NOW you or your family has decided they definitely wish to buy a puppy--or maybe an older dog.  HOW do you go about finding what you want and WHERE do you go to look for it and WHY should you do it this way?  Hopefully we can answer some of your questions here.

First, we'll explain a little about dog breeding and genetics, in other words *CAUSE AND EFFECT* so you will understand better why it is important to breed CAREFULLY and to help you understand the differences in the types of breeders there are.

Just as in humans, dogs are the sum total of all their parts.  Each part or trait is governed by either a gene or a combination of several genes.  Just as in humans, every single dog inherits some good traits and some bad traits.  And, just as in humans, some inherit more bad traits than good traits while others are more fortunate.  It all depends on what genetic combination they inherit FROM THEIR PARENTS.

Dogs are NOT human however!  When we set out to breed purebred dogs--we are in effect *playing God* because WE pick and choose which dogs to breed from and to.  AND BY GOLLY, because type, health and temperament are inherited to a great degree, we had better attempt to make the best choices we possibly can!!  If not, the resulting offspring are highly likely to endure more pain and suffering than we would like to see--BECAUSE of poor choices WE made--NOT by chance!

Just as in humans, each dog inherits half its genes from dad and half its genes from mom.  The sum of ALL the genes that have been inherited from both mom and dad make up the dog's GENOTYPE, BUT--the dog will only express (show) approximately HALF of the genes they have inherited.   The genes that are expressed/that we see make up the dog's PHENOTYPE.  Because the dog is expressing those genes, we can tell what the phenotype of any dog is--what that half of that dog's genetic makeup is.  Unfortunately, the genotype is much more a mystery since the other half of the genes are not expressed and are therefore *hidden* from us.   We don't know for sure what they are since we can't see them!  However, the more we know about a particular dog's immediate family and its ancestors, the more educated a guess we can make as to what any particular dog's genotype is for a particular trait.

When we mate two dogs together, it is all the genes in their GENOTYPE that will contribute the genes and combinations of genes that each offspring will inherit--NOT just the genes that are phenotypically expressed.  Due to the fact that about half of a dog's genotype is a mystery and the fact that genes can combine in a million different ways, you can well imagine that breeding to improve type, health and temperament can be a bit tricky!  Yet breeders should NEVER purposefully or ignorantly breed in such a way that will cause the number of or severity of bad traits to increase because that will also INCREASE the amount of pain and suffering a dog will have to endure in it's lifetime.  Unfortunately the *average* breeder (backyard breeders/your neighbor/puppy mills) breed with little regard to improving the health and type of their puppies because they simply have no understanding that it could or should be done, or as in the case of puppy mills--they don't even care to do it. Note we are not even taking into consideration the COST to the buyer/owner--both financial and emotional of purchasing a puppy that goes on to develop serious inherited health defects!  Anyway, a breeder must do everything in his/her power to figure out what some of that hidden half of each dog's genotype is so he/she is able to make the best breeding choices so as to hopefully improve the genotype each puppy will inherit and the phenotype each puppy will eventually express, especially in regards to health and temperament.  Breeders need to accumulate as much KNOWLEDGE as possible about genetics and what genetic history is behind each dog they intend to breed for them to be able to make the best choices.


blen pups sitting one yawning

SO, how do breeders choose the best dogs to breed from and to?  Obviously, due to what you have learned, this is NOT an easy task!   It takes a knowledgeable breeder to do a decent job.  Just picking out ANY two dogs WILL NOT DO!!

Here is a step-by-step guide to the basic principles a reputable breeder--one who is attempting to decrease bad traits and/or the severity of bad traits--will follow in order to produce the healthiest, typiest, best temperamented puppies they can so that the breeders, the pet buyers--and especially--the DOGS, may ALL benefit.

FIRST, they do their research.  They read as much about the breed as they can.  They study genetics.  They talk to other breeders in that breed. They learn about type--what a dog of that breed should look like.  They learn about structure--how a dog is put together and what happens when that dog is not put together very well.   They watch dogs competing in dog shows and learn, learn, learn. 

Reputable breeders will learn as much as they can about the breed BEFORE they buy their first dog!

