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Reputable Breeders List

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One of the biggest questions for people looking for a border collie is "is this a reputable breeder"? And it's pretty common for someone to come here telling us about a breeder they found only for us to realize they are a color breeder, or an AKC breeder, or just plain not reputable.

What do you guys think of starting to compile a list of breeders that ARE reputable? I know it wouldn't happen overnight, and plenty of people won't even bother looking at it, but for the people who do I figure it would be very useful. I know the question would come up of how we decide if a breeder makes the list, but honestly, I've very rarely seen the members here divided on when a breeder is reputable or not. Obviously the list wouldn't aspire to mention all the possible breeders, it would just be a good starting point for anyone looking for a puppy. It could also be a thread where people could post a link to a breeder they were considering and we could share opinions on them.

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I know the question would come up of how we decide if a breeder makes the list, but honestly, I've very rarely seen the members here divided on when a breeder is reputable or not.

As you point out, the definition of a reputable breeder pretty much makes this a non-starter. So many opinions.

 

I have read many of the posts where people ask about reputable breeders in their area or post their puppy and breeder, only to have it pointed out to them that the breeder is not 'compatible' with the values of the BC Boards. I think many people will have opinions on this that do not post, so one can not fully know if the members are divided or not. I have gone both ways: seeing a breeder pointed out as not 'reputable', but when I review the comments and the breeder website, I may not agree - and on the other side of the coin, I have felt that I would never buy a puppy from a breeder being touted as reputable. The trade-offs I am willing to live with will not apply to everyone. But I don't bother to add my opinion (either in agreement or not) to the discussion.

 

I think we have had some very illuminating discussions on what a good breeder is, and is not, in the past. FWIW, newbies could be directed to these posts.

 

If the buyer cares enough, s/he will carefully research the breeder once they have access to such information.

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Excellent post Jovi.

 

"Good" and "Bad" breeders are rarely so clear cut and to a great extent it depends who is asking. For example, those seeking purely a sport partner may have a longer list of deal breakers than someone wanting a dog to work, and their expectation of how the pup is raised by the breeder could be very different.

 

A sport buyer may look for every possible health test having been made and a litter raised in the home and subjected to all sorts of enrichment and socialisation whereas a working buyer may be more flexible on what testing they consider necessary and may rely on sound breeding to produce the sort of pup they want rather than what is done to the pup in its first few weeks.

 

One person's "good" breeder may send another running for the hills.

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Considering that the philosophy of this board is that dogs should only be bred if they work(stockwork) to a certain level, they wouldn't consider a sport breeder to be a reputable breeder by definition. And for that matter, I think anyone known as a breeder, rather than as a handler or other person who happens to have a dog good enough to breed, would probably come under the disreputable label, since it's relatively rare to have multiple dogs that work at that level and the dog should be bred only infrequently.

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It's easy to do a ton of research and still just not have the experience necessary to know what is or isn't a good breeder. I worry that it's been too long since you all have been new to this breed. Perhaps you don't remember how difficult a culture it can be to penetrate. But I sure do. I did research for months before choosing my breeder and two years later I would never choose the same breeder again. It's just hard to know without having spent a ton of time on these boards, and around border collies, and going to trials, and whatnot.

 

While there may be some level of disagreement on some breeders, I would think the benefit of having the list would outweigh the inconvenience of not having a few breeders on the list because we can't agree on whether they should be. The upside of having a list: Someone manages to find a working breeder they wouldn't otherwise have found, or avoids an AKC/color/non-reputable breeder they might otherwise have supported. The downside? We don't put some breeders we're uncertain of on the list, and if someone asks about them it sparks a discussion. To be honest I don't see the problem. I already said it's not meant to be a comprehensive list. There are enough breeders (and yes, in this context I'm using "breeder" to mean anyone who ever breeds their dogs) that we are pretty sure are good and even more that we're pretty sure aren't good to be able to make an impact.

