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Tripp's Am Staffs

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Puppies and Breeders

by Char

So, you just have to have a puppy. This is not a decision to be made in haste. Many people don't realize what an important decision this really is. You've heard time and again , "Go to a Reputable Breeder". Don't know where to start? Don't worry....we'll help you. We are going to give you the information needed to determine what a reputable breeder is, how to avoid Back Yard Breeders and Puppy Mills, and finally, we are going to give you important tips that will help you pick a healthy puppy.

Before we get started, let's do a little evaluation. Answer each question with sincere honesty.

*Are you ready for the responsibility of a puppy? Do you have adequate room in your home for a chewing, barking, pooping, peeing, little ball of energy?

*Are you willing to devote quality time to this dog day in and day out, even after the novelty wears off? What about your job and social life?

* Can you afford the expense of quality dog food, veterinarian check ups and emergency care, etc.?

*Will you put forth the effort to train and properly socialize this dog so that it will be a happy, healthy member of society?

If you have answered NO to any of these questions, you should reconsider taking on a new puppy or dog. If you have answered YES to all of these questions, and are ready to make a responsible decision, let's move forward and learn about how to find a reputable breeder and how to recognize a "Back Yard Breeder" and a "Puppy Mill", but first, let's help you determine what breed of dog is best for you.

Dogs come in all shapes, sizes, energy levels, attention spans, etc. There are many things to consider when making a breed selection, such as whether you live in an apartment or a house with a fenced yard. It is suggested that you research your breed of choice prior to making any purchase. It will be best for all concerned if your selection is well thought out and you are knowledgeable of the breed you have chosen.

The Reputable Breeder

In this section, we will discuss what a reputable breeder is and how to recognize them. It is easy to do, if you have the right tools.

Important Questions to Ask a Breeder


Click here to download these questions as a pdf

1. Have both the sire and dam been health tested? Can copies of test results be provided?  OFA hips are the bare necessity.  OFA-fair or better scores are the minimum.  OFA provides actual certificates.  A physical exam is not a health test.

2. What genetic faults run in the line? Have any of these faults shown up in this litter? ALL dogs have faults and if the breeder cannot or will not provide this information, it is a sure sign that the breeder has not put forth the effort to ensure that their dogs are of sound, healthy lines.

3. What is the temperament of the sire and dam?  If either the dam or sire is fearful of anything or aggressive toward any humans forget it!!!!

4. How are the breeders' dogs currently housed?

5. Does the breeder provide a health guarantee? If this pup is intended to be a show dog, it is important that the breeder provide some type of guarantee against genetic defects that would render the dog non-show quality.

6. Does the breeder have a contract? This is for the protection of the buyer as well as the breeder.

7. Is there a deposit required and if so, is it refundable?

8. Does the breeder provide the pups first shots and deworming?

9. If you cannot visit the breeder, will they provide photos of the property, parents and the pups?

10. Is the breeder helpful and appear to have a genuine interest in the breed, or do they appear more interested in selling a puppy?

11. Can the breeder provide contact information for other people who have purchased puppies from them?

12. Can the breeder provide references to you, such as their veterinarian, other breeders, etc.?

The first sign of a reputable breeder is that when you speak with them, they have an indepth knowledge of heir chosen breed and are enthusiastic to speak about that breed at length. Reputable breeders have Breed Preservation at the top of their priority list. They do not breed often, nor for the purpose of making a profit. They will belong to a club for their breed either locally or nationally and will actively participate in at least one competition event such as showing, weight pull, agility or obedience.

Prior to breeding, a reputable breeder will spend countless hours researching pedigrees in an effort to minimize or eliminate the potential for genetic defects. They have at least a basic understanding of genetics and a full knowledge of line breeding and outcrossing, including the ramifications for doing so. A breeding will be done only occasionally, and only with the intention of improving the breed. They never breed to supply pet stores or any other market and in their eyes, doing so is unforgivable. They spend exorbitant amounts of money on health testing and are willing to share the results with you.

A reputable breeder will give the best possible care to their litters and their puppies are the picture of health.. They socialize them, keep them in clean environments, provide quality food and spare no expense for veterinarian attention. All puppies will have received their first vaccinations and deworming and a shot record will be provided to you.

Reputable breeders want the very best homes they can find for their dogs. As a potential puppy buyer, you will be required to provide references to the breeder, veterinarian contact information and will be thoroughly screened prior to being allowed to purchase a puppy.