SECOND, once they have learned enough to hopefully make a good choice, they buy the best quality puppy they can buy--one who not only looks as though it is typey, healthy and has a good temperament, but also seems to come from a family that seems the same way in hopes that the genes it inherited are more positive than negative--even the ones we can't see! 

Reputable breeders will buy the typiest, healthiest, most temperamentally sound puppy they can to use in their breeding program!

THIRD, they continue their education.  They join a breed club, buy more books, talk even more to other breeders and attend seminars on breeding and genetics.  

Reputable breeders will be a member of a breed club, own books on the breed and on genetics, attend seminars, and regularly get together with their doggie friends and *brainstorm* about genetics and the breed so as to keep up their knowledge.

FOURTH, they will treat, feed and socialize their dogs in a way that will bring that dog to it's fullest genetic potential.  Due to the knowledge they have accumulated the diet their dogs will eat will be the BEST possible.  They will make sure that their dogs get plenty of fresh air and exercise, are exposed to the least amount of chemicals as possible and do not get too thin or too fat.   They will be less likely to over-vaccinate or over-medicate their dogs.  They will socialize their dogs from the moment each arrives in their home so that the temperament it inherited is expressed to it's fullest potential.  They will NOT permanently remove puppies from their mom before they turn 7 weeks old as they realize mom teaches her puppies discipline and dog behavior between 5 and 7 weeks of age--an important key to being able to train the puppy later. They know that although traits are mostly inherited, environment does play some role in whether or not some traits are expressed and how severely they may be expressed. 

Reputable breeders will feed the best diet, keep their dogs fit, follow the best vaccination protocol, and make sure their dogs get PLENTY of human contact from birth on so that the dog will be better able to produce, carry and raise healthy, temperamentally sound puppies.

FIFTH, they show their dogs.  While at shows they can compare how their dogs look as compared to others of the same breed.  Do they look as nice, as typey as the others?  Or is a particular dog too long in back, too fine in bone, too short on leg, too long and lanky, or have some other attribute that is decidedly not like the breed?  Do the dogs seem to be structurally correct?  Or is a particular dog moving in a way that indicates poor structure and/or balance--a way that looks as though it may put excess stress on joints and tissues and lead to development of structural faults such as hip dysplasia or patellar luxation?  Do the dogs seem to have the typical temperament of the breed?  Or is a particular dog acting overly shy, submissive or aggressive as compared to what others of that breed exhibit?   Humans have a remarkable way of overlooking faults in their *loved ones*.  They tend to focus on the good traits and overlook about the bad ones.  This is wonderful when it comes to family members and friends--BUT NOT DOGS THAT HUMANS WILL PURPOSEFULLY BREED TO PRODUCE OFFSPRING!  If we are planning to BREED dogs, we must NOT overlook faults!  The tendency to focus on the good traits and overlook the bad when breeding dogs is called KENNEL BLINDNESS.  Dog shows have a way of bringing breeders back to reality--that dog that looked SO GOOD at home, may suddenly not look near as good in the show ring as compared to others of the same breed.  IF it is NOT good enough or if the temperament is not typical, that dog WILL be spayed or neutered as a reputable breeder would not want to produce puppies that will have a higher chance of developing faults that will cause pain and suffering, nor would they want to produce puppies that do not have a temperament typical of the breed.  Because of kennel blindness, it is the rare breeder indeed who is capable of continuing to breed to improve WITHOUT continuously competing with their dogs in dog shows. 

Reputable breeders show their dogs in some capacity--either the breed ring or in performance events such as obedience, agility, coursing, herding, field trials, etc. to prove their worth as breeding stock and to avoid kennel blindness in their choices.

SIXTH, they fully test each and every dog used in their breeding program for the inherited health problems common to that breed and ELIMINATE ALL dogs that exhibit serious structural or health defects. They  want to minimize the chances that dog will have to pass on that trait to some of its offspring!  Nor would you, the buyer, want to buy a puppy when you know one of it's parents exhibited a serious structural or health defect!  RIGHT??!  After all, these defects may be painful or life threatening to the dog and surgery is costly to YOU! 

Reputable breeders fully test their breeding stock and do not breed those that have inherited serious negative traits from their parents.