I guess I'm just not hearing a good enough "why not". More of a "this is why it won't work perfectly", but not a "this is why the risks outweigh the benefits".

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Considering that the philosophy of this board is that dogs should only be bred if they work(stockwork) to a certain level, they wouldn't consider a sport breeder to be a reputable breeder by definition. And for that matter, I think anyone known as a breeder, rather than as a handler or other person who happens to have a dog good enough to breed, would probably come under the disreputable label, since it's relatively rare to have multiple dogs that work at that level and the dog should be bred only infrequently.

But of course someone wanting a dog for sport may still consider a working breeder and could label such breeders as "bad" if they don't live up to their expectations which may have been formed from what may be expected from a breeder considered "good" in the sport world.

 

You make a generalisation about those known as breeders. My pup's breeder has spent 30 years getting to the point of reliably producing the sort of dog he wants. His main business now is breeding and training dogs and people since he has given up the main farm. All dogs are out being worked most days because it's what he does and discriminating people buy from him.

 

And breeders are often criticised for the number of litters they have on the ground at any one time but nature isn't cooperative. It's common for females to synchronise breeding cycles and there may be long periods when there re no pups. You have to follow a breeder for a long time to get the true picture rather than judging on the basis of a snapshot.

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If we can find a way to come to a consensus about how a breeder makes the list, I would really, really like one.

 

I'd be interested in a list where people can add anecdotes. Things that are neither here nor there, but are more information about a breeder. Personally, after Trooper died from TNS and Keeper potentially having HD, I don't know that I'll be able to purchase a dog from a breeder that doesn't health test. There are tons of great breeders with great dogs, but it is my personal desire to find health tested parents which limits the search. Not being fully immersed in the stock dog world, I have a difficult time locating breeders with my criteria. Then there's the matter of me meeting their criteria!

 

I'd be thrilled if some sort of database could come about. I'm starting to actively search for my next breeder, and the majority of great breeders won't come up with just a Google search.

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That might be an idea. With each breeder on the list including the details that cause the differences of opinion. So someone could say "I would call this breeder reputable in every aspect except that they don't test hips" or "except that they had more litters than I'd have liked last year" or "they don't trial very much" or whatnot. So it accounts for differences in opinion if for the most part the breeder does a good job, and that way whoever reads the list can decide for themselves if that criteria matters to them.

 

So it would look something like:

Border Collie Kennels (John Smith)
www.bordercolliekennels.com

Seattle, WA

Frequency of litters: ~2/year

Health Testing: CEA, OFA
Contracts: Must return pup to breeder if rehoming.

Working: Sheep and cattle dogs. All dogs trial at open level before being bred.

Other: All puppies are microchipped.

Something like that?

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Did you have a DNA test that showed Trooper as TNS affected?

 

As for HD, testing is only a small part of the picture as it has a number of causes, largely environmental and developmental.

 

We have a 10 year old rescue collie with HD and it's no big deal for him. But I also have an IGS affected youngster which has changed my opinion somewhat. The DNA test for it is quite recent and no one really knows how common it is. We were just unlucky but as a result I wouldn't buy a pup in the future unless at least one parent has tested clear. I see that my youngster's breeder has now had his younger stud dogs tested and he had tested for TNS.

 

But tests for all sorts are being developed all the time and a judgement has to be made as to how useful each one may be.

 

I have to admit that my randomly bred rescues have been disgustingly healthy and so have the majority of randomly bred dogs I know so itall needs to be kept in proportion.

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That might be an idea. With each breeder on the list including the details that cause the differences of opinion. So someone could say "I would call this breeder reputable in every aspect except that they don't test hips" or "except that they had more litters than I'd have liked last year" or "they don't trial very much" or whatnot. So it accounts for differences in opinion if for the most part the breeder does a good job, and that way whoever reads the list can decide for themselves if that criteria matters to them.

 

So it would look something like:

 

Border Collie Kennels (John Smith)

www.bordercolliekennels.com

Seattle, WA

Frequency of litters: ~2/year

Health Testing: CEA, OFA

Contracts: Must return pup to breeder if rehoming.