During the selection process, a reputable breeder will try to find a puppy that best suits you. If you are interested in a show dog, they will discuss the good and bad points of each puppy. If you are interested in a pet and companion, they will require the pup be spayed or neutered, provided it has not already been done.

For your protection, as well as theirs, a reputable breeder will provide you with a legally binding contract which clearly defines your obligations and your rights as the purchaser. Show quality puppies should have a guarantee against genetic defects that would render the dog non-show quality. Pet quality puppies should be guaranteed against genetic defects that would shorten the normal life span of the dog.

Once you have made your purchase, a reputable breeder will require that you stay in contact with them throughout the life of the dog. They want the very best for their dogs and nothing less will do. They are quick to help you with any questions you have such as training, showing, health, pedigrees, etc. When you purchase a dog from a reputable breeder, you are, in essence, a part of their family.

Reputable breeders often require that a dog be returned to them should you no longer be able to keep it. They will go to great lengths to keep their dogs from becoming shelter dogs or sold to an undesirable person. The highest priority on the list of a reputable breeder is the dog and it's welfare.

What do all those letters in the registration names mean????

Conformation and Working Titles

1. CH, GR CH Conformation is tested in the UKC or ADBA show ring and indicates that the physical structure of the APBT is that of a standard APBT working "type". What this means is explained in the conformation primer part of this website. A dog that has conformation titles has the initials of the title before their name. (e.g. CH = Champion GR CH= Grand Champion)

2. CDX, CD, UD, ODC, More impressive than conformation titles are working titles, which also appear before the registered name. CD (companion dog), CDX (companion dog excellent), UD (utility dog), ODC (obedience dog champion) are very hard to obtain and prove that the dog has the overwhelming desire to work for their handler. It indicates that they are stable in temperament and high in intelligence.

3. ACE, ACE of ACE, UWP, UWPCH etc.. This is a working title awarded by the UKC or ADBA for weight pulling. This is a great indication of the heart and soul of the APBT. A dog that earns this title has a great desire to work, please the owner, and is strong in mind and body. The IWPA is also a weight pull multibreed organization, and UKC is now having licensed weight pull for working titles.

Pedigree Titles

1. 'PR' A dog that who pedigree is confirmed for a prerequisite number of generations earns the Purple Ribbon Pedigree. This is indicated by a 'PR' before the registered name. HOWEVER 'PR" does not indicate the quality of the dog!!!!!!!

2. DNA-VIP this is a genetic test that proves the parentage of the dog. Note: the parents must also be DNA-P or DNA-VIP in order to prove ancestry.

Health Certificates

1. vWD: Von Willebrand’s Disease is a genetic bleeding disorder. Dogs affected with vWD will have a reduction in the amount or function of a blood protein which binds platelets to blood vessels. This blood protein is commonly referred to as Von Willebrand’s Factor (vWF). The absence or deficiency of the factor can be life threatening by leading to uncontrolled bleeding episodes. THis is checked by a veterinarian.

2. OFA Orthopedic Foundation for Animals. This test comes with ratings from poor to excellent. This is a measurement of the dogs hips and elbows. Poor means that the dog has high propensity for CHD (Canine Hip Dysplasia) or CED (Canine Elbow Dysplasia) which are debilitating diseases. Arthritis can develop as a result of the malformation of the hip joint and this results in pain as the disease progresses. Some clinical signs are lameness, difficulty standing or walking after getting up, reluctance or inability to go up or down stairs, decreased activity, a bunny-hop gait, painful reaction to extension of the rear legs, resisting to jump, stiffness early in the morning that improves as the dog warms up, changes in disposition due to pain, wobbly gait, or a clicking sound when walking. Dogs that get these diseases are in terrible pain all the time. It is inherited so make sure both parents are tested and pass. Check with OFA to make sure that prospective breeders have indeed tested their breeding stock. Certain Veterinarian can take the x-rays which are sent to OFA for certification.

3. PennHIP University of Pennsylvania Hip Improvement Program (PennHIP) This is a more sophisticated or scientific approach to detecting CHD.

4. CERF: Canine Eye Registration Foundation. The foundations goal is the eliminating heritable eye diseases in purebred through registration, research, and education After a painless examination of the dog's eyes, the ACVO Diplomate indicates any specific disease(s) found. Dogs found to be unaffected by major heritable eye disease by an ACVO diplomate can be registered with CERF. It is best to have yearly CERF exams.