SEVENTH, they feel responsible for each and every puppy they produce.  They don't allow anyone to breed their puppies, unless they, too, are a Reputable Breeder.  They don't want someone to take one of their carefully bred puppies and purposefully or ignorantly breed that dog to a dog that is either not so healthy, or does not come from a healthy background! 

Reputable Breeders are responsible breeders.  They restrict from breeding any pet puppies that they sell.   They are always there to answer any questions a buyer might have.  They are willing to take back any puppy they have sold, ANYTIME, even if the puppy is now old and has health problems.  They are always there to help if a puppy they sold develops a health problem.  They will offer support and information and many will even chip in some money for any surgery needed for inherited faults! 

black and tan head

NOW that we have educated you a bit about breeding and genetics, let's examine how other types of *breeders* breed dogs using the 7 guidelines shown above--the ones a reputable breeder adheres to.

COMMERCIAL BREEDERS, i.e. PUPPY MILLS (called Puppy Farms in the UK/Europe)
     1.  How much research on breeds do you think Commercial Breeders do before obtaining their breeding stock? 
Probably none, excepting whether or not that breed is popular enough to make them enough money!
     2.  Where do you think their breeding stock comes from? 
A reputable breeder would NEVER sell one of their puppies to a Commercial Breeder!  What type of quality do you think the dogs used in the breeding programs of puppy mills have?  No one with high quality, well bred puppies is going to sell a puppy to a Commercial Breeder to live in misery as a breeding machine!  Can you figure out where they might come from?
     3.  Do Commercial Breeders attend seminars, read up on genetics and on the breeds they breed?  Are they members of the National Breed club?   Do you think they care to educate themselves about how to lessen inherited faults? 
The only educating they do is on how to breed to increase numbers of puppies born or how to increase profits!
     4.  Do Commercial Breeders feed the best diet to their dogs? Do they take their dogs out and exercise them daily?   Do they play with and socialize their dogs or puppies?
Commercial Breeders tend to feed the cheapest food they can buy in order to optimize profits--after all they have to LIVE on their profits!  Their dogs live their entire breeding careers in tiny pens, often 3 or 4 to a pen!  Their feet rarely, if ever, touch the ground!  They are never exercised--no time for that!  Socialization?  What's that?!  The most socialization puppies get is when food and water are shoved into the pens, when they get medical treatment, or when they are transported from the mill to the pet shop!
     5.  Do Commercial Breeders show their dogs to find out if they are typey, structurally sound and temperamentally stable?  
Absolutely NOT!
     6.  Do Commercial Breeders fully test their dogs before breeding?
Absolutely NOT!  Testing costs money and would eat into their profits!   Plus, in order for testing to work, the breeder has to REMOVE affected dogs from their breeding program!  Think a Commercial Breeder is going to stop breeding a dog that produces 4-6 money-making puppies every 6 months just because it has patellar luxation?  HECK NO!  They consider their profit margin as more important than the health of their breeding stock!
     7.  Do Commercial Breeders sell their puppies with Restricted from Breeding (or limited) registrations? 
NO!   Will they be there to answer your questions about feeding, training, health?  NO!  Will they take back any puppy they sold for any reason?  NO!  Will they help out if your puppy develops a serious health problem down the line?  NO!

