This information is provided purely to help you make an "EDUCATED" and "INFORMED" decision!



Questions to Ask a Breeder


How to Recognize a Reputable Breeder


Responsibilities of the Breeder/Seller

Breeding Animals    Non-Commercial Activity    AKC Rules Compliance     Education     Sportsmanship

Evaluating a Breeder


  •  How long have you been involved with this breed? The ideal response: at least several years. But a first-time breeder may fill the bill if she can show that she's being mentored by more experienced breeders.

  •  What activities do you do? Good answers to this question include conformation or obedience, agility or field trials. Less traditional activities, such as raising puppies for service work, are also great.

  •  Why did you do this breeding? Any response that indicates the breeder wants to improve the breed is a good sign

  •  Have you tested the parents? The breeder should show you certifications that the father (sire) and mother (dam) have no genetic diseases common to that particular breed?

  •  What vacciantions and worming's do the puppies receive? The breeder should list the puppies' immunizations and de-worming procedures or explain why she adopts an alternative plan.

  •  How do you socialize the puppies? Ideally, the breeder raises her puppies inside her home, so that they feel comfortable with a human household's sights, sounds and activities. If raised in a separate kennel, the puppies should have frequent contact with people of all ages.

  •  Do you provide a health guarantee? The only acceptable answer to this question is "yes." Generally, breeders agree to replace a puppy found to have a serious health condition within a few days of purchase.

  •  Do you provide a contract? Again, the only acceptable answer is "yes." The contract should outline spay-neuter requirements, provisions for returning the puppy to the breeder if necessary, and other aspects of the sale

  •   When can we take the puppy home? No reputable breeder allows a puppy to go to a new owner before 8 weeks of age. Small-dog breeders often keep puppies longer.
  •  How can we contact you after the sale? A good breeder will want to stay in touch with you throughout your dog's life. At the very least, she'll give you a telephone number. At best, she'll call or e-mail you periodically to check on the puppy


     When looking for a puppy, it is important to find someone dedicated to producing healthy and stable dogs that possess the endearing traits the Sheltie is known for.

​     We recommend that you ask a breeder the following questions to prove they are trying to preserve and protect the breed they love. Just remember, you should be just as interested in interviewing the breeder as the breeder is about interviewing you. They will become your mentor for the next 15 years of the dog's life, so make sure it is someone that you trust and feel comfortable calling when you need advice along the way.

1. Are they involved in a sport such as conformation, agility, obedience or herding?

This proves that the breeder has a goal in mind for every litter and is not just doing it to make money. It also tells you that their dog's temperaments are stable enough to withstand the pressure of competition as well as traveling on a regular basis.

2. Do they perform the recommended health tests on their dogs? 

Ask what testing they have done on the parents to be sure they are clear of any genetic diseases. Read about the recommended health tests for Shelties here.

3. Are they knowledgeable about the breed? Are they willing to discuss the breed's strengths and weaknesses with you?

Finding someone that is dedicated to studying the breed and has a wealth of knowledge is immeasurable if you hit any road blocks with your puppy. The right breeder is willing to answer any questions to ensure their dogs thrive in their new homes.

4. Are you able to meet at least one of the parents?

​     This is a great opportunity to see what your puppy's personality and appearance will be like when full-grown. Pay close attention to temperament to make sure it is the right fit for your lifestyle.

     Just remember active breeders are usually traveling on the weekends to competitions, and working a full-time job during the week. So do not be discouraged if they take a while to get back to you. Learn more about what to look for in a breeder here.

A responsible breeder should be as interested in you as you are in them. Your breeder will most likely have many questions for you to help him or her determine the right puppy for you. You should also be an informed buyer, and the ASSA’s Guidelines for Ethical Behavior are a valuable resource to help you identify responsible breeders and set reasonable expectations for the sales agreement and ongoing care of your Sheltie.



  •  The ultimate goal of the responsible breeder should be to improve the breed by producing attractive, healthy puppies with good temperaments, whether for pet or show.

  •  Breeders should have a basic knowledge of genetics, the breed, dog breeding in general, and the specific faults and virtues of their chosen genetic lines. They should also be aware of potential health problems, associated both with the breed itself, and the specific lines. This is to encourage improvement of the breed by using top quality stock, along with extensive researched knowledge.

