• Guardian Rottweilers takes FIRST PLACE KENNEL at the 2013 ADRK Klubsieger in Rottweil, Germany!!

Choosing A Breeder

How do I choose the correct breeder?

Choosing a good breeder is an essential step in purchasing a new puppy, of any breed.    
          Your new puppy will be a constant companion to your family for hopefully the next decade or more of your life.  Even if you have no desire to ever breed or show, the breeding of your puppy has profound impact on the quality of life he will have, how closely he will physically resemble the breed standard in physical type, and the correct character.  Everyone knows that good breeding on a Rottweiler will produce the sought after big, blocky headpiece, heavy bone and strong, solid stature, but the breeding also affects the health and character.  Just as a dog can be bred for darker color, heavier bone, etc. he can also be bred for the calm, courageous, intelligent and affectionate temperament we associate with the breed.  When a dog of unsound mind (under-temperamented and skittish or over-temperamented and aggressive) is bred, he will surely pass these qualities onto his offspring.  
          The same is true of health.  Although no breeder can guarantee that no undesirable genetic traits will ever be passed to the puppies they produce, correct medical screenings can greatly reduce the chances.

The skinny- if you have a breeder that is doing correct medical screenings on EVERY dog in their breeding program (not “their grandfather had good hips…”), then that is a huge first step.  It is also important that mental suitability testing be done as well as assessment of correct conformation.  What are each of these 3 important?
The need for health screens is hopefully obvious.  Any breeder that is not doing the basic health screens for their breed should be avoided at all costs.
JLPP– This is an absolute must for Rottweilers!  It is only a $65 test and all you need to do is swab the inside of the dog’s mouth.  If the breeder is not testing for JLPP and breeds 2 carriers, 25% OF THE PUPPIES WILL DIE!!  Affected puppies will appear normal and healthy when you pick them up to go home.  But around 3-4 months of age, tragic and debilitating neurological symptoms will start and will become progressively worse until they take your pups life or you have to humanely euthanize.  Please click on the link to learn more about JLPP.  It is a SERIOUS GENETIC DISEASE.  MOST PUPS DIE A HORRIBLE DEATH BEFORE THE AGE OF 6 MONTHS, AND THERE ARE NO JLPP POSITIVE PUPS THAT HAVE EVER LIVED PAST 1 YEAR OF AGE!!

Hips and Elbows– Any large breed dog will have a predisposition towards joint issues to include hip and elbow issues.  This is due mainly to the extreme growth that happens with large breed dogs.  The larger and heavier the dog, the greater the predisposition.  Although this issue will never be completely eliminated due to the massive contributing factor the environment plays, a breeder can help ensure that only the strongest, healthiest representatives of the breed are used for breeding.  By neglecting to x-ray the hips and eblows of breeding adults, as much as 40-60% of the litter can develop hip and/or elbow displasia!!  That is staggering considering that the number drops to single digits by screening the parents and choosing compatible parents.

Certification on the heart– Also due to accelerated growth during the first 2 years of development, large breed dogs are predisposed to heart problems.  As with joint issues, the possibility of heart problems, including SAS (Sub-Aortic Stenosis) will not ever be completely eliminated due to the size, volume and rapid growth of large breed dogs.  However, as with joint screenings, checking the hearts of each and every breeding dogs helps substantially.  A dog that has heart issues will produce pups with heart issues.  I have seen litters where the parents were not screened and 100% of the pups had heart problems!!

