Finding the right breeder to provide you with the furry love of your life is an arduous process. There are a lot of breeders out there. How do you know who is worth your time and money? While references are very important, they really need to be references that give you information about important things. Any breeder can have positive references. There are many people, members of our site even, who got their doodles from backyard breeders and puppy mills (unbeknown to them at the time) who have WONDERFUL, well adjusted, healthy, beautiful doodles. So based simply on testimonials one could jump to the conclusion that "Pie In the Sky Kennels" (don't think that is any real kennel) is a wonderful place to get a doodle...because how could they NOT be when Bob, Sue, and Jane all have wonderful doodles from that kennel, right? WRONG. Simply knowing someone that has a dog from "Pie in the Sky Kennels" and knowing that particular dog to be fabulous doesn't prove the breeder is an ethical, reputable breeder. Puppy mills have fooled many an ignorant buyer! I know others who have pet store pups (99% of pet store pups DO come from puppy mills) who turned out GREAT! But for every great labradoodle or goldendoodle that comes out of an unethical or sub-standard breeding program are many others with lots of problems, many others who suffer, many others who end up in shelters or rescue because the breeders they came from sold a bunch of lies and would never take back a dog they sold. So I caution everyone seeking a doodle to look past the glowing testimonials and get down to the FACTS about the breeder. Dig deep and confirm that they are following the highest standards...because if they are not, why are they bringing more puppies into this world? There isn't a real shortage. Thus it's not whether 10 or 100 people can praise the breeder...it's whether the breeder is committed to doing things as well as they should be done. So What Should You Look for In a Breeder? 1) A responsible doodle breeder does not sugar-coat the truth and sell false promises about doodles. Doodles are awesome dogs. But they are not a consistent breed. One doodle does not equal another doodle. And blanket statements about them cannot be made. There are also a lot of myths floating around that good breeders do not promote. For example, promising "non-shedding" or "hypoallergenic" is misleading because MANY doodles (even multi-gens) CAN and DO shed. NO dog is hypo-allergenic. I know two people who have had allergic responses to poodles (and poodles are non-shedding). So it's not as simple as it sounds. Other misleading claims about doodles would include: Perfect dog! Easy to train! Super obedient! They might be these things...but many of our DK members struggle with training issues like counter surfing, pulling on leash, and jumping up on people on a regular basis. It takes commitment and effort to train a doodle as it does with any other typical family dog. A responsible breeder doesn't claim that doodles are the perfect dog. As much as I LOVE doodles and I can't imagine anyone not loving them...they are not for everyone. Responsible doodle breeders know the pros and cons of owning this mix and that not all dogs are the right fit for all people. I mean it's hard to fault someone in love with the dog they breed...they will be enthusiastic and that's not a bad thing. They should be able to glow about doodles. But just be sure they are also being realistic and not just 'selling.' And a good breeder certainly don't claim that 'hybrid vigor' makes them immune to common breed diseases. Because all doodles can inherit the diseases common in labs, goldens and poodles if improperly bred. 2) A responsible breeder only breeds dogs that have passed rigorous health testing. This means MORE than yearly vet check-ups. What health testing has been done on the parent dogs? Two dogs may seem perfectly healthy on the outside and may even pass their yearly checkups at the vet with flying colors--but a lot of diseases are not visible to the naked eye. Without rigorous health testing, a number of conditions can be passed down to puppies. For starters, ask to see PROOF that they have passing OFA or PennHIP hip scores on both parents. Then ask for proof of eye clearance either through CERF or PRA. CERF must be done annually and PRA is a genetic test that need only be done once for clearance. Von Willebrands disease is a bleeding disorder similar to hemophilia...poodles have it more often than retrievers, but it can be found in Goldens too...so ask for genetic clearance for this disease too. Beyond that many do basic genetic testing for all sorts of things and of course annual vet clearances...but just vet clearances aren't enough. Breeders bring new dogs in to the world...if they don't care to do all they can to ensure optimum health...go to someone else who does. Read this article for more information on the potential health problems in doodles and why choosing a breeder carefully is critical: http://www.doodlekisses.com/forum/topics/potential-health-problems-in 3) How many different breeds does the breeder breed? Responsible breeders typically stick to one or two breeds and do those well. However, if you see several different breeds on a breeder's website...that is almost always a red flag. Similarly, how many dogs are on the property? Are they essentially a HUGE commercial kennel? It's possible to put out good dogs while you have 30+ dogs on your property...but I highly doubt the parent dogs get the love, attention and training they would if they were family pets. And realistically, it's not an easy feat to find healthy dogs worthy of breeding (with excellent temperaments from known lineages and responsible breeding programs)...let alone a huge number of them. 3) Does the breeder offer a decent health warranty? Most are called "Health Guarantees" but for the sake of clarity I want to make sure everyone understands a breeder can't truly 'guarantee' everything. But they can give you a warranty. Every breeder should offer the short term health warranty (3 to 5 days) on basic puppy health. But a truly responsible breeder who stands behind what he/she produces will also offer a minimum two year health warranty on the puppy you purchase. Anything less than that isn't very helpful because many hereditary conditions take time to develop. Read the health warranty as if your puppy has now developed hip dysplasia at one year of age. What compensation would you want? Ideally, you would get monetary reimbursement for at least half the money you spent on the dog to help with vet bills. Would you really want to return the dog you now love? Probably not! Would reimbursement with a new puppy really help you when you have major vet bills? Not one bit! So look carefully at what the health warranty offers you and think about how well that will sit with you if you should need it. 4) What are the parents like? Your puppy will inherit a lot of its personality traits from the parents. If you can meet the parents that is ideal. This is where recommendations from others come in handy...when you can't physically visit the property. But I recommend making a day's drive over there even if it is far...you'll be soon committing to 15 years of dog ownership...a weekend trip is totally worth it! 5) What is the breeder's home like? Is it clean? Does it appear to be a safe place for dogs? If you can visit the premises that is ideal. Make a weekend trip of it as after all you're about to commit to a new family member, a weekend trip is worth it! Otherwise please get recommendations from those who have seen the premises and met the breeder in person. 6) How are puppies raised? What does the breeder do for early socialization and enrichment as the puppies develop? Are puppies raised in a barn with very little human interaction? Occasionally there are kennel raised pups who are given a tremendous amount of socialization and care...but those situations are a bit more rare. Are puppies raised in the home where they can learn the sights and sounds of home living? This is typically recommended when wanting to buy a pet who will live with you in the home. 7) Is the breeder asking as many questions as you ask the breeder? While you should have many questions for the breeder--the breeder should also be interviewing you in return. You want a breeder that is picky about who the puppies go to--this means they're doing their best to ensure that any puppies they sell will go to a forever home. Breeders that sell to anyone who can write a check aren't worth supporting with your money. 8) What is the breeders return policy? While a puppy is certainly not the same as a toaster oven or other item that one would return to a store--if for any reason if you are unable to keep your puppy a good breeder will ALWAYS take it back. This shows that the breeder has taken responsibility for the puppy he/she has brought into this world and wants to prevent any puppies from ending up in a shelter. So check the contract to ensure that the breeder is always willing to take a puppy back if necessary. I have known a number of doodle owners who due to life circumstances could no longer keep their labradoodle or goldendoodle. Their breeders refused to help either because they were 'just a family breeder' or didn't want to take responsibility at all. Now don't get me wrong...don't expect a breeder to pay you for your doodle if you can't/won't keep it a year later. But a good breeder will help you out and take the puppy to rehome it if life changes course for you. THAT'S RESPONSIBILITY, CARE, and COMMITMENT and a breeder that is worth supporting! It comes down to principle; supporting those who have only the best intentions for the dogs they create. It means putting value on things done responsibly more than the personality of the breeder or the number of references. Please...support only those breeders striving to keep the bar set high for their practices. While Doodle Kisses does not endorse or screen breeders, we do allow breeder members to post their litters/puppies/dogs for sale in a couple of groups. It is up to you to weed out the good breeders and the saying "Buyer Beware" still applies. Nevertheless, you can get ideas of places to look to start you in your search at some of the links below: Our two sales groups on Doodle Kisses Goldendoodle Puppies for Sale Labradoodle Puppies for Sale Also check our owner recommended breeder group for recommendations: http://www.doodlekisses.com/group/ownerrecommendedbreeders And finally some other non-DK related breeder lists to give you more ideas of places to check: -- Premium Breeder List -- Goldendoodles.com Breeder List -- Goldendoodle Association of North America Breeder List -- Australian Labradoodle Association of America Breeder Members

