How to Find a Good Breeder

3 dogs Dagan, his mom Foosa, and Sister Piper on a Spring Day!


1. Is the breeder commenting on how wonderful this puppy is and what is involved in purchasing a pup from them & not on how awful some other breeder's puppies are or is "badmouthing" another breeder.

2. Does the Breeder talk about temperament. Don't be impressed by "fancy" show titles or accomplishments unless the adult dogs that you observe in the breeder's house, are of sweet temperament. No matter how beautiful a dog is, if you cannot live with him, he is "good for nothing!"

3. A good breeder is trying to breed puppies that are, at least, as good as it's mother or, ideally, better because if the breeder does not get at least as good as the bitch that he started with, what has this breeding added to the breed? The only thing a good breeder does not breed to improve is TEMPERAMENT because if a dog or bitch does not have good temperament, then it should stop right there! A dog or bitch with bad temperament should NEVER be bred!

4..Is at least, one of the parents a conformation champion? (or at least, major points towards it's championship? or multiple performance titles? ( in obedience, agility, lure coursing, tracking, etc.) or is it a certified therapy dog, or earned a CGC title ( akc canine good citizen title)? Good breeders show their breeding stock because the title of conformation champion on a dog, actually means that the breeder has taken the steps to prove that the dog or bitch does conform to the standard & therefore should contribute to the gene pool of the breed and was bred because of this and not simply because it COULD be bred.. If one is not a champion does it come from champion parents? Also, you may just be looking for a pet quality puppy, but titles on the parents of your puppy show that the parents were friendly, and smart enough to be trained, not just tied up in the backyard able to be bred.

5. OFA! Both sire & dam should have certification from the Orthopedic Foundation for Animals, declaring the animal to be free of all signs of hip Dysplasia, a crippling disease. I have heard "Oh, I just want a pet; I do not want to breed, anyway" to which I responded "Well, do you want to be able to take your dog for a walk?" OFA certification will not guarantee that your dog will not be Dysplastic but it certainly does reduce the risk, greatly! I have heard "Dysplasia does not run in my line." Nonsense! All larger breed dogs, including Ridgebacks are at risk for Dysplasia. Reputable breeders have been submitting the ex-rays of the hips of their breeding stock to the OFA since 1967. And now these breeders can submit elbow and shoulder x-rays of the dogs as well, along with the results of eye examinations to the eye registry CERF, thyroid, and heart. A reputable breeder will be happy to show you the actual certificates of the sire & dam of the puppies and a copy of these should go home in your puppy packets!

***Also, these is now a test for DM- Degenerative Mylopathy available. It is a simple DNA cheek swab. Breeders should be testing for this disease as well. A carrier (N/A) should be bred to a normal dog (N/N) or a normal dog to normal dog only. These matchups will never produce any At Risk (A/A) pups. DM is a debilitating muscle-wasting disease.****

Rogue and Koda Sisters: Rogue & Koda, 8 weeks old!
6. Are the puppies happy to see you? If they are afraid of you, this will mean they have not been socialized! They should be delighted to see you & be "begging" to be picked up! If the puppies are quiet & not interested in you & the breeder tells you they are "just tired" because they have been very active all day, ask to come back another time so you can observe them when they are not so tired.

7. The mother of the litter may be a little guarded, with her puppies. However, if she is "a raving maniac" about you observing (not touching) her puppies I would question this temperament. I would also avoid getting a puppy from a mother that is afraid of you. There is little worse than "a fear biter" Yes, temperament is inherited.

8. The mother of the litter may not "look her best!" Make allowances for her because raising a litter has been exhausting to her.

9. Does the breeder have Breed Club affiliation of any kind? Although this will not guarantee that the breeder is truly reputable it does give you a body of people to complain to, should you have a problem. Being kicked out of a club would cause a breeder to be greatly embarrassed among his/her peers & could hurt the sale of any future puppies.

10. Ask the breeder why he/she is breeding. A good breeder does this for the protection & preservation of the breed. She is insuring that 10 years from now, the Rhodesian Ridgeback will still look & act the same. She is doing this by breeding OFA certified champions that conform to the standard & have good temperaments & do not have health problems.