Patella– Torn CCL (known in humans as torn ACL) is also not uncommon in athletic breeds.  A torn ligament in the knee happens when the body goes one way and the knee goes another.  This injury happens commonly in human athletes as well- basketball, football, track, etc.  However, in dogs, we have a tool that can help significantly diminish the likelihood of this occurring.  Correct conformation, most effectively assessed by an expert in the breed at a dog show, is the first step.  Too many people mistakenly believe that a dog show is just to see whether or not the dog is pretty.  This could not be further from the truth.  First, it is an excellent assessment of character.  The Rottweiler must permit a judge whom s/he has never met to grope them in all the uncomfortable places as well as have the mouth open for the teeth/bite of the dog to be checked.  Second, it is an assessment of correct assembly.  From the tip of the nose to the tip of the tail- correct assembly is so much more than just aesthetically pleasing.  Sure, a strong head, heavy bone, well strung chest, etc. make the powerful dog look good, but much more importantly, it results in proper movement.  Function follows form, and form follows function.  What this means is, if the spine, front and rear assemblies, etc. are in proper alignment, then the joints move correctly.  This is the same in human bodies.  Misalignment not only equals impairment of mobility in the affected joint, but it radiates.  For instance, if your knee is not in proper alignment, then you will not only have issues with the knee, but also the hip and eventually, lower back issues as well.  It is the same for Rottweilers.  And because this is a working breed, they are always using their joints.  So, first step in helping avoid CCL/ACL tears is to have proper alignment.  The next biggest problem is play in the joint, or, excess movement of the joint, known medically as luxation or subluxation.  A luxating patella is a knee cap that can move into and out of correct location.  It is not difficult to understand how this can pose a problem.  Although a breeder cannot protect the Rottweiler from injuring his knee, by making sure you are not breeding parents that already have alignment issues and luxating patellas, you can make sure that you are producing pups that are well put together and more structurally sound, thus mitigating the chances for injury.

Dentition– I have seen far too many dogs with bad bites bred.  This almost always results in pups with bad bites, and eventually, can result in malocclusions significant enough to pose a medical issue.  The Rottweiler bite should be what is called a complete scissor bite.  This means the top jaw just comes over the bottom, closing like a pair of scissors.  Generally speaking, malocclusions do not pose any medical concerns to the dog and are merely cosmetic.  Meaning, if you are not planning on showing or breeding, there is no problem in getting a puppy that has a “bad bite”- underbite, overbite, wry bite, etc. (medically called a maloclusion).  Different breeds have different breed standards for what the bite of that dog should be.  Meaning, a bull dog or boxer, for instance, must have what would be considered a bad bite on a Rottweiler.  And a scissor bite on either of these breeds would make them unbreedable.  So, if a malocclusion does not pose a medical risk to the health or safety of the Rottweiler, why is it important to check dentition before breeding?  The biggest reason would be the increase of the malocclusion in future generations.  If both parents have a bad bite, then not only are their pups going to have bad bites, but there is a risk that the bad bites the puppies exhibit can become worse.  Eventually, there is the concern that the bite could become enough off that it does risk the need of dental intervention.  Another reason dentition needs to be checked is because of the possibility of missing teeth.  Although missing a p1 or a p2 (first tiny teeth behind the canines) or an m3 (very back molar) again does not pose any medical concerns and in all likelihood would never even be noticed by the owners, the problem comes in amplification in future generations.  Maybe this male or female is only missing 1-2 teeth, however, if bred, especially to another dog also missing a tooth or 2, then you can produce progeny that have more missing teeth, and so forth in the next generation.  If you have ever seen (most common in small breed dogs because of all the bone disorders that run rampant in their breeds) a dog with the tongue hanging out on the side of the mouth- this is because there are not enough teeth to hold the tongue in the mouth!

DNA– besides the wealth of medical screenings possible with DNA testing, it is also a great form of verification of breeding/parentage.  Any reputable breeder should be DNA testing on all of their breeding stock.  If there is ever a question in your pup of parentage, all you need to do is compare your pup’s DNA to the parents.
Proper health screens to ensure the dog is medically sound, competing in show and working venues to prove correct physical conformation and mental correctness are an absolute must for a breeder.  Any breeder that is doing all the three, for any breed, then they are really in it for the breed and not the greed. Any breeder who does not do the above is taking shortcuts and not in it for the betterment of the breed. It is that simple. If the breeder is spending upwards of 10-20k plus on each parents to get all the mental and physical suitability testing as well as all the health clearances, as well as quality prenatal (including ultrasounds, prenatal diet, etc.) and quality post natal, then, when they sell their pups, all the money really is going back into the dogs.
If they are not doing all the above, then the first couple hundred from the first puppy sold will cover food and vetting, and the rest of the money goes in their pockets.


