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If you are looking for a Siberian Husky puppy to join your family PLEASE make certain you are buying from a reputable, responsible breeder. Every breeder will tell you they are reputable and responsible, so how can you find the ones that really are?
Here is a list of things that are either red lights (RUN AWAY), yellow lights (proceed with caution) or green lights. (Great breeders have mostly green lights)
Red lights: AVOID THESE BREEDERS!
1. A paypal button on their website that allows you to purchase a puppy (or place a deposit) sight unseen and without ever talking with the breeder. Any breeder who doesn't care where their puppies are being placed very likely won't care enough to produce quality puppies for you. It's all about the money. Run away. Accepting paypal payments is not a bad thing, Accepting instant paypal deposits and payments on a website without any interaction between breeder and buyer is terrible.
2. A breeder that advertises that puppies are always available. This means lots of litters every year, often several on the ground at a time. They push this as a benefit for you because you have a wide variety to choose from. Unfortunately proper socialization, nurturing and care is difficult and time consuming with just one large litter. Multiple litters are even more taxing and your future puppy may be shortchanged leaving you with a puppy that has not been socialized, cleaned or cared for properly.
3. The breeder accepts credit cards. This points to high volume unless they are already established to accept credit cards through another business such as a grooming or boarding kennel. Most responsible breeders do not sell enough puppies to make acceptance of a credit card affordable.
4. Advertising "rare" varieties such as, extra large, wooley coated, merle or other unknown colors in the breed or advertising common features as "Rare!". Red siberians and piebald siberians are not rare and they are not called chocolate or dalmatian. They are simply what they are; red or piebald and very common. If the breeder is not breeding Siberians to the standard then you have no idea what other oddities they are breeding in. Siberians are the spectacular breed that they are because responsible breeders work very hard to maintain the temperament, type and appearance that makes them what they are. Purposely breeding oddities will ruin the breed and eventually produce a siberian that no longer resembles or behaves like a Siberian. Calling blue eyes or a red or piebald coat by any other name or representing them as rare is simply dishonest. KNOW the standard for the breed. You can find this on the AKC website. Sometimes puppies which do not meet the standard are born to responsible breeders. They may have wooley coats or a tight tail set or they are too big or too small. A responsible breeder will ensure that these puppies which do not meet the standard are altered and placed into pet homes where they cannot contribute the genes that caused the unintended fault. They may make lovely pets but they should never be used in a breeding program and responsible breeders will ensure they are not.
Also avoid breeders that trumpet titles or names in their dog's pedigrees and brag that some distant or long dead ancestor of their dog was a multi champion or starred in some movie. Listing some multitude of champions in the last seven generations of the pedigree should raise a flag for you. If champions are brought up at all, they should be the sire and dam or grandsire and granddam of the puppies. Anything beyond that is fairly meaningless since past generations can be severely diluted with improper breeding. If your great-grandmother was Miss America, it wouldn't change a thing about who you are or what you are capable of. Riding the shirt tails of distant ancestors or relatives to sell puppies is another trait of someone who cares far more about money than they do about what they are producing. Run away. Your breeder of choice should be showing you the merits and accomplishments of their own dogs and specifically of the parents of your future puppy. They should NOT be bragging about some ancestor in the distant past.
6. Offering stud service, breeding pairs, or breeding puppies to anyone with cash in hand. Good breeders are stewards for their breeds and they do not simply offer up the bloodlines they have worked so hard to improve to any person who walks in the door with cash. Good breeders are happy to mentor those with a real interest in breeding for the right reasons and are a wonderful source of information and assistance for new breeders however breeding should not be undertaken lightly. It requires an extensive study of and commitment to the breed and a desire to improve the breed, not dilute it. Breeders who will allow their studs to be used by anyone and breeders who sell puppies without a contract requiring a neuter or spay are not interested in preserving the breed. They are interested in cash. Walk away.
