Once you find a good/ethical/reputable breeder, the first thing they are likely to ask you is "Are you interested in a pet or show puppy?" That's because exhibitor/breeders, like me, categorize pups into two groups - show potential or pet. Hearing this, some people may feel that if they ask for "pet", they will get an inferior dog, but they shouldn't. Don't be afraid to ask the litter owner just what makes a puppy a pet to them.
Here's how I define show and pet:
A show puppy is one who has no obvious show faults (at that age) that would hurt it's chances of completing it's championship title. A pet quality is one who probably wouldn't finish or would have considerable trouble finishing and neutering would be required.
Some examples of things which would make a Ridgeback pup a "pet quality" would be;
A Ridgeback's most obvious feature - the ridge. A ridge has a standard of perfection as to length, width, definition, placement and number of crowns. Sometime the crowns are off-set, one or more may be missing or there may be more than 2 crowns associated with the ridge. It may be too short or not start correctly behind the shoulder, or it may not be there at all! A ridgeless puppy would still have all the wonderful attributes of the breed.
There are other examples, such as too much white on the paws or chest, too small or large in size, a kink in the tail, improper ear carriage or size,flaws in the bite, angulation, structure, gait or attitude. A male pup may have undescended testicles. Most of these things would matter to an exhibitor or dog show judge, but wouldn't be obvious to the average dog owner.
A pet pup may not be "ideal" for the standard but it doesn't mean they can't be the perfect pet! They'll still have the body and legs to go for a romp or to play ball, perfectly good ears to hear your call, a mouth to eat their food and a loud bark to warn off strangers.....the ridge might not be ideal but it will be attached to a warm, friendly body that'll love to be petted, a tongue for kisses and a wagging tail to greet you at home. So what if it's not perfect - who is?
Pet or show, dogs are made for unconditional love! All good breeders just want each pup to get the best home possible and for each to get the love and care they deserve. In that sense, there is no such thing as an inferior dog!