  •  A breeder should be discriminating in the placement of his stock. A breeder should not sell to, or aid in selling a Sheltie to any person who he has reason to believe will not provide proper care and environment, or who may use the dog in a fashion which is detrimental to the dog itself or the breed.

  •  It is required by Maine Law that breeders not sell puppies under the age of eight (8) weeks and/or without proper, documented, immunization and health protection for their age.

  •  Breeders should be honest and forthright in answering questions pertaining to their Shelties.

  •  Breeders should recommend future immunization and worming schedules, as well as to deal with various health and/or behavioral problems that might occur. Breeders should also inform new owners of any health clearances that have been performed on one or both of the parents.

  •  Breeders should assume more responsibility for dogs produced throughout their lives rather than just until the first sale.

  •  Breeders should maintain the best possible health, safety, cleanliness and veterinary care for their animals, as well as proper nutrition and socialization; and should pass these recommended measures along to new owners.

  •  All agreements should be in writing, and be clearly understood by all parties.

  •  Breeding arrangements should never be established which would encourage pet buyers to undertake a breeding program. If a "breeder" does not have the time, facility or desire to themselves have a litter out of a particular brood matron, that dog should not be passed to a pet buyer just to produce puppies.

  •  Responsible breeders should require the spaying/neutering of all non-breeding animals and follow-up should be done to ensure that this aspect of the contract has been fulfilled.





  •  Shelties used for breeding should conform as closely as possible to the breed standard.

  •  Breeding animals should be screened and clear of discoverable genetic defects prior to breeding.

  • The following is a partial list of possible screening recommendations:  see here for a full list of tests 

    • Eyes certified normal

    • Hips clear

    • Thyroid tested

  •  Males should be entire (monorchids and/or cryptorchids should not be used)

  •  Dogs with questionable temperaments should not be used for breeding.

  •  Dogs on medication intended to alter the dog’s physical or mental condition should not be used for breeding.



  •  A responsible breeder prohibits the sale of animals for the provision of stud services/brood matrons to commercial operations, including puppy mills, pet shops, brokers, laboratories, auctions, raffles, or contest giveaways.​

  • The motivation for breeding the Shetland Sheepdog should be the creation and improvement of the breed, rather than solely for financial gain.


  •  Complete and accurate records must be kept, and those necessary forwarded to new owners.

  •  Breeders agree to abide by all AKC rules and regulations, whether pertaining to breeding, exhibiting, record-keeping or any other aspect of purebred dog ownership.



  • Breeders should encourage public education, represent the breed honestly to prospective buyers, and help people to make informed canine-related decisions.

  • Breeders should make themselves available to the purchaser after the sale has been consummated, to help with educational counseling, grooming, and other care questions as well as solving behavioral problems.

  •  Breeders should make available to fellow breeders any information they have that might aid in that breeder’s efforts to improve the breed.

  •  A breeder who are members of dog clubs should be an example of leadership and outreach to encourage proper ethical behavior.



  • Maligning of others or others’ dogs is inappropriate. Good sportsmanship is appropriate at all times.


     In general, all dog owners have a responsibility to their canine companions to provide proper care and humane treatment at all times, whether a multiple or single dog household. Proper care and humane treatment include an adequate and nutritious diet, clean water, clean comfortable living conditions, regular veterinary care, kind and responsive human companionship, and training for appropriate behavior. Dogs should not be kept in circumstances or numbers where all of these needs cannot be adequately fulfilled.



  • Visual evaluation - you can learn a lot about a breeder by visiting their kennel.

  • Kennel conditions - The kennel may consists of outside runs and exercise yards or it may simple be their home, but it should be clean. Puppies should be clean and their area should be free of excrement.


  • Puppies - Are the puppies kept in the house near people and everyday activities or a kennel? Human contact is very important in the first few weeks of life in order for the dog to bond to humans. You want puppies that have been raised in constant contact with people and household events and sounds.


  • Other dogs - Observe the other dogs on the premises.

    1. Are their coats clean and brushed, do they have fresh water and a clean kennel.

    2. Do they move around easily, and appear healthy?

    3. Are the friendly and outgoing toward people?

    4. Pay particular attention to older dogs.


  • The breeder - Choosing a breeder is an individual decision.

