While my next puppy is a few years off, I like to have a plan and a breeder or breeders in mind. I definitely won’t get a pup till after Dazzle has passed and while he is 14.5 currently, he’s still active and doing well. His grandmother lived to 16, so I’m hopeful he will too. And I’d like a while with Voodoo as a single dog as well. He and Dazzle are great buddies, and I know he will need some time, just as I will, after Dazzle. But still, I plan 🙂
MY QUESTIONS FOR THE BREEDER:
1. Do you health test for the following?
-Heart, DCM, other
Have your dogs (breeding stock or off spring) had any issues with epilepsy, diabetes, urinary stones, cancer, skin problems, allergies, frequent ear infections, or other health issues?
2. Do you raise your litters in your home?
3. Do you use an enrichment program (Puppy Culture, Avidog, Puppy Prodigies, Etc.)? If so, which one(s) and how many litters have you used it with? Do you do ENS protocol?
4. Do you do any of the following early training?
-Acceptance of separation from litter mates/mom
-Intro to weather (rain, snow, thunder, etc.)
-Intro to other dog sports (scentwork oils, tunnels/planks/platforms, etc.)
-Purposeful intro to novel sights/sounds/surfaces/objects
-Meet and greets with different people (men, women, kids, etc)
-Intro to other animals (cats, house pet critters, other breeds of dogs, farm animals, etc.)
5. Is it possible for me to meet and gets hands-on with your dogs if I have an interest in a particular breeding you are planning?
6. Do you do any temperament testing or 3rd party structure assessment of the pups at 8 weeks old before the new homes are determined? Do you share stacked photos of the pups at 8 weeks?
7. At what age do you send your pups to their new homes?
8. How long have you been breeding?
Have you bred (or do you currently breed) any other breeds?
If yes, which ones and for how long?
9. How would you describe the temperament, traits, and structure of the dogs you select for your breeding program?
10. How much emphasis do you place on the following when selecting a pair?
Health tests/positive results
11. Are you open to discussing faults and issues your dogs have (no dog is perfect) and how you address those with the mate you select?
Do you consider yourself open about sharing your dogs/pups faults/issues as they arise?
12. What titles do you put on your breeding dogs?
13. How many litters do you have per year?
14. Is breeding your full-time job?
15. How often do you use/attend education opportunities to improve your program (seminars, workshops, books, conferences, classes, etc.)?
16. Do you select the pups for each family or does the buyer pick?
Do you have an order in which the pups get selected?
17. What registration do your pups come with (AKC, UKC, etc.)?
18. Do you share pictures and videos of the litter with the buyers as the pups grow?
19. If you feel you have what I’m looking for, what do you require of your puppy buyers?
WHAT I’M LOOKING FOR IN MY NEXT PUP:
Attributes of my ideal dog (I know there may be some compromises):
Gender: Male only (won’t be neutered till 18 mo. at earliest, if at all, but no breeding)
Weight: Lean, athletic and under 40 lbs. I’m getting older and want a dog I can easily lift.
Height: 14”- 20″
Coat: short without excessive shedding is the ideal.
Color: black or other dark color, the Malinois tan hair shows on EVERYTHING I own.
Breed: Smart, athletic, strong desire to please, not prone to defense of handler or aggression, also has a natural desire to retrieve.
Overall: Smart, athletic, and versatile, with a strong attachment to me
Health: Sire/dam health tested every way possible. Minimum: testing for everything major and genetically passed on for the breed. No major illness/issues in parents or grandparents. Exceptional longevity in the lines is a nice bonus.
Temperament: Super stable, “bomb proof” temperament in both parents and the pup. Able to handle all the craziness of service dog public access (crowds, every imaginable surface, different modes of transportation, all sorts of noises, bizarre sights, sudden environmental changes, kids that appear out of nowhere/scream, etc.) all without stress. Pup would get all the needed careful socialization to support this, but the pup must take this socialization (exposure to novel things) with confidence and not be prone to shyness/fearfulness/stress. Parents must also not be shy, fearful of anything, or easily stressed as that is passed to the pups.
Perfect structure. I know that’s a unicorn, but this is my ideal pup. And I’d want as close to that as possible on anything that affects the dog’s movement. Definitely as close as possible to a perfect shoulder assembly and preferably the front of the rear toes touching a vertical line from the point of the hip with proper angulation and straight, unturned legs. As close to a perfect length back (for the dog’s structure) as possible. A website that has good photos of the parents showing their structure is great. Ability to get hands on both sire/dam is ideal.
Learning program: Breeder experienced in raising the pups with a +R learning program: ENS, Puppy Culture, Avidog, Puppy Prodigies, etc. And an experienced breeder that pours their heart and soul into producing the best puppies possible and is always looking to learn more about puppy raising, their breed, dog training, etc. Raising the pups should include potty training, crate training, socialization, and LOTS of handling. And be raised in-home, pups kept with mom and siblings to at least 8 weeks old. Bonus if the breeder shares videos of all this for each litter.
Motivators: Strong food and toy motivation, no allergies. Sire/Dam that are picky eaters or that have food issues need not apply. Both parents should also not have any allergies or be prone to ear/skin issues.
Purposeful breeding. Breeder should have a purpose for each pairing and be able to articulate that. They should know what they expect from the litter (temperament, size, structure, color, etc.). Bonus if that is shared on their website along with info about both parent’s health testing, temperament, height/weight, titles, etc. Obedience/rally/freestyle, agility, fieldwork, scent related, flyball titles are preferred, but other sports/temperament tests are good too. Breeder needs to be good at predicting their pups attributes and selecting the perfect pup for each home. The breeder should know each pups temperament, conformation, and potential as well as it’s faults. And be open about discussing their dogs faults and/or issues.
Repeat breeding. I know dogs aren’t cookie cutter producers, but seeing what a particular pairing can produce and feeling that the success of their off-spring warrants a second litter is nice. Breeder should be able to articulate WHY they feel the repeat breeding is a good idea.
Quiet. I’m not a fan of dogs that bark just because they seem to love to hear their own voice. I don’t expect silence, but also not looking for a dog that barks often. I can shape this with training if needed, (Voodoo loves to bark when excited) so it’s not a deal breaker if everything else looks good.
Off switch. Nice to have. I’m used to very high energy, high endurance dogs (Cattle Dogs, Malinois, Field Lab, etc.) but it is nice to have a dog that can settle without many hours/years of training to get that.