Go to dog shows and talk to the breeders of the breed you are interested in. Ask them for the names of the breeders they would recommend, and ask them what genetic testing and medical certifications should be done for that breed. Be cautious of the breeder that has nothing good to say about any of the other breeders except themselves;"kennel blindness" is a sign of a self-serving breeder and this particular breeder may just be interested in the monetary aspect of the puppy sale, and not in their future and well-being.
How many dogs do they have? Do they have so many dogs that they hardly have time to adequately care for, love, or develop their socialization skills? Ask how many litters they have every year. Does this breeder seem to always have puppies available? This should raise a red flag.
Ask how many puppies they sell and whether they sell to any pet stores. Ask whether the breeder has a state or federal license.
Ask if you can see all of the dogs – not just the puppies. Many puppy mills and commercial breeders have an area where they will bring the puppies to show to the public. You have to see where the dogs live. Photographs don't count. Anyone can make their home, kennel, and the dogs they wish you to see look great in pictures or on the Internet
Ask for copies of the health testing results of the sire and dam of the puppy you intend to buy. Verify these results with OFA. The HCA (Havanese Club of America) recommends the following tests:
Current yearly CERF. This test should be done annually to screen the dogs for hereditary eye disorders.
OFA Hips or Preliminary OFA Hips (if the dog is younger than 2 years of age). All Havanese that are 2 years or older should have OFA Hips certified to screen for hip dysplasia.
OFA Patellas to screen for patellar luxation. This test should be completed when the dog reaches 1 year of age.
BAER hearing test to screen for unilateral or bilateral deafness
Do not purchase a puppy from a breeder who is reluctant to share these test results with you or who hasn't completed the testing on the sire and dam of the puppy.
Avoid having your puppy shipped to you. When you personally go to pick your puppy up, regardless of the distance or hardship, you have an invaluable opportunity to know and meet the kennel, it's dogs and their condition, and your puppy will avoid the stress related to traveling alone in a crate on a plane.Beware of the breeder that attempts to discourage you from visiting their home by offering easy, low-cost shipping arrangements, or doesn't allow you to see their dogs and their living quarters when you are on their premises. Exercise caution with the breeder who offers to "meet you halfway" to deliver your puppy and tries to discourage you from visiting their kennel and home. There is no substitute to physically visiting the breeder's kennel and seeing their dogs. A reputable breeder will welcome you into their home and allow you to visit with their dogs.
Ask them how many breeds of dogs they breed. One is good; two is probably acceptable, no more.
Ask for the name of their veterinarian and call them to find out how often they see the parents and confirm whether genetic testing has been done.
Ask for the names of five people who have bought puppies from them and then call the references. Also ask for the names of other breeders and call them and get references from them also.
Ask if the puppies are sold on a contract and then ask to see the contract. Ask if there is a health guarantee, and how they intend to uphold it. Get it in writing.
Ask whether the breeder will take back a dog regardless of the age if you are unable to take care of it. Ensure there is a clause in their contract stating so.
Ask to see the pedigree and how many champions are in the lineage.
Listen to whether the breeder asks you any questions. If the breeder doesn't care about the home that the puppy would be going to, then you don't want to buy from them.
Remember, "you get what you pay for". Cheaper is not necessarily better, and your breeder should be available to assist you and be dependable.