AKC Judge on breed referrals, contracts, breed health, and how breeders turn off puppy buyers with strings, contracts, forced spay or neuter, etc …







What Not To Do When Selling A Pet Puppy

E. Katie Gammill, AKC Judge, Exhibition Editor - March 2010


People looking for a pet puppy are often appalled at price and the strings attached for a simple pet. Ill-timed comments, especially about contracts, forced spay or neuter, and breed health can “make or break” a sale.


E. Katie Gammill, AKC Judge/Exhibition Editor, TheDogPlace.orgTime and again, prospective buyers say “thanks” and turn to less demanding pet breeders. This “foot in the mouth disease” literally snatches defeat from the jaws of victory.


In all breeds, there are breed rescues, breeder referrals, and breed reference people for parent clubs. My experience revealed there are specific circles that receive referrals and the other breeders can go pound salt! 


I sent an e-mail from a friend’s computer regarding two dogs for sale to be considered for reference.  The response I got was “please send specifics”. It was obvious the  reference person did NOT read the body of the e-mail as it contained the sex, color,  size, quality, certifications, address, phone number, e-mail and web page. There was no intention of my request going any further than the immediate circle of the breeder referral persons involved. Therefore, the buyer interested in an obedience, agility, or conformation dog is held hostage until one such dog becomes available at a preset price from the pre-determined circle.


Through the grapevine, a buyer, thrilled to have found a puppy available, was going to pick her up. The next day she called again, asking questions regarding certifications and other genetic problems.  The breeder referral person insinuated in a round about way that this particular breeder was perhaps someone NOT to approach. This caused unnecessary concerns in the mind of the buyer.  Lucky for her, she went anyway and the result was the certifications were on file and the buyer was thrilled with the new puppy.


Who wants to worry about genetic problems and additional vet bills? Who wants damaged goods? Let’s face it, 8 out of 10 puppies sold are healthy, happy, and simply pets! We have yet to breed the perfect dog, or child. Most problems are controllable. People and dogs alike handle small infirmities and live a long and happy life. By cautioning new buyers of all the “pitfalls” of ANY breed, the buyer can be quickly turned off.  In turn, they seek another avenue.


Add that to breeder contracts, impending vet bills, exorbitant prices, and genetic possibilities; is it any wonder a buyer doesn’t want to buy “a pig in a poke?” All of these demands and unsolicited information overload the pet buyer. You become YOUR OWN WORST ENEMY!


Many closed circles of breeders will not let a specific breed be sold as a pet without strings attached. Being a breeder referral person for two all -breed clubs, I can assure you from the horror stories I hear, many sellers shoot themselves in the foot from the get-go! Thus, the buyer goes to the Internet and promptly finds a local farmer, puppy mill, or backyard breeder who just wants to sell those puppies NOW!


The Humane Shelter marketing techniques far exceed those of the breeder. Breeders know a Rottweiler/German shepherd/Corgi cross shelter dog IS NOT healthier than a pure bred. This combination allows health problems not from one breed, but from three breeds but the shelter people either don’t know or won’t say.  They also don’t say this dog may be a cast off, have behavior problems, or may grow up to be so big it can be saddled and ridden throughout the apartment. How many shelter dogs are returned?


Where do dogs go when the college graduate leaves town? Shelters dogs are considered healthier as there is no documentation regarding their genetic problems. You don’t hear the shelter employees talk about that! Shelter dogs are placed through “sins of omission”. Today, it seems MUTTS are the breed of choice. If you don’t believe this, observe people walking their pets in the evening up and down your streets. How many pure bred dogs do you see?


Shelters concentrate on this: YOU are responsible for saving this dog’s life! Through empathy and compassion, they tug at your heart strings. It’s a “feel good” thing. THIS WORKS! Often a bad experience with a shelter dog eliminates a home for a pure bred dog forever. Future pet owners pay exorbitant adoption fees and spay and neuter fees. They have more invested in their “mutt” than in a pure bred puppy that guarantees temperament, size, coat, health, and adaptability. It is the pure bred breeder that offers certifications, pedigrees, socialization skills, mentoring advice, and stands behind each and every puppy they sell with a return policy.


As a breed referral person, I suggest people go to the AKC website so they understand the initial purpose of the breed. There they can read about size, temperament, adaptability, coat, and housing requirements. Show catalogs of the surrounding area are a good reference, as are parent clubs.


I make NO mention of breed problems, price, certifications, reputations, or kennel situations. That is up to the breeder the pet buyer seeks out. Word of mouth referring to another breeder works as well. How can one infer another person’s kennel may or may not meet what they consider proper requirements of a good breeder when they don’t know the facts? It’s called “Buyer Beware”, if someone doesn’t pay close attention, perhaps they deserve what they get.


The pet buyer’s concerns are NOT always a breeders concern. They just want the basic facts. They don’t want a $2500.00 pet. Pedigrees mean nothing, and suggesting health concerns sets a puppy up to fail.  If a buyer wants breeding stock or a conformation dog, these issues should be taken into consideration.  Otherwise, it should be a “Don’t ask, don’t tell policy”.


“Live and let live”. Those to whom you refer, in time, will refer back to you if they have nothing available. Do refer on and don’t set the next breeder up to fail. If there is a pure bred puppy available, let’s get it into a quality home with a responsible pet owner where is will be a loved and cherished for a lifetime.


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