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I'm not sure if I overstepped or if these are signs of a unethical breeder


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Recently, I wrote an email to a breeder asking about her pups. Some of the questions I received answers to but I got very particular answers to and an almost angry response. Now I'll admit I don't know if these questions were rude, so please inform me so I can avoid, but please also state why it was rude so I don't make an similar mistake.

 

1. What health testing do you have done before you breed your dogs?

 

2. How are puppies selected; do prospective owners choose or do you have another method?

 

3. On average how many litters do you have a year?

 

4. What interaction do you have you your dogs/ the puppies?

 

5. Do you do any sort of training/socialization while the pups are still with you?

 

6. Do you have any previous owner references?

 

7. What do you charge for a deposit? How much do you charge per puppy?

 

8. Has any past puppies have any serious or minor health problems? What happened?

 

 

The first question she responded about the tests she has cleared, no problem, talked a little about health issues. So okay cool. She told me owners pick after she picks out who she wants. Also fine.

 

But then it starts to get weird, and I'm not sure if I shouldn't have asked or if these are signs of an unethical breeder.

 

She refused to tell me how many litters a year she has. She refused any references saying that all breeders have had people who have problems. She refused to say whether or not there were ever occurrences of health issues because all breeders have had issues. Saying that issues with previous owners and their pets have nothing to do with me and my potential pet.

 

She told me while my questions might be good one's most breeders would just delete my inquiry because of these questions.

 

 

Is this true? Are my questions inappropriate? I do suspect that there are people who didn't like what they paid for and their are people who have, I think it's fair to have both sides of the story before you buy. I also was more interested in her response to dogs she's sold who had problems. I've asked this question before and the breeder told me about how one of the puppies developed retinal detachment in her older years and she offer the owners to trade in for another puppy or a refund (the owners wanted to keep her) and she took the parents out of the breeding program.

 

But I am worried breeders aren't going to bother with me because I sound stupid. Help!

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I don't think your questions sound inappropriate, or stupid. Especially asking for a previous puppy buyer reference.

 

My only thought is that she may have been concerned about putting something in writing that may come back to bite her in the ass later, especially if you turned out to be less of a potential puppy buyer and more of an animal rights person.

 

She doesn't know you, and you were conversing on email. Maybe in the future talk on the phone, or in person if that makes sense, or offer her your references etc before asking her the questions.

 

That said, if you don't have a comfortable relationship with your breeder, it can make buying a puppy a negative experience, so if your gut tells you that you and she would clash, then I'd look elsewhere.

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They all sound pretty reasonable to me - I'd want to know those things before selecting a breeder/pup from a breeder! And if you've got a good breeding program, you should be able to answer those questions pretty well!

 

Sure a person or two might have issues - but what about all the satisfied customers?? You won't disclose how many litters a year? Big red flag! And yup, you owe it to the dogs you are breeding to keep track of health issues. If you are breeding/producing generally sound, healthy dogs, no problem. But saying anyone could have an issue and that it's not relevant to a prospective puppy buyer. Nope, not buying it - what exactly are you trying to cover up?.

 

IMO, The only one that *might* be questionable for a beginning questions is #8 I can see that a breeder *might* refrain from answering that until they know you a little better. But I definitely would want that question answered before I bought a pup from them.

 

And another question that should be on your list for a Border Collie breeder is what type of stock work does your dog work regularly? What trials are you involved in?

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I'm pretty much with Maralynn on this one. All of the questions you asked were perfectly valid. Refusing to answer the one about number of litters would be a huge red flag for me, and the fact that she won't give references from previous puppy buyers means that she either doesn't keep track of past litters or has enough dissatisfied customers to be leery of giving out any names. Either case is not good.

 

As far as talking via e-mail vs. phone, frankly I'd prefer to answer such questions via e-mail because I could do it at my convenience and make sure I had on hand all the information you requested. None of those questions were so difficult as to require research for an answer though. Unlike Rushdoggie, I don't think answering questions in an e-mail would set a breeder up for trouble later. It's easy enough to say that you haven't had any major health issues in the past and then add the caveat that breeding is as much an art as a science and there can be no guarantees about how chromosomes will divide and match up, and so lack of past health problems doesn't *guarantee* none in future litters.

 

FWIW, as someone who has bred, if you asked those questions, I'd be perfectly happy to answer all of them, and I would expect the same of any breeder from whom I wished to buy a puppy. Run, don't walk, from this breeder. And keep asking questions! IMO they don't make you sound stupid; they make you sound like someone who is doing her homework and trying to find a good breeder of good dogs.

 

J.

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I think it's smells of someone wanting to "out" her breeding practices, even though they are all great questions. If someone thought you were out to defame them, maybe they have a reason to worry. Tat alone would be a red flag on either side, unless you were an upstanding breeding person with nothing to hide.

