Let me start by saying I have been a lover, rescuer and breeder of Australian Shepherds for 18 years.
How to choose a good Australian Shepherd breeder? The main thing when looking for a good breeder is, What the breeder’s goal is for their breeding program?
What do I mean by breeding program? I mean, are they breeding dogs who’s genetics and temperament are better suited for herding, obedience or the show ring (Conformation)?
Many breeders look to breed dogs that will excel in whatever the breeders interest lies. A breeder who primarily breeds dogs for herding will breed to reinforce those traits. That is great but be aware for the average pet owner, this dog may have more energy than they bargained for.
Choose a good breeder and give yourself the best chance at getting a healthy puppy.
A breeder who breeds for conformation, may be relatively uninterested in strong herding instincts, but more on structure and looks. This is fine as well, and will produce, in general, a more managable dog for tighter quarters. Finally, a breeder who breeds for versatility will usually produce the best of both worlds. All Aussies are energetic and fun loving. It’s just a matter of degree.
The reason this is important to you as a prospective puppy buyer is that your dog should be suited with your lifestyle. If you live in the country or on a farm, then buying an Aussie that comes from primarily a herding background makes sense. These puppies will have lots of energy and be rearing to go. If however, you live in a city apartment, buying a puppy from a breeder who breeds for temperament and companionship is more for you.
Failing to buy an Aussie puppy matched to your temperament and lifestyle will only lead to heartache and an unhappy match. Trying to keep an Aussie in a city apartment, that has all herding genetics in its’ background, would be like trying to keep a racehorse in your garage! Next stop for the dog and owner is Aussie Rescue!
Regardless of the Australian Shepherd breeders reason for breeding, all Aussies should conform to breed standards, and be cleared through testing. Aussies tend to have eye problems, hip displasia, and siezures. The puppies should be well socialized.
Even if they are only interested in breeding working dogs, they need to have their breeding stock cleared for genetic problems, and should be able to show you the clearance certificates. Good Australian Shepherd breeders should also be able to show you Aussies from past breedings. Ask if they know of any potential genetic qualities their breeding Aussies pass on to their offspring, i.e. personalities, hip problems, eye problems, seizures, nipping, level of energy, socialization problems, reaction to kids, cats other dogs, etc.
When I look at doing a potential breeding, my main goals are;
To improve on the genetics that I already have to work with, and
Breed a dog who will be well rounded. Well rounded means that they are easily capable of excelling at herding, agility or the show ring.
Listed below are several things that make a good Australian Shepherd breeder. (order of preference makes the priority list change for each individual looking for a puppy).
The Parents of the puppies. Try and see for yourself, both the male and the female who produced the puppies. Look for temperment, personality, behavior towards strangers and of course their looks (markings & color). This will be up to each individual as to what they like, whether or not they like tan points and white markings, blue eyes, short and stocky or tall and lean, but most importantly you should be able to pet the parents and interact with them.
Are the facilities clean where the dogs and puppies are kept. Are they in a controlled environment, by that I mean are the parents inside or outside, in a fenced area or running loose. Are the puppies in a clean pen or are they also running loose in the yard. I am talking about most of the time where are the dogs and puppies kept.
The Breeder. Is the Australian Shepherd breeder knowledgable about the breed. Are they honest with what they are telling you about the Parents and the puppies. You won’t know this unless you have researched the breed.
What guarantees does the breeder give you on your new puppy. This means health, which includes overall general health of the puppy, genetic health of the parents. Shots & worming given. Please make sure the puppy has had 2 sets of shots by age 8-9weeks old. The puppies should have been wormed at least 3 times before 8-9 weeks old.
Get these guarantees in writing and signed by you and the Breeder.
Get all shot records/pedigrees/registration papers and any medical records in hand at the time of purchase. If not ask if you can see the parents registration papers, Genetic clearances and pedigrees if you don’t get them in a folder or packet when you purchase your puppy.
If you don’t know what to look for in an Aussie puppy as to price, color, genetics and possible registries your puppy is eligible for, there are great sites on the web for this. Research, research, research... I can’t stress this enough.
Not only will you know if an Aussie is right for you, but you will get a good picture of what to expect from your new Aussie puppy.
Good Luck with your search for very good Australian Shepherd breeders.
If you have questions... ask me anything at anytime.