I get email once or twice a week asking for advice on finding a Shiba puppy. I’m glad when people ask, because it means they are trying to buy a pup the RIGHT way, but on the other hand, I know there aren’t enough puppies from good breeders to go around and that frustrates me. So many people buy puppies from pet stores and back yard breeders because they don’t know any better, but then – even worse – people who DO know better, to some degree, get frustrated and impatient and end up buying a dog from a less than ideal source because they don’t want to wait.
Shiba puppies seem to be more popular than ever lately. I don’t know about other areas, but in the northeast US, that extra demand is being readily filled by a breeding operation who markets themselves as an "aw shucks" kind of family business but in reality they’re a mill… the majority of their dogs are poor quality, they produce WAY too many litters at a time, they sell to anyone who is buying (they even take paypal deposits!), and they’re well known not to return phone calls if/when a puppy has any health or behavioral issues. I’ve been attempting to fight the good fight against this establishment for years now but it seems they’re just producing more pups than ever before.
Why? Supply and Demand. Legally, dogs are property. Puppies, it seems, are simply another commodity to be produced as cheaply as possible and sold for a profit. What does this mean for the poor souls being created for profit? I can tell you, it ain’t good. *sigh*
So, let’s talk about why people are buying puppies when there are so many dogs dying in shelters. And what can we do it about it??? (Hint: the answer is WE CAN EDUCATE CONSUMERS.)
Puppy vs Rescue Dog
I understand the desire for a puppy. I really do. Snickers came from a breeder. My daughter was 8 when we started discussing a dog – her first – and I wanted her to have the full puppy experience. I also wanted a purebred dog for the added security of knowing what I was getting (to a certain degree) in regard to size and temperament. We spent months deciding on the right breed for us, more months searching for a responsible breeder with puppies planned and not spoken for, and then another few months waiting for him. Was it worth it? Absolutely!!! Does that mean I think that’s the only way – or even the best way – to add a family member? No. Two years later when we were ready to add a female, we adopted a sweet little rescued girl who needed a home. We adore her every bit as much as we do Snickers and we didn’t have to deal with all the puppy nonsense again! Adopting a dog can be every bit as wonderful as buying a puppy. There are some situations where a puppy is even the wrong decision, but an older dog could be the perfect companion. If only people KNEW more about their options and understood the repercussions of purchasing from backyard breeders, mills and pet stores.
A reputable breeder with available puppies can be tough to find, depending on the breed you are interested in. But you want a puppy NOW! What do you do?
How to FIND a Responsible Breeder
- contact local and national breed clubs
- If you’re looking for a Shiba Inu and live in the northeast US, start with the Shiba Club of Greater NY or the Blue and Gray Shiba Club (looking for link).
- If you’re looking for a Shiba in any other part of the country, contact the regional club nearest you for assistance (that is how I found Snick’s breeder) or refer to the breeders list on the National Shiba Club of America‘s website.
- If you’re looking for another breed of puppy, start by checking the AKC’s website to find the national club for your breed.
- contact the regional purebred rescue group for the breed in which you are interested
Contrary to what some people believe, volunteers for purebred rescue groups are seldom anti-breeding. The breed we love so much couldn’t exist and flourish if it weren’t for responsible breeders!
- If you’re looking for a Shiba, try the rescue group closest to you that is listed on this page.
- If you’re looking for any other breed, try your national breed club’s site for a list of legitimate rescue groups.
- attend a dog show or other dog related event and talk to the participants
- ask your veterinarian for referrals
How to SPOT a Responsible Breeder
A responsible breeder does NOT sell their puppies to just anyone with cash in hand! Many unsuspecting people buy puppies from people who seem to be responsible breeders, but are not. Too often, the result is a puppy in poor health or with temperament problems that may only surface after time.
A responsible breeder is someone who:
- breeds for their love and devotion to their chosen breed of dogs.
- does not breed dogs to make money or so children can "experience the miracle of birth."
- only breeds one or two types of dogs and usually only breeds a litter if they intend on keeping one of the pups. They are breeding to further improve the breed in general and their breeding program in particular, not just to produce puppies for pet buyers.
- can explain in detail the potential genetic problems inherent in the breed and is willing and able to provide documentation from organizations such as the Orthopedic Foundation for Animals (OFA) that the puppy’s parents and grandparents have been screened for these genetic problems.
- can explain the reasoning behind breeding a particular dog to a particular bitch. They should be attempting to reach perfection as defined by the breed’s standard. In the attempt to reach this goal with the resulting puppies, they should be able to explain the good points of each dog and what points they are trying to improve. If, when asked about the breed standard, the breeder looks at you with a blank look on their face or tells you why the breed standard doesn’t matter… RUN!
- does not breed a high volume of puppies.
- usually participates in some sort of dog-related events such as dog shows (conformation), obedience, agility, schutzhund, sled dog racing, herding, field trials, lure coursing, earth dog trials, etc. They do something with their dogs.
- usually belongs to at least one dog club (all-breed club, obedience club, breed club, etc.).
- will tell you the good points AND the bad points of the breed. They want their puppies in the best home possible and will want to be sure you are fully aware of what to expect before you buy.
- is willing and able to give you references from previous puppy buyers. Those new to breeding should be able to give you references from other breeders of their breed or dog club members.
- will never sell puppies through a pet store or broker or any other way that does not allow for thoroughly meeting with and interviewing you to ensure that the puppy is a good match for your family and that you will provide a responsible lifelong home.
- will ask you many questions and may ask for references or to visit you at your home. The breeder is looking for the ideal situation for the puppy. They want the owner to be happy and not return the puppy because it was ill suited for their environment or life-style.
- can provide a pedigree of the puppies, not just a copy of the parents registration papers. A pedigree usually has at least three generations of the puppies’ ancestors listed.
- usually insists that puppies sold as pets be spayed/neutered and placed on an AKC limited registration. (Limited registration makes the dog’s offspring exempt from AKC registration.)
- believes in service after the sale. If a puppy buyer has any questions regarding grooming, feeding, or training, the breeder will be there long after the puppy is no longer a puppy.
- not only WILL they take back any dog of their breeding at any age, they REQUIRE that you contact them if you ever can’t keep your dog. Reputable breeders do not want to find out a dog they bred has been given up to an animal shelter or dumped by the roadside. They assume a lifetime responsibility for the canine lives they have put on this earth.
Is it worth the wait to get your next family member from a responsible breeder, instead of purchasing from a puppy mill, pet store, or backyard breeder? Absolutely.
If you would like a printable non-breed-specific version of this, please download Responsible Breeder vs. A Puppy Right Now.