When adding a new family member, especially a guardian breed, choosing the right breeder is critical. Your relationship with your breeder should go far beyond the purchase of your puppy. Do your own research on perspective breeders and do not hesitate to interview them, just as they would interview you for ownership. Call them and speak to them in person! Do not rely on internet gossip as it is general festered by lesser, discontented breeders and their cohorts.
This BREEDER COMPARISON MATRIX is an excellent example of how to choose the right breeder. As rare breeds grow in popularity, so do "backyard" breeders and others of the sort. Make sure your puppy is from a reputable source.
Expect your relationship with a breeder to last longer than 10 years. Your breeder should be available for support, regardless of time gone by or age of puppy. Your breeder should provide a commitment clause in your purchase contract, as well as a health guarantee.
IMPORTANT QUESTIONS TO ASK WHEN CONTACTING A BREEDER
When contacting a breeder, do not hesitate to ask important questions.
A reputable breeder will ask questions of you!
Can I come visit your kennel in person or can I meet some of your dogs?
How many litters do you have a year?
How many litters do you have at a time?
What is your profession other than breeding?
Do you have a kennel license?
Do you provide a health/spay/neuter guarantee?
Are your dogs temperament tested and certified?
Can I contact other owners that have purchased from you?
Do you have a vet reference?
Do you provide your own vaccinations?
Where do you advertise?
If I have a change in life, will you accept the puppy/dog back?
Where did your breeding dogs come from?
Why did you decide to go into breeding?
How long have you been breeding?
How many different breeds do you have?
What training methods do you suggest?
Will my puppy come with a microchip?
Do you have a Facebook page or website?
Red flags for unethical breeders are those that immediately discredit or speak poorly of other breeders. If you contact a breeder for discussion prior to purchasing a puppy and they immediately inform you of the breeding practices of other kennels or provide "gossip" against other breeders - you may want to question their integrity. A reputable breeder is more concerned with the goings on in their own kennel rather than trying to tarnish or dissuade you from contacting others. If you receive a negative reference against a competitive breeder - follow up on it! Contact that breeder and find out the validity of the information. Chances are, there is a true story behind it!
Social media is also an excellent resource to gain insight on a particular breeder. Join forums on Facebook or follow them on Twitter. Do not hesitate to friend others with the breed and asks them questions regarding the breed and the challenges they may have faced. Beware of groups that target specific individuals. Hate groups are shameful and are usually comprised of rejected applicants.