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Why work with a breeder?

What is a Preservation Breeder?

Preservation Breeder makes planned and deliberate decisions to select for desired traits—anatomical structure, temperament, health, breed type, and functionality to do the job for which the breed was originally intended. Breeding is both an art and a science. Breeders are in a constant process of evaluating the attributes of individual dogs (exceptional features and faults). Breeders make decisions on which individuals to breed together with the goal of enhancing exceptional traits and minimizing or eliminating undesirable ones. The goal of Breeders is to improve upon the quality of individuals in each generation.

Breeders have a vision of what they are trying to achieve with each breeding. The have a clear sense of the virtues and faults of the bitch being bred. They have chosen a sire for a particular bitch for very specific reasons; and they can articulate the virtues they hope the sire can contribute. Breeders have a clear vision of their ideal Irish Setter—the dog that epitomizes the Irish Setter breed standard—and they can describe it. Each litter is bred in pursuit of puppies that are as close to the Breeder’s vision of the ideal Irish Setter as possible. Breeders know the virtues and faults of the individuals being bred, have a plan for what they want to achieve in a breeding, and have a way to evaluate their own success.

Breeders want owners to be successful with their dogs, and are selective in where they place animals. They are aware that Irish Setters are not the breed for everyone, and there are situations and times in people’s lives that make it much easier to add a dog to the family. Breeders want relationships with their owners for the lifetime of the dog. Breeders are required by their breed clubs to take dogs back and re-home them if it becomes necessary; and they assist rescues if a dog they have bred ends up in rescue. 

What is a Producer?

In contrast, puppy Producers are breeders only in the sense that they have timed matings that have resulted in litters. The goal of producers is produce puppies to sell. If a mating results in puppies that can be sold, a Producer has been successful. Producers are not working with the best breeding stock. Producing a volume puppies to sell takes precedence over the quality of the puppies. 

Producers may not have invested time into socializing puppies or paid attention to temperament or health issues. Producers are far less discriminating about where they place dogs. Producers sell puppies to people who would not be considered a suitable home by a reputable breeder; owners whose living situation of lifestyle is incompatible with the breed are more likely to fail the dog. This may lead to a continuation of lack of socialization, training, exercise, or development of problem behaviors that lead to the owner abandoning the dog in rescue. Buyers who want a puppy at their convenience, buy on impulse, shop by price, or who are unable to get a puppy from a conscientious breeder will likely get a puppy from a Producer.   

Unfortunately, shelters and rescue are the secondary “puppy mill” marketProducers do not have any responsibilities; the point of sale is the end of the relationship with the puppy and owner. 


Reputable breeders take their dogs back and re-home them if necessary. Generally, dogs from reputable breeders are not ending up in rescue or animal shelters. In fact, the Irish Setter Club of America Principles of Integrity requires member breeders to assume financial responsibility and assist rescue if any dog they have bred should be turned into rescue.

Rescue has now become a for profit business that may not be connected to local animal welfare needs or organizations at all. “Rescue channels” include individuals or organizations involved merely for the profit, hence the name “Retail Rescue.” These dogs may be being imported–across states or more than 1 million imported into the U.S. annually–by unscrupulous producers who are catering to a new “rescue market.” The source of the rescue dogs may be stolen or from the same “puppy mills” owners are trying to avoid. Producers and animal rights activists who have an agenda that seeks to eliminate domestic animals have figured out how to market to consumers wanting to conform to the rescue trend.

For rescue dogs, family history and what may have happened to them is unknown. Some of these dogs can be rehabilitated over time with training and effort. Some may have behaviors to which new owners will have to accept and adjust.

Check any rescue group or animal shelter as thoroughly as any breeder

Here are some questions we recommend you ask:

  • Have you checked for a microchip, other forms of permanent identification, or dog licenses?
  • How have you checked to make sure this dog was not reported missing, stolen, lost? 
  • How have you searched to locate, contact and either reunite the dog with their owner or confirm the owner does not want their dog returned.
  • Is this dog local? Was this dog transported here from another state or country? Where is it from?
  • Has this dog been tested for and cleared for parasites and diseases–including parvo, rabies, and brucellosis that can be transmitted to other dogs and people?
  • If this dog was sick or exposed to sick animals, what quarantine and disease control protocols were followed? Will this animal be tested and cleared for disease before it is placed? 
  • Has this dog been placed before? How many times? Some animals are being placed and returned multiple times. This is an indication that the rescue is either not doing a good job matching the dog with new owners or that the dog has issues that many people are unprepared to handle.
  • Is there any history of biting?
  • How have you evaluated and documented basic behavioral information (is the dog housebroken, reactions to temperament tests, observed triggers of anxiety, aggression, or fear etc).
  • Has there been any evaluation and documentation of how the dog behaves with other dogs, kids, men, older adults, cats etc.
  • How have you evaluated and documented basic health information (any eye conditions, hearing, heart conditions, dysplasia or other joint conditions, diabetic etc.?).