Working: Sheep and cattle dogs. All dogs trial at open level before being bred.

Other: All puppies are microchipped.

 

Something like that?

There are a lot more tests than that on the market - BAER, TNS, IGS, CL, SN just off the top of my head.

 

And trialling isn't the be all and end all. A trial dog is just that and may or may not be useful in a real work situation. It's a hobby for those who have the time and money. Plenty of dogs that are worth breeding from never see a trial field.

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Sorry, maybe I wasn't clear. That was an example of how a listing for a breeder might look. I only listed the things that that particular breeder did. Another one might have ten different tests under the category for "heath testing" and it might say that they don't trial at all, and that would be fine.

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Considering that the philosophy of this board is that dogs should only be bred if they work(stockwork) to a certain level, they wouldn't consider a sport breeder to be a reputable breeder by definition. And for that matter, I think anyone known as a breeder, rather than as a handler or other person who happens to have a dog good enough to breed, would probably come under the disreputable label, since it's relatively rare to have multiple dogs that work at that level and the dog should be bred only infrequently.

My response (post #2) was focused on the breeders of working dogs. I should have been clearer that I was not including sport breeders.

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Did you have a DNA test that showed Trooper as TNS affected?

Trooper's littermate who is showing identical symptoms was DNA tested and was positive for TNS. Statistically the litter should have had 25% affected, so 2 out of 9 is pretty close.

 

I know HD is incredibly finicky. I'm just so gun shy after these problems that I vastly prefer to have them tested. It wouldn't necessarily be a complete deal breaker for the right litter, but I think a breeder who tests just moves up a notch in my book.

 

Chene, I really like that setup!! It would allow for people to elaborate on their preferences and potentially avoid "is not, is so" arguments. I don't know if anyone will go for it, but I really like it.

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Before the advent of social media I could see newbies in the border collie world having a little difficulty finding reputable breeders if they did not bother to attend local trials as many have suggested here on these Boards. However, with websites like handlerspost.com and the numerous Facebook working border collie groups that allow postings of working dogs and puppies for sale I guess I just don't see the need for another one. But I suppose anyone could start a database on a website somewhere if they wanted.

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Trials aren't incredibly abundant, and not everyone is able to attend them. I live in Colorado and while there are quite a few trials here, I only manage to attend two, maybe three a year. I know people trialing and that's still the best I can do. I like the handlers post, but that only has classifieds. I'm a member of Cattle Dogs Only, Stockdogs Buy/Sell/Trade, Cattledog Trader, and all the other popular groups too, and while I learn plenty from them, they don't help me do research for a breeder. Many people aren't looking for a pup, they're looking for a breeder. I don't get any resources from those sources other than what dogs and pups are available right now.

 

I think the working world is a bit tough to access to an outsider. I really dislike the "there're enough resources out there, you just have to dig" mentality. There's no harm to having a database available!

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Dear Doggers,

 

I've been doing this for a long time. If I wanted a pup I'd ask people I know who'se got a litter coming on and are any of the pups unspoken for. Then, if I didn't know the breeder - or wasn't quite sure - I'd ask his/her neighbors.

 

My point is: I don't know any people likely to produce excellent pups who'd fit under the name "breeder". "Breeders" are found in the dog fancy. Sheepdoggers have a litter when they want a pup for themselves and have no problem selling the extras.

 

That's different. A few of the best don't test at all - they're absolutists in the "work is everything" camp. Others won't tale a dog back, period. (Why should they deal with problems you've created?) Others do test and will take a pup back.

 

Puppy buyers can pick up a perfectly good ABCA reg pup from their local stock farmer. Most will be sound and trainable.

 

You can put as much effort into the search as you have time to spare but what's most important isn't a pedigree or tests - it's: will the fellow you bought it from be there for you if you have problems down the line. You aren't just buying a pup you're making an important human connection and that cannot be reduced to any list.

