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What's the difference between a backyard breeder and am accredited breeder?

When you consider bringing a Chihuahua into your home, you might think the best thing to do is save one from a shelter or a rescue organization and we would never discourage anyone from bringing a rescue Chihuahua into their home. We admire the people who work with these dogs, who are often the victims of neglect or mistreatment, and the enormous amount of work they do to rehabilitate them.



There would be far fewer dogs in shelters, however, if they had been purchased from a responsible breeder in the first place.



Probably the worst places to get a Chihuahua is a pet shop. Pet shops source their stock (and to them, that’s what a puppy is  - “stock”) from backyard breeders, or worse, commercial breeding operations which are simply puppy mills. These mills pump out puppies for profit from dogs who are typically housed in crowded, unhygienic conditions where the bitches live miserable lives in small cages.



Buying from a pet shop not only keeps these awful places in business but contributes to the dogs who end up in shelters. Pet shops are only interested in a sale and have no care or interest in the welfare of a dog or its new owner’s ability to care for it, once the money has been handed over and the dog has left the store.  


Only slightly less irresponsible are the backyard breeders, who breed for profit. You will find many of these on TradeMe. They are Chihuahua owners who have figured out there is a tidy profit to be made from people who can’t resist a cute puppy photo.

The standard of care varies greatly among backyard breeders, but you can be sure of 2 things: they are breeding to make money and they do not want any responsibility for the dog once they have sold it to you. Health problems? Too bad. Genetic faults? They had no idea.


Careless and/or ignorant breeding can predispose Chihuahuas to hereditary afflictions like dislocating kneecaps, eye problems, permanent hair-loss (common among Chihuahuas who carry the blue “merle” gene), and aggression, as well as genetic conditions such as heart diseases, autoimmune disorders, and seizures.


Many of these breeders will claim NZKC registration, and that might be the case, but consider, to become an “NZKC Breeder” you fill out a form and send in your money. An “NZKC Registered Litter” is also just a case of filling out a form and paying a fee. There are no inspectors to ensure you have any clue about breeding and no guarantee the pedigree you are given is legitimate, as it relies entirely on the honesty and integrity of the breeder.

Breeder Checklist:

  • Will not sell their pups to or through pet shops

  • Will ensure their Chihuahuas are well cared for, by personally screening and selecting homes for their puppies

  • Will turn away people whose lifestyle, commitment or home situation does not fit being a Chihuahua owner

  • Will work with their puppies and new owners to ensure sound temperament

  • Have detailed documentation of their pups' pedigree and DNA

  • Demonstrate knowledge about canine health, genetics, socialization and development

  • Will take back the dog at any point the dog’s life for whatever reason the new owner no longer wants or can care for the animal

  • Don’t sell multiple breeds of dogs, since they tend to specialize in one or two breeds

  • Have extensive knowledge of the breed's history, traits, temperament, and conformation (in fact you won’t be able to shut them up!!)

  • Are involved in showing their dogs. It might be Conformation shows, obedience trials, scenting or agility. Confirmation shows enable breeders to ensure their Chihuahuas meet the breed standard, and not deviate from it by breeding “deer heads” or “teacup” dogs, neither of which are actually breed types, rather names bad breeders thought up so they could charge a higher price for Chihuahuas that should have been sold as pets and neutered to prevent their genetic issues (poorly shaped heads, undersize, etc.) from being passed on.

  • Never use the word “TEACUP” unless they are offering you an actual cup of tea.

  • Treat pet Chihuahuas not suitable for the show ring because of physical traits that do not conform to the breed standard with as much planning, medical attention and socialization as their show-quality littermates.

  • Keep their dogs as house pets and raise the puppies to be good pets, too

  • Value their reputation for seeking to improve the breed

  • Evaluate the health of their pups using sound, standardized genetic and other testing recommended for Chihuahuas

  • Insist on a written sale contract for their dogs.

  • Sell all pet Chihuahuas with a contract requiring the new owner to spay or neuter the dog

  • Provide advice and guidance to purchasers

  • Will interview and often visit the home of a prospective Chihuahua owner and will only sell to people who demonstrate they can provide a safe and responsible home

  • Will want to stay in contact with you to see how the puppy develops

  • Have at least the mother dog available for prospective purchasers to meet so they can ascertain her health and temperament. (The sire may not be available as responsible breeders mate their bitches to the best male for their lines - or they might use imported semen - not the most convenient one they happen to own).

  • Breed only dogs over 2 years old, only a limited number of times and never over the age of 6

  • Will find qualified buyers in advance of a litter and rarely ever advertise

  • Do not separate a pup from the mother and litter before 12 weeks of age

  • Can provide references from other happy puppy buyers (be wary of this one - a bad breeder is hardly likely to offer up the names of unhappy customers!)

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