 

I tried to read yourquestions as if you were directing them to me(even though I'm not a breeder)

I'd of had no problems answering them with the idea that I might respond to some questions by email then ask you if we could continue our conservation in person if you were interested in going further with a puppy purchase.

 

All good questions, if it were me, I'd work on the presentation. Although it does count out a lot of breeders right off the bat that don't want to answer them and that could be a good thing.

 

Only stupid question is one that isn't asked. At least that's what my algebra teacher told me!

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Thank you everyone.

 

I did actually offer my phone number for her to call me but she chose to reply in email. I understand not wanting things coming back on you, and I also understand not all breeding is going to produce 100% perfect and healthy dogs, maybe I should have stressed that more. I was only interested in her responses to unhealthy puppies.

 

Well, now I'm not sure if I should just not respond to her email or if I should say something, any suggestions?

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As one who has never bred or purchased a PB anything from anybody, I think your questions sound fair and resonable. I would think a reputable breeder would welcome the opportunity to help educate a prospective buyer.

 

 

 

or offer her your references etc before asking her the questions.

 

 

 

A huge thank you to rushdoggie for this suggestion! I never would have thought of offering my references. Very timely as I am beginning to network with the local Irish Wolfhound folks in my new state of Texas. I am a Wolfie mom wannabe! :D

 

God Bless Texas! post-8416-025390200 1294769665_thumb.jpg

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All the questions are fair. I might have worded the last a little more carefully, but as a puppy buyer I would want to know the answers to all of them and more.

 

There is no reason at all to refuse to answer #3 unless you are a puppy mill/commercial breeder. In my case I only have the time and resources to care for so many dogs, which limits me to a litter every few years. Some people may be able to handle a few litters a year if they are selling trained dogs.

 

One important question to ask is "Do you keep at least one pup from every litter?" I don't like to see breeders producing litters just to sell pups.

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As a person who breeds occasionally, I would look at those questions and think, " Wow! this person is really going about things the right way!" I would have no problem answering these questions. As others have said...run!

A

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Seems to me that those questions are pretty basic questions. If she were being careful about having her answers in writing, she could of said lets just make an appointment for a phone interview (IMO). Im not too familiar with dog breeders but I would expect some type of logical answer to all of those questions. I would probably keep looking around. She should be happy to have a prospective owner ask these questions because it makes you look good as a pet owner.

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As someone who breeds animals (not dogs, but your questions would still apply) I'm with stockdogranch...I would love for a prospective new owner to come to me with those questions and I'd be happy to honestly answer all of them. Those are good questions to ask. A refusal to answer indicates they probably have something to hide.

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I agree with the others, those questions are not unreasonable at all. when I contacted Electa's breeder(I got her through a 3rd party, I had never spoken to her breeder before) I inquired about health in her bloodline and she disclosed everything random, accidental or otherwise and gave me the contact to her sires breeder for farther down that side, and that was our very first contact, her never having heard of me before.

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Well, now I'm not sure if I should just not respond to her email or if I should say something, any suggestions?

 

I actually WOULD respond ... politely, of course, but I would respond. I'd simply do something like thank her for responding, and expressing that you're disappointed that she wouldn't answer your questions because you're looking to invest a lot of time and energy in your new puppy, and hoped to establish a relationship with a breeder who could mentor you. I'd let her know that you contacted several breeders who were open to addressing all your queries, and were glad that you asked them, so you've decided to go with another breeder who is more open to establishing a solid relationship. And thank her again for her time. That'll give her something to chew on, let her know she lost a "customer" to another "seller" and might make her rethink her responses next time. Or else she won't care, but either way you've let her know that she's not someone you'd buy from ... politely, of course. Then, run away.

 

RDM

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Recently, I wrote an email to a breeder asking about her pups. Some of the questions I received answers to but I got very particular answers to and an almost angry response. Now I'll admit I don't know if these questions were rude, so please inform me so I can avoid, but please also state why it was rude so I don't make an similar mistake.

 

1. What health testing do you have done before you breed your dogs?

 

2. How are puppies selected; do prospective owners choose or do you have another method?

 

3. On average how many litters do you have a year?

 

4. What interaction do you have you your dogs/ the puppies?

 

5. Do you do any sort of training/socialization while the pups are still with you?

 

6. Do you have any previous owner references?

 

7. What do you charge for a deposit? How much do you charge per puppy?

 

8. Has any past puppies have any serious or minor health problems? What happened?

 

 

Am not sure how you found this breeder. But I'm assuming that since you had an email and knew they had pups they at least have a website? Most of these question could be answer from a website. Most have a past pup area or something of the sort that say how the dogs are doing. But the how many litter a year should be answer from the website. But for me unless I knew you more I would see that question as a red flag. Also from what I gather if you ask the price of the dog in the first email most breeder will automatically write you off. Also not unless they get premission froma buyer not all breeder are going to be willing to just throw names out to a stranger(i hope!!!).

