Things YOU Should Be Asking A Breeder BEFORE You Buy

**NOTE: If you are looking at someone's website, here's a big RED flag: Reputable breeder's will post the dogs FULL registered names, then a "call name". If you know the AKC registered name, then you can look at the health checks yourself at OFA. Simply listing the dogs as "Sam" or "Belle" should be a WARNING that this is just a puppy mill or backyard breeder only interested in getting money out of you. Do not be fooled into tales that their dogs don't have such and such, because ALL RIDGEBACKS stem from the same few dogs. Unless the parents are tested for hips, elbows, thyroid, CERF(eyes) and DM - DO NOT BUY A PUPPY FROM THESE PEOPLE!

1. Are both parents registered with the American Kennel Club?

The American Kennel Club is a registry for purebred dogs. Having AKC registered parents should ensure you are buying a purebred puppy but you should realize that the AKC does not generally police breeders and "AKC" should not be considered a recommendation of a breeder. Backyard breeders and puppy mills can  have AKC registered dogs, too.. Be wary - ask  more questions.

Reputable breeders - and those who are RRCUS members - breed ONLY AKC registered dogs. Some like to show at UKC (United Kennel Club) shows and may have dual registered dogs for showing or performance events.. The UKC is the only other legitament registrating body in the US. Dogs "registered" with Canine Kennel Club or  such are indicators of puppy mill activity.

2. Do you own Sire and Dam of litter?

A conscientious breeder will have put a great deal of effort and planning in this litter and the best Sire may not necessarily belong to them nor even live in the area. Having a male dog in the house doesn't make him a great stud dog or the breeder reputable.

Other questions to ask is where does the mother dog spend her day? Where does she sleep at night?  Beware those who live in pens or kennel runs all the time. Great companion dogs are raised around people. They do not live all their lives in the backyard, in a pen or in a run. They are members of the family and when the family is home, the dog is with them in the house.

Ridgebacks are great "people" dogs.... they want and should be with the family.

3. What is temperament of mother? Father?

This should be of utmost concern. Happy, well adjusted, non-aggressive Ridgebacks are a pleasure to own. Aggressive Ridgebacks are dangerous! Claims of overly protective dogs or a tough nature should definitely set off alarms.

4. Have Sire and Dam been x-rayed free of hip and elbow dysplasia? What were their ratings? Can I see the certificates?

Radiographs of hips and elbows should have been taken anytime after 2 years of age and submitted to the Orthopedic Foundation for Animals . A young pup or dog under 24 months cannot have an OFA number. They can have preliminary OFA X-rays though and the owner will have a copy of the findings for you to see. Dogs will only receive a number from OFA if their hips can be rated as  Excellent, Good or Fair. Dogs with varing degrees of hip dysplasia will not get a number..  Elbows receive a pass or fail rating. It's perfectly fine to ask to see these certificates and if they have not been done it's best to pass on a puppy from this litter as surgery for hip replacement can be upwards of $1000 to $3000. Beware of answers such as "Oh, our dogs don't limp and we can tell their hips are fine." Only Superman has X-ray vision!

5. Why did you breed this litter?

Most reputable people who show and/or compete with their dogs breed a litter to have something for them to show and/or to continue to improve their line of dogs. They do not breed  a litter because they wanted the children to witness the miracle of birth or because their dogs are so wonderful that everyone wants one or to get their purchase price back on their female! There are far too many wonderful dogs in rescue or in shelters to be frivilously breeding and selling to anyone with the money.

It is not unusual for a well-bred litter to have champion parents, grandparents, great grandparents, great great grandparents, etc. A handful of champions a couple of generations back on a pedigree is really not impressive. If the dogs aren't being evaluated by outside unbiased individuals, as in conformation showing, why are they being bred?

Most reputable breeders can supply you with a 3-4 or more generation pedigree of the litter beforehand.

. What other health or genetic testing/screening was done before breeding?

The RRCUS recommends breeding stock be tested for hypothyrodism - a problem in the breed - and have their eyes certified free of problems by a veterinary optamologist. This is commonly referred to as CERF. Both CERF and thryoid testing should be done every 2 years until the dog is over 6 years of age.

All puppies should have been checked for Dermoid Sinus as well. DS is an inherited condidtion in the Rdigeback breed. Claims such as " Oh, our dogs never have that problem" should be suspect as the dermoid sinus and the ridge factor  are  related. Until there is a DNA test for DS, all puppies should have been checked!

7. How big are the sire and dam?

Bigger is NOT better.According to the standard in ALL  the world's RR club standards, a  Ridgeback should generally weigh between 65 and 85 pounds. More than this is incorrect and dangerous to the future of the breed. This dog was used for speed and agility - not for killing lions. 120 pound Ridgebacks should not be used for breeding.

8. How many litters has she had?

A responsible breeder will often breed a female twice, and once in a while 3 times. If she is on her third litter and 4 years old then she is being used as a commodity. Beware of numerous litters!

9. How often does this person breed a litter?

Correctly raising a litter of Ridgebacks puppies is all consuming and should not be undertaken lightly. One litter every 1 - 3 years is often the most that a responsible breeder can do. Numerous litters per year should raise a red flag.

10. Is breeder a member in good standing of Rhodesian Ridgeback Club of the United States (RRCUS)?

Is this breeder aware of the RRCUS Code of Ethics and does he/she agreed to up hold it?The breeder of a litter of Rhodesian Ridgebacks should be a member of RRCUS and be familiar with the Code of Ethics. This is a correct step in weeding out unethical breeders - it is no guarantee, but definitely a positive step.

