How to choose a Havanese breeder

You are investing thousands of dollars and perhaps 15+ years of your life. The effort you put in to selecting a breeder, and then a dog, will have profound implications for your enjoyment of your new pupppy and the dog’s long-term well being. To help you make an educated decision we are publishing a comprehensive list of ‘red flags’ written by Heather Andrews of Caché Havanese.

Red flags to look for when selecting a Havanese breeder

  • “Our puppies come from champion lines”. This is basically meaningless. I’ve seen this to mean everything from one great-great-great grandsire having his championship in an ‘oops’ breeding to a handful of championed dogs in a pedigree. A breeder claiming champion lines does not mean that you will have a better or healthier dog.
  • “My dogs are health tested” or “my vet has thoroughly checked them over”, but there is little or no health testing documented at offa.org. The dogs are probably not health tested. A lot of back yard breeders (BYB) love their dogs, but are usually not breeding to help better the breed, they typically do not complete health testing that is submitted into the OFA http:www.offa.org. They believe that health testing consist of taking their dogs to the vet for a routine checkup – this is not health testing!
  • A reputable Havanese breeder will conduct and can provide proof of the following genetic health tests on their breeding animals, and will require them of the sire (father) should they ‘hire’ a stud dog for the litter:
  • BAER (hearing)
  • CERF (eyes) yearly
  • OFA (for hip displasia & elbows), a onetime deal done at or after age 2
  • Patella (knees) done at or after age 1
  • Cardiac (heart) done at or after age 1
  • Beware of breeders who scoff at genetic testing and say their particular breed/line is problem-free.
  • Similarly to #2, “My dogs are health tested, but I couldn’t afford to pay to have all the results posted on OFA’s web site.” The major expense is in getting the tests done! The fee to submit the results is pretty minimal. If the breeder could afford to do the health testing, there is no reason they couldn’t shell out the nominal fee to have the results posted.
  • Claims that there have never been any health issues in their lines, without qualification that the reality is that they could crop up and that this was an issue the breeder was actively conscious of.
  • They won’t email you a copy of their standard puppy owner contract, even when asked for this several times. A reputable breeder provides a written contract with the sale of the pup. This will vary from breeder to breeder, but it usually spells out the rights of the seller and buyer, health information, genetic health guarantees (should be at least 2 years), required altering, and buy-back/return policy.
  • A reputable breeder requires that “pet-quality” animals be spayed or neutered and sells them on Limited Registration. Be wary of breeders who do not mention spay/neuter.
  • A reputable breeder shows passion, love, and tremendous knowledge about the breed. He or she cares about placing puppies in excellent homes and will often interview potential buyers thoroughly, will make referrals to the local Havanese rescue group, ask for references and will refuse to sell a dog if the home is not appropriate for the breed or for a puppy.
  • A reputable breeder recommends the local Havanese rescue organization to potential homes, explaining that these dogs make wonderful family pets and companions.
  • Breeds more than one type/breed of dog. Be VERY careful of this. It is hard enough to properly raise and know all you need to know about one breed. The more breeds you have, the less quality they can produce.
  • Has many litters available, more than 1-2 at a time. A breeder who has more than a couple of litters a year. Think about it by the number of puppies: 4 litters in this breed is often 15 or so puppies per year! That’s a lot of dogs being brought into the world in a short time. Also, each breeding should be a masterwork of research and planning; it’d be hard to appropriately research and plan more an a handful a year
  • The environment (typically a home) in which the breeder keeps the dogs should be clean and well-maintained. Do not agree to meet the breeder off site. TRUST YOUR INSTINCTS ON THIS! A breeder that is not reputable discourages or won’t allow you to come to their home for visits, and/or won’t let you meet the parents or other dogs.
  • Breeder’s dogs don’t live in their home. This is a very social breed, they love and need to be with their human contacts, they do not and should not be living outside or in kennels.
  • Doesn’t stress puppy socialization.
  • Have a backyard, garage (or acreage) filled with kennels.
  • A reputable breeder typically has a waiting list for the unborn puppies and does not advertise in the newspaper classifieds.
  • Have a backyard, garage (or acreage) filled with kennels.
  • Be wary of breeders who sells puppies online on commercial type web site like PuppyFind, NextDayPets or advertises on Craigslist or grocery story bulletin boards, or in newspapers. Most reputable breeders do not need to use sites like these; if you are looking for puppies on site like these, chances are the puppies are coming from puppy mills, brokers, and BYB.
  • Be wary of breeders who sells puppies online on commercial type web site like PuppyFind, NextDayPets or advertises on Craigslist or grocery story bulletin boards, or in newspapers. Most reputable breeders do not need to use sites like these; if you are looking for puppies on site like these, chances are the puppies are coming from puppy mills, brokers, and BYB.
  • A reputable breeder will not typically breed dogs under the age of 2.
  • A reputable breeder will hold on to puppies as long as it takes to place them in the right homes and will continue to recommend rescue even though they have puppies available.
  • A reputable breeder is willing to provide answers to questions you may have and is willing to provide names of others who have purchased pups from them.
  • A reputable breeder will allow you to meet the puppies parents if available and, if the father isn’t available, they will show you pictures and provide you with the information on how to contact the owner of the sire (father).
  • A reputable breeder will allow you to meet the puppies parents if available and, if the father isn’t available, they will show you pictures and provide you with the information on how to contact the owner of the sire (father).
  • A reputable breeder follows up on puppies. He or she is interested in how the pups develop physically and mentally, difficulties in the owner/dog relationship and health problems.
  • Most reputable breeders will not let puppies leave their home prior to 10 weeks of age and often not until 12 weeks of age.
  • Reputable breeders have American Kennel Club (AKC) or Canadian Kennel Club (CKC) registered parents and pups. Be careful of the breeders that don’t.
  • Tells you that you have to PAY EXTRA for registration.
  • Claims championships that are not from AKC or CKC.
  • Doesn’t offer a no questions asked return policy (i.e. a breeder should require you to return the puppy to them if you can no longer care for it).
  • Offers to ship your puppy – not always a huge red flag, but I personally don’t like this. There are several ways to get your puppy without it having to go into the cargo hold of a plane.

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