What is a Back Yard Breeder?  Is that the same as a puppy mill?  A back yard breeder,  just as it states, is a breeder that does not have the proper facility, and more importantly, does not have the proper training, education on breed type, breed health concerns, character, etc. to breed correctly.  BYB’s do not attend any training or working events with their dogs; they do not show them; and more often then not, they do not even properly care for and/or socialize them.  The line between a back yard breeder and a puppy mill can be very thin.  Some BYB’s will advertise themselves as “hobby breeders” and state this as their reason for not obtaining health clearances on their dogs or attending dog shows or even properly training and working their dogs.  However, if it were a hobby, they would be willing to spend the time and money to do it correctly and it would not just be about making a profit on the dogs.  If your hobby was woodworking, you would not buy finished products at the lowest price possible and then resell them for profit, you would work the wood!  You would learn your craft, constantly growing and improving, investing time and money into perfecting your hobby, and then, after you have put your time and effort, heart and soul into crafting a piece of furniture or art, you might then try to sell it and share your hard work and accomplishments with someone who would appreciate them.  If you simply bought finished furniture or art at Walmart and then resold it, you would be a broker or commercial seller, NOT a hobbyist!  The same applies to “hobby breeders” who buy the cheapest dogs they can find in the paper or on the internet, then breeds them without any health clearances, training, handling, showing, working, etc., and just turns the dogs into puppy factories for profit 🙁  Most puppy mills start out as BYB’s.  But they soon realize that by feeding poor quality food, skipping health clearances, etc. that they not only have a high rate of loss among their dogs and puppies, but they are not able to get as much money

for the pups and therefore decide to produce larger quantities of puppies to satisfy their greed.  Of course NONE of the money is put back into their poor dogs.  A BYB or Puppy Mill will have way too many dogs and they will all live their entire lives in cages, usually too small, sometimes even stacks of cages and do NOTHING but breed and birth then breed again.  
It is a HORRIBLE, PITIFUL life for these poor dogs.  No families to love them; no games of fetch; no swimming; no chilling on the sofa to watch TV with their master.  Just short, hard, loveless lives.  There are always disease and parasite problems as the “breeder” simply cannot take proper care of what they have.  They do not put the required time and money into their dogs and sell the puppies very cheap because even if the profit margin for them is only $50, if they can sell mass quantities, they can still make their “business” profitable.  They put very little value into their breeding stock as these dogs are not family members, but rather objects and a means to an end.  These “people” have no passion for the breed; they do not seek to improve any breed deficiencies and could care less about the quality of puppy they produce.  More often than not the puppies will have life-long health issues associated with sick studs and dams,  overcrowding, unsanitary living environments and inherent health problems.

They often offer multiple breeds for sale so that they can broaden their “market.”  There is no need to specialize in one breed- to devote time and energy into learning about one breed and how to better it because one breed is just as good as the other as long as they can produce puppies, who really cares what breed the dog is 🙁  They will also often market “designer dogs” which are mixed breeds resulting from several breeds over-crowded in the same cage and all breeding each other.  After the pups are born, the take the best guess at the stud and then announced the “designer bred pup.”  I do not even have words to express how much I despise these horrible people and truly hope there is a special seat in a really hot place for them!!

No reputable breeder will ever sell to pet stores, mass brokers, etc.  So anytime you find puppy in a pet store or listed with any breeders.net broker, etc. where there is no contact between the breeder and future puppy parent, you can be POSITIVE that the puppy is coming from a BYB (Back Yard Breeder) or puppy mill!!  Any breeder who truly loves their dogs and is passionate about breeding will insist on an interview so that they can be sure the family that receives their puppy not only understands any concerns associated with their breed, but also to insure that the new family is worthy of one of their babies.  PLEASE DO NOT EVER PURCHASE A PUPPY FROM A BACK YARD BREEDER OR PUPPY MILL.  DO NOT PATRON A PET STORE THAT SUPPORTS PUPPY MILLS BY SELLING PUPPIES!!!  Every time you purchase a pet or supplies from a pet store that sells puppy mill puppies you are encouraging them to continue their abuse and neglect!!  Even if you do not take pity on the cruel lives these helpless dogs and puppies suffer, realize that YOU will also pay a price!!  You may save money upfront by buying a cheap puppy from the newspaper or a pet store, BUT YOU ARE SURELY paying for it later!!  When you have spent THOUSANDS of dollars and STILL NOT CORRECTED the health problems or character flaws, you will then see the value of good breeding.  I have said it many, MANY times- a well bred, quality Rottweiler is not expensive, it is PRICELESS!