5. THYROID NORMAL Autoimmune thyroiditis is the most common cause of primary hypothyroidism in dogs and is recognized as a heritable condition. Predisposed dogs are born with normal thyroid function and generally grow and develop in a normal manner. Evidence of an immune reaction in the thyroid glands begins to appear sometime in early adulthood in most affected dogs becoming hypothyroid in the future.


1. TT Temperament Tested. This is a test provided by the American Temperament Testing Society. This means that the dog is not overly shy, or overly aggressive and proves that the dog has a sound stable temperament.

2. CGC Canine Good Citizen. This is a test provided by the American Kennel Club which evaluates the ability of a dog to be a good citizen. It is a good evaluation of how a dog reacts to every day situations.

The Back Yard Breeder

How to Spot a Back Yard Breeder

1. A BYB does not health test their dogs.

2. They are unable or unwilling to discuss the faults of their dogs. Often, they become defensive.

3. They have unusually low prices.

4. No screeing is done and probably no contract.

5. Puppies are often unclean.

6. They don't require pets to be spayed or neutered.

7. Their dogs are often oversized and structurally incorrect according to the breed standards.

10. There are multiple litters available each year.

11. Their females are bred multiple times, sometimes beyond what is safe for the dog.

12. A BYB will tell you anything you want to hear. Ask for PROOF.

13. Oftentimes, a BYB will advertise "Rare Blue Pits", or the new color "Merle". Caution: Merle is NOT a color of a purebred APBT, and Blue is not "Rare".

Quite often, people make a decision to buy a puppy in haste. They check the newspaper or go online where they find several breeders with lots of puppies to choose from...and cheap too! A word of caution: Things may not be what they appear. In this section, we will help you to understand why you should be wary of the Back Yard Breeder (BYB), how to identify them and what kind of damage they do.

A BYB is everything a reputable breeder is not. BYBs have dogs that were obtained for the purpose of breeding. They usually do not health test their dogs as it is expensive to do so, nor do they screen potential puppy buyers. Puppies are placed with whomever has the money to pay for them. Breedings are done without thought to genetic defects, structure or overall health. Basically, they will simply select two dogs of breeding age. There is no pedigree research and the dogs are bred frequently and haphazardly. It is not unusual for a BYB to breed a single female 6 or more times in her lifetime and then place her in another home when she can no longer produce.

BYBs normally have lower prices than the reputable breeder because there has been no health testing done, and in order to move the multiple litters they have each year, puppies must be priced to sell. The average BYB will sell puppies from $100-$400. A BYB focuses on quantity, not quality.

Much damage can be done to a breed by a BYB. By not health testing, they produce dogs with genetic faults and unsound structure. By not putting forth the effort to screen buyers, many of these dogs end up in shelters across the world. Many BYBs do not keep their litters in clean environments which causes disease and sometimes death.

A BYB may not be easy to spot, until further investigation. Quite often they show their dogs or participate in some other competitive sport, they belong to a club for their breed and may even be very friendly toward you. Listen closely and do your research.


The Puppy Mill

(The images below are graphic in nature, but necessary. Please be prepared.)


The majority of the puppies sold in pet stores come from breeding farms called puppy mills. These farms typically keep dozens or hundreds of dogs in tiny, filthy pest and feces infested crates their entire lives, producing litter after litter, usually beginning as soon as the dog begins it's first heat cycle (around 6 months of age).

These animas rarely receive veterinary care, if ever. They receive no exercise, or love and some never have their feet actually touch the ground.. Most of the puppies produced by these places have genetic defects and health problems related to the conditions they are raised in. Most of them will die young if they make it long enough to be weaned.

By purchasing a dog from a pet store, you are creating a demand for these puppy millers and are supporting their cruelty and mistreatment of dogs. This severely malnourished dog on the right is likely the parent of hundreds of puppies sold in pet stores across the world. . On the left is the size and type of caging a typical puppy mill dog is confined to for its entire life. Usually, there are multiple animals sharing one cage. When they relieve themselves, it collects on the ground underneath them and is left there indefinitely. In many cases, as in the photo on the bottom right, excrement falls through the grates of the upper cage directly onto the animals caged beneath them. Their only protection from the sun, rain, wind, and snow is often a torn piece of plastic that dangles over the top of the cage.

