Looking for puppy? There's lots of information in the Library section of the site.
Also be sure to read this excellent article on decoding bad breeder websites: http://board.cavaliertalk.com/showthread.php?t=25990
But here are some basic pointers to start with, as many come to the board specifically looking for advice on finding a breeder. It's often easier to understand what to watch out for so you can recognise a questionable breeder. If you aren't sure, then talk to them and ask lots of questions!
Recognizing an unethical breeder
When you talk to people about their puppies or view their websites, there are many warning signs that you may be dealing with a disreputable, unethical, or irresponsible breeder.
A first caution: in general, disreputable breeders have been quick to embrace the web and have websites! Probably 50% at most of ethical breeders have them! So websites are not generally a good starting point for finding a breeder -- contacting the official regional or national club for puppy referrals IS. Be especially cautious if the breeder lists on lots of general puppy sites. Some good breeders do use these -- to try to keep them from being dominated by the trash breeders -- but not too many at this time. Talk to them and use these guidelines and other information on this site to help sort the wheat from the chaff.
NB: Do NOT post names of breeders or links to their sites here with a question on whether they are a reputable breeder, please, for reasons noted in the Getting Started section. Feel free to ask questions without specifically identifying them -- someone on the board will likely contact you privately to help you out.
ALL these elements below not need to be present. If ANY of these is true, you should be very cautious and talk further to find out more about their breeding programme:
* The "breeder" lacks knowledge about the breed
* The "breeder" shows ignorance or denial of genetic defects in the breed and doesn't openly discuss health issues of the breed with you VOLUNTARILY: in cavaliers, these are MVD and syringomyelia in particular
* The "breeder" only vet tests hearts -- they should cardiologist test their cavaliers before every breeding, AND have the certificates to show you (all cardiologists issue them) AND most will have the certs for GRANDPARENTS too, who should all have been heart clear at least until age 5!
* The "breeder'" lists on puppyfinder websites. Very few reputable breeders use these sites. None of these sites check breeder bona fides
* The "breeder" has a website address with a name like cutepups, pups4u, cavcuties or similar. No ethical breeder makes a point of looking and sounding like CavsRUs.
* The breeder has a section full of 'happy customer' pictures and 'testimonies'
* The breeder's cavaliers are bred at less than age 2.5
* The "breeder" has no involvement in dog sports/doesn't show and never has -- especially if they state this as a POSITIVE (as in 'we aren't snobby show breeders'. (No, they breed for greed, not health or conformation, and sell substandard dogs as a result)
* The breeder sells puppies on 'full' or 'open' registration and clearly states this: a way of letting prospective backyard breeders know they can get their start in this sad industry by buying one of this breeder's dogs
* The 'breeder' charges more for dogs 'with papers' or on open registration -- major red flag!!!
* The "breeder" doesn't let you observe the puppies or adults, or let you see the kennels
* The 'breeder' deliberately breeds extra small dogs ('teacup' cavaliers) or non standard colours (black, chocolate) and advertises this as a good thing -- and probably charges more! This will NOT be a health focused breeder
* The "breeder" has no documentation and cannot provide a pedigree or the pedigree is from one of the bogus registries
* The puppies are not socialized
* The "breeder" says s/he decided to breed mainly because 'other breeders' are too snobby to give puppies to normal nice people (like you!) and charge so much
* The "breeder" makes a big point about how the puppies come from 'champion stock' and those 'champions' are several generations back (ALL cavaliers 'come from champion stock' once you go back far enough so this is meaningless. Most backyard bred dogs have champions within 3-4 generations)
* The "breeder" got their 'champion stock' from Ireland (very few reputable Irish breeders export, but lots of puppy farmers and BYBs do -- Ireland is the puppy farm capital of Europe)