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Things to Look for in a Beagle Breeder

You’ve decided that it is time to add a Beagle to your family. It’s an exciting decision but one you need to approach logically to make the best choice for your family and the dog. If you decide to adopt a Beagle from your local shelter or a rescue group, that’s wonderful. If your heart is set on getting a puppy from a breeder though, you need to start doing some research.

Unfortunately not all breeders are created equal. To ensure that you get a healthy puppy that will meet your needs, it is important to find the right one. Start by deciding what you intend to do with your puppy. Is he going to be a hunting companion, a pet, a show dog, an agility dog, or all of the above? If you intend to pursue a specific activity with your new pet, beyond simply enjoying his company then you need to find a puppy that is suited to your interests.

While there are many breeders that can produce dogs capable of doing just about anything you are interested in doing with them, it is important to find someone who at least understands your goals. If you want a hunting dog, then the breeder should be knowledgeable about the traits needed to make a good hunter. They don’t have to actively hunt their dogs but ideally they have produced dogs in the past that have gone on to hunt with their owners. You want the instincts to be in the bloodline.

Contracts

A good breeder has a written contract that clearly outlines what they are responsible for and what you are responsible for in terms of the dog. It should note the purchase price and any health guarantees. In states with a puppy lemon law, it should outline very clearly what they will do should the puppy turn out to have a genetic problem or illness.

A good breeder has confidence in his dogs and stands behind them. They make use of health testing and gene tests but genetics can be uncertain with some diseases and there is always a risk that no matter how much you tested a problem still shows up. The contract should outline exactly what happens if a problem shows up including any reimbursement, who covers veterinary costs, etc.

Health Testing

Any breeder who claims they don’t need to do health testing for any reason is one you should stay away from. There is no good reason not to test your breeding stock to reduce the incidence of disease within the puppies you produce. Common health issues in the Beagle that the American national club recommends that you test for include:
- Hip Dysplasia – X-rays evaluated by OFA or PENNHip
- Musladin-Lueke Syndrome – there is a gene test for this, breeders should be able to guarantee they will not produce an affected puppy by using the test
- Thyroid Deficiencies – this is evaluated using a blood sample that is sent to a laboratory
- Cardiac Health – a cardiologist will listen to the dog’s heart and evaluate for any cardiac conditions
- Elbow Dysplasia – X-rays evaluated by OFA
- Patellar Luxation – the kneecap slides out of place – evaluated by a veterinarian
- Factor VII Deficiency – a bleeding disorder, tested using a blood sample
- Pyruvate Kinase Deficiency – a lack of an enzyme involved in red blood cells that results in anemia – there is a gene test for this and breeders can ensure that they do not produce an affected puppy by making use of the test

Interviews

Expect the breeder to have questions for you and want to know about your lifestyle and experience with Beagles. They want their puppies to go to good homes where they will be loved and cherished throughout their lives. A good breeder wants to know that you are prepared for living with a Beagle and are willing to make the commitment of caring for a dog for its lifespan.

This is the reason that a good breeder never sells their puppies through a third party like a pet store. They want to know the dog will have a good home and have the ability to refuse to place a puppy with a family they feel is unsuited to the breed.

Getting Started

Now you have an idea of some of the questions and things you should be looking for in a breeder. Start researching breeders in your area so that you can find the one that is best suited to your family.

Photo credit: Sergey Norin/Flickr

Should you have a concern regarding the health of your Beagle(s), you should contact your veterinarian. All information on this site is presented solely for educational and informational purposes and should not, at any time, be considered a substitute for seeking or receiving veterinary care for your Beagle(s).