BACKYARD BREEDERS, i.e. your friend, relative or neighbor or anyone who chooses to breed their pet!
     1.  How much research on the breed do you think Backyard Breeders do before obtaining their pet? 
Probably very little!
     2.  Where do you think their pet comes from? 
A reputable breeder would NEVER sell a pet to a Backyard Breeder for breeding! What type of quality do you think the Backyard Breeder pet has?  Again, no one with high quality, well bred puppies is going to sell one to a Backyard Breeder for breeding!  Pet puppies from Reputable Breeders are sold Restricted from Breeding!  Where do you think they get their dogs?
     3.  Do Backyard Breeders attend seminars, read up on genetics and on the breed they have?  Are they members of the National Breed club?  Do you think they care to educate themselves about how to less inherited faults? 
Not likely!  Although I am certain there are a select few that do educate themselves to a certain extent, it is VERY rare!
     4.  Do Backyard Breeders feed the best diet to their dogs?  Do they take their dogs out and exercise them daily?  Do they play with and socialize their dogs or puppies? 
In many cases they do.  This is one guideline that Backyard Breeders sometimes follow--but not always.  Some just don't have the knowledge to do so!
     5.  Do Backyard Breeders show their dogs to find out if they are typey, structurally sound and temperamentally stable? 
Of course not!  If they did, they would very likely turn into a Reputable Breeder once they realized what they were doing wrong!
     6.  Do Backyard Breeders fully test their dogs before breeding? 
Again, only rarely.  The vast majority of them not only do not test for anything, they don't even know such tests EXIST!!
     7.  Do Backyard Breeders sell their puppies with Restricted from Breeding (or limited) registrations? 
Almost never! Will Backyard Breeders be there to answer your questions?   Possibly, but even if they are, the most they can usually offer is support as they don't have sufficient knowledge to be of help! Will they take back any puppy they sold for any reason?  Almost never!  Will they help out if your puppy develops a serious health problem down the line?  Almost never!
Backyard Breeders often provide a good environment for their pets, but very few of them are capable of providing good genetic foundations for the puppies they produce!   And most of them have absolutely NO idea what genetic background their pet(s) have.  Yes, they are better than Commercial Breeders--but not much!

BROKERS, i.e. people who import puppies from Europe or elsewhere and resell to the public!  A Reputable Breeder would NEVER sell a puppy to someone who will resell that puppy.  A lot of knowledge, love and care went into producing that puppy and THEY want to choose the right family for that puppy!  So where do Brokers get their puppies from?  Puppy mills/farms mostly and occasionally backyard breeders! -- NOT friends and relatives!!  Below is a link to an website regarding the puppy farm situation in Ireland and the brokers who buy the puppies and resell them to unsuspecting buyers in other countries.

Please read this article carefully before you contemplate getting a puppy from one of the many internet sites that claim they have quality puppies from Ireland or Europe that they may say are bred by relatives and friends.


The only legitimate registries in the U.S. for a Cavalier are the Cavalier King
Charles Spaniel Club USA (CKCSC) and / or the American Kennel Club (AKC).  Some people also register their dogs with the United Kennel Club (UKC) for their obedience and agility programs, but be wary of Cavaliers ONLY registered with the UKC.

There are a number of other registries that have cropped up mostly in the last few years -- with more starting all the time -- and they are more than willing to register your dog and provide "papers."  Unfortunately, many people only hear "registered" and "papers" and think all registries mean the same thing -- a reputable breeder and a quality dog. Anyone with a fancy computer program can print certificates and start their own "registry" :-(  Some of these are listed below:

American Canine Association, Inc.
American Purebred Registry
America's Pet Registry Inc."APR" or "APRI"--operated by the Association of
Professional Pet Distributors, the commercial kennel trade association

Archives of Merit Worldwide
Continental Kennel Club "CKC" (NOT legitimate CKC--Canadian Kennel Club)
Dog Registry of America (formerly the U.S. Kennel Club)
Federation of International Canines "FIC" (tries to confuse people with the
legitimate FCI--Federacion Cinologica Internacional.)

Krystle Kennel Club
North American Purebred Dog Registry
National Kennel Club
Purebred Canine International Registry Service
United All Breed Registry
Universal Kennel Club "UKC" (uses the same initials as the United Kennel Club)
US Breeder's Registry, founded by a puppy broker when a US District Court
judge in New Jersey upheld AKC's claims of fraud and enjoined him from

ever using AKC's name or selling AKC-registered dogs.
World Wide Kennel Club

No registry has anything to do with the health or quality of the dog.  The papers show only that the puppy has come from the parents listed on the paper.  (In the case of some of the registries other than the CKCSC and AKC -- "probably" came from those parents!  :-(   )"Papers" are as good as the ethics of the breeder (and the ones behind the breeder) and sometimes only good for papering the birdcage, sad to say.

blenheim laying on floor
NOW you know the TYPE of breeder you are going to buy your purebred puppy from.  Let's look at what you need to do to find and buy that puppy!

