So you have decided that you want a Chihuahua! While it is exciting that your family will be growing by four tiny paws, you might not know where to begin.
This article will provide the information that you need to locate a quality Chihuahua breeder.
Before we get to that, I want to encourage you to consider rescuing before buying. Chihuahuas are the second most euthanized breed in America and so many little chis need good homes.
Check out these posts to look into rescuing a chihuahua:
However I am aware that they are hard to find in some areas. And some people really want a puppy and there is usually a shortage of chihuahua puppies in shelters.
Which is the reason for this article.
What is a reputable breeder?
A reputable breeder is someone who breeds dogs as ethically as possible. These breeders ensure that their breeding dogs and puppies receive high quality nutrition, veterinary care, and good quality of life.
Their breeding dogs often live in their home as a part of their family. A reputable breeder breeds dogs because they have a love for the breed. This usually goes along with showing the breed, but not always.
Some breeders may breed just because they have a passion for a type of dog and want to share that with others by breeding dogs for other families to care for and enjoy.
What is the difference between a backyard breeder and a reputable breeder?
The most significant difference between a backyard breeder and a reputable breeder is the motive. A reputable breeder genuinely cares about the dogs they are breeding and this will show in how their dogs are treated and in their interactions with you, which will be discussed further below.
You may have heard the terms show quality or pet quality when reading advertisements for puppies (discussed further below).
A breeder who breeds pet-quality dogs is not necessarily a backyard breeder. Some breeders who show dogs produce pet quality litters, and some breeders who do not show dogs are still reputable because they breed their dogs ethically.
A backyard breeder’s sole focus is profit, which usually results in the suffering of dogs to maximize their profit per litter. This motive often manifests itself in the following ways:
- Avoiding preventative and/or emergency veterinary care.
- Feeding minimum servings of a low-quality diet.
- Housing breeding stock outdoors in cost-effective housing, which usually means they are not protected from the elements.
- Not providing enrichment in the form of beds, blankets, treats, and toys.
- Selling a puppy to a family before they are old enough to leave their mother (puppies should not be separated from their mama before 8 weeks of age).
- Focusing on the monetary part of a puppy sale, not showing concern for where the puppy will be going and if they will be properly cared for.
- Spending as little time caring for the dogs and puppies as possible (time = money).
This is how the name puppy mill originates; they breed dogs as much as possible and as cheaply as possible, churning out new litters like a mill. Learn more about puppy mills on ASPCA‘s website.
To see the results of a puppy mill, read the story of Harley, a sweet Chihuahua who was rescued from a puppy mill and went on to be a spokesdog against puppy mills.
Harley passed away in 2016, but this tiny dog left quite the legacy. His dream to end puppy mills lives on today. You can learn more and join the movement at Harley’s Dream.
Where should I avoid buying a dog from?
There are certain places that you should always avoid buying a dog from:
Puppy mills. Some owners of puppy mills will sell dogs directly to consumers in person or online. While it is tempting to “rescue” a dog from a puppy mill, if you purchase a dog from the puppy mill, you are contributing to the operation continuing. Read more about how to help dogs in puppy mills on the ASPCA‘s website.
Pet stores or puppy stores. These locations house the dogs in cages suitable for small animals like rabbits or guinea pigs and charge very high prices for the puppies.
This high price does not guarantee you are purchasing a healthy dog; the majority of pet stores source their puppies from puppy mills or backyard breeders.
However, some pet stores hold dog rescue events to help homeless dogs find families. Be sure to ask when the next adoption event is!
Individuals. Occasionally there are people who choose not to spay and neuter their pets, resulting in surprise litters. Others want their dog to have a litter before spaying them.
If you purchase a puppy from someone who did not spay or neuter their pet, they may choose to continue breeding their dogs for profit.
While this may not sound bad initially, consider how many dogs need homes in the world. Irresponsible owners contribute to this issue.
Further, Chihuahuas are prone to difficult births. They frequently require emergency c-sections to deliver their puppies, and an inexperienced owner jeopardizes the health of their dog and the puppies if they do not prepare for this possibility.
Other times, a random person may approach you and offer a puppy for sale, or they may attempt to sell puppies out of their car in shopping centers. This raises red flags; where did they get the puppies? They could potentially have been stolen from their families.
If a suspicious person approaches you and attempts to sell you a puppy, report them to the authorities. Think about the pain the family missing their dog is suffering from.
You can learn more about avoiding puppy sale scams here
Anyone who offers leases. Unfortunately, you read that right. People really do offer leases for dogs. There have been scams involving people being under the impression that they were on a payment plan to purchase their puppy when in actuality they were leasing their puppy and it was expected to be returned at the end of the lease, or they could purchase the puppy for additional payments.
This is bad for dogs mentally and emotionally, as they get attached to their families and do not want to leave. This also breaks the hearts of the families who were scammed.
If you want to have a dog on a short-term basis, consider fostering a dog for a local animal shelter or rescue. A less known opportunity is the option to foster the pets belonging to a military family who is being deployed and unable to bring their pets. Learn more at the American Humane website.
What should I expect from a reputable breeder?
A reputable breeder will genuinely love and care for their dogs and puppies, and this is usually obvious pretty quickly as you interact with them.
