What to Look For From a Reputable Bull Terrier Breeder:
Here’s a subject that will be answered differently by every breeder. For some breeders it’s a touchy subject especially if they’re not exactly breeding appropriately. For many breeders the things I plan on bringing up here will be very much disliked because too many breeders are producing puppies to make a profit without even reporting their income to good old Uncle Sam. However, for those looking for authentic qualities in their pursuit to find professional and reputable Bull Terrier Breeders this article is guaranteed to point out key aspects to take into consideration when trying to determine if the breeder they found is truly breeding appropriately, legally, and for the good of the breed ~ not their wallet.
(1) Every Breeder Should Offer The Following Items With The Sale Of A Puppy:
- AKC Registration Papers
- AKC Four Generation Litter Pedigree
- 2 Year Health Guarantee
- Sales Receipt / Puppy Contract (Contract of individual breeder policies for the puppy)
- Puppy Information Package
- Annotation of Puppy Food and schedule of feeding
- Copy of the Health Tests and Vaccinations from the puppies 1st set of shots from an actual Veterinarian not Breeder.
- ISO Microchip
It is very important that any Bull Terrier that is decided to be bred is tested for known genetic disorders within the breed. It’s obvious that not all of these tests can be conducted on a 6 – 8 week old puppy so it’s very important to know the overall health of the breeding sire and dam as well as the tests conducted to all the breeder’s adult dogs. All puppies produced from health tested parents should receive proper health tests as appropriate. Some of the more popular disorders associated with Bull Terriers are:
- Deafness – A BAER Test is utilized for checking to see if there is any hearing impairment. Unfortunately many veterinarians do not offer this testing due to lack of testing equipment. Additionally other veterinarians will mandate the puppy to be at least 6 months old before attempting to get an accurate reading based on their growth and development.
- Skin Allergies – Intradermal allergy tests is a specific test utilized to test dogs to see if they have any allergic reactions which cause skin problems and itching. This is an extensive test averaging 1 hour at which time the dog is sedated and receives 60 injections made into the skin. The price of this test is $250. It is not a recommendation to have this test conducted on puppies simply to provide verified proof that each puppy from the litter is free from skin disorders. However, it is a good idea to thoroughly look over both parents of the litter to ensure they show no signs of allergies or skin problems. Most skin allergies in Bull Terriers are caused from food and improper diet. My experience is that foods containing high volumes of grain can trigger allergies in some dogs. We have rescued a few Bull Terriers that had serious skin allergies that we learned were caused from the food they were eating. After putting these dogs on a no grain diet and supplementing their food with a couple squirts of salmon oil it cured their skin conditions within a few short weeks. Obviously this may not be the answer to all allergies and intradermal allergy testing may be warranted for some dogs where proper diet isn’t the cause.
Some may suggest Serum-Based tests for allergy problems which is a simple blood test. However, this test does not require any expertise and has the disadvantage of resulting in false positives which can cause treatment for an allergy that doesn’t exist.
- Kidney – A complete blood chemistry profile test including a blood count is the only way of accurately testing for kidney problems. The most common test for kidney disease is called Creatinine Test. Kidney disease is often a hereditary factor for kidney problems within Bull Terriers. A urinalysis test is another practice used for determining kidney problems. Similar to Allergy Testing, a proper and professional Kidney test is not a simple procedure. A common sign of kidney problems within a puppy is drinking excessive water as well as dehydration, vomiting, and diarrhea.
- Liver – When conducting blood tests for genetic disorders it is important to test for Portosystemic Shunts to ensure there are no liver problems. There are a few types of shunts but Congenital Shunts can be found at birth. It is recommended that a bile acid test be run before and after eating to determine if liver shunt is detected.
- Heart– During a puppies health check a veterinarian will let you know if they detect a heart problem. Heart mummers and weak heart rhythms will be indicators to a veterinarian that further tests are required for diagnosing heart disease. If a concern is apparent it is recommended to have an x-ray conducted. In the event abnormalities are found it will then be necessary to conduct a proBNP Test and/or EKG. A popular and well recommended heart Test is called the “Heart Doppler” Test which will provide detailed information of all types of heart conditions.
The above listed ailments are the ones most prone to the Bull Terrier breed. The most important factor when health checking a litter of puppies is finding a veterinarian who is familiar with the Bull Terrier breed and thoroughly tests them for known disorders and medical ailments.