 

For me if I was a breeder I would be leary since: 1 you tell me nothing about yourself(given you didn't post the whole email?). 2 You ask nothing about the parent. 3 You ask nothing about the pup or litter. 4 you asked very generic question. Almost as if you copy and paste this from another website with no research in the breed. If you come across as having done no or little research in the breed, of your choice, is generally a red flag for breeder then asking about cost too... at least it would send me a bad vibe! 5 you ask about all the dogs. If I have 3 unrelated bitches. Bitch 1 produced an unstable pup, and another pup got HD from a 2 second breeding. Bitch 2 is too young to produce. Bitch 3 is the one she is currently breeding for the 2nd time. A buyer from bitch 3 first litter is upset her puppy isn't learning as fast as her other dog but other then that no complaints. Should she tell you about Bitch 1 "problem" pups or give you the name and address of the person who is upset about her "dumb" puppy? Maybe I am not explaining myself clearer? o.0

 

LOL Maybe its just my backgroud. I ask only about the dogs that catch my eye. ANd will research who they have produced or what they have accomplished. Health clearance should be available in the OFA database as long as you know the register names. Or at least look into their backgroud. WHo is their daddy and mommy? What type of dogs have they produce? And the almight pedigree. ;-) just joking about the pedigree slightly.

 

Not saying you shouldn't run from them since they gave you less then satisfaction answer and left you with a bad feeling...

 

EX: My sister was looking for a pup awhile ago. SHe sent a really nice breeder a short and generic question like your and that was it. The breeder never responded to that email sister waited like 3 months. My sister was disapointed since she really like this breeder. I told my sister to email her again this time I would help her. I had her add more info about herself and ask more to the point questions. Instead of "health test" she ask about CEA, CL, and Epilepsy(or testing border collies should clear. I know there is no test for epilepsy). Instead of asking about all the dogs I had her narrow it down and ask specific questins on THOSE dogs only(personality,quirks,fears,etc). She got an email with in a week with a detail response and thanking her for her indept questions. :)

 

:-( Not sure if I should put on my flame retardant suit?

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SS Cressa, as you clearly pointed out with the example of your sister, people who are not "in the dog fancy" might not understand that these questions could potentially be taken the wrong way. This type of person represents probably 95% of dog owners out there. An experienced breeder should understand this and try to be forgiving and understanding when a "pet" person contacts them. Otherwise that breeder should focus on only selling pups to people who are already immersed in the dog world. JMHO

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SS Cressa,

Your response assumes that the breeder to which the OP wrote had multiple litters to choose from. I assumed that HeatherRae saw one litter advertised and wrote to ask about it. The only time there would be confusion of the sort you note is if the breeder always has multiple litters and multiple breeding dogs and so wouldn't know to which litter or parents the person e-mailing was asking about. Your point is a good one for someone approaching a breeder with multiple dogs, but I think most people--those of us who don't breed often--would simply assume that the person e-mailing was inquiring about the most recent litter or planned litter and not one litter and breeding pair out of many. And besides, if the breeder has so many breeding dogs and litters that it's not immediately obvious which dogs the person e-mailing is asking about, then that wouldn't be a breeder I'd even consider in the first place.

 

We don't know if what HR posted was the sum of her entire e-mail, and it's interesting to me that the working breeders on this list were unanimous in finding nothing wrong with HR's questions. Maybe it's a culture thing.

 

J.

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I think a good breeder should have reasonable answers or information when it is requested. Maybe not to the letter for each question, but at least a good overview of their breeding practices, their accomplishments with their dogs, and the health of their animals.

 

These are not unreasonable requests and should not be treated as such. If you've got a website, you can at least have a decent form letter prepared to send out to email inquiries outlining some of the above info. Put yourself out there as a breeder and there is some basic PR etiquette that should be followed.

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SS Cressa,

Your response assumes that the breeder to which the OP wrote had multiple litters to choose from.

J.

 

:) No I assume the breeder had multiple bitches. I know I have emailed breeder asking about one of their bitches who might be getting bred in the future. Or if a dog(boy) has caught my eye I might drop the breeder a line asking if they have any furture breeding line up for him. I assume other breeder have had it done also? Unless you say what you are interested in how will they know? But it might just be a culture thing? **shrug** Don't know the breeder so she could really well be a bad breeder.

 

Might add more later... have to go play with dogs and make a cake for Troy-boy's birthday. :)

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sscressa..the OP stated they were inquiring about a current litter the breeder had, not a random future possability, in which case, it SHOULD be obvious who she is asking about unless she had multiple litters. either way the question should not be off putting, what if someone was just looking to get to know the breder for the future and had no specific dogs in mind? I have done it, I chatted with a Toller breeder for over a year just to get to know her for the future, and I asked her all kinds of questions like that, I had no interest whatsoever in anyone specific, and the breeder was happy to answer all my questions, heck I still chat with her once in while despite that I didnt even end up getting my Toller from her(I should of in hindsight lol)

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