First and Foremost......Never buy a puppy from a Pet Store. NO responsible breeder would ever dream of selling its puppies through a pet store. Only commercial puppy mills will sell to pet stores. Most of these puppies are sick, have poor temperaments, and have big medical problems. A pet store would never tell you this. If a puppy is in a pet store it came from a puppy mill....period.
Then you must watch out for the Mom and Pop breeder, who buy a male or female, and breed it with the first mate they can find. We call these (BYB's) Back Yard Breeders. Many are just looking to make a quick buck. Some BYB's may have fancy outdoor kennels, some may just have dogs breeding in a barn stall. Some BYB's do raise puppies in the house. But the one thing that all BYB's have in common is that they don't KNOW this breed well, and they do NOT breed to the AKC breed standard. They just breed to be breeding. Little do they realize that they are doing generations of damage to our breed. These people often mean well, however their shelties often do NOT much resemble the Shelties you see in the magazines. These are the shelties that often turn out to look like Collies (WAY too big) or the ones who have very poor temperaments, (hyper, snappy, problematic). That is because they don't know the breed like someone in it for years does. You can usually find a BYB in your newspaper. They must advertise their puppies to sell them........where a Responsible breeder seldom needs to advertise. IF you ask a BYB for proof of CERF and OFA, they often will tell you they have no idea what that means. RUN from this kind of breeder. You will be sorry in the long run. You will pay more for a well bred Sheltie.
Next.....where was your puppy born and raised? In a barn? Or in the breeders home? Puppies that do not get held and socialized daily, will have many emotional problems.
Buying a puppy is a 15- year proposition. A mistake now could be heartbreaking in the years to come. There are several things to watch out for.
1) Inherited diseases in this breed. A responsible breeder breeds to improve the breed. No one wants to pass on a hereditary defect. A responsible breeder will test both the sire and the dam for eyes, hips, thyroid, and VwD. As a puppy buyer, you must ask for PROOF that these tests were run. Each test will offer certificates that the test was run. Eyes that are checked have a C.E.R.F number. Hips that are checked for displasia have an O.F.A. number. Thyroid and VwD have a certificate also showing the results of the tests. Don't take any breeders word for it!! The tests are expensive, which is the reason many BYB's don't test. These are very common problems in this breed....and a good breeder will test and then never breed an affected dog. This is one big issue that separates the bad breeders from the good ones. Are you willing to spend $3000.00 for hip replacement surgery if your puppy turns up with hip Displasia? Or what about if your puppy goes blind at age 3??? Or your puppy has all it's hair fall out because of a thyroid problem?? These are common problems in Shelties that are so easily avoided by a responsible breeder.
2) Temperament. Poorly bred Shelties can be hyper, yappy, mean, aggressive and unpleasant to live with. The difference in temperament between a well bred Sheltie and a BYB Sheltie is remarkable! Make sure you meet both sire and dam.....or at least the dam. Meet the other adults at the breeder's home. See what temperaments the breeder is producing. Temperament is 100% hereditary. A well bred Sheltie is calm, sweet, social, loving and a pure joy to live with.
3) Appearance. Take a look at the breed standard. Click here. This is what a Sheltie should look like. IF your puppies parents don't look something like this, then neither will your puppy!!! Many so-called breeders are producing Shelties that don't much look like the breed standard. We are seeing BYB's producing huge shelties, short coated shelties, aggressive shelties, hyper shelties......etc...etc. IF you want a Sheltie that will look like the photo you saw in the magazines......find a responsible breeder who shows in conformation. This breeder is likely to be breeding dogs to the breed standard.
In summary. How do you tell the difference. Simple. A "good" breeder will try to educate you on all the info listed above. The puppies will be "well socialized" and raised with people. A "good" breeder knows the genetics of Shelties, and will not breed a dog with any health or temperament problems. A "good" breeder will show their dogs and ONLY breed dogs that are doing well in the show ring......after all, that is the sole reason for showing purebred dogs, is to determine the best from the rest, and only the best SHOULD be bred.
Once you find a breeder......then what?
First and foremost.....if a breeder wants to "meet you somewhere" with a puppy.....don't bother going. This is always a sign that you won't like what you see at the breeders home or kennel. Some breeders keep their dogs in such filth that they will never allow you to come and look.
Are the dogs indoors or outdoors? Early socialization is KEY in this breed. And it's pretty hard to socialize Shelties properly if they are in an outdoor kennel. If Sheltie puppies are not socialized properly, you will have trouble down the road with shyness and fear. Puppies raised "on a farm" usually means the pups were raised in a barn. (alone) A good breeder will often have the puppy pen right in the kitchen or family room.....where the people are. Look at the environment in the breeder's home; is it clean and do all the dogs look well cared for?
Ask the breeder how long he/she has been involved with showing/breeding? Again, make certain the breeder shows their dogs in some kind of AKC venue? Responsible breeders do exhibit their dogs in some manner, either performance events and/or conformation. If this person doesn't show his/her dogs in any activity, I would be VERY cautious.
Many BYB's DO read this website-- so please verify each claim they make.
Does the breeder ask YOU a lot of questions? Does this breeder care where her/his puppies are going?
Does the breeder only sell pets on a limited registration? If not, they are not responsible or reputable.
Try to meet as many of the puppies relatives as possible. Look at temperament....because temperament is 100% hereditary. If any of the dogs are hyper, snappy, very shy or mean.....walk away. A responsible breeder would never breed a dog with a bad temperament.
Ask for a copy of the sales contract BEFORE you actually make the purchase. A responsible breeder will always include a clause asking for the dog back... if you are ever forced to give it up.
The contract should outline the exact terms of sale AND the health guarantee. All responsible breeders offer comprehensive health guarantee's on the pups that they sell.
Don't fall for any breeder who charges more for females than males, or who charges more for a "rare" color. Run away from that person.
Puppies should have been checked by a vet and given their first immunizations (at a minimum) and should also have been wormed, and dew claws removed. A responsible breeder will usually remove dew claws at birth or shortly thereafter.
A responsible breeder is in NO rush to send pups to their new homes. Most responsible breeders don't let sheltie pups go, as a rule, until they are at least 8-10 weeks of age.
Give yourself time to make a good choice. See the pups (and parents) that several breeders have, and make a decision the whole family can agree with. After all, this pup will likely be a part of your family for the next 13-15 years or more. Don't fall for the "I have someone else coming to look in an hour" ploy.
Do you need a breeder referral.??? Please ask.
How to Buy a Sheltie Puppy................
There are 2 very distinct kinds of AKC Sheltie Puppies available for sale. Those that come from a responsible breeder, and those who don't. The difference will astound you! Just because a puppy is registered with AKC doesn't mean it is well bred. How do you tell the good from the bad? Read on.