11.. Does Breeder offer any health guarantee?

When all good intentions fail and a puppy is genetically inferior - what guarantee will the breeder offer? Money returned, replacement puppy, etc.? Discuss this and make sure you are comfortable dealing with the breeder..

12. If for any reason you might have to give up the dog, will the breeder take the dog back and provide it with a home?

All reputable breeders will take back their dogs, regardless of age, and either find them a good home or keep it themselves.

13.. Is Breeder involved in purebred rescue?

All reputable breeders should be willing to rescue their own puppies - forever! This is a must!!! If a breeder is putting puppies in this over-crowded world, they should be making every effort to make certain ALL Ridgebacks have good homes. This should include their own puppies throughout the puppy's life.

14. How many years experience does Breeder have in Conformation Showing, Lure Coursing, Obedience, Agility, Therapy, Herding, Breeding?

It goes without saying, the more varied experience the more dog knowledge the Breeder should have. However, everyone has to start somewhere and that usually is done with the guidance of a mentor. If this is their first litter or so, who is their mentor and what are their qualifications?

15.. Will Breeder be available for questions and assistance throughout this dog's life?

As a minimum this should be required. When you get a puppy, you should also be purchasing the expertise of your Breeder and should be able to have a lifetime source.

16.. Does Breeder require spay/neuter agreements?

In an effort to control pet over-population, a conscientious breeder should require spay/neuter agreements on puppies that don't meet breeding criteria and/or are going to a pet home to be a companion.

17.. Does Breeder make efforts to ensure good homes for puppies prior to breeding?

A responsible breeder will only bring pups into the world if there are sufficient suitable homes for the litter. Most well bred litters are tentatively spoken for long before their 8-week birthday. You should also be asked numerous questions about your plans for the care of the puppy, fencing, indoor/outdoor plans, pets owned in the past, etc. The breeder should show as much interest the type of home as you are showing in the puppy.

If they are only interested in how you are going to pay for the dog, then beware.

18. When will the puppies be able to go to new homes?

Most people grade their litters at about 8 weeks of age - an optimal time to assess stucture. So, around 8 weeks or afterwards is the normal time. Puppies are not neurologically compete until the 49 th day - 7 weeks, so under no circumstance should a puppy leave it's litter before then! There are things a puppy learns from it's mother and it's siblings before that time that you or I can never recreate!

19.. Where were puppies raised?

Great companions are raised in the house with people, not out in the yard in a dirt pen! The places they are raised shows the effort made to properly  socialize the puppies. This breed can be aloof, so great efforts should be made by a breeder in the first 8 weeks to introduce puppies to as much as possible - dishwashers, T.V., vacuum cleaners, children, numerous people, cats, loud noises, etc. Being kept in an 8X10 outside  run or in a garage does nothing for the temperament of your puppy.

20.. Have puppies be checked  for Dermoid Sinus?

This is a problem in the breed and should be of utmost concern to a breeder. Anyone who doesn't know what that is or  says "Oh, our dogs don't have those" is either a liar, a fool (or thinks you are) or doesn't have Ridgebacks! The Ridge and DS are genetically linked, so all RRs have the chance of producing puppies with DS.

21.. How are Dermoid Sinus puppies dealt with?

D.S. puppy should either be humanely euthanized or may possibly have D.S. surgically removed and be placed in a spay/neuter pet home for a nominal cost. Puppy should not be sold at an inflated price. An experience veterinarian will properly remove the DS and once the healing is over, there are no after effects.

22.. Have puppies been checked for worms or been wormed?

Worms are common in puppies and control and eradication should be expected from a conscientious knowledgeable breeder. Most puppies will have been wormed at least once and in my part of the country will have been started on a preventative. You should receive a heatlh record with your puppy that has the dates of the vaccinations, wormings and future dates for vaccinations.

 23. Have puppies had any inoculations?

By 8 weeks pups should have had 1 or 2 of the puppy shots.

24.. Will I be able to pick out my puppy?

Since the breeder has the luxury of watching these puppies interact with each other and humans on a day to day basis, a responsible breeder will have a better idea of which puppy should work best in which home. You may have choice between a couple of puppies going to pet hoomes, but don't expect a good breeder to allow you to come in and pick any puppy you want. For example, a bold and headstrong puppy could be a disaster in a home with a more retiring family.

25. May I come and visit to see the puppies or adult Ridgebacks you own?

Absolutely! It would be the perfect opportunity for both the new owners and the breeder to met. You can see first hand how the pups are raised, how the older dogs interact with company and the condition they are in.

 Remember that between birth and three weeks is a critical period and has potential danger to the pup from outside sources. If the breeder doesn't allow visitors during these early days, then don't be upset, they are only tryong to protect the pups. Four to 8 weeks is usually the best time and also when the pups are more mobile and ready to meet people.

Sometimes an offer to deliver a puppy to you should send up red flags. Why should you buy a puppy from someone who's willing to meet you at a rest stop or pop it on a plane? This might show an urgency to gets puppies placed quickly without a great deal of concern for the home. A responsible breeder spends a great deal of time visiting with prospective owners and educating them on the special characteristics of the Ridgeback. A visit also gives you an opportunity to see the environment where the puppies were raised. Visitation with the breeder at a pre-arranged time shouldn't be an inconvenience.