Choosing a Breeder

Choosing a Reputable Breeder

You have decided the Airedale Terrier is the dog for you. What’s your next move? What steps should you take to insure that your pup meets your expectations to become all the things you want him or her to be? Doubtless this purchase should receive thoughtful consideration. It’s not a loaf of bread you’re buying, after all. This little bundle of energy will be a member of your family for a decade or more. Choosing a reputable source for your puppy is primary to your objective. Since it is almost impossible for you, the buyer, to know what any of the puppies will grow into physically and emotionally, you must rely entirely upon your faith in the person from whom you are purchasing your pup. There are three options open to you in choosing this person:

Pet Shop or Dealer – The worst possible choice.

Pups may be poorly bred and raised. They are usually thought of as merchandise, e.g. a loaf of bread, to be sold for a high profit. Profit is possible because little has been put into the care of these pups. Many are sickly. Pet shops rely heavily on impulse buying, which is no way to choose an addition to the family.

Backyard Breeder – Also a poor choice.

This is the person who owns a pet Airedale and thinks it would be ‘fun’ to have puppies. Maybe it would be a great experience for the kids. Even worse, perhaps it’s being done to make money. Frequently this breeder knows little about the breed history or the accepted breed standard and knows even less about grooming and care. Backyard breeders almost never x-ray hips. They are usually not aware of breed problems and often do not care. Their goal is to produce pups and to sell them quickly.

Hobby Breeder – The best choice.

The serious and dedicated hobby breeder regards his dogs as just that, a hobby. He does not expect a profit. Breeders who are dedicated to the breed they love breed dogs for thrill of producing the very finest possible specimens of the breed. The result is superior quality. These breeders acknowledge responsibility for each and every puppy produced and stand behind every dog they breed.

Unequivocally, your choice should be from the ranks of the hobby breeder. It is an interesting fact that poor quality pups from pet shops and backyard breeders are usually sold for the same price, and sometimes even more, than quality pups purchased from serious hobby breeders. All three types of breeders sell puppies that are AKC registerable, but registration is neither an assurance of quality nor an indication of dedication to the breed. The question is, how does one recognize the serious, dedicated hobby breeder? While the list below identifies many of the attributes and characteristics of the serious hobby breeder, few breeders will meet all of them. Do not be afraid to ask questions or to confront a prospective source with these requirements. It is your right and you can rest assured that a dedicated and reputable breeder will respond positively and with pride. If your breeder meets all of these qualifications, you’re in good hands.

Finally, don’t be impulsive. Keep in mind that you will pay for quality no matter where your puppy comes from. Whether or not you get it is up to you.

