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Reputable Breeders

Finding a Reputable Havanese Breeder

A.    Benefits of Reputable Breeders. Purchasing a puppy from a reputable breeder increases the odds that your Havanese will be physically and mentally sound, and a good example of the breed. It means that you will have the benefit of the breeder’s knowledge and assistance as you raise your puppy. Reputable breeders carefully screen prospective buyers, and do not require a deposit over the telephone to "reserve" a puppy.  Reputable breeders are also willing to accept the return of puppy if the buyer is unable to keep or care for the dog.
B.    Issues with Other Breeders. In contrast, some breeders are more interested in making money than working in the best interest of the breed and the puppies that they sale. These breeders usually breed in quantity, and may have lower prices in order to sell all of the puppies that they breed. The puppies’ parents and immediate ancestors may not have been shown, health tested or raised in a loving environment, so these puppies may be more apt to develop health and personality issues, and be mediocre or poor examples of the breed. Additionally, these breeders may not be available or willing to teach or coach you if issues arise, or to accept the return of a puppy that isn’t right for your situation. You may wish to “rescue” a puppy from a sub-par situation or puppy mill.  However, buying a puppy in one of these situations perpetuates the breeder’s practices, especially when many others decide to “rescue” puppies as well.

Below are typical characteristics of reputable Havanese breeders:

Health Testing. A reputable Havanese breeder health tests breeding stock prior to breeding. The Havanese Club of America ("HCA") recommends that Havanese used for breeding pass BAER (hearing), hips, patellas and yearly eye exams, and that those results be posted on the Orthopedic Foundation for Animals (“OFFA”) website, so that the test results are available for all to review.  Some breeders conduct other tests, such as cardiac. You should be able to look up the parents’ health testing record on the OFFA website. Additionally, a reputable breeder will have puppies examined by the breeder’s veterinarian before making the puppies available for adoption. No breeder can guarantee that a puppy won’t develop a health issue at some point in its life.  However, if the puppy’s parents passed basic health testing and the puppy is healthy at the time of adoption, the risk is less that a dog will develop health issues as it ages.
Dog Shows. The reputable Havanese breeder usually shows Havanese in conformation classes at AKC-sanctioned shows.  The show ring tests a dog's physical and mental soundness, as well as the Havanese breed standard approved by the HCA and the American Kennel Club (the “AKC”). “Mentally sound” means that the Havanese is friendly, outgoing and able to adapt to a variety of people and situations. “Physically sound” means that the dog’s conformation promotes physical health and athletic ability since the dog is well-conformed and able to move soundly and according to the breed standard. These characteristics are desirable in a family pet and likely to be found in a litter raised by a “show” breeder.
Money Not Motive. The reputable breeder does not breed to “make money” and in all likelihood spends a great deal more money acquiring, showing, health testing and breeding Havanese than he or she makes from puppy sales. Reputable breeders will not require an immediate deposit to "reserve" a puppy, nor will they have a “Paypal” option to immediately purchase a puppy on his or her website.  Reputable breeders will carefully screen buyers through questionnaires, telephone and email conversations, and home visits, before accepting payment for a puppy.
Educates Buyers. A reputable breeder will educate a prospective puppy buyer about how to raise a puppy, the equipment the buyer will need to make the puppy’s first days, weeks and months at its new home optimal for the puppy and its new owner, and about proper food, veterinary, grooming, training and other care for their puppies.
Written Contract. A reputable breeder will have a written contract that details not only what the breeder expects of you, but also what you can expect of the breeder. The HCA suggests that sales contracts include a clear and complete statement of the terms and conditions agreed on between breeder and buyer, including a stipulation that the breeder be notified if the buyer is unable to keep the Havanese at any point in its life. The HCA also recommends that a signed copy of the contract be provided to both parties. The contract should state the circumstances under which the breeder will transfer the puppy's AKC registration application or papers to the buyer, such as when the buyer provides the breeder with a copy of a spay/neuter certificate for the puppy from the buyer’s veterinarian. The breeder should also provide an AKC pedigree of the puppy at the time of placement. 
Puppy Health. In most cases, the reputable breeder will offer you a “trial” period with your puppy and require that you take it to your vet to be assured that it is healthy. A reputable breeder only sells dogs that have passed veterinary checks and have all age-appropriate inoculations and are, to the best of the breeder’s knowledge, healthy. A reputable breeder requires that puppies placed in pet homes be spayed or neutered at the appropriate age (typically around six months).
Return Requirement. A reputable breeder may offer, or may even require, that any dog you buy from him or her be returned to him if your situation changes and you can no longer keep the dog. Having a dog returned is very disappointing for all, but no breeder wants to have one of his or her dogs end up in a shelter, on the streets or passed from home to home because its owner couldn’t or wouldn’t keep him.
Breeder’s Intent to Retain Puppy. The reputable breeder almost always intends to keep a puppy from the litter to continue his or her show ring and breeding efforts. The pet buyer benefits from this intention as every puppy in the litter is bred and raised to be that one exceptional puppy that becomes an extraordinary show dog. Each puppy in a litter should be socialized, get regular veterinary care and be a clean, happy, beautiful puppy.
Age Appropriate Placement. Reputable breeders are not in a hurry to place their puppies. The typical age for a Havanese puppy to go to its new home is from 9-10 weeks, and the earliest a Havanese puppy should go to a new home is 8 weeks of age. A breeder sometimes retains a puppy to see if it continues to develop as a show and breeding prospect, and may decide at 3-6 months or age or older to place the puppy in a pet home. An older puppy or young adult that has been properly raised and socialized will adjust very easily to a new home and family.
Home Visit. Reputable breeders will not ship a puppy in cargo on an airline. If a reputable breeder is interested in placing a puppy with you, the breeder is happy to have you visit to see their puppies, and for you to meet the puppy’s parents and other relatives. If the breeder has bred the female to a male who lives elsewhere, the breeder should be able to provide pictures and a pedigree of the male. The dogs should be bright-eyed, healthy and friendly, and kept in clean surroundings.    
Breeder Referrals. If a reputable breeder does not have a puppy for you, he or she usually knows many people in the Havanese world and is happy to refer you to other good breeders or to the breed’s national rescue organization, Havanese Rescue Inc. (“HRI”).  
Purchase Price. The purchase price for a puppy from a reputable breeder may be more than the purchase price for a puppy from a breeder that breeds in bulk to sell dogs. The reputable breeder wants to insure that the puppy buyer sees the puppy as an important, long-term and valuable family addition. Additionally, the reputable breeder wants to insure that over the life of the dog, the puppy buyer will have the financial ability to provide appropriate veterinary and other care for the Havanese, and does not balk at spending money to care for a dog.
Club Membership. The reputable Havanese breeder almost always belongs to the Havanese Club of America (the “HCA”), a regional Havanese Club and/or a local all-breed club. Membership in Havanese clubs is typically open only to those who agree to abide by the clubs’ codes of ethics, an important point for those looking for a companion or family dog. Before membership is granted, a committee may carefully review the applicant’s show, breeding and health testing practices, as well as the applicant’s reputation in the dog world. Membership is sometimes rejected or deferred based on these reviews. Not every reputable breeder wants to be a member of a dog club, but membership in these clubs is often indicative of a breeder who is accepted in and working as a part of a larger group that seeks to promote the welfare of purebred dogs. The websites of the HCA and regional Havanese club may list member-breeders, and these breeders are a good starting point for learning and locating puppies.