I grew up on a farm and lived with a dog kennel, just as my mother had. Her family raised and showed collies. We started out with Poodles and switched to German Shepherds. Even though German Shepherds are relatively easy to train since they’re usually not temperamental, they require a lot of work. They’re in AKC’s Working Breed designation. Which requires a lot of roadwork and running for both the dog and the one who will show the dog.
The working dogs are literally run in the ring, sometimes up to 15-30 minutes nonstop, if the decision about order of placement is difficult. If the dog wins their age group class, they move up to their class, for more running then onto Best in Show for some more running. Both the dog and the handler need to be in good condition or they will have a difficult time competing in the ring.Some good dogs and handlers have lost due to insufficient track work. They ran out of energy and showed poorly.
There’s a lot of travel and time involved with showing a dog enough to get him to championship status.
There are two ways to compete in dog shows. One way is the conformation trial which requires a dog that’s considered to be show worthy with good physical, temperament and performance characteristics and unaltered. The second way is in the obedience trials which would include any pet or show quality dog, since the only requirement is a clean performance of all obedience trials. They may be altered or unaltered.
When we were breeding and selling Poodles we’d originally started through a contact of my grandmother’s for our first dog. Our second was through a local contact. I’m writing this because that’s not how a usual first contact for a purebred dog would begin for someone who hasn’t gotten a purebred dog through a breeder before. We found that out when we switched to German Shepherds. We looked through the local ads, the phone book and
checked them out with the local branch of the AKC, American Kennel Club.
Since you’re reading this article it would be safe to assume that you’re looking for a purebred dog either to show or to own as a pet. Reputable breeders of their particular breed will be careful to divide their litters into three lots;
1-The definite show quality pups which would be the most restricted to which homes they might go to and the most expensive with the most extensive contract of what would be required of you the new owner, if they are being released at all. In many breeds, the male/dog is more expensive than the female/bitch because if both become champions, the dog can produce more potential champions than the bitch and be worth a lot more money to the owner.
A lot of times, the owner keeps the “pick or picks of the litter” and also may have an obligation to the owner of the sire to release one or more “picks of the litter” back to them. Part of your contract would require you to agree to show the dog or to train and make it available to the breeder to show it, and to breed if it proves to be a Champion, with “pick of the litter” back to the breeder. This is their career and reputation.
They will also have a guarantee that the puppies have been vet-checked for whatever genetic faults may be in the particular lines they’ve been bred from and a return policy if problems do arise from health to bad fit. The contract should also include AKC registration papers, a family pedigree and a vet certification along with immunization records;
2-The definite pet quality puppies will be sold with an agreement for the puppy to be neutered or spayed and not to be shown in a conformation show. Though it would be alright to show it in an obedience trial. These puppies would be the least expensive with the least restrictive contract, if there is one;
3-The puppies in the middle are the ones that may end up being a big surprise one way or the other. Two of our dogs, who were litter mates, were that way. The breeders weren’t sure about my choice. They thought he might be a decent show dog but didn’t consider him to be the pick of the litter, which they kept and his brother, whom they considered to be second pick, which we also bought. Well…,The sister who was supposed to be pick of the litter didn’t develop as they had expected. She had temperament problems. Our second pick became a gorgeous sack-of-potatoes. Which doesn’t help when you need to run around in the ring with a 100 pound dog who would prefer to take a snooze. My dog ended up being the pick of the litter and placing in shows.
When you purchase a show quality pedigreed dog, understand you’re not just buying a dog. You’re going into a job interview where you and the breeder will both be interviewing each other for a relationship based job. You, through your new puppy will become an extended part of their family because you’ll have a part of their show dynasty and they’ll become your mentor and entree’ into the world of dog showing. Which is a different world with their own language and way of life. You need to ask the right questions to see if the fit will be right for both of you.
