Puppy Buyers Guide
9 STEPS TO CHOOSING THE RIGHT BREEDER
Buying a puppy can feel like a daunting task. There is a lot of information available to those in search of a good breeder, and unfortunately much of it is contradictory. This article will help you focus on key points to research and ask any potential breeder so you can be sure you are choosing the breeding that is right for you.
First, sit down and consider the traits you want/need in your new puppy. Do you plan to hunt? Show? Participate in a form of obedience or other skills? Just want a friendly family pet? Make a list of the qualities that you want the dog to possess and have them handy when you discuss liters with a potential breeder.
USE THE BREED CLUB TO YOUR ADVANTAGE. The internet is home to so much information. You can easily find a list of 100 EB breeders with a simple search. But, how do you know they are reputable? Instead of googling ‘Epagneul Breton Breeder’ try googling ‘Epagneul Breton Breed Club’. The CEB-US has a breeder directory available on its website. All breeders on this directory sign a pledge stating that they will abide by the CEB breeding policy concerning hip testing and the production of EBs expressing the sable coat color pattern. Hip dysplasia and the Ay (sable coat) gene are two hot button issues concerning the Epagneul Breton in the US, but they are certainly not the only concerns facing ethical breeders.
Breeder Question: Do you have HIP certifications and negative AY testing on all your breeding stock? Ask for records.
GENETIC TESTING. Recent advances in genetic testing for health related issues and aesthetics have provided breeders with tools unimaginable only a few years ago. Certain congenital issues that plagued breeding programs in the past can now be overcome with relative ease now that we have the power to accurately mark and avoid them. Breeders of repute know their lines well and are as familiar with the undesirable genetic traits in their broodstock as they are with the desirable ones. Every breeder will have their own contingencies for breeding dog selection, but health should be something we can all agree is priority one. Breeders should be willing to communicate with prospective puppy buyers and their cohort frankly about genetic health issues witnessed in their lines.
Breeder Question: What genetic testing have you completed and what are the main genetic issues you are trying to avoid?
CONFORMATION. Although you may have no plans to ever set foot in a show ring, proper conformation is still important. It ensures a long, healthy, pain free life for your dog. The CEB-US holds a National Elvage annually where participants have the opportunity to have their dogs rated by a highly trained and vetted conformateur. You can find a list of conformed dogs here.
The least expensive part of owning a dog is the purchase price. The time and money we put into our pets is immense, so you want them to live as long as possible free from increased veterinary costs, medication, and pain.
Breeder Question: Do your dogs have show titles or are they rated to ensure they are correctly conformed to the breed standard?
WORKING ABILITIES. The Epagneul Breton was originally developed as a hunting dog and it is imperative that it remain such. Field trials and hunt tests are tools for breeders to objectively demonstrate their dogs’ ability in the field and around game. The CEB US sanctions several field trials and conformation shows a year in order to provide members with the opportunity to prove their stock worthy of selection for breeding. Keep in mind, when breeders test their dogs in these venues, it’s not just proving their hunting abilities, it is also proving their aptitude to learn. They are trainable, cooperative dogs if successful, which will transfer over into success in many disciplines.
Breeder Question: Have you participated in any field trials or hunt tests with your dogs? Are they titled in any venues - UKC Field Trials, AKC Hunt Tests/Field Trials, NAVHDA Hunt Tests?
Breeder Question: Do you personally hunt your dogs? What type of game/terrain have they hunted?
Breeder Question: Have puppies you have sold been successful in any other testing venue - agility, nosework, obedience, etc?
DEPOSITS/CHOOSING YOUR PUP. Deposit amounts will vary depending on the breeder. $200-$300 is fairly standard. The balance is due when you pick up the puppy or prior to shipping. Puppies are typically reserved in the order in which deposits are received.
Breeder Question: How much is your deposit? Can it be transferred to a difference breeding if one breeding does not have the sex I requested? Do you reserve pups based on color (not many breeders will)?
HEALTH GUARANTEES. Reputable breeders should guarantee their pups free from hip dysplasia and to be healthy upon leaving their kennel. Keep in mind, most guarantees are only provided if puppies are not neutered before two years of age or spayed before one year (neutering or spaying too early can have health repercussions on growing puppies).
Most breeders will leave a puppies dew claws intact (health advantages for canine athletes) and have their tails docked within the first few days of their lives.
Breeder Question: Do you sell your puppies with health guarantees?
THIS IS AN INTERVIEW. Be prepared to talk to the breeder in person or on the phone, and the breeder should want to talk with you. The buyers are interviewing the breeders as much as the breeders are interviewing the buyers. This should be a working relationship for the life of the dog. Good breeders want updates throughout the life of the dog and should be there to help answer questions and give guidance. Do not make your first question about the color or sex of the dog. Good breeders are proud of their dogs and will know them very well - the good and the bad of each dog. Working together with the breeder should help guide you to the pup that potentially fits your needs and wants.
SHIPPING/PICK UP OF PUPPY. Most breeders will prefer puppies to be picked up in person. If you need to fly, puppies are typically allowed as 'carry on' in the cabin for your return flight home. If you cannot fly out to get the puppy, most breeders have systems in place for shipping. Keep in mind that temperatures can greatly affect when a puppy can be shipped. The shipping expense is the buyers responsibility.
RETURN/REFUND POLICY. If something unexpected does occur with your puppies health,
reputable breeders will work to satisfy your needs whether you prefer a refund or another puppy. Know their policy upfront prior to purchase. Be prepared to provide a veterinarian report to document the issue.
Breeder Question: How do you handle puppies that come home with health issues, or who develop health issues at a young age? What if my puppy is determined to have hip dysplasia? What is your return policy?
WHAT IF I CAN NO LONGER KEEP MY PUPPY? Breeders care about every puppy they produce and do not want any of them to go to an animal shelter or be rehomed multiple times. They will want to be the first to know if you must give up your dog for any reason. They will either help find a suitable home or take the dog back if necessary.
REGISTERING YOUR PUPPY. Please consider registering your puppy! You've spent a lot of time and money to purchase a purebred dog and many of the registries provide extensive learning opportunities for the very low cost of registration. Your breeder should provide you with registration documents to complete. EB's should be registered in the UKC registry as they are the only one that recognizes the breed in the United States. If you choose to register in the AKC as well (and many do), they will be registered simply as a 'Brittany'. Becoming a member of the CEB-US will also be advantageous!
My findings are that what matters most is; the personality of the individual puppy and how it matches that of the potential owner. Colour and sex should be secondary to a good nature and a well made puppy. Above all each puppy has to be fit for its future function, be it a pet or working companion.
Patricia Rush, Patouche Kennels (UK) long time breeder of Epagneul Bretons
The Best dog has no sex and no color.
Bodo Winterhelt, Founder of NAVHDA
It is a myth to think that bitches are easier to manage, more affectionate, more obedient and softer in temperament than a male.
Patricia Rush, Patouche Kennels (UK) long time breeder of Epagneul Bretons