How To Find A Reputable Breeder

There’s a HUGE difference between a puppy mill or backyard breeder and a REPUTABLE BREEDER. As a result, there is a HUGE difference between the dogs that come from those different sources. It is extremely common for puppies from disreputable breeder-sources to look nothing like their supposed breed, and the differences don’t end there. Health, temperament, personality, size, intelligence, and appearance may be so dissimilar that a puppy from a disreputable source may be unrecognizable in any way as the stated breed.

First, be aware that AKC (American Kennel Club) registration is not in any way an indication of quality! The poorest puppy mill litter in the country may be registered with the AKC, just like the most carefully-bred litter from a responsible, reputable breeder. AKC registration is simply a registry service, and used alone, does not indicate good health, ethical breeding, stable temperament, or even recognizable breed type. Where record-keeping is questionable, it does not even ensure that the dog is the actual breed claimed on the papers. AKC registration is where you BEGIN your search, not where you end it.

Some hallmarks of a reputable breeder-source:

    A reputable breeder is usually an approved member of one or more AKC licensed dog clubs. This may be a national breed club, a local/regional breed club or an all-breed club. Vali Icelandics is a proud member of two national breed clubs, The Icelandic Sheepdog Association of America and The Keeshond Club of America. Vali Icelandics is also a member of an active local all-breed club, The Huntsville Kennel Club. In addition to membership, I have also served many years as an officer or member of the Board of Directors for all three of those organizations.
    A reputable breeder submits hip x-rays for all their dogs over 2 years of age to the Orthopedic Foundation for Animals (OFA). A reputable breeder will have OFA clearance on every sire and dam for every litter they breed. Hip Dysplasia is a debilitating condition that may result in expensive hip replacement surgery, or even euthanasia. Dogs with this condition experience excruciating pain, so NEVER accept excuses on this certification! There is a rating for OFA hip certification, so be aware that certification alone is not the complete picture – ask what the RATING of the OFA certification is (Excellent, Good, Fair, etc.) for all parents of all litters. Vali Icelandics ONLY breeds dogs that have been certified clear of hip dysplasia by the OFA.
    Thankfully, the Icelandic Sheepdog is relatively healthy, with few universal health conditions. Reputable breeders, however, perform additional clearances for avoidable conditions or diseases to dramatically increase the odds for healthy, long-lived puppies. Vali Icelandics performs a wide range of vital health screenings, including checks on eyes, ears, stifles, heart, lungs, and patellas.
    A reputable breeder often participates in AKC-sanctioned events. In AKC Conformation competition a reputable breeder pursues excellence by exhibiting their dogs to experienced judges who evaluate them in comparison with the AKC standard for the breed. Vali Icelandics is extremely active in AKC Conformation events, and competes at the highest level in the U.S. Vali Icelandic Sheepdogs regularly attain AKC Champion and AKC Grand Champion titles, and consistently rank among the top Icelandics in the country.

Vali Icelandics is proud to be the breeder and owner of the 2022
#1 Icelandic Sheepdog in the U.S. (All-Breed)

BOSS GCHS CH Vali’s Study In Scarlet

Vali Icelandics is proud to be the owner of the 2023 Icelandic Sheepdog Association
of America National Specialty Best In Specialty Show Winner

BISS BOSW GCH CH Caradoc’s Vali Singin’ In The Rain

See more on my lovely girls SCARLET and RAIN under the MY DOGS tab on the Vali Icelandics website. To read more on this subject, please see the article: “The Benefits of Obtaining Your Companion Puppy From A “Show” Breeder”, also on the Vali Icelandics website, under the “Articles” tab.

Many responsible, reputable breeders require their companion puppies to be spayed or neutered by a particular age. This guarantees that no cherished puppy ends up in a puppy mill or backyard breeder situation, where dogs are bred primarily for profit and where conditions are usually deplorable. Vali Icelandics requires such on all companion-only puppies.