PLEASE DO NOT THINK that just because the pet store “looks nice” or gives you “papers” that they mean anything!!  Even in the nicest facilities, those puppies must sit in tiny cages day and night for weeks or months at a time waiting to be adopted 🙁  No sunshine, no room to romp and play, and no one to play with.  The boredom and anxiety of this cruel existence alone is enough to cause psychological damage and potentially lifelong behavioral problems.  BUT THAT IS ONLY SCRATCHING THE SURFACE!!  The horrible places these dogs came from BEFORE they even arrived at the pet store is unimaginable!!  The pet store will make almost all of the profit on these pups as they pay very little for them.  They do not purchase them for $500 and then sell them for $550!!  If they are sold at $500, you better believe they were purchased for about 10% of that!!  not even enough money to cover vaccinations and proper food!!  And if the “breeder” is selling them for such a small price, they must sell massive quantities just to make a “profit”.   And of course, by cutting all of the corners, there are much, much, MUCH more that DIE than are ever sold!!  From a litter of 10, perhaps one or 2 make it to the stage to “sell” 🙁  And if you think that is miserable life for the puppy, can you even imagine the life for the mom who is fed “just enough” of the cheapest crap the “breeder” will purchase, she will receive very little, if any vet care, and she will never be groomed, held, played with or even loved.  She will spend her entire life churning out litter after litter of puppies, with the only love she ever receives those few brief weeks before her pups are ripped away, leaving her stuffed in a tiny, lonely cage until she is to endure being bred back to back to back and the miserable cycle continuing.


What about the papers??  All that is required for AKC papers is for the breeder to go online and click a few buttons stating that “male A” and “female B” had a litter of “x amount” of puppies born.  UNDERSTAND, THIS DOES NOT MEAN THAT “male A” or “female B” ever even had puppies!!  or that the “12 puppies” that were registered as all coming from the same litter even came from the same litter!!  AKC does not need any health clearances, they do not need any proof of vaccinations or that the mom and dad are remotely healthy, of sound mind or even conformationally correct.  I bought a male years ago, before I knew better, from a breeder that I found in the local news paper.  When I tried to register him, AKC told me that it was not possible to register him because the female, who was listed as the mother, had died a few years back!!!  If you cannot see the facility where the pups are born and raised, if you cannot meet the parents, or at minimum the mom if stud service was used, and if you cannot get copies of all of the health clearances (hips, elbows, heart, DNA, etc.) then you are buying from a puppy mill!  And every one that purchases one of these puppies directly contributes to the problem by financially motivating the puppy mill to keep doing what they are


If you do not have the money to purchase from a quality breeder, PLEASE RESCUE instead of supporting puppy mills!!!

How do you choose the correct breeder?

It is a question that not only am I asked very often, but that I must answer myself every time I want to import or breed to a stud.  I am almost daily contacted by unsuspecting families that have purchased a puppy from another ‘breeder’ only to find health, behavior or conformation issues that the ‘breeder’ they purchased from is unwilling or unable to address.  I myself have learned this lesson dearly as I also have been the victim of breeders who falsified documents, cut corners, or simply refused to acknowledge any attempts at communication once money was received.

With the technology available to us, it is very easy to create a website or even print up contracts, etc.; and of course price does not unfortunately denote quality either as I have paid thousands for an unsound dog before.  Some ‘breeders’ charge big money for their puppies even though they refuse to take the proper precautions to ensure the dogs they are breeding are of sound health, sound mind and correct conformation; or to make the necessary investment in quality breeding stock; or correct prenatal and postnatal care of moms and pups.  Instead they think they can take a “shortcut”  by putting a high dollar price on a sub quality puppy.  So then, what protocol can we use?

Don’t be afraid to interview your breeder.
Any good breeder will want to interview the perspective buyers.   You have the same right to interview them.  Do not be afraid to as questions.  A good breeder will welcome an educated buyer and never have any issue answering questions about his/her dogs or breeding program.

Ask for health clearances.  The major problems that plague Rottweilers and most large breed dogs are of course hip and elbow dysplasia and heart problems.  These should be screened for in breeding dogs to help diminish the likelihood of these faults being passed onto their offspring.  DNA should also be on file for the parents.  If the dogs were imported, DNA is a must as AKC will not register any offspring on imported dogs without DNA on file.  However, even if the dog was not imported, DNA is still something a good breeder will do as it is a great tool for verifying parentage of the dogs and confirming the pedigrees.  

