (and hopefully this site can help.)

There are only 2 truly reputable registry services in North America. The Canadian Kennel Club (hereafter referred to as the CKC. When I mean Continental Kennel Club I'll use ConKC) and the American Kennel Club. The United Kennel Club is getting there, and I foresee them being more respected in the future, but right now, there are still too many strings untied, in my opinion, to classify them in the same league. Many reputable breeders use both the UKC and the AKC or CKC, but if they use just the UKC, that is a red flag. Any breeder that uses any registry other than these three is highly suspect. There are many registries being started just to create a false legitimacy to some breeders. Any registry that also registers cross breeds or designer breeds is NOT a reputable registry. If your breeder registers ANY of their dogs with the questionable registries, I would walk away.

In Canada, the breeder or seller is required by law to provide registration papers in the name of the buyer, at no extra charge, within a reasonable time once all terms of sale have been met. Terms of sale may include the dog being spayed or neutered, may include completing a title, may include health testing. Whatever the terms of sale are, which must be in a written agreement to qualify, the papers must be transferred at the breeder or seller's expense once those terms are met. It is illegal in Canada to charge one price 'with papers' and another price 'without papers'. The papers belong to the dog, and must go with the dog as long as money or other consideration have changed hands for the acquisition of the dog or puppy.

In the United States, the buyer is usually responsible, unless agreed otherwise, for the registration costs. So if you are offered a deal 'without papers' it may be because the breeder doesn't have papers in the first place, the parents may not be registered, or even worse, they are registered on Limited Registration (non-breeding) but they are not honouring the agreement they made with the breeders of the parents.

The CKC and the AKC publish a Stud Book every year, which is a listing of all litters conceived in a given year, as well as all foreign dogs registered.  If you can find someone who has a copy, take a look to see how often the breeder breeds, how old the dogs are when bred, and how often each dog is bred. Many breeders in Canada purchase the stud book every year and would be happy to provide that information if you contact them.  The information is, after all, public record!

In the United States, you will sometimes see a DNA# on a dog's registration certificate. In many circumstances, a DNA # could be worrying. The reason for that is that there are only two times a dog must be DNA profiled: if they are a foreign born dog used in a US breeding programme or if they are bred more than 7 times in their lifetime or 3 times in a year, effective July 2000.

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As I said, BYBs and puppymills are learning the jargon.  Buyers are becoming more and more educated (hooray!) and the bad breeders need to stay one step ahead of the buyer.  Some bad breeders are showing their dogs just enough to give themselves the illusion of legitimacy.  They go to the dog shows and present a polished facade, yet in reality, they are still milling puppies at home.

Look at the pedigrees of not only the puppy you are interested in, but other dogs produced by the breeder.  Ask for copies of pedigrees, or do some internet research.  There are many people who have made it an obsession to research and document pedigrees, so if you are having no luck in any other avenue, contact me and I might be able to obtain some examples for you.

When you look at those pedigrees, look at a minimum of 4-5 generations.  The majority of dogs should be Champions or titled in other disciplines if that breeder is breeding for a certain discipline.  For example, if you are looking for an Agility prospect, look for Agility titles in the pedigree.  If the breeder is selling the puppy as an Agility prospect, you want to have proof the breeder knows what they are looking for, right?

Even if you are looking for a companion puppy, it IS important that the pedigree shows mostly Champions.  Why?  Because it is an indicator that the breeder is breeding to maintain the quality of the breed, not just to produce puppies.

Multiple occurrences of breeding non-Champion dogs to non-Champion dogs is a red flag.  Occasionally, a good breeder will breed a dog who has not obtained a title.  The reasons may vary and may very likely be justifiable.  However, doing it repeatedly is questionable.

Furthermore, where are the dogs being shown?  Again, AKC and CKC are the only stand-alone reputable registries and show venues.  Some reputable breeders show UKC as well as AKC or CKC, but those that show only UKC are a red flag.

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Next step - look at the health testing.

