Read about “Things to Think About in Selecting a Breeder “. Please feel free to adapt this pamphlet to your own needs. Just remove our name from your version. We don’t want credit so much as we want the information to get out to the puppy buyers before they make their decision on the breeder.

Read About Dog Registries and Kennel Clubs …don’t be fooled!

Read “Make A Smart Choice – how one vet sees it.” (See dropdown menu above)

Show Breeders often keep only one or two puppies for show and sell the rest as ‘pets’. Often only an expert eye can see a difference. These pets have been bred with the same good health, good temperament and good looks. Don’t save dollars on your pet purchase and spend them at the vet!

Some breeders have older show dogs, or dogs that were used for breeding. These dogs are in good health (or any health issues will be identified to you) and in need of good homes. Most sell these dogs for less than their puppies.


  • belongs to the local or national Westie Club and has signed a Code of Ethics which you can read
  • isn’t making their living from their puppy sales
  • shows their dogs (the pet-quality puppies were produced with the same level of care)
  • will discuss which medical tests and screenings they have done
  • will provide references upon request
  • keeps puppies until a minimum of 8 weeks
  • sells on a contract and wants the dog back, no matter what age, if you can’t care for them
  • doesn’t advertise (most have waiting lists)
  • has only one or two breeds
  • NEVER imports puppies for sale from other breeders (these would probably be from puppy mills but they would not admit it to you)
  • lets you meet mom or dad
  • lets you visit their kennel
  • spends time with you and expects you to call if questions come up
  • insists on a spay/neuter contract unless the puppy is show quality and the breeder is involved in the process, usually as a mentor
  • plans to follow up on the spay/neuter contract until you provide proof
  • interviews you as thoroughly as you would interview them



One comment we hear from people who were taken in by an irresponsible breeder is, “But she/he was so nice and friendly. She was really helpful and I liked her a lot. She took time with me and told me a lot about the breed.” Well……yep……there is no one MORE friendly than a scam artist!! If they aren’t friendly, they don’t make the sale. And the SALE is the thing that matters most to them. The other side of the story is, “After I got the puppy and ran into this or that problem, she wouldn’t talk to me…or she wasn’t helpful….or she told me the puppy died the next day because I killed it! (Factual experience)”

Ironically, some responsible breeders will spend less time on the phone with you at the start. They want their puppies to go to really good homes. They don’t need to have a sales pitch (This isn’t a used car!) What they want to hear from you are statements that let them know you have done a lot of research. They want to hear things that convince them that you are serious and not just acting on the spur of the moment. (The person who calls and asks what colors they can choose from among the West Highland WHITE Terrier isn’t going to be encouraged to call back!) If price is your first question, you aren’t going to make much of an impression on the breeder. Be prepared BEFORE you make that call. Expect to call back more than once. Know that you may be asked to fill out an application and make a deposit. (If so, be sure you understand the terms and that they are in writing.) When the conversation gets serious, expect the breeder to question you and check references. And expect to WAIT! This isn’t an impulse purchase. Responsible breeders usually breed with a list of buyers already on hand. Your new puppy has probably not been conceived yet!

As part of your research on breeders, please consider contacting the breed rescue in your state. Tell them you are looking at buying a puppy and ask them about the breeder you are considering. Now, be prepared for them not to necessarily comment directly. Rescues have to watch for legal complications too! BUT if you ask the right questions, and listen to what isn’t said as well as what is said, you will get a pretty good idea.

Questions you might ask Rescue:
– Do you know this breeder (name)?
– If you or your best friend were buying a puppy, would YOU consider this breeder? If not, what would you be looking for in a breeder that this breeder does not offer?
– If you don’t know who the breeder is (and the breeder is in the state covered by this rescue), what does this tell you?
– Have you ever knowingly had a dog from this breeder in your Rescue?
– If so, what was the breeder’s reaction when you asked them to take their dog back or to pay the medical bills while the dog was in foster care?
– If so, what was the dog like. What were its strengths and weaknesses (looks, health, temperament).

IF you want a puppy for show, you MUST research long and hard. You should join the local and National Club and be on their email lists. You should be researching show results on the AKC site. You should get to know the various kennel names and what makes one kennel’s Westies different from those of another Kennel.

IF you want the puppy for performance, and especially for agility, you should consider joining the yahoogroups Versatile Westie email list. You want to learn which kennels are producing dogs who are successful at the various performance venues. This is especially important for agility as this is a sport that can be stressful on the dog’s body. Get to know the breeder’s names/kennel names and what those dogs’ characteristics are.

IF you want a pet Westie, you still need to find a good breeder for health and temperament reasons. It is a big investment and a long-lasting investment. This isn’t the place to save money!

And consider Rescue. These are dogs who did not come from responsible breeders. But they are here and need loving homes. Getting a Rescue dog does not put money into the pockets of puppy millers, brokers and backyard breeders or pet stores. It doesn’t encourage bad breeding.

(Written by a Westie Rescue person who constantly sees the results of poor breeding)

 Cute, aren’t they? They had 3 litters…but she has bad knees and allergies….most likely their kids will too. Yes, the puppies sold for less than from a ‘responsible breeder’. But you get what you pay for. Question the breeder about what they did to ensure the puppies’ health; what genetic research..what tests were done on the parents. And then decide if you are really saving anything.

You can find breeders near you
at  WESTIE CLUB OF AMERICA Choose Breeder Listings.