Also known as hobby breeders, or reputable breeders, these people are in Yorkshire terriers because they adore the breed. These professionals are great sources for Yorkshire terriers, but they don't let their dogs go to just anyone. Expect to be questioned extensively before you take home a dog. Some questions you might encounter include:
Why do you want a Yorkshire terrier?
Where will your Yorkshire terrier live?
Do you plan to do your own grooming?
Have you owned small dogs before?
Do you have a secure, fenced-in yard?
Is someone home during the day?
The breeder will be looking for someone who has the time and interest to deal with a Yorkshire terrier and who exhibits a responsible attitude toward taking on the breed. She will want to be sure you understand what you are getting yourself into — that you are prepared for the ups and downs of owning a Yorkie. Depending on the breeder, she may insist someone be home during the day to spend time with the dog.
Questions You Should Ask
Though the breeder will be doing the majority of the questioning, you should also have questions of your own to ask her. You want your breeder to be working for the betterment of the breed and to have an intimate knowledge of the breed. Responsible breeders should be eager to answer your questions and provide information. Some of your questions for the breeder might include:
How long have you been involved with Yorkshire terriers?
What got you interested in the breed?
What are the goals of your breeding program?
What breed organizations are you a member of?
What sports do you compete in with your dogs?
What titles have your dogs earned?
May I see health certificates for the puppy's parents and grandparents?
May I meet the puppy's parents? (Note that the mother should be on the premises, but the father may not be.)
Do you provide health guarantees?
Photograph by Cheryl A. Ertelt
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Why Ask Questions?
It is important that you ask potential breeders questions to discover their experience and goals in breeding Yorkshire terriers. If a breeder is new to the breed, he should be showing dogs — not breeding them — while he learns the pluses and minuses of the various breeding lines. You want a breeder who has spent some time learning about the breed and who is in the business to try to make improvements. Anyone breeding Yorkshire terriers should have definite goals in mind, such as reducing the incidence of patellar luxation, improving the bite, or solidifying good temperament.
Membership in breed organizations both shows a measure of dedication and provides a venue for a breeder to converse with other breeders. Competition in the show ring is a given for serious breeders, but some also compete in one or more of the many performance sports to demonstrate their dogs' versatility and soundness. More competition is preferable to less. Titles earned on close relatives of the puppies is a good indication of the pups' physical and mental proclivities.
AKC papers offer no guarantee of good health or good temperament. These documents simply indicate that a male and a female of the same breed, both registered with the AKC, have been mated to produce the litter. Beware of breeders who try to pass these documents off as more than they are.
If possible, you should try to see both parents of the puppy, or at least the mother. Other relatives have less influence on the puppies; however, the more health information you can get, the better. Fewer genetic problems in the puppy's line mean increased chances of a healthy puppy. And always look for a health guarantee that doesn't require you to return your pup; breeders know this is unlikely to happen once you've bonded with the puppy.
Your breeder will primarily be your source for your new dog, but this person can also serve as a mentor throughout the life of your Yorkie. A good breeder will be happy to answer questions as they arise, teach you about the process of showing your dog (if you choose that route), and generally be a source of support as you endure the ups and downs of being a Yorkie owner. It may be difficult to find such a reputable and caring breeder, but they do exist!
If a breeder simply wants to sell you a puppy and then cut ties, don't buy a dog from this person. Responsible breeders will be interested to know how their pups are doing in their new homes. You shouldn't abuse this person by calling him every time you have a minor mishap, but this person should make himself available to you when you have big problems. If you are purchasing a pup for show, the breeder should be even more involved with your progress. In fact, you may be offered a show pup only under a co-ownership agreement, in which the breeder retains partial ownership of the pup and some say in where and how often you show the dog. This agreement could also limit your ability to breed the dog. While this is a reasonable step for the breeder to take in entrusting a show-quality pup to someone new to the breed, you should read the agreement carefully to be sure it is something you can live with.