First, there is a HUGE difference between health testing and vet checked. Do not ever forget that. Many of the conditions afflicting IGs cannot be determined by a regular veterinarian. Do not be afraid to ask for proof of health testing, and do not accept the excuse that the vet says they are healthy.

Each person has their own idea of what the bare minimum of health testing that should be done. My idea may differ from another breeder's idea, but my opinion is, the more testing that can be done, the better. Breeders may do any or all of the following tests.

Here are some examples of what official health testing certificates look like:

Canine Eye Registration Foundation - aka CERF  (certificate expires after one year. Dogs being bred should be tested annually)

Orthopedic Foundation for Animals - aka OFA  - Patellae (not valid under 1 year of age, but over two years of age is preferred)

Orthopedic Foundation for Animals - aka OFA  - Hip Dysplasia (not valid under two years of age)

Orthopedic Foundation for Animals - aka OFA  -Legg-Calve-Perthes (not valid under two years of age)

Orthopedic Foundation for Animals - aka OFA  - Thyroid (should be repeated every 1-2 years for breeding dogs)

Orthopedic Foundation for Animals - aka OFA  -BAER testing (for congenital deafness - all white dogs and white headed dogs should be tested.)

Health results can also be verified on the Orthopedic Foundation for Animals  website and the 
Canine Eye Registration Foundation  website.

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Does the breeder offer a health guarantee?

Keeping in mind that while no breeder can truly guarantee the genetic health of a dog, we still have a responsibility to try to produce the healthiest puppies possible out of the healthiest parents possible. And, should the puppy develop signs of a hereditary problem within the specified guarantee, we must offer appropriate compensation.

Now, there is really no right or wrong, as long as you are comfortable within the restrictions of the guarantee you will be getting.

One thing to think about is, very few hereditary problems in IGs show up before the dog is a year old, so would you be happy with a 1 year guarantee? That's a pretty safe bet for a breeder, as there's little chance anything genetic will show up before then. Two years is better, longer even better!

No breeder can guarantee against the normal aging process, nor anything resulting from neglect, improper care, etc.

What compensation will the breeder give if something hereditary shows up? Do you have to give the puppy back, with insinuations that they will euthanize it? Breeders know that almost everyone will keep their puppy and forfeit a replacement if it means the dog they have come to love will die by euthanasia once back at the breeder's. Our compensation is to either pay for a portion of the treatment or to give you another puppy at a mutually convenient time. You may either keep your puppy or return it, it does not affect your right to a replacement if that is the compensation that we choose.

And what about the breeders that state the guarantee is null and void of you don't feed their foods, their supplements, etc? Hogwash. A genetically healthy puppy is a genetically healthy puppy. While an outlandish feeding programme can affect the health of a dog, as long as you are feeding a good quality food, of which there are many, your dog should remain healthy if bred healthy. I once had a person want to buy a puppy and feed it a 100% beet diet! Needless to say, we did not sell her a puppy!

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 If you're buying a puppy or dog, you will most likely be asked to sign a contract. Even the puppymills, showmills and BYBs are sometimes asking you to sign a contract. Each breeder's contract will be unique, and may include anything from what health testing you must have done, that you must show the dog, that you must spay or neuter the puppy, that you cannot breed it or sell it, or that it must be bred in accordance with other specific terms. Each breeder, each buyer, each puppy, will have a contract specific to that purchase.

If you can't/won't honour the contract, don't sign it. You won't get the puppy, but at least then you aren't tied to a legal agreement you don't think you can follow through with. There are lots of other puppies out there.

If you do sign the contract, then honour it. If you agreed to a clause, but you have a falling out with the breeder, don't do whatever you can to not  honour it... honour the contract as a mature adult and then part ways with the breeder. Remember this is a legal, binding agreement. Even a verbal agreement can be upheld in court. You don't want to become known as someone who doesn't honour agreements, so just do it.

If the breeder does not ask you to sign a contract, or if they sell you a puppy with no conditions, walk away. That breeder doesn't care about the future of their dogs.

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Does the breeder do rescue?

