How to find a Reputable Breeder
--- Reprinted here courtesy of FrogDog.org
The following is a list of do's and don'ts that is meant to help you, the buyer, have a successful outcome in your endeavor to find the perfect companion for you.
Research the breed in depth before you buy.
Don't impulse shop and buy the first Frenchie you find from the first breeder that happens to have something advertised. Personally, I think French Bulldogs are absolutely, without a doubt, under any and all circumstances, the best breed on the face of the Earth. However, Frenchies may not be the right breed for you, so don't be hasty; good things come to those who wait (and do their homework). The average price of a French Bulldog puppy varies from state to state and can range between $1,500.00 to $2,500.00.
Be honest to yourself and the breeders that you contact about what you are shopping for.
Don't tell the breeder you want a PET because you think it will cost less to purchase; first, the majority of responsible breeders are going to sell their PETS with "limited registration" which means you cannot register litters produced by the dog and you cannot show your dog in AKC conformation events; second, knowledgeable breeders know their breed standard and there is a reason the PET puppy is being sold as "pet quality". Not every purebred, AKC registered puppy is born with the superior QUALITIES that it should have to compete successfully in the show ring let alone pass down to future generations in a breeding program.
Don't tell the breeder you want a SHOW dog because you are willing to pay the extra money to get that gorgeous specimen unless you truly have the time and the inclination to actively campaign a dog; serious breeders work very hard to produce the best examples of the breed that they can and they want those very special show babies in homes with people that are every bit as dedicated to the sport and the breed as they are.
Get a copy of the AKC breed standard for Frenchies and read it; learn all you can about the characteristics of the breed; find out what colors French Bulldogs come in; learn how to care for your Frenchie; most importantly, research until you are blue in the face about HEALTH CONCERNS that are common to French Bulldogs.
Don't let anyone tell you that Frenchies don't have HEALTH PROBLEMS! All dogs have health problems of one sort or another and Frenchies are not immune; they may have less than some breeds and more than others, but Frenchies can sometimes and do sometimes have breed specific health concerns that you need to be aware of before you buy!
Attend a dog show or two so you can see some Frenchies in competition and meet them in person.
Don't think that just because you are not shopping specifically for a show dog that you shouldn't attend a local show. Show dog's are judged to their breed standard and what better way to find out what a FRENCH BULLDOG should look like? This is a good place to meet some breeders and their dogs and hopefully get some hands on Frog Doggin. Attending a show might also help you decide if showing would be of interest to you.
Contact as many breeders as you can. You can find breeders in Dog Magazines, at breeder web sites on the internet, through the American Kennel Club, by contacting the French Bulldog Club of America, or local breed clubs.
Don't shop for your Frenchie at a local pet store, or at public dog auctions.
Have a long list of questions ready for the breeder. This will help you establish their level of knowledge about the breed and to find out the practices and policies of the individual breeder you are speaking with.
Don't forget to make notes. You should write down the breeder's responses to your questions; you can use this information for comparison.
- Does the breeder have a club affiliation: National club? regional club? local all breed or obedience club?
- Don't jump to the conclusion that a breeder belonging to a club is better than a breeder that doesn't. However, most serious and responsible show breeders are a member of at least one club. To apply for membership in the FBDCA, applicant's must be sponsored by two current FBDCA members in good standing and applicants are required to abide by the parent club's Code Of Ethics.
- Does the breeder show their French Bulldogs?
- Don't be fooled by statements such as "My dogs come from champion lines, they have grand champion blood, mine are show dogs or mine could be Champions, but I just don't have time to show dogs". The majority of responsible breeders do show their dogs and will gladly furnish proof that they do. They can tell you all about Champion so and so and how many shows she finished in, which judges awarded points to her, and may even offer to e-mail you photos or direct you to their web site so they can show off their PARADE OF CHAMPIONS. All AKC CHAMPIONS are issued a Championship Certificate once they have completed their championship requirements, and AKC can verify any dog's title (s) for you.
- How long have they been breeding French bulldogs?
- Don't let haste persuade you to buy from a novice or inexperienced person. If the "breeder" has several years experience breeding Frenchies, that person is likely to be a better source than the complete novice with little or no experience whatsoever. The breeder that has been raising French Bulldogs for a few years or more, has had time to study and learn the breed and it's idiosyncrasies, has probably shown and finished some Frenchies, more than likely has bred some CHAMPIONS of their own, and has built a reputation for themselves and the dogs they produce.
- How many breeds of dogs do they have?
- Don't be lulled into thinking that more breeds means more knowledge. Raising dogs is a full time job and requires dedication and a true love for your breed. A lot of time, effort, and devotion must go into studying pedigrees, screening breeding stock for specific genetic problems, planning optimum breedings, caring for new babies, weaning, training, socialization, showing,etc. This means 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year. Do you know many people that could hold down two or three full-time jobs and really be efficient at any of them?
- How many litters a year does this breeder have?
- Don't be impatient! Breeders who ALWAYS have puppies for sale might be more interested in their pocket book than the betterment of the breed. Responsible breeders strive to produce the best that they can and hope to improve their dogs with each generation. They will generally produce just a few litters each year. They will rarely sell every pup in the litter; they will usually keep the best for themselves to show and continue with in their breeding program. They will normally have waiting lists for their pups,and most pups have new owners waiting for their arrival long before they are born.
