FAQ: How It Works
Looking for more information on day to day life with your dog?
Check out health testing by going to the breed's national club website - for Dalmatians that's TheDCA.org and for Border terriers that's BTCOA.org - and by reading up on The Orthopedic Foundation For Animals website (OFA.org). Each breed has different health concerns, and you'll want to be sure your puppy's parents (and other relatives) have been tested and are at least as good as, if not better, than the average for the breed. Be sure you understand the breed and know it's a good fit for you.
You can attend local dog shows (click AKC Event Search and choose 'conformation' and 'all breed' in your area), which are usually free to the public (parking fees may apply). Owners and breeders of all breed types will be in attendance and can recommend reputable breeders to you. Always ask both whether they themselves breed and who else would be a good choice. Likely you will find a handful of the same names are universally respected.
Contact breeders. You will likely have to fill out an application. They will want to talk to you on the phone. They may want to visit your home. It is likely there will be a wait list for the next litter - and if you have more specific requirements (e.g. you want to compete in dog shows or sports), you may go through several litters to find the right dog. It is not uncommon to be looking for 1-3 years, depending on how specific your requirements are, and how common/rare your breed is.
How do I get starting showing conformation?
Entering dog shows can be a little confusing! Start by attending a conformation show listed at the AKC Event Search so you can see how they are run. Watching other handlers work with their dogs can help you anticipate what you'll be doing. Local kennel clubs are easy and inexpensive to join, and often have many experienced members who can mentor you. Your breeder can help mentor you as well.
You will want to start teaching your dog to trot on a leash, stop and stack (stand as for a show), and let you or another person look at their bite (teeth). Your dog will need to stand still while someone touches them all over - including a quick check of their genitals. For Border Terriers, the judge will also raise their skin and span their chest to ensure they meet the breed standard. These skills can be started very young, and continued in a ringcraft or conformation class.
Once you and your dog are ready, you can enter dog shows online. Most AKC conformation events are run by Onofrio in Texas. Other superintendents include InfoDog and FoyTrent. You will need your dog's information and a credit card to do an online entry. Dogs are called 'class dogs' and are entered/grouped by age (age on day of show, not on day of entry), gender, and color until they are Champions. Dogs with a 'champion' or higher title are called 'specials' and are entered into 'Best of Breed.'
I own a bitch/dog and I want to breed it. How do I find a mate?
For any dog with full AKC registration papers, who is over 2 years old, you need to get a CHIC number and health testing completed, as well as show titles (conformation and/or performance). Before breeding, you'll want to update your dog's Brucellosis testing, and again 12 weeks after breeding.
Typically by knowing others who compete with their dogs in your breed, a top quality male dog will be approached for stud service. If you want to be sure your dog gets noticed, you can put advertisements in your breed magazine, which for Dalmatians is The Spotter.
If you have a female (bitch) with registration papers, who is over 2 years old, you should start planning far in advance of her next heat. In addition to the titles and testing, you'll need to consider your bitch's strengths and weaknesses objectively. Looking at your breeding objective, you will want to build an idea of what characteristics you need in the 'ideal' stud to compliment your bitch. Next you'll have to consider the available stud dogs - their build, their temperatment, their health, their pedigree/genetics, and their availability. Don't gravitate only to popular studs - a lesser known dog may be a better fit. Mentors and other breed experts may have good suggestions for you.
Finally, you'll need whelping supplies, be prepared to take time off work or have a network of volunteers to help, and need to have sufficient savings in case your bitch or the puppies become ill or have an emergency. Remember most pet insurance doesn't cover breeding related health issues.
Books are available, such as So Your Bitch Is Pregnant, to help you learn about raising puppies.
How do I find and buy a dog?