Reading social media posts, breeders seem to agree that dealing with puppy inquiries can be frustrating. This is definitely a time-consuming aspect of raising dogs and having a public presence; it always has been. But compared to decades ago, before the Internet and personal computers, when breeders had to type in individual answers, possibly also pedigrees for show puppies, and include photos that might or might not be returned, it’s relatively easy today. Instead of complaining, think back to when you started. With many of us sidelined during the pandemic, taking a few minutes to turn an inquiry into a teachable moment is an important contribution you can make to our sport.
You have no puppies available
If you’re catching your breath as the last of your litter has left for a big home, it’s tempting to delete an anonymous email from someone looking for a puppy. You may think you owe them nothing. But what do you owe to your race? What breed wouldn’t benefit from an enthusiastic new owner, who might eventually be interested in doing agility or rallying with their dog, joining your regional breed club, and volunteering at a Meet the Breeds event? All this potential will be lost if you delete this application. Instead, why not take a few minutes to respond, provide contact information for a few breeders who have puppies, or send them to the parent club where they can be directed to litters in their part of the country?
When a potential puppy buyer asks for breed information, have a few fact sheets on your computer that you can send them. Even newer exhibitors know the basics of their breed’s history, grooming and exercise requirements, and can send a kind response forwarding it.
It’s not the right fit
Sometimes it feels like we spend as much time dissuading people from buying a puppy of our breed as we do welcoming them into the fold. It’s part and parcel of being a defender of our race. We are basically matchmaking. We might get a request from nice people who tell us just enough about their family and lifestyle to know that our breed is not the dog they should buy. Maybe everyone is too busy to deal with a high-maintenance coat; or parents of toddlers are looking for a flimsy toy breed or a loud, loud breed that will knock little ones over with every game of fetch. Whatever the incompatibility, tough love doesn’t have to mean rough and cruel love. Explain to these people why your breed is not suitable for them and suggest a few others that would suit them better. We all have extensive networks of fellow breeders, as well as basic dog knowledge. At the very least, we can send them to the AKC website.
One of the common misconceptions we hear in the purebred dog world is that we’re all snobs, with no time to offer the “mere” pet owner. Any dog lover who has attended a Meet the Breeds event knows how generous breeders can be when we staff booths, hand out literature, and let the public interact with our dogs. Potential buyers who email us should be treated equally politely. Let’s maximize the value of this first contact between the applicant and the breeder. Share your knowledge so that the applicant leaves the experience more educated and with a better impression of good breeders.
A note for buyers
By now it should be clear that there is a right way and a wrong way to send a request to a breeder. Let’s end with some advice to guide you, if you are looking for a prospect.
Whether it’s a pet or a show puppy, never start with “How much?”. Breeders shed blood, sweat and tears on their puppies, and selling them to qualified houses is not an easy thing. Whether you pay $50 or $5,000.00, this will be the cheapest investment you will make in a dog, when you factor in good food, veterinary care, grooming, supplies, and boarding everything. throughout your life – and that’s not even part of the dog show entry fee. A good breeder is much more likely to respond well to a few one-time payments than to a rude “How much?” ” at the beginning. Puppies are not big screen televisions.
If you’re new to the sport and the breeders don’t know you, don’t be pushy and demand their best. This sense of entitlement is endemic in all areas of society today, and we don’t respond well to it. The third choice from a consistent litter is a much more appropriate choice to learn from than expecting the breeder to part with her best, a pup that it may have taken her 30 years to produce. Don’t be pushy. We won’t be impressed by a “Name your price” bluster. We will be impressed by your humility.
Beautiful exhibition prospects don’t grow on trees. One of the best things you can say, and only if you really mean it, is, “We really love your dogs and we’re in no rush.” Please keep us in mind when you have something special. In the meantime, we would like to stay in touch with you and hope that we can spend time together at the shows once they start again. Most breeders would really appreciate that kind of polite and patient approach.
Cultivating relationships with newcomers to the sport is an extremely important responsibility for all of us. It often starts with a kind response to a first email.