A show breeder cares more about producing a beautiful, healthy, long lived, gentle dog than about the money they receive from the puppies. In fact, the average show dog with genetic clearances, health checks plus the expenses of showing the dog far outweigh any money ever received for puppies.
For example, take a champion line of an breed such as a Rhodesian Ridgeback, Basenji, Bernese Mountain dog or other uncommon breed. Both the mother and father will be fed the top quality foods, provided vet care by the top vets, receive a guarantee of typically two years or more for health and temperament, and have had thousands or tens of thousands of dollars of show expenses, including entry fees, handlers and travel expenses. It is not uncommon for a successful show dog to have $25,000 or more expended on its life and career prior to breeders’ health expenses and vet care, which can cost well into the thousands of dollars. So when you pay $2,000 or $3,000 dollars for a puppy from a top show breeder, remember that both mother and father could have had a combined total of $50,000 or more to get to the point where they were deemed worthy of being bred and producing puppies. There is a reason that show dogs look very similar to each other and all seem to possess the same qualities.
Anyone who has watched the famous dog shows where top dogs compete, will invariably say “Wow, all of the look exactly the same!” and yes, that is the way it should be. All of those breeders are striving for the same perfection in the breed standard. Conversely, walk into a pet store or a “puppy mill” of any size or a “backyard breeder” who sells a “purebred pedigree dog” for $500 or even less, and you will see little resemblance between the dogs, other than perhaps a general color and the fact that they all have four legs and a tail.
So you may ask yourself, “Since I’m not looking for a show dog, why does it matter? I’m only looking for a pet and not a show dog.” Great question! Much in the same way that a non-show breeder, such as a “puppy mill” or “backyard breeder” produces dogs who do not resemble each other physically, so will those dogs not resemble perfection inside with good health and temperament. So yes, it does matter that you purchase a purebred dog NOT from a pet store or “backyard breeder”, but rather from someone who has dedicated his or her life and finances to perfecting the health, temperament, conformation and longevity of a specific breed.
Also, be wary of people breeding many different breeds of dogs. Most show breeders will only breed one breed, although some may breed a second type but you will quickly see differences in quality of dogs inside and out. A show breeder will often have what they consider to be a “pet quality dog”. A pet quality dog is one who is perhaps a tad too short, a bit too long in the back or whose feet are not quite as tightly conformed. They might not be quite as perfect to the standard as the “show puppies” are. Nonetheless, that breeder will stand behind the puppies he or she produces, and even give you a contract which you will need to sign, that if for any reason you are not able to keep the puppy or dog, that you will agree to return the dog to the breeder and never to a shelter or just advertise the dog “free to a good home”.
A show breeder cares about every dog or puppy he or she produces. A backyard breeder will find any uninformed buyer. Worst of all, backyard breeders and puppy mill may potentially even falsify parentage leading you to believe you have a purebred dog when you really don’t. We have seen numerous situations of people purchasing puppies from backyard breeders and pet stores, when the dog was promised to be a purebred chihuahua, maltese or other breed but DNA actually proved the dogs were not at all purebred.
In fact one of Janice’s favorite clients purchased a pet store Chihuahua, promised to be no more than 5 or 6 pounds. The owner paid $2,800 dollars for this supposedly purebred chihuahua. The dog ended up weighing over 22 lbs. and was the size of a medium beagle. It was severely aggressive and reactive. When Janice arrived at the home, the dog latched onto her leg as it had done to the last 8 or 10 people who had walked into the woman’s house. The woman apologized profusely and explained that this was what was happening with everyone who walked into the house, even her daughter who lived there. Janice worked with the dog, and the woman was able to see progress very quickly but there was still an “edge” this dog possessed that did not allow it to truly settle and relax. During the appointment, Janice inquired as to which rescue the dog came from. The woman replied, “I purchased this dog from a local pet store as a puppy and they told me it was a purebred Chihuahua, but I’ve never seen one this big.” Janice suggested a DNA test and several weeks later, when the test results were returned, Janice received a phone call from the owner. The DNA test results showed that the dog in fact was only half Chihuahua and a quarter each of two larger breeds, both of which were rather dominant types of dog breeds. Janice suggested that the woman go back to the petstore with the results of the DNA test and ask for the money back, as well as all the training costs and behavioral work. The woman returned to the petstore. The pet store refused, stating that DNA tests were not reliable, and that they only got puppies from “reputable breeders”. The woman decided to take the pet store to court and won a judgement of three times the initial cost of the puppy plus vet bills and behavioral modification costs.
Pet stores NEVER purchase puppies from AKC show breeders of merit because the code of ethics and standards of integrity specifically preclude the sale of any puppy, either via internet or other venue, without specifically meeting the family in person, or selling to any third party such as a pet store or broker. So caveat emptor, let the buyer beware.