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How to choose a breeder – A Must Read for all aspiring puppy owners…

By April 2, 2014 February 28th, 2019 Uncategorized

Choosing a breeder is a difficult process, so we want to give you some guidelines to consider.

Veterinarians in Markham all agree, many puppies are being bought on impulse – our hearts melt the moment we look into their eyes and we are drawn into the irresistible spiral of the human caring instinct. That’s why we LOVE animals. However, it is better to try to stay rational and do some research before making the jump into puppy-love-land.

We’ve all heard and seen horror stories about puppies who were poorly bred, sick, have genetic diseases, or are behaviourally challenged.

Anyone can call himself a “breeder”


  • puppy mills
  • backyard breeders
  • dog traders
  • wholesalers
  • champion breeders
  • registered breeders, etc.

Regardless of where you buy your pup from, you might end up with the perfect dog or in buyers’ remorse. Read on to find out what you need to look for…

Visit the Breeder:

Veterinarians in Markham all agree that you should know exactly where your pup is coming from. Make sure you can see the mother of your pup, visit the breeding facility, and maybe even see the father.

Look at where the puppies are being housed. If the conditions are poor… think again. If the pups are raised in the house with the family, chances are you will get a well-socialized pup that is easier to train.


Talk to the breeder and ask them what genetic traits they are breeding for and which issues they are trying to eliminate from the breed. Do your homework first and “google” the breed. Many breeding associations list what they want to achieve and diseases to be aware of with this breed.

In general, breeders who are registered with a kennel club are more serious about producing healthy puppies, however just because the bloodlines come from champions does NOT ensure you are dealing with the best genetic material. Judges base their evaluation not only on genetics (genotype), but also on phenotype criteria like haircut, proud looks, behaviour during the dog show – clearly leaving the results quite subjective.


It is best to get references from previous buyers and speak to them. Ask the breeder for the medical record of the puppy: Pups should have been vaccinated and examined at least once by a VETERINARIAN prior to sale. Make sure you see the veterinarian’s address and signature on the documents. It is easy to fake a certificate. Good breeders give some worm medication to the puppies every few weeks. Look for that.

Ask the breeder what kind of guarantee they offer. A reasonable guarantee would be a 48 hour return guarantee with the condition of a post-purchase examination. You should bring your pup to an independent veterinarian, and if an existing genetic or serious health problem is found you should have the right to return your pup within 48 hours for a full refund.


Other common guarantees are for certain genetic conditions which occur later in life, like hip dysplasia. Many breeders guarantee that if you pup is diagnosed with this condition within a set time (1 –2 years?) you can return the pup and receive another one in return. This is reasonable and shows that the breeder is serious about eliminating the genetic condition from their blood lines, but genetics is complicated and nobody can be 100% certain.

Red Flags:

Be aware of gimmicky guarantees though: We’ve seen lots of sales contracts specifying that the puppy is guaranteed only if a certain brand of food is fed (and sometimes this type of food is available only from the breeder).

Be careful about breeders who insist on certain medical protocols and who claim to know more than veterinarians about their breed. For instance, breeders often insist that a female should not be spayed until after the first heat, or that some vaccinations are harmful to the breed. They are presenting their personal view from anecdotal experience, but not with the medical judgment of a professionally trained licensed veterinarian.

At our veterinary clinic in Markham, we encourage all potential new puppy owners to allow us to speak with the breeders by phone prior to you making the selection. Good breeders are open to this and are happy to be a crucial part of the team. Breeders who resist this phone call make it more difficult to gain confidence – probably not a good choice to buy your pup there.

If you are not sure, we at the Animal Hospital of Unionville are here to help. We’d love to help you select the right breed for you and your family and help you with selecting a breeder.

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Dr. Ernst Marsig, veterinarian in Markham

Practicing Veterinary Medicine in Markham for a Long and Happy Life of ALL Your Pets.

Animal Hospital of Unionville, a veterinary clinic on the north side of  Hwy 7, serving all pets in Markham, Richmond Hill, Scarborough, Stouffville, and North York since 1966. We are your family vets for dogs, cats, pocket pets (rabbits, chinchillas, gerbils, mice, rats, hamsters, guinea pigs, skinny pigs, etc.), ferrets, and birds (budgies, cockatiel, parrots, amazon, cockatoo, love birds, conures, African greys, finches, canaries, etc.).

Disclaimer: No part of this website constitutes medical advice. Readers are advised to consult with their veterinarian.


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