 

Donald McCaig

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I'm not sure about your understanding of the term "breeder", Mr McCaig. Plenty in the show world also only breed when they want to keep a pup.

 

If a person involved in sheepdogs has a licence stating that they run a breeding establishment does that not make them a breeder whether or not they keep pups from their litters? Not common, Igrant you, but not unknown here at least.

 

But I totally agree with your last paragraph.

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I find if you do your research on the breed and are aware of its particular challenges then begin to speak with others about what you are looking for you can learn quite a bit. When you begin to talk to breeders/ folks that might have a litter and asking questions you will learn more. Do you ask for numbers for their vet or other dog/puppy owners? Do you ask to see the parents work? Most are more concerned about cost.

 

Most phone calls I get - even if it is someone specifically looking for a farm dog to work - do not put that much effort into research. Pet puppy buyers most do not - most just want a pup when they want a pup. I ask them more questions than they ask me. Pet buyers are more willing to pay. I am always amazed.

 

I think most trial folks have their name down for a pup before it comes because they are at trials and see dogs they like.

 

Yes there is lots to learn and with each dog you learn more. If you work them you learn what characteristic you like and what works for you and what does not. Not necessarily the dogs fault simply personal preference. I am not sure there are any short cuts for that. Each pup is a bit of gamble. You can breed two working dogs that you enjoy and they work well for you and the pups be all over the board, then a different pairing and every pup turn out great. You just do not know till it is done. That is why some said in the other breeding thread they were more concerned with seeing litter mates/progeny work, it is more telling.

 

I would think with our society that is all to happy to pursue litigation you would be opening yourself up to problems putting out a 'list'. People can advertise or not but if you start listing them or even talking about them as 'reputable' or 'not' that opens a can of worms.

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Here my issue. It is easy to find a border collie from an AKC breeder. It is not nearly as easy to find a border collie from a working breeder (again, I'm defining breeder as anyone who you might be able to get a pup from. call them something different if it makes you more comfortable). Yes, you can go to trials (that may or may not be anywhere near you) and try to network and put in a bunch of effort to prove you're doing your research. But what baffles me is that we're trying to get people to consider working bred dogs, and we have no interest in making it easier for them? Just because they CAN get a dog by going through the long and twisted process that is trying to integrate yourself into the sheepdog world? This is starting to sound a whole lot like a "that's just how it's DONE" argument to me...

Since when did you have to prove yourself to get a working bred border collie, but do next to nothing to go pick up a nice conformation bred fluffy thing? This is exactly why so many people still go to the wrong breeders.

 

 

I would think with our society that is all to happy to pursue litigation you would be opening yourself up to problems putting out a 'list'. People can advertise or not but if you start listing them or even talking about them as 'reputable' or 'not' that opens a can of worms.


Hence why it is a list of reputable breeders and not "breeders to avoid".

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"Since when do you have to prove yourself to get a working bred border collie but do next to nothing to go pick up a nice conformation bred fluffy thing?"

 

In actuality, most serious AKC conformation breeders are probably ten times more picky about who their puppies end up with than any working dog person. A friend of mine has just spent over a year locating and then convincing a show Schnauzer breeder to take a chance on her. It involved hours of phone calls, emails, questionnaires and such. The breeder also retained half ownership of the dog and required that the breeder name the dog officially as well. She even specified the age at which the pup would be neutered, which, luckily, is within the age new data suggests but it could have easily been six months or some arbitrary number.

 

The only ones who "make it easy" are usually pet breeders.

 

In regards to social media groups, yes they advertise animals currently available but that gives you contact information and talking points to research a breeder and their dogs. Most of us who seriously work these dogs want a connection before AND after we purchase a dog. We want to know how they are doing, how they trained up, etc. we are happy to see the pups at trials or hear stories about them. As Donald said, it's not all about the pup. It's about the connection.

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People selling puppies make it easy for people to find them. They advertise, spend money, etc so they're easily accessible.