  1. Your breeder should belong to the Airedale Terrier Club of America, a local Airedale Terrier Club or a local all-breed club. Ideally, he or she belongs to all three, and possibly other organizations as well, although, some-times not all the options will be avail-able to them. Usually, participation in dog clubs indicates depth of involvement. The breeder is exposed to other points of view, learns more about their breed, general dog care, modern breeding practices and is kept up to date. Frequently they will be breeding in accordance with a club “code of ethics”.
  2. Your breeder should be involved in some form of sanctioned competition with his dog(s). This means your breeder is not breeding in a vacuum. The breeder who does not show may have no idea how good his dogs really are and is deprived of the opportunity to share information and ideas with others. Showing provides competition which encourages breeders to produce better dogs. Breeders who show are not relying solely on a pedigree to indicate quality. The show ring is the forum that indicates the degree to which a dog conforms to the standard for its breed. Even though you may not want a show dog, you deserve a pet that was the end result of a carefully planned litter a pup which received the same care as a potential champion. The breeder who shows is known by others and has a reputation to uphold and will be as careful and honest in selling you a pet as he or she is in selling show stock.
  3. Your breeder should give you a reasonable period of time to have your pup checked by a veterinarian to determine its state of health. If a problem should arise, it can be quickly resolved.
  4. Breeders should give you written instructions on feeding, training, care and grooming. The breeder should also supply you with basic information about the breed, either as a gift or give you the opportunity to purchase it at a nominal cost. You should also receive the pup’s health and vaccination records.
  5. Breeders should be able to supply proof that their dogs have been examined by a veterinarian and that their stock has been x-rayed clear of hip dysplasia. The latter, preferably with an OFA certification number.
  6. Make it clear that you expect the breeder’s responsibility to continue after you have taken the puppy home. Many dedicated breeders will ask that the pup be returned to them or placed with new owners that meet their approval if, for some reason, you are not able to continue ownership.
  7. Be prepared to answer a few questions yourself. Reputable breeders are genuinely interested in finding quality homes for their puppies. Don’t be offended if the breeder asks whether you have a fenced yard or what kind of dogs you have had in the past and what happened to them. A serious breeder will want to know what kinds of situations their puppies will be subjected to and what kind of care they will receive. Some breeders may seem a bit hesitant to sell you a pup until they know a bit more about you.
  8. Breeders should be willing to have you visit their premises and should be able to show you a clean environment, well socialized pups and a dam with a good temperament. Puppies should seem happy and self-assured.
  9. Breeders should be willing to give you references names of people who have purchased puppies from them in the past or other Airedale owners or their veterinarian.
  10. Breeders should provide a contract or some written, signed conditions of sale. You should also get a copy of your puppy’s pedigree and you should be able to see a copy of the AKC Registration Application Form.
  11. Breeders will often require that your pet be spayed or neutered when it reaches the correct age and may withhold registration paper work until proof is provided. The most important reason for this is to insure a healthier animal. Spayed or neutered dogs are far less prone to many serious maladies. In addition, serious breeders spend a lot of time and effort planning breeding programs designed to improve the breed. They selectively carry out their programs with only the best quality available. Pets should be loved and enjoyed as pets. Reputable breeders don’t want their dogs used just to make puppies, or worse yet, end up in a “puppy mill” where they will be used to mass produce Airedales.

[Based partly on format and information obtained from the Soft Coated Wheaten Terrier Club of America]

ATCA Breeder’s Guidelines of Responsibility

All members of the ATCA Breeders’ Referral List have agreed to the following Guidelines of Responsibility.