    1. You should choose someone that you feel comfortable with, someone you can talk too easily, and someone who you feel cares about the dog’s well-being and your happiness with your dog.

    2. Is the breeder actively involved in dog clubs and/or shows? A responsible breeder is always learning and being involved in dog clubs and shows keeps them informed about what is happening in their breed, health concerns, etc.

    3. Does the breeder have a number of litters at the same time? Are the litters separated and the individuals identified?

    4. How many of the past puppy buyers is the breeder still in contact with after 1 year? 2 years? 5 years?

    5. Is the breeder curious about you? A responsible breeder is concerned about the welfare of their puppies and will insist on certain criteria before placing a puppy.

  • A responsible breeder should discuss and may require the following:

    1. Fenced yard

    2. Dog living in house.

    3. Genetic problems in the breed

    4. Proper veterinary care (including genetic testing for breeding stock)

    5. Proper nutrition

    6. Socialization, training, obedience classes

    7. Spaying, neutering (if applicable)

    8. Additionally, the breeder may insist on visiting the puppy in your home.


  • The breeder should provide the following:

    1. Written information

    2. Pedigree

    3. Registration papers (some breeders withhold registration certificates on pet puppies pending proof of spay/neuter)

    4. Test results on both parents (hips, eyes, vWD, etc.)

    5. Some kind of pamphlet or booklet on puppy care, feeding instructions, and a list of breed books and magazines.

    6. Advice - The breeder should be available for advice on grooming, training and general information on dog care.

  • Observe the litter and look for the puppy who:

    1. Is active and playful (keep in mind, puppy’s sleep a lot and it takes them a while to wake up).

    2. Eagerly greets people and does not appear shy.

    3. Has no sign of discharge from the eyes, nose, or ears. Gums should be pink and firm.

    4. Does not have a distended belly (not to be confused with a normally fat puppy)

    5. Moves around easily, with no signs of lameness. Look for a puppy that naturally stands square with all four feet facing forward and sits squarely. This should be done over a period of time, as puppies lack coordination and muscle tone and will not sit or stand the same way consistently.

    6. Look for a puppy that naturally follows you.

    7. Watch the puppies' reactions to sounds. You want a dog that recovers easily and does not become hysterical over sudden sounds.

    8. Notice puppies that have the confidence to explore new areas without fear.

    9. Puppies should have had at least one set of shots and have been examined by a veterinarian.


  • Where to purchase a puppy

    1. Pet store - DO NOT BUY A PUPPY FROM A PET STORE UNDER ANY CIRCUMSTANCES!  Pet stores buy their stock from puppy mills, which are farms that mass produce puppies as a commodity. These farms use poor quality breeding stock and the animals are kept in cages all their lives. As a result, these puppies are plagued with health problems, and many of them never adapt to life among people.Many people buy these puppies because they feel sorry for them. They take them home to "save" them, when in essence all they are doing is condemning other dogs and puppies to the same fate by increasing the demand for them.

    2. Breeder - Puppies should only be purchased from responsible breeders.


  • Where do you find a Responsible Breeder?

    1. Classified ads - You should use caution when purchasing a puppy through the classified ads. Responsible breeders only breed to improve the breed and usually place their puppies through referrals. Occasionally, responsible breeders will advertise in the classifieds when demand in their area is low or some like to use the opportunity to educate potential puppy buyers.

    2. Local Dog Club - Contact someone in a local dog club. This may not be easy to find, but many of the clubs run ads in the classifieds offering breeder referral services. Also check with vets in the area to see if they can refer you to a member of a local dog club. It doesn't have to be a person with the breed that you want; a club member should be able to refer you to a person for your particular breed.

    3. You’re Veterinarian - Ask your vet if he/she knows of any breeders of the breed that you are looking for. Your vet knows the type of care that owners give their dogs and the tests that they run (if any) on their breeding stock. It is usually not a good idea to ask the receptionists, who usually will just pull a name from a list of breeders. If your vet does not know of a breeder, ask him for the name of someone in a local dog club.

    4. Local Dog Trainer - Attend some obedience classes in your area (many counties offer these through their recreation centers if there are no local dog clubs). Observe the dogs in the classes. If you like somebody's dog, talk to them and find out who they got it from and ask questions about their breeder. Dog owners love to talk about their dogs!