11. If a breeder says she bred her bitch so her children could learn about the miracle of birth, do not buy her puppy! There are millions of dogs destroyed, each year, at Animal Shelters because of people who do this kind of haphazard breeding. (I wish they would consider showing their children the "miracle" of death by taking them to the Animal Shelter to see what happens to the puppies that have been bred for the sole (& soulless) reason that children can witness the miracle of birth!

Also, How many times has the Dam been Bred.  A Good breeder thinks of the welfare of their dog first.  A good breeder will carefully research and plan each breeding and in the lifetime of the female will only have 2 two breedings, occasionally a third if the litters are small.  IF a breeder is doing a 4th litter you have to ask yourself what is the true reasoning behind that, money is MOST often the motivator.  There is NO WAY a 4th litter is every healthy for a Dam.    

12. Understand that you are buying a breeder, as well as a puppy. Is this the person you want to go to with your questions? Will you feel comfortable phoning this person for advice? Will this breeder be there, when you need advice? Does this Breeder give written instructions on the care of the puppy? Has she had the puppies checked by a Veterinarian? Will the puppy come with a health certificate? What are the guarantee's this Breeder offers? Have you carefully read her contract?

13. Has the litter been carefully checked for Dermoid Sinus? If this breeder is breeding a first litter of Ridgebacks, has there been a "more seasoned" breeder that has checked the litter for D.S? Most Vets are not sure how to check for them.

14. ALL REPUTABLE BREEDERS SELL PET QUALITY PUPPIES WITH SPAY/NEUTER CONTRACTS! A reputable Breeder does not let a puppy go to it's new home until he is at least 7 weeks old.

Piper Weaving Piper -Going through the weave Poles @ Agility!
15. Does the puppy come with a "Return to Breeder Clause" in the contract? This shows that the Breeder will always be interested in the welfare of the puppy that he is responsible for bringing into the world.

16. Observe the adult dogs in the house. Do you like their looks & temperaments? This is what your puppy will mature to look like and act like. The part of the brain that chooses the puppy is not located near the part of the brain that stores logic so make your choice on liking the adults, not the puppies! All puppies are cute & lovable.!

17. A reputable Breeder's puppy has been examined by a Veterinarian. He comes with a written Health record that includes the name and phone number of the Veterinarian that has examined him and a record of his inoculations and his dewormings, also does the breeder microchip all of the puppies going home?

18. How many dogs does this breeder have? If they have more than a few is this really a hobby for them, or is it approaching a buisness/puppymill? Also, where are the dogs kept. Inside the house or outside in a dog run or kennel. Multiple "kennel" dogs do not get the same individual attention, socilization, or training that a few pets living in the house recieve. Also, where are the puppies raised.... Inside the house their whole life, or are the banished outside to a kennel when mom stops cleaning up after them?

19. How may breeds is this breeder involved with? If more than one or two you might question how much time is actually involved keeping up with local breed clubs and news! Again, is this a buisness to the breeder?

20. Does the breeder work with Ridgeback Rescue? A good breeder should support Rescue in any way possible (ie fostering, adopting, or donating money).

And last, but not least, ask yourself "If I were a dog, would I want this person as an owner or if I were a puppy, would I want to live in this house?

Written by Barbara Sawyer Brown - KWETU with some updated information added.

 Breeder of Merit       

Tifari Has proudly been an AKC Breeder of Merit since the program began in 2011.

Suggested Reading

  • A whole series of online informative articles on if the Ridgeback is the right breed for you. RRCUS
  • The Rhodesian Ridgeback-An Owner's Guide to a happy, healthy pet. By Eileen Bailey AMAZON.COM
  • The Rhodesian Ridgeback (Comprehensive Owner's Guide) by Ann Chamberlain AMAZON.COM
  • The Culture Clash: A Revolutionary New Way to Understanding the Relationship Between Humans and Domestic Dogs - by Jean Donaldson AMAZON.COM
  • Ridgebacks and Children KWETU
  • How to find a good breeder! LINK