7. Breeders who use registries other than the AKC (American Kennel Club), UKC (United Kennel Club) or the CKC (Canadian Kennel Club). Many American all breed registries (other than those listed above) will register any dog requested whether it is mixed breed or not. Reputable, responsible Siberian breeders do not use any American registry except AKC or UKC. Do not confuse the legitimate and widely accepted Canadian Kennel Club (CKC) with the Continental Kennel Club. "CKC registered" in America generally means Continental, a registry that responsible breeders do not use. If you see CKC, ask to be certain. Dogs registered with Continental Kennel Club are generally not eligible for AKC which is why they are CKC.
8. Puppies are pushed for holidays "Ready just in time for Christmas!", "Valentines day" etc. We all know how stressful and chaotic the holidays can be. Don't be tempted to bring a new puppy into your home when things are in an uproar and unstable. If the puppy is a gift to the family, wrap a picture of the puppy with a dog bowl or other accessories and pick up the puppy a week or two later when life has returned to normal. Reputable breeders will not sell you a puppy to be delivered the week of a major holiday with few exceptions....A breeder who use Christmas as a marketing ploy does NOT have the best interest of the puppy (or you) at heart.
9. Puppies sold at flea markets, pet stores, or out of the back of a car in a parking lot. These poor puppies are sold to the first person who walks up with cash. The breeder makes no effort to find out if they are going to a good home which shows a lack of interest in their puppies future. If they care that little about their future they probably didn't care enough to ensure the adults they bred were of good health, temperament or type and you have no idea what you will have when that puppy matures. It can be an expensive purchase. These breeders also bank on the fact that you will feel sorry for the puppies and adopt them to "save" them. Every puppy you save contributes to the breeders ability to produce more litters of puppies that need saving. The only way to put an end to puppies sold at flea markets and pet stores is to boycott them entirely and buy your puppy somewhere else.
10. Selling puppies that are less than 8 weeks old: This one is a huge No No! Puppies need to be with their mom and siblings for a minimum of 8 weeks to learn how to be a well behaved dog. They are learning things in the period from 6-8 weeks that a human being will have a difficult time teaching them, including body language between dogs, bite inhibition, pack order etc. You are not a dog. You cannot teach your puppy correct body language, posturing or bite inhibition. Dogs removed too soon from their siblings and dam may experience behavioral problems and inappropriate behavior toward other dogs and people later in life. Puppies who are with their breeders through 8 weeks also need to be exposed to people regularly to be well socialized. It is okay to buy puppies prior to 8 weeks as long as they stay with their litter until the 8th week. Breeders who push their puppies out the door at 4-6 weeks are probably in it for the money and don't want to feed the litter and dam any longer than they have to.
11. The parents of the litter are less than two years old. Siberians should not be bred until their second birthday or very close to it. While there may be occasional exceptions made for certain circumstances, most responsible breeders stick to this guideline for good reasons. If a breeder regularly breeds dogs less than two years old or their breeding female is on her fourth successive litter, find another breeder.
12. Breeders who produce puppies of mixed breeds and push the "hybrid vigor" myth. If you take a breed with a tendency toward juvenile cataracts and hip dysplasia and mix it with a breed that has a tendency for heart trouble or a blood disorder, you DO NOT eliminate the genes that produce these disorders. Instead of eliminating these disorders, you now have a litter that may produce puppies with any or ALL of these genes and health defects.
Worse are the breeders that trumpet their mixed breed puppies as a rare new designer breed. Mixed breeds are NOT RARE! There are COUNTLESS mixed breeds sitting in shelters, rescues, fosters and private homes waiting for their happily ever after. Why pay hundreds or thousands of dollars for a mixed breed when they are, unfortunately, a dime a dozen. Rescue one instead and save a life.
Yellow Lights: (Proceed with caution and ask questions)
1. "State Licensed" - Why is the breeder advertising this? Few cities or counties require a license for a small scale or hobby breeder and even if they are required to be licensed, this has nothing to do with puppy quality. Ask yourself why the breeder is advertising the license. USDA licensed means this is a LARGE SCALE commercial breeder that produces lots of puppies.