If you’re getting a pet quality purebred, then your questions will be more for the welfare and treatment of the puppy. You won’t need to concern yourself over the fit between you and the breeder as much, since you may never see them again unless you buy another puppy from them or show in obedience trials. The pet quality puppy will come with the same registration papers as the show quality puppy which you can file with the AKC.
To Locate a Responsible Local Breeder Check out These Possible Sources:
The local kennel club, obedience training clubs, veterinarians, dog groomers, boarding kennel operators, and pet supply outlets. You could also go to a dog show, if there’s one in your area. You’d be able to see firsthand what kind of temperament the different breeds have and to see the breeders and handlers in action. You’d be
able to speak to them and to find out something about them and possibly get some suggestions and contacts for your potential puppy.
When deciding on which breeder to purchase your puppy from, there are several things that you should look for. Choose a breeder:
1. Who will allow you to visit them and to see where the puppy is being raised. Is it in a clean and healthy environment?
2. Who is as interested in you as you are in them. A good breeder will ask you questions to find out if their puppy is going to a good home.
3. Who is willing to provide you with a written contract, outlining the terms of your new puppy purchase.
4. Who’s informed. Your breeder should Know about their chosen breed of dog. They should also be able to give you basic instructions on the care, feeding, and training of your new puppy.
Necessary Questions to Ask Yourself Before Buying a Puppy:
1. Will I have enough time for the breed of my choice? Different breeds have different social, personal space and exercise needs.
2. How much exercise will my choice require? Smaller dogs require less exercise and take up less room.
3. Am I able or willing to do a lot of dog grooming? If I have little time, I should consider a dog that sheds little or needs little grooming care. A Poodle doesn’t shed much and a short-haired dog requires less grooming than a long-haired one.
4. How much training can I give? If I have limited time, I should choose a breed known for ease of training that also requires a less physical workout.
5. What is my purpose for acquiring this dog? For example, is it for my children, as a companion or to protect my property or to help me on my property or for me to show it.
These are Some of the Questions Which You Need to Ask the Breeder:
1. Ask to see the dam, the sire if possible,(He’ll probably not be present.) and the litter. This will give you some insight into the temperament of the puppy’s parents and siblings. You should also spend individual time with the puppy, since you’re hoping to take this dog home with you. Try playing with him and observe his behavior. Watch how he interacts with his litter mates.
You don’t want him to be the “king of the mountain”, nor do you want him to be the one on the bottom of the pile. A good choice should be friendly, outgoing, not overly active nor under-active and typical of his breed. Don’t just go for beauty. It’s the temperament that should be the deciding factor as well as the overall health of the animal.
2. When was the puppy born? Is it weaned?
3. How old will the puppy be before you’re able to take it home? The puppy should be at least eight weeks before they go to their new home.
4. Is there a waiting list? Most good breeders have some type of waiting list for their animals. If the breeder has a good reputation with quality dogs they will have a waiting list Before the puppies are born, especially if the breeding is from a highly desirable championship line.
5. Have the puppies received their first shots and have they been examined for any health or genetic problems? The puppy should receive their first veterinary care at the initial home. They should be current on their shots.
6. Does the breeder require their dogs to be altered? A good breeder requires pet quality puppies to be altered.
7. Was there any sign of genetic disease in previous litters? What type of genetic disease? Was their breeding program adjusted to weed-out the faulty bloodline(s)?
8. What is their return policy? A good breeder will always allow you to bring the puppies back.
9. How long has the breeder been breeding that particular breed? You need to look for a breeder who has a few years experience under their belt. Avoid backyard breeders who are just in it for the money.
10. How many breeds do they handle? Legitimate breeders generally do not breed more that two different types of dogs if the dogs are a small or medium breed. Most breeders of large breeds usually carry one breed. Look out for puppy mills.
11. How many times a year is the dam bred? A good breeder will only breed their female dog once a year to protect the quality of the line and the life of the mother.