  1. As a member of the Breeders’ Referral List, I understand that my primary responsibility is to provide information on the characteristics and properties of the breed to interested individuals. I understand further, that I am a representative of the Airedale Terrier Club of America and that the image I present reflects on the organization as a whole. I agree to act in a responsible and courteous manner when dealing with those seeking information or puppies.
  2. I will provide only AKC registered Airedale Terriers for sale to persons inquiring through the Breeders’ Referral List. I will strive to breed only those dogs that possess the qualities described by the AKC Standard of the Breed, attempting to prevent genetic diseases that may cause a dog to become crippled, blind, allergic, or otherwise disabled.
  3. As a member of the Breeders’ Referral List, I specifically agree to the following:
  4. I will not make misleading or untruthful statements in selling or advertising.
  5. I will not sell or donate individual dogs or litter lots to commercial dog wholesalers, retailers or pet shops, for resale or “give-away” to the public.
  6. I will not knowingly allow any dog I have bred or caused to be bred to be placed at auction, raffle, chance or placed by any means other than direct sale to the person or family who intends to keep the dog for their own.
  7. I will not deliberately degrade any fancier, their dogs, or their kennel.
  8. I will not sell any puppy or allow it to be placed in a new home before the age of 49 days.
  9. I will maintain high standards in the care and breeding of my dogs.
  10. I will help educate the purchaser in the standard care, grooming and other areas in which I am qualified.
  11. I will provide each buyer basic diet and care information.
  12. As a member of the Breeders’ Referral List, I agree to be a resource for buyers of puppies or older dogs that I have sold for the life of the dog. Being a resource includes, but is not necessarily limited to providing information, answering questions, and making suggestions as to where buyers may obtain additional information.
  13. As a member of the Breeders’ Referral List, I acknowledge that when dealing with persons, whether or not they were referred to me by this list, involving the sale or exchange of puppies or adult dogs, I will comply with the following requirements. I understand that documented proof of failure to comply with the provisions of this paragraph can result in my removal from the Breeders’ Referral List:
  14. At time of sale, I will provide the buyer with an AKC registration application* (blue slip) or other registration materials that enable the purchaser to complete a valid AKC transfer of ownership. Registration materials may be withheld provided that:
  15. A written statement or written explanation is provided that makes the new owner aware of when, and under what conditions, registration material will be provided (Example: at time of spay or neuter as verified by veterinarian), and
  16. A written certification is provided that identifies the exact date of birth, and the AKC registration numbers of the Sire and Dam.
  17. At time of sale, I will provide the buyer with a written, three-generation (minimum) pedigree* (parents, grand-parents, and great-grand parents).
  18. At the time of sale, I will provide the buyer with a health record that identifies any vaccinations delivered up to the date of sale. If no vaccinations have been administered, then a written statement to that effect must be provided.
  19. ATCA strongly recommends that breeders provide each buyer with a specific window of opportunity during which to have the puppy or dog examined by a licensed veterinarian, at the buyer’s expense, and then, upon written recommendation of the veterinarian for specific reasons, return the puppy or dog to the seller for a full refund of all money paid. One of the following two conditions must be met:
  20. If you offer such a period of time, the period must not be shorter than 48 hours (72-96 hours recommended) and must include at least two full, normal, eight-hour business days, or
  21. If no such period of time is provided, then a written statement to that effect must be provided.

* The above rules concerning AKC registration and pedigrees do not apply to Airedales that are rescued and prepared for adoption through the Airedale Terrier Rescue and Adoption network.

ATCA Code of Ethics


Members of the ATCA Breeders’ Referral List have paid a fee for the privilege of being listed, and have agreed in writing to be bound by the Breeders’ Referral List “Guidelines of Responsibility.” However, the ATCA assumes no responsibility for the quality, health, or temperament of any dog, nor the warranty, guarantee, integrity, honesty or reliability, expressed or implied, by any person whose name appears on this list. All such warranties, guarantees and promises are between buyer(s) and seller(s) as individuals.

All buyers are strongly encouraged to carefully document, in writing, all representations, promises, statements, warranties and guarantees made by sellers of puppies and older dogs. Such documentation should be signed by the seller. The ATCA can not and does not become involved in resolving conflicts and disagreements between buyers and sellers. ATCA responsibility is limited to insuring that listed members abide by terms of the Breeders’ Referral “Guidelines of Responsibility” Requirements listed above.

Complaints and Redress

The ATCA is interested in the integrity of its Breeders’ Referral List and welcomes comments and feedback (whether positive or negative) from anyone who contacts the members listed. For sufficient cause the ATCA can, and will, suspend or permanently remove members from the Breeders’ Referral List. In addition the ATCA can exercise certain disciplinary measures, including expulsion from the organization, as provided for by our Constitution and By-Laws.

To file a complaint against a member of the ATCA Breeders’ Referral List, you must provide specific information that describes why the member is alleged to be deficient in his or her responsibilities with regard to the Guidelines of Responsibility listed above. Complaints must be written and signed by a person who has had direct interaction with the listed breeder. Complaints should be sent to the Chairperson of the ATCA Breeders’ Referral List/Puppy Buyers Guide Committee; the name and address of this individual can be obtained from the ATCA Secretary. Alternately, complaints may be sent to the Secretary who will forward them to the Committee Chair. All correspondence relating to specific complaints against members of the Breeders’ Referral List will be treated in a confidential manner by the ATCA Board of Directors and Breeders’ Referral List/Puppy Buyers Guide Committee.

 ATCA Breeder Listings


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