 

I consider myself as someone who is "outside" of the sheepdog world. I've had the breed for 15 years but this board is my main connection to the working border collie world.

 

When I suddenly went looking for a pup a year and a half ago I got 3-4 recommendations through this board, contacted 3-4 people who I found via internet searches. Got 3 solid leads on potential pups (everything from farm dogs to a fairly well known USBCHA trial person).

 

I also made a few new contacts, including a person who lives an hour away and currently has a nice young male who has qualified for the finals this year. I'll absolutely contact her if/when I'm in the market for a pup again.

 

When people come looking here, I'll PM them with people who I know of in their area. I also do this with FB friends.

 

I think, from my viewpoint, that breeders in the working dog world are a bit more fluid than kennel or pet breeders. Contacts are much more important than breeder names when a person may only produce a litter every 2-3 years.

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I'll also add that, unless the general public is willing to educate themselves on the nuances of the definition of "working" in the breed, another list may not be all that helpful. What I've heard from people is that their dog is from working lines - a few generations back. To many people, that means the same thing as dogs who are actually currently working.

 

That's why I focus more on making personal connections rather than just names. If you don't know what it all means, then one list is going to seem pretty similar to another if they use similar terminology.

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For me, a "perfect" breeder tries to do right across three dimensions: by the breed, by the pups she's bred, and by the purchaser.

Respecting the breed may mean honoring the original intent of the breed --i.e. breeding for working ability (or not, think of the original intent behind pit bulls), doing health testing/removing dogs from the gene pool when health concerns surface, evaluating temperament, environmental stability and structure in the dogs bred and breeding for some purpose other than just making money. (I have no objection to folks breeding dogs making some money off their pups, but if that's the primary purpose behind a breeding, then I don't intend get my pups there.)

Doing right by the puppy might mean not breeding until the person breeding believes homes can be found for every puppy produced without resorting to craigslist and/or having a written or mental waitlist of people who are checked out/come recommended/have expressed interest/paid deposits, etc. It also involves knowing the puppies and the people who want them well enough to propose good matches, or to at least be able to differentiate between puppies in a litter to describe the differences between them. It can mean doing socialization/exposure early on to increase the odds of pups succeeding in their intended purpose. It may also mean taking back a dog that doesn't work out or buying back a dog if the dog ends up in a really bad situation --- or refusing to sell to someone in the first place.

Doing right by the purchaser can/should involve telling them what they need to know about the lines of the pup being purchased -- at a minimum not hiding any health issues/staying in touch to inform of health issues, making a good match between puppy and purchaser, and potentially mentoring someone.

 

I'm pretty sure that there are "perfect" breeders out there but that everyone's emphasis along these three axis will vary. Going to events where people with a breed/activity congregate and talking to folks who have dogs of the type you like isn't hard. Most dog people are happy to tell you about their dogs -- sometimes at length. I think the harder thing for a novice to do is realize exactly what they need versus what they think they want.

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The main problems I'd see with a Reputable Breeders list are: A. who maintains this list? and B. who qualifies to be on it?

I think Donald's point was meaning to say that there are some really good handlers with really good dogs, who every few years produce a litter. Or maybe they have a male dog at stud who sires several litters a year. But they don't consider themselves breeders per se and would not bother to put themselves on any sort of list, largely because they sell their pups by word of mouth and have a waiting list before the bitch's first vet check! ;)

Which is not to say that it couldn't be done, but I think such a list would end up being far from inclusive. It might be a start, but a lot of people who do produce the occasional good breeding wouldn't bother with it as they have no need to advertise. I'd love to see it easier for new people honestly wanting a well-bred dog, but I'm not sure how effective such a list would actually be.

~ Gloria

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The main problems I'd see with a Reputable Breeders list are: A. who maintains this list? and B. who qualifies to be on it?...

 

...I'd love to see it easier for new people honestly wanting a well-bred dog, but I'm not sure how effective such a list would actually be.

 

This.

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