What to look for in a Breeder

DON’T BE FOOLED BY SMOKE AND MIRRORS!

“Those puppies are so adorable, and the breeder posts such pretty pictures!”

All puppies are cute, and most adult Armenian Gampr are quite stunning and beautiful.  This is not a good enough reason to purchase a puppy, why not find a cute, HEALTHY, and solid TEMPERAMENT, puppy?  Especially since Gampr all grow into such amazingly beautiful dogs, and anyone with a new digital camera nowadays can take crisp photos it has nothing to do with the ethics of the breeder.

“How do I know if this breeder is ethical and good?  Will it matter in the end?  I don’t want to pay the price some of the health testing breeders have.”

Finding a faithful and ethical 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 dangerous and unethical 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, or keeping adults in healthy conditions in many cases. Puppies can be mass produced as we are all familiar with the large puppy mills of backyard breeding. Also, they can be produced on a smaller scale with only one or a few litters a year.  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.

For example, I know a breeder who told me they couldn’t afford to health test their dogs and didn’t make a profit.  I encourage all of you to ask these simple questions, if you didn’t profit from the breeding why did you produce a litter that could have potential issues?  If you sold 8 puppies for $1000 each, and only offered the most basic puppy package where did the other thousands go?  Other bills a breeder has are not the responsibility of their dogs to pay, especially with these dogs that many times are already working to protect their farms and ranches providing 24/7 protection and service.  Other bills are not the responsibility of their new owners to risk a puppies health and quality of life in the future because the breeder cannot pay their own bills and support other farm ventures they have going on. 

“I want one now…I can’t wait.”

It can be frustrating to wait. You should have 12 + years to enjoy your new dog with excellent health and excellent care. Researching the breed, breeder and breeding–and waiting patiently for the correct scenario –will help assist in making those years some of the best in your life, as well as the best for your pet. Many excellent breeders have a waiting list reserved for many or all puppies before a litter is even bred.

“So what should I look for and ask?”

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!). 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, types of livestock of different types and ages? Loud noises, such as a vacuum? Other types of animals? Car rides? A reasonably “exposed” Gampr puppy is far easier to train than a puppy that has been living in a bubble. No puppy should leave its 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. 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.

3. Health

Breeders should be able to offer health test results for the parents of their puppies, and written health guarantees on their puppies. Armenian Gampr required health tests include:

– 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

-Patella (OFA)

-Cardiac (OFA practioner or advanced)

-Thyroid (OFA tested at 1, 2, 3, 4, 6, 8…)

Ask to see the results of all health tests – or check them for yourself at www.ofa.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.  Red flags to watch for breeder says the tests are pending and then weeks later still no result, the breeder continues to breed the dogs without any health tests, litter after litter.  That is not an example of breeding for the future of a breed that is simply producing puppies with little to no care.  Love for an animal is not just outward emotion but a careful and intelligent process.  Why would you breed a dog that could potentially give the dog poor quality of life and owners heartbreak and possibly thousands in bills because you love the smell of puppy breath?  Many claim they had no idea they needed to test?  They are not experienced in dogs enough to even be breeding then and are just another run of the mill backyard breeder. 

4. Breeding to the Standard

Breeders should be very familiar with the standard, and be breeding in an attempt to improve the breed. Making puppies that tend toward extremes like bigger or blockier heads, or a specific color is a sign of a breeder that doesn’t know what to look for.  Breeders should also be active in temperament testing and maintaining the true characteristics of the Gampr.

5. Registration

It is also important to verify with the breeder (if born in the USA) that the litter will be registered. Registration papers should be available when picking up your new puppy, or shortly thereafter. If purchasing from another country, ensure that the puppy is able to be registered. Frequently, papers will not be immediately available when the puppy is imported, but should arrive within a few months.

6. References

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 of the Gampr community also.  Be careful with references many people love their puppies and dogs and will not speak ill of their breeder.

Autumn GaleyComment