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  • I would add : Ask if you can contact owners from previous litters.
  • Where are the puppies raised? If the puppies are merely in the back yard, kennel or other area not with the family your puppy will not be accustom to those things that happen in a normal house (kids, vacuum, doorbell, telephone, chairs that make noise when moved, doors closing, proper potty routine, TV... If your new companion is to live in your backyard, basement or kennel then these environments are ok but if your dog is going to live in your house it should have been raised in one.

    Does the Breeder work out of the home and away from the puppies? Socializing puppies takes a lot of work, it is a full time job! So if a breeder has a full time job, comes home to kids and school activities when are puppies being socialized? Who feeds the puppies while the breeder is at work? Puppies eat at least 3 times a day. Who picks up their poop? Puppies poop nearly 3 times for every 1 time they eat! Puppies will walk in their poop if it isn't picked up, they play in their water.
  • Ask to view the documents that support the health testing that has been done or that has been stated was done. I have yet to meet any breeder who is meticulous about testing not want to share that. And just like a vet exam for clearance is not the equivilant of such testing, "of champion lines" also does not equate to proper health testing.
  • Thanks Adina! Valuable information for all. Please feel free to join in the "BackYard Breeder" discussion group to post your experiences!
    • And this has all made me think we ALSO need an article titled: "So You Want to Breed Your Doodle..."
      • Yes, I think that is a VERY good idea. I have had some emails asking me to post to the Bay Area doodle owners group list inquiries for "stud" dogs. Of course, I don't but try to supply the inquirer with information about breeding. Would be nice to have that info on this site.
  • Hey all... this thread is to get suggestions for a what people should look for in a breeder. It is not to denigrate any breeders program because they don't do some particular test or have a certain registration. There is room for difference of opinion without offense being taken. We are looking for a lowest common denominator, NOT insisting that all puppies get the "Clark Pearson Umbilicus Test" or they aren't properly tested. (As a side note, VERY few dogs in the whole world have had that test done. Thule scored very well... Rosco is now very good; but he was weak as a puppy. Cass, as always, scored excellent.)

    So as the saying goes "The only thing that two breeders will ever agree upon is that a third breeder is doing it ALL wrong!" Funny, yes. But there is a grain of truth in it.

    Let's not let that stop us from getting a good list of things people should look for in a breeder.
    Thx!
  • I've updated this post...so thought I'd bump it up to see what everyone thinks.
  • This information is so valuable. I would not have known to ask about OFA,PennHIP hip scores, CERF or PRA. I would just look for the cutest puppy and rely on love at first sight. If it did not make me sneeze, the environment appeared clean, a warranty was provided and the puppy was not too costly I would purchase it. I have a lot to learn. Thank you so much.
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