*Note – Not all Veterinarians will accept the word of a breeder that appropriate shots were conducted and that their vaccinations were kept at appropriate temperatures and not expired. Many Vets will require the puppy to have all his or her shots retaken unless proof that the vaccinations were administered by a certified Veterinarian. All puppies should be health tested at the age of 6 weeks and if they are having specific testing conducting it wouldn’t make any sense not to have the particular veterinarian conduct the required vaccinations that are needed vice save a few bucks and conduct the shots themselves knowing most Vets won’t warrant the validity of the breeder conducting the shots properly and appropriately. Veterinarians have a medical license at risk and when they “assume” that the breeder conducted required vaccinations they are putting their own license in jeopardy if that puppy’s future health is compromised. Sorry, but if I were a Vet receiving a puppy that the owner said “Yes, my puppy had his first set of shots by the breeder and they annotated it right here on a piece of paper” I don’t think I’d be willing to accept that statement with confidence either unless they had a medical license themselves.
(2) What To Look For From A Reputable Breeder:
- A well organized and informative website that provides answers to most every question that a consumer looking to purchase a puppy would want to know.
- Puppy Purchase Application. A good breeder will care deeply about their dogs and want to ensure their puppies are going to appropriate homes. Breeders usually have some type of application form to fill out prior to accepting a deposit.
- Photos of their Kennel facilities. Don’t believe the breeders who tell you all their dogs stay inside their homes unless they authentically have only 2 or 3 dogs. Most breeders won’t post any pictures of their dogs living areas or kennels because they know many would consider them to be poor and provide the consumer with the “Backyard Breeder or Puppy Mill” image.
- A reputable breeder will invite you to their home or kennel to show off their dogs and proudly display the health of the dogs and their living conditions.
- Plenty of Photos of their adults along with a description about them. Is there a good mix of colored Bull Terriers? Breeding too many white to white bullies can cause genetic disorders especially deafness.
- An actual four generation AKC pedigree for each dog. Don’t be fooled by breeders who build their own pedigrees. A scanned copy of the AKC 4 generation pedigree eliminates any doubts of inappropriate editing and false advertisement. Nothing beats the original document!
- An actual AKC DNA Certificate for all Studs. Most people don’t realize the importance of conducting DNA tests on their breeding dogs. It’s one thing to claim the dog to be of the pedigree listed on his AKC papers and another to prove it.
- Referrals – It’s always good to receive a referral from other people who have purchased a puppy from the breeder. Many breeders will include feedback from customers on their website.
- A thorough explanation of their Health Guarantee should be depicted on their website. Read this closely to ensure Health Guarantees are for “ANY genetic disorder associated with their puppy from time it is born until at least 2 years of age.” Many hereditary problems (like liver and kidney) don’t surface until a puppy is older than 12 months of age this is why a 2 year guarantee is vital.
- A reputable and experienced breeder will have all the confidence in the world with the health and well being of the puppies born from each of their litters. You can judge their confidence as a breeder often by when they advertise their puppies. Many will wait until they are 4+ weeks of age before advertising them because they fear one or more might die. That’s a serious flaw right there because if a breeder has so much concern about a puppy dieing that they don’t wish to advertise their puppies until they are older, bigger, and healthier than they are in fear of being embarrassed or looked down on for the proper care and devotion it requires to whelp a litter of Bull Terriers. Yes, puppies can pass away no matter who the breeder is but make no mistake about it – it would be a rare occasion that one would die if the litter was being looked after with experience and dedication. With this said, if a litter of 6 puppies was born today there shouldn’t be any fear to let people know about the 6 puppies born that day and eight weeks later feel proud to show off the same healthy 6 puppies.
- A reputable breeder will provide rescue service for the type of dog they breed and devote towards placing those dogs in homes where they’ll be taken care of and loved. If they can’t provide rescue in their area for the type of dog they breed they shouldn’t even be breeding. A good breeder will also stipulate in their Puppy Sales Contract that under no circumstances is the puppy to be resold or rendered to a shelter or pound without notifying the breeder. Breeders should be willing to take back any puppy of theirs no matter what the reason to prevent the puppy from ending up in a shelter and possibly being euthanized.
- A reputable breeder has no need to advertise their puppies through second source fly by night websites that advertise all breeds of puppies. Google “Bull Terrier Puppies” or “Bull Terrier Breeders” and you will find several companies allowing any breeder to advertise on their website for a few bucks. Many of these companies have excellent search engine rankings which attract new breeders, puppy mills, and non-reputable backyard breeders. These companies could care less about the quality of puppies the breeders are selling. The more traffic to their site the more money they gain. Truth is, you should be able to find a reputable breeders’ website solely by your search query. Breeders who have been around for a few years will have established placement in search engines if their website drives in enough traffic and will not be forced to conduct payments to advertise through alternate companies in order to be found by the public.