12. What diet is the puppy on. You want to continue on the same diet to maintain the health and quality of the puppy especially if you plan to show the puppy. Reputable, successful breeders don’t just use what has been recommended. They do a lot of testing to get the right combination that will produce the healthiest, highest quality dog possible so that they can thrive and compete at the highest level possible.
13.How do you socialize the puppies? All the puppies in a litter should be handled individually on a regular basis and exposed to different people, situations, and environments. The puppies should have regular access to the breeder’s house so they’re accustomed to normal household noises.
Active, reputable breeders will often have a kennel with runs to keep the dogs in if the dogs are a larger breed. But they’ll rotate the dogs into the house and yard on a regular basis to acclimate them to a home and public setting. A dog won’t do well in a dog show if they haven’t been socialized. They’ll either panic or create havoc.
When we moved to Florida, we bought a Sheltie without asking all of the right questions. We had him for 10 1/2 years. He was a wonderful, healthy dog except for one thing. He had a nice, big grassy backyard with a teeny bit of sidewalk that went from the back-door to the shed. The sidewalk would have been his toilet for the entire time we had him if we hadn’t moved the fence to exclude the sidewalk. He obviously spent too much of his 12 weeks on concrete.
14. Do you do any testing for inherited problems? Ask to see papers that show testing has been done on the parents of the puppies. Some health issues that have testing available are eyes, hips, elbow, and heart defects.
15. For what purpose were these dogs originally bred? A sheepdog will still want to herd, even if you don’t have any sheep. He might herd cats, children, or other dogs. A retriever will always retrieve, and a dog with high stamina, such as a Dalmatian, will need a lot of exercise and attention.
Make sure that your tastes and lifestyle will mesh well with the inbred needs of the dog you’re about to buy. If you have a sedentary lifestyle, consider a calm dog or lapdog. If you live in the country or would like a working dog, choose a breed appropriate to these situations.
Check out your chosen breed to see how tolerant it is to sharing your attention with other additions to your family. My mother had to find a new home for her Dalmatian when I was born. The dog wouldn’t share my mother with me. One of our ministry partners acquired a Sharpei, which was so protective of her, her children and my son that any other adult had to bribe him with pretzels to keep him from attacking us whenever we got near the children. Our Chihuahua has loved our son since he was a child. However she’s not tolerant of children, normally. She’s very possessive of her sleep box, dinner bowl and territory.
Our Sheltie was a wonderful dog, except he was constantly trying to herd our son. All of our son’s play-clothes had three corner rips and he got little nips on his arms and legs from the dog during play.
16. How Much Grooming Will These Dogs Require? Some dogs are easier to groom than others. Some things to watch for would be long hair, fur that mats easily, dogs with specialty cuts or fur treatments, such as a Sheltie or Collie, Poodle or a Puli which has a corded coat and mildews if not dried properly. A good site to check out for your potential future dog would be http://www.akc.org/breeds/breeds_a.cfm Any show quality dog is going to require a serious investment in time and resources. But some will require more depending upon their particular breed specifics.
17. How easy is this breed to train? A poorly trained, disobedient dog not only gets on everyone’s nerves, it can be a danger to its owners and can also be dismissed from the show ring and disqualified. Obedience school can be expensive, so you might prefer to train the dog at home yourself. If you plan to show in obedience trials you need to do the training yourself. Check with the breeder or the sources you used to find your breeder to find a good training course that trains you as you learn how to train your dog.
Some breeds are easier to train than others, because they are more intelligent and/or less stubborn, more focused and take instruction better. You can make things easier on yourself by choosing an easy to train breed, such as: Welsh Corgi, German Shepherd, Golden Retriever, Labrador Retriever, Shetland Sheepdog, Collie,
Standard Poodle, Doberman Pincher or Boxer among others.
