You've chosen your breeder... Now they have to choose you.
Updated: Feb 10, 2020
Ever since I've announced this litter (actually even before I did) people have been contacting me daily about possibly purchasing a puppy from me. While the volume of people is certainly flattering and I'm honored beyond words, it also made me realize that a lot of people out there do not know what contacting a reputable breeder should look like and how it all transpires. Now, don't feel bad if you fall into that group. Fact of the matter is, 99% of puppy buyers are not properly educated on what to look for and what to expect.
Before I touch on this topic, let's dig a little deeper for added context. First, you need to ask yourself why do you feel this breeder of your choice is right for you. Was the decision based on research and knowledge of exactly what you're looking for, or (what I've found to be the more common reason) did you decide you're ready for a puppy and you contacted the first breeder you've found that has what's in your mind the right price? If you fall under the latter, please do read on!
When selecting your breeder of choice there are many important aspects you should look at. Simply put, a puppy is not a new pair of shoes that you can discard after you're over them but rather a huge commitment for many years to come. With that, it is extremely important that you set yourself and your future puppy up for success by not only finding a breeder who has nice dogs and the right price - honestly, price should never really even be a factor - but also a breeder with strong ethics and vast knowledge of your breed of choice.
You've found a breeder you like... Now what? Ask the breeder questions that will help you determine if they're reputable and responsible. Join facebook groups and Internet forums dedicated to your breed of choice and educate yourself on what answers to those questions should look like. Research health issues that breed has and make sure you ask questions related to this. There is no such thing as a stupid question and the more you ask the more you'll be equipped to make an educated decision. Questions like "do you title your dogs", "what health tests do you do", "can I come and see where the dogs live and meet the parents", "how many litters a year do you have", "how do you determine who gets what puppy", "do you have a waitlist", "what kind of registration do the puppies come with"... are all great questions that will help you determine if you're dealing with a breeder only interested in making money and selling to the highest bidder or if you are truly dealing with a responsible breeder who only breeds with intentions of preserving and bettering the breed.
I know that to some people reading this it all seems excessive but finding an ethical breeder you can have a great relationship with is worth its weight in gold. Why is it that sometimes we put more time and attention to what model of car or phone we're going to buy, but at the same time when it comes to a living breathing thing that's going to join our family we get the first one we come across? It just makes no sense now, does it? I guarantee you that any reputable breeder would be thrilled to get to talk to someone who is asking more than just "sooo how much for a puppy?". Sadly, inquiries from people who researched beforehand are few and far between. Reputable breeders put a lot of blood, sweat and tears into their dogs and with that they want only the best for them.
Price should be the least of your worries because honestly, if you can't afford a reputably bred dog a better idea is to turn to a rescue. The only way a breeder can afford to sell puppies cheap is when they cut corners and going back to my original car analogy, do you really want a car that the manufacturer neglected to put brakes in? The answer is "DEFINITELY NO"! Yes, you may find a cute "cheap" puppy and yes, you might even get lucky and end up with a puppy with no problems, but more often than not - you end up with a dog that later costs you thousands of dollars in vet bills and professional training because their breeder simply did not put enough care into the mating to prevent that from happening. Is this a gamble you're honestly willing to make? If so, you might as well make a trip to the nearest casino and put everything on red. At least then you have a 50/50 chance of winning. At that point you should probably look into a rescue and save a life rather than fill somebody's pockets that in turn enables them to continue with their shady practices. There are many lovely breed specific rescues that can help you find the dog that suits you and your family.
There's absolutely no shame in not wanting to or being able to dish out thousands of dollars on buying a puppy. That being said, I'm sure that just like I do, you work hard for your money so don't just throw it away (even if it is "only a few hundred"). Be smart with your money and your investments by not supporting what I like to call "greeders". A dog at the end of the day is just that - and investment. The old saying "you get what you pay for" is just as true with dogs as it is with anything else. Do you really want to take a chance on watching your beloved family member suffer from conditions that can easily be avoided by responsible breeding? Do you want to take a chance on not fully being able to enjoy your lovely animal because they have temperament issues and can't be trusted? I hope your answer to this is "NO". At least when you rescue you are not only saving a life, but you also understand that the potential for issues arising is there as the history of the dog is usually unknown. So...you're prepared. You're not promised a great dog and delivered something far from it meanwhile being left alone with no support or tools that can help you deal with it.
Which brings me to my next point. So lets say you've found a reputable breeder, you've asked your questions and you love the answers... That's it, right? Not so fast...
Just like it is your responsibility to research your breeder, it is also the breeder's responsibility to research you. This is often done by a breeder having you fill out an application with questions about your household as well as what your wants and needs are. After you fill out an application the breeder will vet you and schedule a phone call. *It is important to note that different breeders have different methods, but this is generally how it goes.* The reason behind this thorough application process is twofold. 1. The breeder wants to make sure that you are in fact a good fit for one of their puppies. 2. The breeder needs to know that you are also a good fit for them as they will be your biggest support for as long as that dog lives. I for one would never sell a puppy to someone I don't mesh well with, no matter how perfect they may seem on paper. Why would anyone want to obligate and tie themselves to someone they can't see eye to eye with.
Now for the rude awakening... The application process is almost never sunshine and rainbows. Hard questions get asked and you may even feel like the breeder is prying. You might get a flat out "no", or what I personally prefer, a detailed explanation as to why you're not a good fit with constructive suggestions as to what you need to improve on or what kind of breeder would better suit you. In the Dobermann world, for instance, there are many different types of breeders who breed with different goals in mind. I prefer a well rounded dog with a stable temperament while others prefer to focus on drive and workability making their dogs unsuitable for pet homes. That's just two examples out of many. One isn't necessarily better than the other, just different.
Don't get discouraged by the rejection if it does happen, but rather use it for what it is - a learning experience and guidance. If a reputable breeder rejects you, there is always a valid reason why. And if that reason is not given to you straight away, don't be afraid to ask for it. It'll help you learn. Keep in mind that a reputable breeder will know exactly what kind of puppies they are having and they do not take placing them properly into homes lightly. None of us want a puppy to fail in their new home, and we certainly do not wish for you to fail either. It's always better to get rejected than to end up with a dog that's simply not right for you.
Now on to the positive... Let's say you don't get rejected! Awesome job, I'm very proud of you! Chances are however you'll be put on a waitlist as reputable breeders do not breed often and usually have a line of people waiting on a puppy from them. Even if there's room for you in their next litter, there's always a chance that that litter is months away. Don't let this discourage you, stick with it and be patient. It's worth it.
Honestly, I could go on about this and the whole process for days, but I feel like this post is already resembling a novel is I'll just leave you with this: A properly bred and placed dog can be the best thing that's ever happened to you. I know it was to me when I got into this breed. No dog is perfect, but your breeder being there to help and support you makes every milestone and obstacle much easier to achieve and surpass. Contrary to that, buying the first puppy you come across will most likely end many with bad headaches and even worse heartbreak. Don't just go looking for a cute puppy, look for the whole package and you won't be sorry! It will be worth it in the end.