- Does this breeder test their breeding stock for known genetic disorders that are common in French Bulldogs?
- Don't accept a simple YES or NO to this question. If the breeder's answer is yes, then find out what specific disorders they test for and what registries they use for certification. Ask them for copies of certifications on the sire and dam of the puppy you are inquiring about. If they truly test and have certifications, they will be happy to forward copies to you. If the breeder's answer is no, then ask them why not; "IF" they tell you that French Bulldogs don't have any genetic health problems, do yourself a huge favor; politely end your conversation and call another breeder! Not all breeders test their dogs. Some breeders screen for certain disorders that appear in the breed and not for others. Some breeders depend solely on their veterinarian's opinion and evaluation of x-rays, etc. These breeders don't use the health registries, so won't have certifications, but should be able to provide a letter from their vet regarding the status of a particular dog. It is up to you to educate yourself about this breed's health concerns, and decide what testing and documentation (if any) is important to you.
- Will the breeder provide registration papers, pedigree, health records, micro-chip?
- Don't forget to ask about these things; this information is important to you and should be furnished by the breeder. Make sure you clearly understand the registration status of the dog you are inquiring about: limited registration or full registration? Know what those terms mean. Be sure you will get a pedigree on your puppy. The breeder should have an up-to-date health record for each dog they sell with details about vaccinations, wormings, etc. Many breeders will have micro-chipped the puppy, but be sure to ask if the dog has a micro-chip, what type and the number. If the breeder has not already done so, you might want to have your vet do this for you.
- Has the breeder discussed specific breed characteristics with you?
- Don't think that a dog is a dog is a dog! Every breed is just a little bit different and the breeder should discuss Frenchie particulars with a prospective buyer. The majority of people think that all dogs can swim, but the majority of Frenchies cannot! The breeder should know all the can's and cannots associated with Frenchies and pass that information on to you before you buy.
- Does this breeder supply a written guarantee?
- Don't be afraid to ask this question and don't assume that all breeders guarantee their dogs. Any responsible breeder will provide a guarantee covering hereditary disorders specific to the breed. A written guarantee would be preferable to an oral agreement. Not all breeder's guarantees are the same; some last 48 hrs., some 72 hrs., some for a year or more. Then there are some that don't guarantee anything other than they will take your money and give you the dog. Be sure that you understand what the guarantee covers and get it in writing prior to or at the time of purchase. This could be particularly important to you if you purchase from a breeder that doesn't do extensive health screening. Think about it; would you purchase a car, a home, an appliance without some form of guarantee?
- Does this breeder use a sales contract?
- Don't rely on oral agreements if at all possible. A written agreement outlining the particulars of the sale can really help avoid future misunderstandings. You should get a copy of the signed sales agreement at time of purchase, and it should include a description of the dog, it's sire and dam, information regarding registration restrictions (if any),if the dog is for companion or show, guarantees (if any), etc. Make sure that you and the breeder are in complete agreement of all terms and conditions of the sale before you sign the contract.
- Will this breeder give you references?
- Don't be embarrassed to ask the breeder for references; a list of other owners that have purchased dogs from them; their veterinarian; club members. You can bet the responsible breeder is not going to hesitate to ask you for references, and will not think twice about checking you out with a fine tooth comb. A good breeder's best advertising is their happy customers, and most will offer references before you've had time to think about asking for them.
- Will the breeder refer you to other breeders?
- Don't be shy about asking for breeder referrals. If the breeder you contact does not have the right Frenchie for you, ask them to refer you to another breeder. The Frenchie community is a pretty close-knit group and they should be more than happy to put you in touch with another responsible breeder if they do not have what you are shopping for. On occasion, you might come across a breeder that does not have anything available, and will refuse to refer you to another breeder, and may go so far as to point out all the breeders you shouldn't buy from, etc. This person is not looking out for the best interest's of our breed and certainly is not looking out for your best interest.
- Will the breeder take the dog back if the need arises?
- Don't think this could never happen because it can and it does from time to time. Things can change unexpectedly; a death or illness in the family; job transfers; divorce. Responsible breeders will usually have a clause in their sales contract stating that they will take the dog back or help the owner find a new home for the dog if the owner is unable to keep the dog for whatever the reason. No concerned breeder turns their back on one of their babies no matter how old that baby gets to be. A breeder's responsibilities and obligations to the lives they create should last a lifetime; not just for the length of time it takes for your check to clear their bank account.
- Does the breeder have a list of questions to ask you?
- Don't expect that you will be the only one with lots of questions to ask. If the breeder you have contacted does not have as many questions to ask you as you have to ask them, this could be a sign that you need to keep shopping. Any concerned breeder would not consider letting one of their kids leave home without getting a full background check on the prospective new parents.
- Will the breeder be there for you when you have a question or need help?
- Don't buy from a breeder that you don't feel comfortable with. If you need advice of any kind regarding your new Frenchie, you have got to be able to pick up that phone, day or night, and call your breeder. Your breeder has a wealth of information at their fingertips and should be the first person you contact for advice. If you can't carry on a comfortable dialog before you purchase your new little toad, you won't be able to later when you NEED their help. A good line of communication between buyer and seller is extremely important, so be sure you choose a breeder that you find easy to talk to and one that encourages you to call on them.