They are constantly forced to breed, and the puppies are taken from them sometimes as young as 4 weeks of age and sold to pet stores or animal brokers, except for the those that die from lack of proper care. Many of your puppies will die on their way to pet stores due to illness or because they are too young to eat on their own. More will die once they get to the pet stores as a result of inadequate care, fear, loneliness, and disease. These poor animals are exhausted, starving and sick. Some dogs become aggressive from lack of food and water, attacking each other as they try to eat or drink. The only food provided is often molded or contaminated. They have infected bites and scratches all over their bodies, and flies are constantly swarming around them causing further infection and disease. Their feet are infected from standing in their own urine and excrement. They are always afraid.

These animals will die young, if they are lucky - whether from neglect and abuse or from being killed when they can no longer produce puppies to sell. They have never known love or freedom, only misery.

~Please do not support Puppy Mills by purchasing from a Pet Store!~

Selecting Your Puppy

In the above sections, you have determined what breed best suits you, how to find a reputable breeder and how to recognize a Back Yard Breeder (BYB) and have witnessed the horror of Puppy Mills. Now, you've done your research, selected a reputable breeder that you feel comfortable with, asked them quesions from the checklist above, and you are ready to pick out your puppy.

This is another very important piece of the puzzle. You want to make sure that the puppy is healthy, vibrant and structurally sound. How do you do that when the pups are only 8 - 12 weeks old? Again, we will help you. We want you to be comfortable in your decision, so we are going to share some tips with you that can be used when selecting a dog of any age. Of course, there are no guarantees, but these tips will help you to make the best selection possible.

1. Spend time with each puppy individually. A puppy that shrinks away or runs from you is shy. This may be able to be corrected, but if you plan to participate in competition events like showing, this may not be the best choice. The tail should be held high and the pup should give an aire confidence and be very inquisitive.

2. Examine each puppy physically, beginning at the head. The nose should be moist and cool. Beware of nasal discharge or frequent sneezing as this could be a sign of ill health.

3. Check the teeth. Most breeds should have what is called a scissors bite where the upper incisors slightly overlap the lower ones. A flush bite is when the upper and lower teeth meet evenly. An undershot bite is when the lower teeth overlap the upper teeth and an overshot bite is when the upper teeth protrude too far over the bottom, almost as in having buckteeth. In showing, a dog should have a nice scissors bite.

4. Look at the gums. They should be pink. Pale gums can suggest anemia or intestinal parasites.

5. Eyes should be clear and bright. If you see tear stains on the fur, look for eyelids that roll in or out, extra eyelashes or conjunctivitis. The pupils should be dark and have no visible white spots which are indicative of cataracts or retained fetal membrane.

6. The ears should be healthy and well furred. Crusty tips with bare spots could indicate a skin disease. Ear canals should be clean. A foul smell emitting from the ears, head shaking or tenderness could suggest an ear infection.

7. The puppy should not have difficulty breathing.

8. The abdomen should be clean and healthy looking. A buldge at the navel indicates an umbilical hernia. This can correct itself, but sometimes requires surgery to repair.

9. Check the genitals. Females - examine the vulva. Look for matted hair or vaginal discharge. This could be a sign of vaginitis, which is a common problem in young females. It normally disappears around the first heat cycle. Males-Both testicles should be present. If one or both are absent, they may come down prior to 6 months of age. If this dog is intended for show, you may not want to take that chance as a dog with un-descended testicles should not be shown or bred. In both males and females, check the anus for skin irritation and hair loss. This could be an indication of worms, diarrhea or maladsorption.

10. The coat of a healthy puppy should be bright and shiny. Excess scratching could mean fleas or some other skin parasite. Areas that appear to be moth-eaten could be demodex, which is a type of mange, or it could be something such as ringworm.

11. Examine the puppy for structural soundness by watching the pup run and play. Use our "Conformation Pages" to help you.


APBT conformation believes strongly in and encourages the spaying and neutering of pets. There is a gross overpopulation of dogs produced, not out of a desire for improving a particular breed, but out of ignorance, a desire for money, or worse. Do not fall into this horrible cycle, The APBT as a breed does not need more breeders we need more ambassadors out there showing how great our dogs are. If you do not plan to compete in dog events to prove your dog is worthy and then have the heart courage, and ethics to only use the best of the best as breeding stock then please spay your pet!

Visit to find a inexpensive way to spay and neuter your pets.

We don't need more Breeders...We need Breed Ambassadors!