Searching for a puppy can become a nightmare of confusion when reading through the classified advertising of a local newspaper. Most ads are worded so that breeders and their puppies always sound wonderful! Impressive statements such as "Imported Bloodlines", "Champion Quality", or "Tea Cup" can easily make us think that these breeders are knowledgeable. The problem is to separate the wonderful breeders from their not so wonderful competitors.

Some pet owners make use of available Dog Magazines when searching for a puppy. Space is also limited in such magazines so knowing the "keywords" or "catch phrases" will educate the consumer into becoming a more discriminating buyer.

With little effort one can become "savvy" on how to work through a classified advertisement .... be it in a newspaper or magazine. "Catchwords" like those below are things to watch for:

"Pure-bred Pedigree" - If this statement appears along with mention of a Registry (such as AKC) chances are the breeder is not knowledgeable. Registering a dog through such a group as AKC guarantees that the dog MUST be a purebred.

"Pick of the Litter" - This is another indication of a breeder who is not knowledgeable. Ethical breeders breed first and foremost for themselves. They do not let "Pick of the Litter" go to pet homes nor to inexperienced buyers. These dogs are usually kept or sold to other ethical breeders and never sold through the newspaper.

"Champion Quality" - No puppy can legitimately be termed "champion quality". All puppies have the "potential" to become champions but the determination of "Champion quality" cannot be made until the dog is older.

"Imported Bloodlines" - No matter what area of the world a dog comes from there are always problems. No country produces 100% perfect bloodlines. The full range of potential problems from health to temperament exist everywhere. Just because a dog is imported does not mean that the quality is superior.

"CKC Registered" - This can imply two things: 1. The dog is Registered with the Canadian Kennel Club or 2. The dog is registered with the Continental Kennel Club. If a dog is simply marked CKC it is the buyer's responsibility to check further and discover which club contains the dog's registry. The Continental Kennel Club registers mixed breed dogs as well as purebred dogs. Anyone can register a dog with this club without concrete proof that the dog is really purebred. This is not the case with the Canadian Kennel Club which exclusively registers purebred dogs.

"Tea-Cup" - Any catch-phrases such as "tiny", "tea-cup", "extra small", "extra large", "imperial" "royal", etc. are signs of an irresponsible breeder. There is no such thing as "Tea-cup" Poodles nor "Imperial" Shih Tzus. For AKC registered dogs there is only one written standard for a breed and anything that deviates from this standard is incorrect. Irresponsible breeders are interested in only one thing ... money. They could care less about the health or eventual welfare of their animals.

"Rare Color" - Almost all AKC registered breeds have a standard which has acceptable colors. Responsible breeders do NOT price puppies by "color". They are priced for quality - not color. If a color is being offered that is not mentioned in the Standard, chances are that this color may reflect an impure breeding. In Italian Greyhounds there are no "brindles" (tiger striped effect) and haven't been for years. Since brindle is a dominant pattern ... suspect any IG that displays such a color variation as a possible mixed-breed animal.

Advertising Several Breeds - This is a sign of a large back yard breeding operation or a commercial breeder. These breeders either post singular or multiple advertisements. Most ethical breeders breed a maximum of one to three breeds and NEVER any more than that. Raising puppies is a time consuming process. In order to suitably socialize and prepare a puppy a breeder must be willing to devote hours each day. Having more than two litters on the ground makes it almost impossible for an ethical breeder to devote the time necessary to properly raise these puppies especially if the breeder works outside the home.

"Champion Bloodlines" - This is not a guarantee of anything. The buyer should find out exactly what the breeder means by this. Some breeders consider one or two champions somewhere back in the pedigree as "champion bloodlines". This breeder believes that it takes more than a few champions in a bloodline to make it a "champion bloodline". Furthermore the term, "champion", does not imply any type of health assurance. "Champion" only denotes that an animal obtained it's championship through the organization to which it is registered. It does not guarantee that the animal has been tested for hereditary health problems.

So what are the "good"phrases?

Space is always limited in newspaper classified advertisements. As a result it is difficult for breeders to say all that they might like. Catch-words like those below will sometimes indicate the presence of a responsible breeder.