- Common sense will tell you that any breeder of reputation will most likely have a waiting list for one of their puppies due to a high volume of personnel seeking a puppy from their bloodline. Most reputable breeders have their litter of puppies spoken for the day they are born. Don’t be fooled by those breeders claiming that they wanted to wait until their litter of puppies was 12-16 weeks old so they could pick out the best puppy for themselves for show or future breeding purposes. In some cases a breeder may very well actually wait this long to pick out a puppy for show purposes but that doesn’t mean they don’t have people standing in line to claim ownership to the remaining puppies. In short, if a breeder has puppies available for purchase after they are 8 weeks of age chances are there aren’t very many people interested in their puppies and/or they have no reputation as a quality breeder.
(3) Hobby Breeders / Private Breeders?
There are many reputable Hobby and/or Private Breeders. Lets face it, some people only desire to have between 1 – 3 dogs. Small scaled breeders like to take on the name “Hobby” breeder vice calling themselves a dog breeder. Others who realize they have no reputation or known bloodline of their own will call themselves a “Private” breeder. Many Hobby or Private breeders do not have websites to show off their dogs or advertise their puppies. They rely on word of mouth, club members they are associated with, local advertising, or social networks like Facebook. There’s nothing wrong at all about being a small scaled hobby breeder especially if they are breeding appropriately and professionally. However, there’s still many small hobby breeders that are breeding just to make a few bucks with the few dogs they own and others who don’t need to own many dogs because they sell their puppies under co-ownership contracts keeping them in the financial loop for all future breeding on every puppy they sold.
It’s fairly common for many hobby or private breeders to ridicule any larger scaled breeder by calling them a puppy mill regardless of the quality of dogs they produce or reputation they have earned. I assume by criticizing other breeders it works as an attempt to present themselves as a better breeder who’s more focused on the 2 0r 3 dogs they own and breed. Often it’s these breeders who are co-owned to multiple dogs they have sold other people which are living with other families thus relinquishing the burden of caring for the dogs but expecting financial rewards if and when they decide to breed their dog. Kind of a monopoly, huh?
Many club members follow some of the same guidelines and policies when selling their puppies. It is very important to ask the breeder to view their Puppy Sales Contract so you are aware of the breeders intent and future claim on a puppy that may not be all yours. Many of these breeders require you to fill out a 10 page resume for one of their puppies and then get you scheduled in for a long interview as though the criteria to own one of their dogs is so intense that only a few very lucky people will have the opportunity to own one of their puppies. Here’s some of the policies you will stand a good chance of seeing:
- Puppy sales contracts mandate that the puppy be neutered or spayed regardless what your feelings are on this subject.
- All puppies are sold with limited registration preventing you from showing, breeding, or participating in any AKC competitive event.
- Puppies that are sold with Full Registration are contracted with “Co-Ownership” meaning the breeder owns the puppy just as much as you do. By putting their name as a Co-Owner they know you can’t breed or show without their consent and signature.
- Many Hobby breeders will even have contracts dictating policies which must be followed that include showing the puppy and finishing him or her to champion within a certain time frame. Becoming a member of their Club. Breeding the dog to the desired mate they choose and claiming ownership to the pick of the litter from all future litters.
In other words, some of the contracts you may find are solely written to benefit the breeder for future financial gain on a puppy they sold you, they co-own, and they control. Yes, you might be raising the puppy and feel proud to own the puppy from some “show” breeder who only claims to own 2 or 3 dogs but they control the breeding and profits of a dog you think is yours because you have it in your possession and conducting all the care and training for the dog. Truth is, you may be just leasing a dog from the breeder who all along has high hopes that you will abide by their contract, finish the dog as a champion at shows, breed the dog to mate of their choice, and retain a puppy or puppies from the litter so they can start the process all over again. This keeps them with finances coming in year after year while only maintaining a couple dogs in their home.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m not against Limited Registration or even Co-ownership. However, there are acceptable ways of doing it and there are non-acceptable ways of doing it. The difference will be in the Puppy Sales Contract which is something you need to well aware of prior to the purchase of any puppy.
(4) Corrupt or Honest?
