Things To Look For In A Breeder
“The puppies in that advertisement sure are cute! And the parents are beautiful!”
All puppies are cute. And most adult Vlcaks are beautiful! Why not find a cute, HEALTHY puppy, that has a NICE TEMPERAMENT, especially when they grow into a beautiful adult?
“I want one. How do I know if this is a good breeder? Does it matter? Will it cost a lot more to find a healthy puppy?”
Finding a good breeder means possibly saving yourself from heartbreak and thousands of dollars down the road. In many cases, you will not save ANY money, and may pay more when you buy from a bad breeder. Why? Many of these breeders have only one thing in mind = $$$. Bad breeders cut costs by not health testing (or ignoring bad results), training, competing, or keeping adults in healthy conditions in many cases. Often puppies are “mass produced”, and do not get the essential early socialization that will help shape a good temperament. Bad breeders often breed dogs past healthy ages, over and over again, and pay no real attention to the genetics of their dogs, which can lead to problems down the road. They prey upon people’s impulse to buy something immediately that they want, and do little to screen prospective homes – often resulting in dogs with bad health or behavior that end up in rescue. A good breeder wants the best homes for the dogs they produce. They realize these homes aren’t necessarily determined by the highest price paid. They search out homes ahead of time, and are willing to invest in the reputation of the health of their dogs. In any case, a little bit extra spent upfront can help save you a lot more money in vet bills a few years later. Most good breeders just break even, or make very little profit on puppies sold.
“I want one now…I hate to wait. Does it really matter?”
Waiting can be frustrating. With good health and good luck, you should have 12+ years to enjoy your new dog. Researching the breed, the breeder and the breeding – and patiently waiting for just the right situation – will help to make those years some of the best of your life, and also the best for your dog. Many good breeders have a waiting list with many or all puppies reserved before a litter is bred.
“So what should I look for?”
1. Condition of Kennel and Puppy Upbringing
Puppies should be well-fed, clean, alert, playful and healthy (no eye problems, loose stool, excessive scratching, apparent skin problems, coughing, sneezing). Unless discussed previously, male puppies should have both testicles – or face a neutering process to prevent possible cancer of an undescended testicle. It should also be apparent that the areas in which they are raised are cleaned at least daily (and usually more often!). It is very important that CSV puppies are raised indoors, in a family environment, to be socialized to family life. The dam (and sometimes the sire) should be on the grounds, and available for you to meet and interact with. If there are older siblings of the prospective puppy available, ask to meet those as well. Beware of aggressive or shy dogs (suspicious is okay and desirable for the breed – this may come in the form of barking or growling in the first few minutes, but the dog should settle quickly – the dog should never attempt to bite without cause!). Temperaments are partly inherited, partly learned from the dam, and influenced by early socialization. Ask about what the puppies have been exposed to – people of different types and ages? Loud noises, such as a vacuum? Other types of animals? Car rides? A reasonably “exposed” Vlcak puppy is far easier to train than a puppy that has been living in a bubble. No puppy should leave it’s litter before 8 weeks; the last few weeks are a crucial period of socialization in which important things are learned – such as bite inhibition (learning that biting hurts!).
2. Breeder Knowledge and Availability
Breeders should be very knowledgeable about the breed – and honest (good and bad) with the buyer about the breed, and their individual dogs. Good breeders will ask many questions to the potential buyer, and should happily and honestly answer all questions about their dogs, the breed and the particular litter. It may even sound like they are trying to talk you out of the breed! Most good breeders will have an application process before approving a reservation, and will require the new purchaser to pick up their puppy in person, rather than just shipping it to an unknown future. Don’t be offended if a breeder declines to sell you a puppy – there is a good chance they have saved you and the puppy from heartache, headaches, and a bad situation if they recognize that the breed will not fit well into your lifestyle. In some cases, breeders will place puppies based on where they are going to – some maybe good prospects for showing or active training, for instance, some maybe a bit more gentle and quiet, and better suited to a family with kids or other pets. Breeders should be available for the life of the puppy, to offer advice, give encouragement, and take back the puppy if necessary. Many breeders are active in dog clubs, dog sport and breed rescue, in an attempt to continue learning and growing – feel free to ask for examples of accomplishments of the breeder/dogs if none are offered. Good breeders take pride in their hobby, and welcome the opportunity to brag about their dogs! Be sure to ask for referrals from owners of puppies from previous litters, if there have been any.
Breeders should be able to offer health test results for the parents of their puppies, and written health guarantees on their puppies. CSVCA required health tests for the Czechoslovakian Vlcak:
– Hip Dysplasia (OFA and PennHip)
– Elbow Dysplasia
– Hereditary Eye Disease (CERF Test)
– Degenerative Myelopathy (DM) – only matches of normal x normal, normal x carrier or normal x affected
Ask to see the results of all health tests – or check them for yourself at www.offa.org.
Some bad breeders will lie, or manipulate the facts. This is an example of what can be avoided by a very simple, inexpensive health test prior to breeding. This is degenerative myelopathy – a disease that can be expressed when carriers or at-risk dogs are not bred to a clear dog: Degenerative Myelopathy
4. Breeding to the Standard
Breeders should be very familiar with the standard, and be breeding in an attempt to improve the breed. Ideally, breeders should be active in conformation testing (showing) their dogs. Breeders should also be active in temperament testing and placing performance and companion titles on their dog.
It is also important to verify with the breeder (if born in the USA) that the litter will be registered with the AKC/FSS and that the puppy will receive an official AKC/FSS pedigree in order to be able to register with the CVCA and the AKC/FSS. Registration papers should be available when picking up your new puppy, or shortly thereafter. If purchasing from another country, ensure that the puppy is an FCI registered litter (the UK and Canada currently do not recognize the breed, and puppies will not have registration papers – they cannot be registered in the United States). Frequently, papers will not be immediately available when the puppy is imported, but should arrive within a few months.
A good breeder is one that will be there for the life of his or her puppy – to give the new owner support, to intervene in an emergency, to answer questions as the new puppy develops. A good breeder develops long-lasting friendships with many of the people that buy their puppies, and enjoy hearing updates as their puppies grow. As such, breeders should be able to give you references from people that have bought their puppies in the past. As our breed is so rare, you can often get references, as well as opinions on a breedings from other owners and breeders with the Vlcak community also.
In fairness to breeders and buyers alike, the CSVCA does not endorse any particular breeder, and cannot be held responsible for any purchase agreement, guarantee, or understanding between breeders and buyers. As with any purchase, you should check references, visit potential breeders, and evaluate options before you buy a puppy.
CSVCA Breeder Requirements
1. Apply for membership with the CSVCA.
2. Sign and return a copy of the CSVCA Code of Ethics.
You must agree to abide by ALL practices listed in the Code of Ethics. Failure to do so will be grounds for removal from the “Breeder Referral List” and may also be grounds for revocation of membership.
3. As of April 1. 2014, the CSVCA must be provided with the following information:
– AKC/FSS registration numbers for parents of all listed litters or stud dogs
– CHIC Number for each parent showing:
Healthy OFA, FCI or PennHip Hip Dysplasia results
– OFA = excellent, good, fair
– FCI = A or B
– PennHip = in the top 50th percentile FOR THE BREED)
Healthy OFA or FCI Elbow Dysplasia results
– OFA = Normal
– FCI = (0/0)
Healthy OFA or FCI Degenerative Myelopathy DNA results
– clear x clear
– clear x carrier
– clear x affected
Healthy CERF results
– Online link to online database of www.wolfdog.org (or emailed/paper copy of 4 generation pedigree for dogs being bred)