"Approved homes only" This indicates a breeder who is concerned about the puppies' future welfare. After being contacted, responsible breeders ask the buyer questions about his/her home, lifestyle and knowledge of the breed. They are less concerned about "money" and more concerned about the puppy's future home.

"Spay/Neuter Required" This indicates a breeder who is concerned about the quality of the breed. Quality is maintained through the use of required spay/neuter of all pet animals. This is a responsible attitude.

"OFA, CERF" This is a sign of a conscientious breeder who has tested the parents of the pups for hereditary health problems. Be aware that even with these tests there is NO guarantee that a puppy cannot come up with these defects ... only that the chances are better than average that it will not.

"Show Potential" Some of the good breeders substitute "Show Quality" with "Show Potential." By substituting the term, "potential", instead of "quality", buyers are keyed into the fact that young pups cannot be accurately evaluated for future show careers. It is more honest to predict the possibility of good future potential in the conformation ring than to claim "show quality" at an age when it is simply impossible to determine such a thing.

Terms that can go either way

"Guaranteed" - Both irresponsible and responsible breeders have been known to use this phrase... even pet stores use it. A simple phone call will allow you to find out exactly what is being guaranteed. Always check-out a breeder who uses this phrase to make sure you are dealing with a responsible breeder.

"Pets to Show Quality" - Investigate further any statements such as this. If the breeder does not enter his/her dogs in AKC approved dog shows there is a serious question about that breeder's ability to determine "show quality". Ethical breeders do not usually sell show quality animals into strictly pet homes. Ethical breeders do not sell to homes that are dedicated only to breeding and not showing. Breeders work hard to establish a bloodline and are concerned with protection of the breed. As a result they are not willing to let a novice ruin what they themselves have worked so hard to build. The purchase of a show quality animal demands a great deal of knowledge. Buyers of such animals must be willing to educate themselves on the finer points of the breed.

Other things to consider.

No matter what the breed, no dog should be sold under the age of eight (8) weeks. Breeders advertising pups under this age should be avoided. Temperament problems can result from animals that are taken from their mothers too early. Some states do not allow puppies to be sold under the age of 6 weeks. Puppies sold under this age will also be more susceptible to various diseases. For example, they will not have full immunities built-up for resisting such deadly diseases as Parvo or Distemper. Shots and worming are something an ethical breeder will do as a matter of course and usually responsible breeders do not need to mention such things in an advertisement.


The onset of the computer age has brought with it many new conveniences. One of those conveniences is the possibility of purchasing pets on-line. As in all such transactions involving a purchase the buyer should be knowledgeable enough to beware. This suggestions below will provide some information on pet classified advertisements and discuss the difference between what is said and what is the truth.

On-line services such as AOL have provided areas for free classified advertising. In the case of AOL these areas are called message boards. In such places, look for breeders who write more than one or two sentences.

Please be aware, that such places have opened a new realm for the commercial breeder as well.

The following phrases might also be used in on-line, magazines or newspaper classified ads:

"USDA Inspected" - Responsible breeders have no need to be USDA inspected. Being licensed by the USDA is reserved for breeders who sell commercially.

"MC/Visa Accepted" - Please be aware that this may indicate that the breeder is in the business of producing puppies. Only businesses have the ability to take credit cards. Responsible breeders are not mass- producing puppies so therefore can take the time to breed quality, healthy dogs. Responsible breeders want to meet the buyer and find out about the puppy's future home before discussing method of payment.

"Breeding Stock" - No responsible breeder sells animals as "breeding stock" to pet homes. Nor do they advertise as such.

"Member of Club" - A possible sign of a responsible breeder is one that is a member of the local All-Breed Dog Club or Breed Club. However membership in such an organization is not a guarantee of anything. There are good responsible breeders who are not members of any clubs.


In summation... the best consumer weapon available is KNOWLEDGE. Buyers should carefully research the breed in which they are interested and then even more carefully check-out the breeder. Sometimes the best place to purchase a puppy is NOT through advertisements but rather through word of mouth by responsible breeders.

In the case of Italian Greyhounds there is a wonderful book available called The Complete Italian Greyhound by Lilian Barber that every IG owner should purchase. There is also an on-line webpage sponsored by the

Italian Greyhound Club of America

These are good places to start. Be very careful of advertising claims .... what is said and what is the truth are too often very different things!

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