    5. Talk to the instructor. Tell them what you are looking for and ask them for leads.

    6. Dog Shows/Obedience Trials - This is a good way to observe many dogs in the same breed and to note the differences within the breed. Buy a catalog. Most of them list the names of the owners and breeders, along with their addresses. Make notes about which dogs you like and why. Breeders often are very busy at the shows. If you can talk to them, great, but if not, introduce yourself and get a phone number so you can set up a time to talk to them later. Be considerate and do not attempt to approach them when they are at ringside getting ready to show


  • Things to consider before buying a puppy:

    1. Puppies need a lot of attention and must be constantly supervised.

    2. A puppy/dog is a responsibility 365 days a year. This includes vacations, holidays, etc.

    3. A dog is a long-term commitment (10 to 15 years on the average).

    4. A puppy should be a permanent part of your family.

    5. A puppy is not a toy, it is a living being. It is not something to be put in the backyard to be played with only when you feel like it.

    6. Puppies and children are not always good combinations. Bringing a dog into a family that has children should be done only after a lot of thought and planning. Small children should never be left unsupervised with a dog or puppy. Children are rough on animals and even the best children can be abusive by hitting the dog or teasing it. Do not buy a pet for a child until the child is old enough to understand how to care for the animal and be gentle with it. It is not fair to put an animal in a situation and then punish it for defending itself when it is being hurt.

    7. A puppy is an expense. Like anything else, don't buy one if you can't afford to properly care for it (i.e. spay/neuter, vet care, quality food, training).

    8. If you do not feel you have the time for a puppy, consider adopting a rescue dog.

  • Do not buy a puppy for the following reasons:

    1. You saw the puppy in a pet store and felt sorry for it.

    2. Christmas present.

    3. You want your child to have a dog - puppies and children are so cute together.

    4. You saw one (on T.V., at the park, at your neighbor’s house) and you fell in love with it.

    5. Someone had a litter of puppies and you just had to take one home with you.


  • Choosing a breed

Sit down and make a list of what breeds or characteristics you like or dislike. Go to the library and check out books about dog breeds.  Research the breeds thoroughly to make sure that you are choosing the right breed for YOU. Subscribe to an e-mail mailing list for the breed that you are interested in and lurk for a while to get a feel for what the breed is really like.


  • Coat: If you can't stand dog hair in the house, or you don't have the time to brush the dog regularly, get a smooth coated breed.


  • Size: If you live in a small apartment or have limited space, look for a breed, such as one of the Toy breeds that does not require a lot of exercise. Keep away from larger breeds and breeds that require a lot of exercise, such as the Sporting, Herding, and Working breeds.


  • Temperament/activity level: Various breeds were developed for different purposes, and their temperaments reflect this. You should get a dog whose temperament fits into your lifestyle.

    1. If you have a fairly sedentary lifestyle, you need to stay with the breeds that do not require a lot of exercise, such as the Toy breeds.

    2. If you are active and are planning on getting a dog that can go jogging with you, try some of the Sporting or Herding breeds that have a higher energy level.

    3. If you have children, consider getting a larger dog which will not be as easily hurt by the children sitting on them or tugging on their fur. Be careful to avoid dogs that tend to be high strung, that could become over excited by the high energy level of the children and hurt them.

  • Do not bring home a puppy unless:

    1. You have a fenced yard or a secure area. There is nothing more heartbreaking than to have a dog run off after another animal or bolt out into the street. "Invisible" or underground fencing is not considered to be a viable alternative. It can actually endanger your dog, because it does not keep out other animals and traps your dog, should another dog enter your yard.

    2. The dog will be allowed to live in the house.

    3. You have "dog-proofed" your home. This means getting down at the dogs level and making sure that breakable items, poisonous plants and substances, and hazards for a curious and chewing puppy (i.e. electrical cords, trash cans) are out of reach.

    4. You have purchased a dog crate.

    5. A crate makes house training easier.

    6. A crate gives a puppy a "safe place" to relax.

    7. A crate is not a child's play house. Children should be taught that it is the dog's "room" and when the dog is in the crate, he is not to be bothered.