A reputable breeder will not hesitate to introduce you to the parents of the litter because they have nothing to hide. They will send you pictures of your puppy so you can watch their growth. They will provide you with regular “pup dates” so you can keep up with how they are doing in between your purchase of the puppy and waiting to bring him or her home.
They will want to know that you are ready to care for the puppy. Have you educated yourself about the breed? Do you have previous dog ownership experience? Do you have the right supplies? Did you buy the type of food they are feeding the puppy? Do you have a veterinarian lined up? Do you know where the nearest emergency vet is to your home?
A reputable breeder will have a folder for you with your puppy’s vaccine records and other pertinent information that you will need to care for your puppy.
They will ask for a deposit on the puppy to show that you are serious about bringing the puppy into your family.
A reputable breeder may ask you to sign an agreement to spay or neuter the puppy you purchase, then to provide proof that you have neutered or spayed your puppy when he or she has reached the appropriate age.
This request shows that they value responsible breeding and that they want to contribute to reducing the homeless pet population.
How do I find a reputable breeder?
Here are a few places to start the search for your tiniest new best friend:
The AKC. The American Kennel Club Market Place offers potential puppy parents the ability to search by breed and state for breeders and rescues.
Veterinarians. Call veterinary offices near you and ask for recommendations. Reputable breeders take their females to veterinarians regularly for prenatal and postnatal care, which means your local vet may have a list of breeders for the reference of clients.
Social media. Many breeders advertise their puppies on social media. A breeder’s social media page can also help you determine if they truly care for their dogs as you will see the dog’s living conditions in their posts.
Breeders.net This is a good search engine to find a reputable breeder in your area. You just put in the breed, your zip code, and hit enter and a list comes up. I know others have had success finding their puppy this way but you still need to do your due diligence and check the breeder out.
Remember that when looking for a reputable breeder, research is key. Do not assume they care for their dogs; ask for a meeting with the breeder to include a tour of their facility and to meet the puppies’ parents.
How do I identify a good Chihuahua breeder?
A good breeder will do the following things:
- They will provide preventative and emergency veterinary care as necessary for all their dogs and puppies.
- They will test the parents for health conditions before breeding them.
- They will not use words such as “teacup” when advertising their Chihuahua puppy litters.
- They will house their adults and puppies inside their personal residence, not outside, and their living quarters will be clean.
- They will refuse to sell puppies until they reach 8 weeks of age or older.
- They will interview each potential puppy parent.
- The puppy’s parents will be on-site and available for meet and greets.
- Lastly, a good breeder will care where their dogs end up. They may refuse a sale if they feel someone is irresponsible, and they will tell all purchasing parties to return the dogs to them if they are ever unable to care for them instead of surrendering them to a shelter or rescue. As a result of this practice, they may have adult dogs available for adoption as well.
If a breeder does these things, you can be confident that they are reputable.
What will a good breeder want from me?
Expect a good breeder to want the following things from you:
- They will likely interview you before agreeing to sell you a puppy.
- They will want to know that you have researched the breed and are prepared to care for the puppy for the puppy’s entire life.
- They will want to know that you have selected a veterinarian for your Chihuahua.
- They will want to know where the closest emergency veterinarian is to your home.
- They will want references for your pet ownership abilities.
- They may ask to tour your home to see where your Chihuahua would live.
- They may ask you to purchase specific products to care for your puppy, or for a list of the supplies you have purchased in anticipation of the puppy’s arrival.
- They may ask how you would handle it if your Chihuahua required expensive medical treatment; financially and what decisions you would make regarding treatment, quality of life and euthanasia.
- They will want to stay in touch to see your puppy live his or her best life.
Should I buy a show quality or pet quality Chihuahua?
Show quality means that a dog was bred to conform to the AKC’s standards, a requirement to participate in dog shows.
Pet quality means that a dog’s physical appearance would not conform to the standards required to be shown, meaning that they were intended to be a family pet rather than participate in dog shows.
Pet quality dogs are usually less expensive since they did not have to be as specifically bred, but they are no less quality than a show dog.
All dogs, show quality, pet quality, and rescue are equally amazing and deserving of loving homes!
Linda, over at ChiChis and Me has a great post with some of the responsible breeders that she has researched here.
Is it true that I could rescue a purebred Chihuahua?
If it is important to you to own a purebred Chihuahua, you should know that purchasing a puppy from a breeder is not your only option.
Yes, you can rescue a purebred Chihuahua! Some breeders may have adults who were returned to them and are looking for homes. You can also locate Chihuahua rescues through the Chihuahua Club of America, the AKC, or a google search. We also have a list of chihuahua rescues too!
There are likely Chihuahuas in your local animal shelter as well.
Do I have to buy a dog from a breeder to have a healthy dog?
No, you do not! Rescued dogs can be just as healthy as dogs from breeders. Sometimes purebred dogs carry medical conditions from generation to generation, whereas a mixed breed rescue dog would have a wider genetic pool, and therefore a greater chance at health.
When adding a new Chihuahua to your family, should you choose to buy a puppy from a breeder, it is imperative that you support a reputable breeder, not a puppy mill or backyard breeder.
Carefully selecting the breeder you choose to support will impact the quality of life of generations of Chihuahuas to come. Consider rescuing a Chihuahua as well, because there are many wonderful Chihuahuas in need of homes!