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All of us who breed more than one litter of toy dogs per year are sooner or later faced with the necessity of selling pets, or as we like to refer to them, companions. Some breed only for their own use to have something to show; others breed because they just like to have puppies but don’t show; then there are those of us that are seriously attempting to establish a champion quality line of our own. It is from this latter category that you will produce the most companions, no matter how hard you try to always breed for champion quality puppies.

I have purposely avoided mentioning those who are breeding dogs only for profit. To me, this is something that should never be allowed and includes both “puppy mills” and “back yard breeders”. Knowing how difficult it is to stop this sort of operation, I am going to speak only to those breeders who we feel are “reputable”, or at least are passing themselves off as such.

Puppies can now be spayed or neutered at a very young age. If the puppy you are selling is old enough, the best guarantee that you are protecting your bloodlines is to have the surgery done before selling the dog. If it is not old enough for the surgery, the next best thing is to make sure you have a contract that states when it should be done. If this is the case, then be sure it also states that you may repossess the puppy if the buyer does not abide by the terms of the contract. It is also important to add that the buyer will pay all “liquidated damages” or the contract may not hold up in court. Mark your calendar and check up on the buyer to make sure that the surgery has been done. One breeder told me that she has gotten a forged veterinary certificate. Call their office. Make sure it was actually done. Another statement that should be in your contract is that if for any reason the buyer cannot keep the dog, it is to be returned to the seller. This helps prevent dogs from being shifted from one place to another and possibly ending up in animal shelters.

AKC would like to see the registration go with the puppy at the time of the sale. I, personally, do not feel that this is always the best way to handle it. If selling on a spay/neuter contract, then the sale is not finalized until proof of the surgery. AKC has also provided us with the Limited Registration. Believe me, this will not keep people from breeding their pets! They can still prove that their dog is registered. A lot of pet buyers don’t really care about the papers.

Now, how can you best protect your line from falling into the wrong hands? When someone contacts you and wants to buy, make sure you ask questions. Why do they want your breed, do they want only a companion, are they interested in showing or breeding? Find out the ages of children in the home, how the puppy will be housed, whether or not they have a fenced yard and do they have other dogs. Will the puppy travel with them, stay home, go for walks? By asking the right questions you will be able to read between the lines and get a feel of whether or not you think it will be a suitable home for your puppy. Now is the time to tell any and all respective pet buyers that all your puppies are either spayed/neutered before they are sold, or it is the responsibility of the buyer to have it done. Hesitation on the part of the buyer at this point should be a red flag! Don’t fall for the “we just want one litter so we can give puppies to our friends”, or “we want the children to witness the miracle of birth” routines. You won’t hear again from the ones that were looking for a puppy to breed. Many breeders have sold puppies without these restrictions only to find someone advertising pets for sale “from champion bloodlines” (yours) a year later. Don’t let this happen!

If you sell an unaltered companion to someone out of your area it is much harder to make sure the dog won’t be used for breeding. Many times, these have ended up producing litters, some which end up in the puppy mills. How would you feel if someone called you up and told you they had checked on some puppies in a pet shop and the parents or grandparents came from your kennel? Do you think this doesn’t happen? Do you care? If so, spay and neuter. Check up on the ones you sell. A system of networking between breeders is a good idea. Before selling out of your area, check with other breeders to make sure there isn’t adverse information about the buyer. Then if you do sell, find someone you can trust to keep an eye on that person. Also, be willing to do that for others.

Sometimes, even selling your show prospects to show homes turns out to be different than you had hoped. Even though you sell your companions on spay/neuter contracts, will they do the same? If not, then your kennel name will show up on pet puppies that are being used for breeding. Believe me, there are bloodlines from several of the top kennels in the country in the midwest and southern puppy mills. The reason for this is that some breeders, who consider themselves reputable, are not selling their puppies and adults on spay/neuter contracts. In talking to others about this article, one breeder sent me the following: “One person sold a basket of Pekingese (with bloodlines from a VERY well known kennel) outside of Walmart, in Springdale , Arkansas for $75 each.” The only way we can be reasonably sure this is not going to happen to puppies from our lines is to spay/neuter our companion puppies and retired adults before placing them in pet homes.

Unfortunately, there is no sure way to decide who is, and who isn’t, a reputable breeder. I suspect that everyone who is breeding for show is not always looking out for the best interest of the dogs! I have recently heard of two different pet buyers who have gone to “breeders” homes for a companion, and both declined to buy because of the condition of the dogs and the house they lived in.

Education is the key, but how do we get this information out to the public? Our breed club has a breeder referral system, and many all-breed clubs keep ads in the local papers with phone numbers to call for information. If dog shows were better advertised to the public, pet buyers could go there to meet the different breeders. As a show breeder I think it is important to keep in touch with other breeders and pass information along when we know of a specific person who should not own our dogs. However, we must be careful not to indulge in smear tactics just because we disagree with someone.

If you are a serious reputable breeder, join your parent club. Sign the code of ethics. Spay and neuter your pets. Don’t forget that we are the keeper of the next generation of great ones. Always have their best interest at heart.