Buying a Show Dog
Before you even visit a breeder to view their puppies, you must be sure that the breed you want to purchase will fit in with your family. Making a mistake with your choice of breed can cause untold misery not only for the family but also for the puppy. Making the right choice before you purchase will save a dog from being rehomed - or worse.Chances are, even the hardest of hearts will soften at the sight of a litter of six week old puppies. All dogs look cute at this age regardless of breed, shape or state of health but you must harden your heart and be ready to inspect the puppy just as you would when purchasing a car.
Pick the Right BreedHave you done your homework? Are you sure the breed you have set your heart on is right for you and vice versa? You may well admire the Irish Wolfhound but will it fit into your small penthouse flat? Springer Spaniels are a lovely breed but can you find time to exercise them? The small petite toy breeds are cute, but will your family of boisterous boys take to these dinky dogs?
Do Your HomeworkThere are many books written on the individual breeds of dog, so ask at your library. Contact the breed clubs for the breed you are interested in and visit their next show or event. Members are only too happy to discuss the finer points of the breed they love, they will also be able to advise on puppies that are being bred by reputable breeders.When out walking look for local owners of the breed you are interested in, ask their advice about living with the breed especially the downsides, do they chew? Are they easy to train? Are they faddy eaters? You need to know all aspects of owning your chosen breed before it becomes a member of your family - too many hearts will be broken if, six months later you realise you have made a mistake and the puppy has to be rehomed.
Visiting the BreederSo you've done your homework and today is the day you visit the first litter. Yes it's the first visit, don't feel you have to make your mind up straight away. Steel yourself to visit other litters and compare the puppies before you hand over your money, as you are looking to purchase a potential show dog you must be very choosy.
Remember to tell the breeder that you require a puppy to show, your breeder must also show her stock. She may have some very nice puppies but as a novice exhibitor yourself you will need the support and advice of an established show breeder to guide you through the next few years.
Look CloselyBe prepared to stay for at least one hour when viewing the litter, you can't pick a puppy in a few minutes.Do the puppies seem bright and active? Remember they may have just been fed, most dogs sleep for a while after eating. Are the eyes, ears and nose clear and free from discharge?
Do they have diarrhoea are they vomiting, is there blood present? All these signs point towards an infection, puppies can dehydrate very quickly and this can be fatal. What about their tummies - are they full and bloated? They could have a belly full of worms. Remember though that most puppies are born with roundworms but by the time you visit to view them any good breeder would have eradicated the problem.
How do the puppies react to the breeder? Are they friendly or do they cower away? In most circumstances the mother of the litter is present, is she healthy and well looked after - remember she may be a little thin and her coat wont be at its best after all she has been feeding and caring for a lively bunch of youngsters!
PaperworkAsk to be shown the puppies pedigree and registration documents. Every breed has health problems; your breed club and the Kennel Club will have a list of the relevant ones pertaining to the breed of your choice. In many instances there will be health checks undertaken by the breeder to ensure as much as possible that she is breeding from healthy stock, ask to see proof of these checks. These will be original documents, not photocopies.
Stud DogThe stud dog is not always owned by the breeder, in most cases she would have taken her bitch to a suitable stud dog, he may live at the other end of the country - even abroad. She should be able to show you a photograph and give you details of the owner. In most cases the stud dog owner is happy to speak to you on the telephone - they will be as interested in you owning and showing their dog's progeny as the owner of the bitch.
InterrogationBe prepared to be interrogated by the breeder. Any good breeder will want to know all about you, your family and lifestyle. Also, as you have notified her that you wish to exhibit the puppy she will want to be assured that you are serious about your intentions. No breeder wants to sell a puppy with show potential to a pet home, however good it is.
When you have decided on your puppy you will be able to pay a deposit and arrange a date to take home your future champion. This will be the beginning of a rewarding hobby.