2. "We ship anywhere" - Many good breeders are willing to ship puppies if they feel they have found the right home however it isn't a marketing ploy for them, just one aspect of their business. Most would prefer you pick up your puppy so they can meet you or they prefer to bring it to your home so they can see where the puppy will be living. If a breeder is loudly trumpeting their willingness to ship anywhere to anyone, it usually indicates the breeder has more interest in the almighty dollar than in where their puppy will be living.
3. "Both parents are on premises" This is often marketed as a benefit, allowing you to meet the parents of your puppy. Meeting both parents IS a good thing however, responsible breeders do their best to breed their female to the most complimentary male which, very often, is not one that they own. If someone is breeding dogs they own simply because it is free and convenient they may be more concerned with money than the outcome of their breedings. If the male is also on the premises ask the breeder WHY he was the best choice for the female. What are his accomplishments? Is he titled in conformation, obedience, ANYTHING? or was he just a convenient free sperm donor?
4. A breeder that wants a litter back from your pet down the line. There are certain circumstances where a breeder agrees to allow you to keep one of their puppies unaltered in case she needs the bloodline later or to see how the puppy matures. If the breeder is adamant that they need breeding rights to your pet down the road, look into the situation and ask why?
5. Signs that the breeder has more dogs than she can properly care for. Everyone has a bad day now and then. Your breeder's home does not have to look like something out of House and Garden Magazine. Lots of dogs may mean lots of noise and chaos and maybe some hair and muddy footprints or nose marks on every window in the house. If, however, the dogs are matted or smell, in need of medical attention that they are obviously not getting or living in small dirty crates for most of the day, this is not the kind of situation you want to encourage by purchasing a puppy here. Look somewhere else and again, don't let your compassion encourage you to buy a puppy to "save" it from the situation. You are just making room for another litter of puppies to "save"
Green Lights: If your breeder has mostly green lights you are probably going to do well buying from them.
1. The breeder has a list of health clearances performed on the parents of the litter prior to the breeding and PROOF that these tests were done. You can double check these clearances on public databases online. Unfortunately some breeders lie about clearances so double checking is a necessity. For Siberians this will include (at a minimum), an OFA or PENN hip and a CERF or SHOR eye clearance. Breeders who do not do these tests either don't care about what they are producing or have no idea they exist. Either way, breeders who do not test should not get your business.
These tests are simple, easy and they are NOT expensive. There is no excuse for not having them done to ensure the health of our breed. "My vet said my dogs eyes and hips are great" is NOT acceptable. It's an excuse. Dogs that seem to have good vision and move well without hip problems can still produce puppies with juvenile cataracts or dysplastic hips. OFA and CERF clearances are critical.
Hips are tested one time at or after 2 years of age and the hips are rated and registered with either OFA (Orthopedic Foundation for Animals) or PENN hip. OFA scores the structure of a hip as either, "Excellent", "Good", "Fair", "Poor", "Mildly Dysplastic" or "Dysplastic"
The parents of your puppies should have an "Excellent" or "Good" hip score. Anything less than OFA hip "Good" or "Excellent" should not be bred.
Eyes have to be CERF (Canine Eye Registry Foundation) or SHOR (Siberian Husky Opthalmic Registry)cleared within 12 months prior to the breeding. The test score for CERF or SHOR is only good for one year as their eyes and vision can change. Once a dog passes an eye exam with an opthalmologist they are given an AVCO paper showing their score and, when the paper is registered, they receive a CERF or SHOR clearance paper. Ask to see this or ask for the number to confirm the result on the online database. Unfortunately some breeders who refuse to spend money to test found themselves on the hotseat when the public became aware of the necessity of health clearances so they began lying and saying they perform clearances in order to sell their puppies. OFA and CERF both have a database online and you can confirm the results of any dog with it's registered name or number or with the CERF or OFA number. Do not accept any excuses for a lack of testing. It simply shows disregard for the future health of the puppies and the breed in general. Dogs that complete both CERF and OFA hip tests will also receive a CHIC number which confirms that they have met the health testing requirements suggested by the national breed club.