There is a big difference between helping someone place a dog they can't keep, and doing Rescue. Some breeders will brag that they 'rescued' a dog when in all reality, the dog was still at home with it's owners and the breeder helped find a home for it. A true Rescue dog has no home... usually by no fault of it's own. Someone maybe didn't research the breed enough and wasn't prepared for the specific issues in IG life, or perhaps the owners passed away and the breeder could not be located, perhaps it had an injury the owner couldn't afford.  Plus it either had a breeder who didn't care enough to take it back, or the breeder was simply unable to be located.


Not all breeders have the space to take in foster dogs or rescue dogs. Doing rescue work is a labour of love and takes a strong devotion and a very flexible heart. Some breeders support Rescue financially, or by donating goods or transport. Some support Rescue by making sure all people inquiring about puppies are advised of Rescue options, or by placing links to Rescue dogs available on their site as prominently as their own available dogs. We all need to do what we can to help the ones the breeders didn't take responsibility for.

However, ALL breeders have the responsibility to care for every dog they have ever produced, no matter if it is returned at 6 months old or 16 years old. Inquire of rescue organizations to see if the breeder has ever had any dogs surrendered to Rescue, and if so, what actions the breeder took to get the dog out of Rescue.

The fact that there is Rescue organizations is proof that not all breeders are responsible. And yet, all will try to convince you they are  responsible, so where's the disconnect?

I remember a few days before my birthday in 2007... my husband asked me what I wanted for my birthday. At the time, I was looking at the photo of two old gals in a shelter somewhere in the US. I told him I wanted them out of jail. Wouldn't you know it, there was a rescue group willing to get them, but they didn't have the funds to do so. We immediately sent money via PayPal, enough to cover the fee to get them out and to cover transport. My best birthday present I ever got was getting two old IGs out of jail. Two old gals I will never meet.

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Beware the breeder who advertises or promotes 'rare' colours or tiny Italian Greyhounds!

The truth is, any breeder should be breeding in accordance with the Breed Standard.  That standard allows for any colour except 'black and tan' and 'brindle'.  Those two are the only rare colours.  Why?  Because they are a disqualification and therefore NO breeder should be trying to reproduce them.

White puppies are not rare.  Pied puppies are not rare.  Solid coloured puppies are not rare.  Look through the dogs on my website, and you will see colours and markings of everything from solid white to nearly solid black, with everything in between.  And that's only one breeder!  No colour is worth more than any other colour, and no markings are worth any more than any other markings.  Any breeder who charges a different price by colour or markings is a breeder I wouldn't consider buying from.

The same goes for size... our standard allows for anything between 13" and 15".  Breeders should be striving to breed within that standard.  Now, that's not to say that smaller or larger ones don't occur, nor that they are any more or less valuable.  But specifically trying to get undersized or oversized IGs is irresponsible.

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Be prepared to wait...

But things worth having are worth waiting for, right?

Good breeders don't always have puppies available all the time. We need a rest once in awhile too! Additionally, if we have enough young dogs for the immediate future for showing ourselves, we have no need to breed again right away. After all, we are not breeding to produce puppies but to improve our own breeding programme.  The more specific your request, the longer your wait may be. It seems like everyone wants a blue girl with white markings... so if that's what you want, you'll most likely have to wait a little bit!

If you are wanting a show prospect, please remember that breeders will want to establish a trusting relationship with you before selling you a show puppy. We are not willing to send our best out to people who have not established that they WILL honour the agreement, they WILL show the dog, they WILL treat it right, etc. Do not be offended, it is not you... it is for the protection of our bloodline. Any breeder who is willing to send you a show prospect right off the bat should make you want to do a little more investigating.

Also, be prepared that the breeder will do some research on you too!  The breeder will want to talk to your vet, will want to talk to breeders of your previous dogs, they will want proof you are allowed to have the dog if renting and that you are not over your city's dog limit.  They may want to visit your home or if that's not possible, have someone they trust do a home visit for them.  It doesn't mean they don't trust you, it means they want to ensure the best possible life for their puppies.  Do not be offended!

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