Signs of a questionable or disreputable breeder-source:

Reputable breeders do NOT place their puppies in a pet shop or puppy mill situation.  Reputable breeders do NOT sell puppies at shopping venues, flea markets, or other retail sources.  Reputable breeders do NOT have many different breeds for sale at their home or place of business.  Reputable breeders do NOT release puppies to new homes until they are at least 8 weeks of age.  Reputable breeders do NOT place puppies with “just anyone” … they are extremely selective in approving homes for their precious puppies.  Reputable breeders usually have a contract that all parties must agree to and sign.  Vali Icelandics places puppies in approved homes only, with a signed contract to ensure that all Vali puppies become loved, happy companions in nurturing families.

A carefully-bred puppy from a responsible, reputable breeder is not easy to find! 

Many reputable breeders have a waiting list for their puppies and require a deposit.  Regardless of individual policies, reputable breeders put in time, effort, thought, analysis, resources, and GREAT care in producing puppies that are sound in both mind and body.

Where to look for a reputable breeder:

  • Start by going online to the American Kennel Club (AKC) website. AKC has a “Puppy Finder” option, and an AKC MARKETPLACE for kennel listings, where you may locate many very good breeders. You can contact kennels even if they have no puppies currently available, and ask them about their upcoming litter plans. Ask questions about breeder’s policies, keeping in mind the hallmarks that identify a reputable breeder.
  • Don’t be fooled by a slick website with eye-catching photos. Many reputable breeders have informative, well-organized websites with wonderful photos of their dogs. However, questionable or disreputable sources may copy or import photos, or make false claims that they cannot prove. Make your decisions when choosing a reputable breeder-source based on credentials, experience, and policies.
  • Visit dog shows in your area, where you may be able to meet breeders, owners, and dogs, and experience the happy, sociable Icelandic Sheepdog temperament for yourself! Keep in mind that this is a rare breed, so most shows will not have any Icelandic Sheepdogs entered. Look specifically for shows where Icies have been in past years, and this may indicate whether there might be any entered. You can find out if there are any Icelandic Sheepdogs entered in a dog show, as well as what time and in what ring they will be showing, about a week prior to each individual show. Contact each show’s Superintendent for this information.
  • Location should never be used in your criteria for finding a reputable breeder. A responsible breeder-source is essential to finding a healthy, carefully-bred puppy… and it doesn’t matter where they are located. Don’t look for a convenient breeder, look for a great breeder! Airline travel is a quick, easy and economical way to get puppies to their new homes, and young puppies can accompany their new owners in the passenger cabins of most airlines. Vali Icelandic Sheepdog puppies are placed in wonderful homes all over the U.S., and I assist all my families with arrangements to get puppies “from here to there” safely and securely!

I hope the information above helps you in your search for a new puppy. In any case, take your time and be careful, since there are many disreputable sources out there. By following these guidelines, you will greatly increase the odds of finding a healthy, happy companion for many years. A lifetime of good health, abundant energy, sound temperament and loving devotion is well worth the effort!

A note on puppy prices:

Puppies from reputable breeder-sources are often more expensive than puppies from a puppy mill or backyard breeder. Do not use price to influence your decision on where to obtain a puppy, since reputable breeders go to great lengths, and great expense, to make certain that their puppies are healthy, sound, and typical representatives of the breed. Often the difference in cost between a reputable breeder-source and a disreputable or questionable source is merely the equivalent of one serious veterinary visit. Remember that you are obtaining a canine family member who will be living with you for many years, from youth to old age. Buying a puppy from a cheaper source “just to save money” often turns out to be an incredibly expensive mistake.

I hope the information above helps you in your search for a new puppy!
In any case, take your time and be careful, since there are many disreputable sources
out there. By following these guidelines, you will greatly increase the odds of finding
a healthy, happy companion for many years. A lifetime of good health, abundant energy, sound temperament and loving devotion is well worth the effort!

Information Provided By
Vali Icelandics
“Extraordinary Icelandic Sheepdogs”

Leighanne Dauro
Call or Text: (256) 694-6020
Email: [email protected]