While OFA Thyroid testing is not performed by every responsible breeder, the Siberian Husky Health Organization strongly suggest that all Siberians in a breeding program are tested. Some breeders test the thyroid. Some don't. We consider it to be a very good sign that a breeder is willing to do additional testing to ensure they are producing healthy puppies. Bonus points if you find a breeder who does it.
"Vet checked" is not good enough. Expect to see OFA Hip and CERF or SHOR eye at a minimum. You don't need the heartbreak of raising a blind or crippled puppy. OFA Thyroid "normal" is another clearance you can hope to see on the parents for additional peace of mind.
2. Breeder offers you a lifetime take back guarantee or requires the return of the dog or their approval if you have to re-home the dog. Good breeders do everything in their power to ensure that their puppies are not cast off garbage dumped in an animal shelter or a friend of a friend of a friend's backyard, forgotten. The puppy only exists because the breeder brought that dog into the world. Responsible breeders do what it takes to keep tabs on their puppies throughout their lives. This benefits you, the dog and the breeder.
3. A detailed application is required. Most good breeders require a written or online application. They have learned what kinds of homes work out for their puppies and breed and what kinds generally are short-lived. The application is not meant to be invasive. It simply helps the breeder determine if you are a good match for one of their puppies based on your lifestyle and home.
People who don't care where their puppies go to live generally don't care what they are producing either or whether that puppy is a good match for your lifestyle. It is a lose/lose situation for both you and the dog.
4. The breeder makes sure you understand the unique traits and behaviors of the breed and that you can live with them. The road to hell is paved with good intentions. If you do not understand the tendencies of a Siberian Husky, your first year will very likely be a trial by fire. This is NOT an easy breed.
5. A good breeder will gladly educate you. A good breeder will send you home with all kinds of information about the breed, crating, training, housebreaking, diet, medical information etc.
6. A written contract with specific agreements outlining your rights and responsibilities. The contract protects not only the puppy and the breeder but also you as the buyer. It should have an arrangement for a spay or neuter for your pet puppy, a return guarantee and a take back policy. It should also have some sort of health guarantee in case your puppy gets sick. It should outline your responsibilities and require you to keep the breeder updated with any major changes in your dog or your address.
Most good breeders are thrilled to get pictures and updates on their puppies and it is always fun to have someone to share these things with or to turn to if you need advice with a problem.
7. A written health record for your puppy. The more thorough, the better. You should get a written record of immunizations, wormings, diet, and weights through the first 8 weeks at a minimum.
8. A breeder who offers puppies that are already microchipped or encourages you to use a microchip.
9. A breeder who starts early potty training and crate training to make the transition easier for you. Puppies can be paper-trained reliably as early as 4 or 5 weeks. Crate training just takes a few (difficult and sleepless) nights in the last week before the puppies go to their homes. Breeders who take this on to make your first few days with your puppy more enjoyable are a step ahead.
You can confirm both by simply watching the litter. Papertrained puppies will run to their newspaper to potty rather than soiling their bed or play area. This does not mean puppies will go to your home and instantly be housebroken, however, paper training teaches the puppies that there is a place for pottying and they will be easier to housebreak in the long run. Puppies that are not papertrained early may potty wherever they stand and may take longer to housebreak.
You can see a video here of Taja puppies which were paper trained at 4 weeks old. All were using the paper reliably by this point and were about 4.5 weeks old.
Puppies who have early crate training may still fuss a little when placed in a crate but should settle easily in a few moments if left alone.
Hopefully, these tips will help you find a good, responsible breeder so your future puppy will bring you more joy than heartache in the coming years.