Ask about show or working results.  Confirmation show results will give credit to the confirmation of the dog, or physical beauty. It is the only way to get an unbiased opinion from a trained, qualified breed judge on the correct conformation of a dog.  Working events and temperament tests are also essential.   A beautiful dog that is lacking in character is simply NOT a Rottweiler- just a beautiful black and brown dog.
Ask the breeder about bloodlines and pedigree.

Any breeder who does not know the bloodlines of their dog inside and out CANNOT possibly make an educated decision on breeding. There is no such thing as a genetically perfect dog or bloodline.  You must know the faults associated with the bloodlines of your dogs so that you can choose breedings that will minimize or even eliminate those issues.
I also firmly believe that only by working with your dog will you really understand their character and potential!  The fastest way to build the strongest bond with your dog is to work or train with him/her!  And it helps us so much in deciding character for breeding pairs also.   
Ask the breeder why they are breeding.  “Because puppies are cute” or “I wanted my kids to have the experience of raising puppies” is NOT a reason to breed.  All of the animal shelters everywhere around the world are overrun with unwanted pets, if you just want to play with cute puppies, go volunteer at a shelter.  All of my kids do on a regular basis and it teaches them great perspective.
Ask the breeder why they chose the breeding pair.  What were their goals in that particular litter?   Again no reputable breeder will simply take a bitch in season and put her with whatever make is willing to mount.  We will go to great expense and travel literally around the world for a correct breeding.  Although we have exceptional males from truly the best bloodlines Germany and Europe has to offer, not every male is what every female needs- if I have a female that needs a particular male or bloodline to bring out the best that she has to offer, then I will do whatever is necessary to better the breeding and ultimately better the breed.
Ask for the qualifications of the breeder.

Do they show or handle their own dogs?  Do they have any training or experience to offer the breed?  How long have they been breeding?  How long have they been w
orking with the breed?    

 Ask what evaluations are involved in the puppies.  Simply asking for extra money for a dog if you want ‘breeding rights’ does not mean that the dog will be of any greater quality or that it should be bred or shown.  Does the breeder actively compete with their dogs or have any experience determining the correct confirmation and character of the dogs?  How can they determine what is breed or show quality if they do not even know what the correct standard of the Rottweiler should be?  Simply saying that a puppy is without fault also does not make it a show quality puppy!  If it is lacking in type, bone, substance or character, how could it possibly benefit the bred by reproducing much less actually place in a show that judges the character or confirmation of the puppy/dog?  We will never sell something as breed/show quality that we are not willing to breed or show ourselves.  If that dog/puppy is shown, it will enter the ring with my name attached to it and it would not benefit me at all to misrepresent myself.  How are the puppies socialized?  What medical evaluations are give, and what confirmation or character evaluations are given?

Anyone can CLAIM to have a German or European Rottweiler, but if they do not have an import pedigree or export papers on the dog, it DID NOT COME DIRECTLY FROM GERMANY OR EUROPE.  For the dogs that were imported- how were they imported?  Did the breeder actually travel over to E
urope, see the dogs compete, watch the movement, meet parents, siblings, etc. meet with the breeders of the dog and find out their qualifications and make an educated decision or whether or not to include this animal in their breeding program or did they simply see a photo of a dog for sale and buy it?  Or see a sale on frozen semen and order it?

Ask for contracts, read them carefully and try to ascertain how well you can count on the contract.  Anyone can put something in writing, but whether or not they will actually stand behind it is another issue.  We have had MANY breeders copy our contract in part or in whole over the years, but copying our wording is not the same as copying our breeding program.  If a breeder does not have the quality of breeding dogs, perform the necessary medical screenings, verify correct confirmation and character with evaluations and competitions, and work with and evaluate the pups correctly, how can they possibly make the guarantees that we make?  Do not be afraid to ask for references or research the breeder.  How long they have been breeding can also sometimes help.  Someone who has just started out is not necessarily a bad thing, but it may be more difficult to determine how well they will stand behind their “product.”

As I have said many times before, no matter which breed or breeder you choose to go with, please do yourself and your family a favor by taking the time to research.  As my grandma always said, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.   

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