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  • Writer's pictureSierra Combs

AKC "Approved Breeder"-- There is no such thing!

The only entry qualification for AKC Marketplace is that puppies be AKC registrable.

That's All! While AKC registration is important to determining purebred status it is nothing to health, structure, or quality.

Let's look at this like a car! Is your car’s title important? Yes. However, a 1990s car that doesn't run and hasn't been started in over a decade most likely has a title just the same as a brand-new Jeep off the lot (or whatever your favorite car is). You get what I mean. Just because both cars have a title doesn't mean both cars are of the same quality.

It is the same as buying a house that wasn't built to code. Just because it is standing now doesn't mean it will stand as long as the house is built by a licensed contractor.

We can go on and on with similar comparisons but I hope you get the point!

First off, the American Kennel Club does not "approve" breeders. The breeder who produces 200 puppies a year and sells them to the local pet store can list their puppies here just as easily as the reputable breeder. All it requires is AKC numbers on the parent dogs. The end goal is to register puppies regardless of who the breeder is.

Per AKC's Website, "AKC is not affiliated with and does not license or endorse any breeders, groomers or other service providers, including those listed on AKC Marketplace. AKC has no control over their business practices and is not liable for any dealings between you and any breeders, groomers, or other service providers. AKC is not responsible for and has no liability with respect to any transaction between you and these service providers. These listings are provided solely as a service to the public.

AKC does not sell dogs and makes no warranty or guarantee as to the health, quality, parentage, or any value of any dogs. American Kennel Club, AKC, and the AKC Logo are registered trademarks of American Kennel Club Incorporated. The breeders have registered with AKC the sires, dams and litters listed on the AKC Marketplace. Individual puppies of these AKC - AKC-registered litters, therefore, are eligible to be registered with AKC, subject to compliance with existing AKC Rules, Regulations, Policies, and the submission of a properly completed registration application and fee. AKC registration does not indicate the health, quality or value of a dog. AKC registration simply identifies the dog as offspring of a sire and dam that the breeder has registered with AKC."

So there you have it they are simply there to register puppies.

I am not hating on AKC either my dogs are also AKC registered.

I'm simply here to tell you that Purebred doesn't equate Well-bred. It is YOUR job as the buyer to look beyond the very bare minimum requirement of getting a dog with papers.

Just as breeders are expected to breed responsibly it is YOUR job as the buyer to shop responsibly. Buying poorly bred puppies keeps the cycle repeating itself. It is not AKC's job to screen every breeder it is YOURS!

So what other requirements should you have?

First off, you should look for a breeder whose dogs are purebred we have established that above. However, the next step would be health. Are the parent's health tested? What does that mean?

Health testing is not "yes the parents have seen the vet".

Health tests are a series of tests performed on a dog's parents before breeding to ensure that the dog does not have any known health conditions that can be inherited. These tests can help reduce the risk of your puppy developing breed-specific health issues.


While a vet check can reassure you that a puppy is healthy at the time of sale. However, a vet check can't tell you about genetic conditions which might occur, later in that puppy's life.  Health testing isn't carried out on the puppies themselves (with very few exceptions).

 It is carried out on a puppy's parents - well before they are ever bred.

AKC does have programs such as Breeder of Merit which require you to health test and submit proof of titles BUT there are a few breeders who just do a few health tests on 1-2 dogs and they earned the breeder of merit simply though puppy buyers titling their pets and the parent dogs aren't titled and have never left their home to earn a title. So you should even screen these breeders.

How do you find those?

A good breeder will list these on their website. We have a website for that called OFA or Orthopedic Foundation for Animals.

The OFA has a database in which breeders can submit their dogs health test results. These tests are submitted to a 3rd party. Most often your regular vet cannot run these tests. I am lucky that my vet is certified to do Penn hip. However, for eyes we have to travel to a specialist, and for things such as thyroid or DNA those must be sent to an approved lab to run the tests.

All breeders who screen their dogs will submit the results to OFA. You can search the dog by their registered name on ---> For example if you were looking for "Honors" results (our Vizsla) you would type his name in as CK All Up Honor and find him there.

If the dog isn't found chances are they haven't performed the tests but you can ask to sight the certificate. I prefer to just submit my results as it prevents me from having to post the certificate online where scammers can use them.

Breeders should be doing at least the bare minimum requirements for their breed.

For Vizslas it's Hips, Thyroid, and eyes. I do have my dog's hearts certified as well.

The OFA has a list on their site for the health tests needed for each breed. The tests for a Vizsla will not be the same as the tests required for a Saint Bernard or a Chihuahua.

The next step is why is the breeder breeding? Are they doing something with their dogs other than just making puppies?

This is where titles come into place. Ethical Breeders breed dogs to preserve the breed. Gundogs are built the way they are because of the job that they were bred to do. The standard is the blueprint of how our breed is meant to look act and function. It goes into detail on the structure, temperament, and purpose of the build.

To give the best build for hunting in the field. Breeders who strive to breed a dog that meets the standard are focusing on preserving the breed's characteristics. This is a dual purpose breed meaning that this breed should be able to go from the field to the show ring. Irresponsible breeding practices can lead to serious health and behavior problems. Causing medical and behavioral issues that can lead to the dog ending up in the shelter system. Unethical breeders focus on making a profit off of their animals. A responsible breeder will make the health and well-being of all of their dogs their number one priority. Irresponsible breeders will skip health testing and skip out on proving their dogs in the field/Show/performance. A title demonstrates that the breeder does more than just breed their dogs. They are engaged with and involved in other activities besides breeding their dogs over and over.

A  title shows that the breeder has had the opportunity to compare their dogs with other representatives of the breed and to compare them against a set, objective test (that was designed with the pointing breed in mind). Such as AKC hunt tests, field trails, or NAVHDA tests.

A title shows that the dog has left the breeder’s property, and been exposed to everyday situations beyond the small world of the breeder’s home. The title shows that this dog has been through the stress of training and trialing in an environment much different from its comfortable home, and the dog has handled it successfully.

Some breeders may choose to focus on conformation, some may choose to focus on performance but they should have a goal more than breeding to make puppies.

You can search a breeders dogs titles on AKC using this handy tool here You type in the dogs AKC name excluding the titles and you can see if the dog really has a prefix or suffix title. Yes some breeders lie but if the title hasn't been updated yet it does take about a month after the dog has earned the title so just because its not posted doesn't mean the dog doesn't have it but most breeders will glady post their dogs title certificates when they receive them. You can always ask for proof!

Now of course there is much more to it than what I have listed above but these are the best starting points. Are their dogs registered? Do they have health tests? Do they have a purpose for breeding? (making pets isn't a valid excuse) Are their dogs titled?

Other things to look for

Do they have an application? This shows they care about where puppies go.

Do they have a contract?

Do they take their puppies back?

Are their puppies microchipped to prevent them from getting lost?

Do they have photos of the parents on their website? (some back yard breeders only post puppies)

How and where are the puppies raised? Remember just because they are inside the home doesn't mean they are clean. As a breeder myself I know of breeders who home-raise their puppies and I've seen photos of filthy conditions even in their house. GROSS! I'd rather have a puppy who was raised in a well-built CLEAN kennel than a puppy that was raised in their own filth inside a home. Cleainess and proper set ups are the key.

Does the breeder implement any early obedience or rearing programs?

How much do they seem to know about the breed?

Why are they breeding the parents together?

Nosam Kennels AKC breeder of merit

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