Since you are reading this, we know you have started the right way.  You are RESEARCHING the breed BEFORE you buy, so you will have the knowledge to choose a puppy that has the best chance of leading a decently long and healthy life and have a typical temperament.  Now you understand how breeding correctly improves the chances of the offspring inheriting the genetic makeup to become a decently healthy dog.  You also understand that Reputable Breeders are the best breeders to buy a puppy from as they are the ones who have the knowledge to breed in such a way so as to be most likely to produce decently healthy puppies.  Now you have to find some breeders, and then you need to ascertain whether or not they are reputable.   Let's look for some breeders!

This site has two pages with lists of breeders.  The page that is named InfoCenter Breeders leads to a list of individual breeders who have been checked out and *certified* by InfoCenter as breeders who follow the InfoCenter Breeder Guidelines.  This is a great place to find some breeders and start calling.

The other page named More Breeder Lists leads to a page containing links to many of the major National Cavalier Club Breeder Lists.   Some of these breeders follow the InfoCenter Breeder Guidelines but have not applied to become part of the InfoCenter List for one reason or another.  Others do NOT follow the InfoCenter Breeder Guidelines.  Once you have read each section of the InfoCenter, it is hoped that you will have sufficient knowledge to figure out which is which.

1.  Go through the lists and pick out some names of breeders--possibly some of those who are closest to you.

2.  CONTACT or E-mail each of them that you are interested in a puppy and want to know a good time to CALL them to discuss this further.  Reputable Breeders will insist on talking to you at some length before putting you on their waiting list.  You may have to e-mail them a few times.  Reputable Breeders are often out of town at dog shows, plus they get a LOT of inquiries about puppies.  They are very busy people.  If you don't hear from one, try back again in a few days.

3.  CALL the ones who respond back to you favorably.  (Don't call those who respond in a way that makes you feel uncomfortable.)   Talk, listen and respond to both questions and statements from the breeder.  Refer to the SEVEN PRINCIPLES of a Reputable Breeder stated above and ask questions to find out where each breeder you talk to stands in regards to those SEVEN PRINCIPLES.  In most cases, there will be a few breeders that you *click* with immediately.  Record those breeder's names for later reference.  If you live close enough--VISIT one or more of the breeders you have made contact with.  HANG UP if you ever feel uncomfortable talking to any breeder!!

4.  STUDY your options after you have spoken with and/or visited with  several breeders.  Narrow your list of breeders down to about 3-5 who you feel comfortable with, who will be having puppies within a reasonable length of time, and who say they are willing to sell a puppy to you.

5.  CALL BACK those breeders you have decided you wouldn't mind getting a puppy from and tell them you are VERY interested in a puppy, what you are interested in (sex/color, if any) and ask to be put on their waiting list.

6.  KEEP IN TOUCH!!  This is VERY important.  Cavaliers are very popular.  Most Reputable Breeders get several inquiries a day!  It is very hard to keep an official list because of this and prospective buyers ARE forgotten if too much time has lapsed between the time of call and when puppies are born or are ready to go to new homes.  We suggest calling or e-mailing about once a month if the litter has not been bred yet, contacting them about once every 2 weeks when a litter is on the way, and once the litter has been born--once a week is probably about right.  Don't let them forget you or *your* puppy will be sold to someone else who did keep in contact!  Often e-mail is the best way to do this.  Just write a simple sentence such as "How is --- (dog) doing?  I am still interested in a --- (color/sex).  You might also want to add a couple of particulars about yourself to remind the breeder who you are.

7.  You might want to join an e-mail list for Cavaliers.  It is fun, educational, and can sometimes help you in your search for a puppy.  If that is your interest, please do a search for some Cavalier e-mail lists.

8.  If you follow these guidelines you are quite likely to find a responsibly bred puppy from a Reputable Breeder within an acceptable length of time.  If you are a little lax on keeping in touch--it may take YEARS!!


 A FINAL NOTE to those of you who feel sorry for that puppy in the pet shop or the poor, unhealthy looking puppy the Broker offers you--just remember, neither would be selling puppies if no one would buy from them.  If you buy one, they are sure to replace it immediately with another one.  YOU can help stop the cycle!


Finding a Puppy

The following site has wonderful information!
East Coast Cavalier Breeders (a CNE site)

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