18. Can you explain the puppy’s pedigree? A good breeder should be able to tell you something about the family lines on your puppy’s pedigree. Have them explain the often cryptic letters and titles awarded, and see if they know the lines they’re breeding from. At the very least, they should be able to provide you with a four generation
pedigree and be able to tell you about the different genetic streams. You might see the same dogs listed a few times on the pedigree. The breeder should be able to point out any line-breeding and inbreeding and explain the benefits and dangers of both.
If you’re planning to show your dog, you’ll want to see championship lines in the pedigree. A breeder who consistently shows, owns and is breeding champions is a person who’s doing everything they can to improve their breed. They will be seeking genetic lines that optimize the quality of the breed while minimizing the defects
inherent to the particular breed.
These Are Some of the Possible Questions That the Breeder Should be Asking You:
1. Have you ever had a dog before? If so, what type of dog? How long did you have it? Some breeds are not suitable for first-time dog owners, and some are good for beginners. Are there children in the family? How many? What ages? Some breeds are good with children, some prefer older, more considerate children, and some don’t get along with children at all.
2. Do you live in a house or apartment? If an apartment, does the landlord allow dogs? Some breeds do quite well in confined spaces, while others need room to stretch and wander.
3. Do you have other pets? Some breeds are naturally aggressive to other animals, including dogs and cats, and some get along very well with all animals.
4. Do you have a fenced yard? No dog should be left outside unattended or be staked out on a chain. No dog that’s aggressive or of a guard dog breed should be confined by only an electronic fence. These fences may keep the dog in but they don’t keep trespassing children or other dogs out. In some states, ownership of aggressive breeds requires the property to be posted.
5. What do you do for exercise? High energy breeds such as Dalmatians, Retrievers, Border Collies, and Australian Shepherds need a brisk daily walk or jog of a mile or more to satisfy their physical and psychological need for exercise.
6. Do you know the dog laws in your community? No responsible breeder wants to sell a puppy to a buyer who doesn’t plan to obey leash and confinement laws.
7. Do you plan to obedience train this puppy? This is a critical question for breeders of guard dogs such as Akitas, Rottweilers, Boxers, German Shepherds, Dobermans, etc. An untrained guard dog can easily become a domineering pet with severe behavior problems.
8. Are you aware of the costs involved in veterinary care, including spaying and neutering, purchasing a good quality dog food, boarding the dog when you are away, annual license fees, etc.?
9. Are you aware that you are taking on the responsibility of another living creature who will be dependent upon you, for the rest of its life,?
10. If you can answer these questions in a positive manner, you’re a good prospect for one of the breeder’s puppies. But remember the really good breeders have a good sense about fellow dog people. They will examine your behavior with their dogs, the dogs’ behavior with you, and the behavior and attitudes of your children. If the children are rowdy and disobedient, chances are your dog will be too. The breeder may not want one of their dogs going to your home.
11. Do you intend to breed/show/train? If you’re not intending to show a dog, you’ll either be sold a pet quality puppy on the condition that you spay or neuter it or be sold a second tier show quality puppy with a contract stipulating the breeder’s privilege to train and show the dog.
If you’re going to show it, the breeder can be a wonderful source of information and connection into the world of dog show competition. They can point you in the right direction. The breeder will also assess your ability to train and control the dog, and your commitment to do so. They’ll encourage you and include you in activities that will benefit your survival in the show ring and the world of dog breeding.
In our case, another one of the dogs we got from this breeder was more than we could handle. I wasn’t much bigger than the female and was new to showing German Shepherds. The bitch needed an extremely firm hand which I didn’t, yet, have. The breeder helped us to get a top handler to show her for us.
I realize that these are a lot of questions and you may not remember most of them. We didn’t know to ask most of these questions. But after having had some experience in the field, I now know what questions to ask and what answers to look for. But just reading through these and doing some further research will provide you with
more information than most people would have when you decide on what dog to get and which course you’re going to pursue, even if it’s just to get the best pet you can find. This article will also prepare you in case you do encounter some of these questions for a pet. A show dog is still going to be a pet and they need to fit into your life and family.