Here’s something that many people never even think about. Is the breeder selling puppies without accounting for the income? Is it bad thing if a breeder sells their puppies and doesn’t claim the income when tax time comes? I guess if the breeder rarely had a litter or if the cost of the puppies were relatively cheap it could be considered “under the table” income much like the kid selling lemonade in front of his house for 25 cents. However, it doesn’t take a genius to realize a breeders’ income from a litter of 8 puppies selling for $1500 per puppy. Let’s say that breeder only had two litters the entire year. That would equate to $24,000 which in all reality is about what some people make annually working full time. The truth is, any breeder charging money for a puppy should be claiming this and if they are, is it a business? Does the pet store charge tax on a puppy they sell and do they pay taxes on the sales of their pets? Actually many states do not require breeders to have a business license. However, claiming the income during tax time is a different story. Just because a breeder doesn’t have an actual business because the state doesn’t deem it necessary doesn’t mean they can pocket the sales of their puppies without having to pay taxes on them. However, MANY breeders do and still charge high prices on their puppies without any concern. Any breeder that “SELLS” a puppy should have a Tax Identification Number that they utilize at the end of the year to claim the money they received from the SALE of a litter of puppies. It makes no difference if a breeder is convinced they spent more on things that correlate to their dogs health, nutrition, and whelping of puppies than the profits of a litter because they still are required to claim the sales.
Many breeders will shun the idea of having a “breeding business” and try their best to say anybody that has a breeding business is only trying to make money by breeding dogs without any care of breeding healthy quality puppies or they will associate them as a “Puppy Miller” breeding unhealthy dogs for profit only. In all actuality the opposite is true because if it was all about making the most money the way to do it would be to simply pocket the entire amount of money through the sale of every puppy, stud service, etc. Any way you slice it, if you’re selling puppies you have to be legal and pay Uncle Sam for your earnings regardless of how many litters you have a year.
Here’s a funny note – Most breeders would be mad that I brought this subject up because they are opposed of the reality behind legally selling puppies and do not feel it should be considered a small business. However, they’ll be the first to give you their “business card” when they sell you a puppy. Odd how that works. Who knows, maybe they’re calling it a “Hobby Card.” The next time to visit your local Veterinarians office or PetSmart take note how many Business Cards are posted on the bulletin board from breeders.
Now your “Hobby” breeders who hate me bringing this subject up will attempt to stand their ground by saying they don’t make any money off the sales of their puppy. What they convince themselves is that for all the food, supplements, medical, and other supplies they purchase for their dogs the amount doesn’t equate to amount made from the sale of their puppies. Truthfully though, even if they didn’t breed their dog or dogs they’d still have those expenses. That comes with the responsibilities of raising any dog. Others will talk about the huge finances they’ve invested showing their dogs. Showing your dog is an option not a requirement. It’s a hobby and something that they choose to do. Yes, we show our dogs too but we don’t use that as a crutch to the expenses involved in breeding. There are many people who show their dog who are not breeders and there are many breeders who don’t show their dogs at all. Understand this, you could take your dog for a 3 hour hike through the woods having a world of fun and watch him come home with a stick in mouth and chances are he’d have a better time doing that than he would getting placed in a travel kennel and driving for hours to a show only to trot around a small ring and come home with a ribbon. For those breeders reading this and getting angry, stop fooling yourself and others on the amount of finances involved on breeding properly and professionally. If you’re “selling” your puppies you are making money. At least do it legally like others are instead of coming up with excuses as to why you have no tax identification number and think it’s ok to pocket the sales of your puppies.
In short, don’t be fooled by what some might dictate as being a Hobby Breeder, Show Breeder, Private Breeder, etc. The fact is they are Bull Terrier Breeders plain and simple and if they are breeding properly and professionally they should be proud of it.
If you want to test integrity and values ask the breeder if they are licensed and insured by the state to sell puppies and whether they are claiming the income earned from the advertised litter. I’ll bet you most will say they don’t have to do that if they’re a private or hobby breeder. Then again that private home breeder may very well be selling 9 champion puppies at $4000 for each puppy. Nothing wrong with pocketing $36,000 without paying taxes, right?
*** Please note, these are my views and opinions. We know where we stand as breeders and pride ourselves on our breeding practices and honesty. The above information was not written as a tool to gain popularity for us. We don’t have very many litters available each year and when we do they are usually sold the day they are born. The constant volume of personnel on our waiting list is an indicator of our popularity and reputation. With this said, we have no need to coerce people into purchasing a puppy from us. The intent of this documentation was to provide people with knowledge to make an educated decision while in the pursuit to find a top quality Bull Terrier puppy from a reputable breeder. Please feel free to build yourself a questionnaire from the topics listed above and present it to any breeder you research in your pursuit for a Bull Terrier puppy. ***