Tuesday, March 23, 2010

PLACING YOUR HOPES ON THE BREEDER'S OPINION (Or what you MUST know BEFORE buying a show quality puppy)!

So you’ve been bitten by the bug and decided that you would like to show a German Shepherd Dog in the conformation ring. Where do you start? Obviously you need to buy yourself a good quality animal that can be competitive in the show ring. You pick up the telephone and call the breeder that lives a couple of hours away from you and tell her you’re looking to buy a show quality puppy. She invites you to her home. You’re excited when she shows you her newest litter of champion sired puppies. You like that one over there or even the other one on the other side of the yard, you tell her. The breeder can tell by the way you talk your lack of experience in picking out show puppies. So quite literally, you are trusting the knowledge and honesty of the breeder in helping you pick out a show quality puppy. (See the above picture of what a show quality puppy may look like at 12 weeks of age).

Now in defense of all the breeders out there……a breeder is looking for a top show home for their puppy if they can get it. They normally prefer someone that has experience in showing dogs and knows what it entails to do so. However, the breeder also knows that everyone has to start somewhere and occasionally will take a chance on a “newbie.”

So a reader writes to me privately a couple of days ago about my subject that I wrote about when I wrote on my blog about the fronts of the German Shepherd Dog. He told me that he has bought many dogs throughout the years and none of them had great fronts or were great movers. He told me that he bought two puppies from one of the top breeders in the country whose kennel is known to produce great fronts and great moving dogs. Did he finally get what he was looking for? NOPE! He told me neither one of them can move. Pretty to look at, but they’re not movers. Now why is this?

In my opinion, when one goes to buy a show quality puppy, you better know what you’re looking at. If you don’t know the first thing about the structure and the movement of a German Shepherd Dog, then get yourself educated BEFORE you write out that check and sign your name on the dotted line of a contract.

Realize that no matter how good and successful a breeder is, even she can’t guarantee you that the puppy you buy from her will finish his championship. Anything and everything can happy as that puppy grows up. He might have been very promising as a youngster, but as he matured, he just ended up being another pretty pet. Obviously the smartest thing to do is to buy an older puppy or young adult. However, many times these are not available as many breeders don’t want to have to hold on to too many puppies for longer than they have to. Space and finances may dictate that he sells his puppies early.

Again in my opinion……if you don’t know the proper structure and movement of this breed, then you have no business asking a breeder to sell you a top show prospect. If you have to totally rely on the breeder to pick you out a show puppy than if he doesn’t turn out the way you were hoping, don’t go crying to the breeder. EDUCATE yourself BEFORE you go looking to buy a show dog. You wouldn’t buy a car without investigating the quality of that automobile. Do the leg work needed……study the standard for the breed. Know what it is that you are looking for. Go to as many specialty shows as you can. Watch as many DVD’s of the German Shepherd in motion as you can. Make sure you slow the DVD’s down so you can see the dog moving step by step. Observe his back in motion. Is he dipping behind the withers? Is his back soft and loose? Is he opening up in the shoulder or is he reaching from his elbow? Is he driving in the rear or is he kicking up in the rear? STUDY, STUDY AND STUDY SOME MORE!!

If you want pretty and plush, than don’t buy hard and dry. If you want deep, dark pigment, don’t buy washed out pigmentation. If you want good temperament, don’t buy the shy little guy because he’s so cute and you feel sorry for him. If you want lots of hindquarter, don’t buy a square little boxy pup. If you want a good mover……know what good movement is.

If you buy a puppy from a breeder and take his word on it that this puppy is a good mover, then you better agree with him that he is. And you only agree with him because YOU KNOW what he’s saying is true. You don’t take his word for it that a puppy is a good mover and you know that he isn’t thinking that the breeder knows better. I remember many years ago going to one of the top breeders in the country to look at some puppies that she had. She raved on and on about the quality of her puppies and how she had waiting lists for them. I was just starting out showing dogs at the time. I already had a small bit of success in the conformation ring. I was looking for another puppy to show. Although the woman was hugely successful and a good sales person, I wasn’t easily taken or ignorant to what made a puppy a good one. I didn’t buy any of those puppies and I don’t remember later on seeing them winning in the ring either.

Why didn’t I buy one of those well bred puppies? Because they didn’t have the movement that I was looking for. I’ve been very fortunate to start off in the breed having dogs that had good front assemblies. So although the puppies had plenty of rear, I saw straight shoulders with over driving rears. Know what it is that you are looking for BEFORE you buy it.

The breeder can tell the buyer that they know their own lines and this will come in later and that will go away later, etc. In my own experience, either the puppy can move or he can’t. I’ve never seen a puppy that didn’t have a front, grow up and all of a sudden get one. I know that the hindquarter of the puppy can and does change but I’ve never seen the front do the same thing. The puppy may be clumsy and not using himself all of the time, but watch him, and you will catch him moving the way that you would expect a good moving puppy to do so.

Don’t lay out a gazillion dollars for a show puppy that doesn’t even have his second teeth in yet! If you can afford it, lay out the gazillion dollars for an older one where your chances of buying a youngster that will finish his championship is greater. The time to take chances with a younger puppy is when he is very well bred and he’s very affordable. Both you and the breeder are placing your hopes on this baby turning out at this tender age. Anything else is just an educated guess.

Don’t let your excitement about buying a show quality puppy rule your heart. Go with your head when making an important decision like this. Are you buying the puppy because YOU think it’s a good one or are you buying the puppy because the breeder TELLS you he’s a good one? Yes, in many cases you are buying the expertise of the breeder. Do you buy because YOU KNOW or do you buy because YOU ARE TOLD?

Know the reputation of the breeder BEFORE you buy from him. Because they have finished a million champions, doesn’t mean that they have a good reputation! One thing has nothing to do with the other! Ask around. Inquire about his dealings with people. Does he stand behind his dogs? Is this breeder considered an honest breeder? And please don’t just take one person’s word on it. Get several peoples opinions.

Most breeders are honest breeders. They want their buyers to be happy with their purchase. They will let the buyer know that they can’t guarantee that a puppy will finish his championship. They will let the buyer know that right now the puppy doesn’t display any disqualifying faults. No one can predict the future of a show quality puppy. If you want more of a chance of finishing a dog, buy him or her when they are older if you can find it.

So if you find yourself “stuck” with another promising puppy that didn’t turn out, ask yourself how responsible you were in the purchase of this puppy. Did you know what you were looking at or did you rely wholly on the breeder to help make up your mind for you? The breeder does the best breeding that he can. You buy one of his well bred puppies. You are buying the puppy AS HE IS RIGHT NOW with the HOPES that this puppy will be able to finish his championship in the future. So know that right up front you are paying for HOPES and not the finished product. The breeder can’t guarantee you the finished product because he’s still in the growing stages when you bought him. Know that you choose to take the chance when you buy a HOPEFUL show quality puppy! If you don’t educate yourself BEFORE you buy him, then don’t blame the breeder for your lack of knowledge. The only blame that can be made is when the breeder takes advantage of your lack of knowledge!  In this writer's opinion, you are not ready to buy a show quality puppy until you know what it means for a puppy to be called show quality.  Show quality DOES NOT MEAN that it will finish it's championship. 

Years ago an advertiser used to say......."An educated consumer is our best customer"..........and so it too can apply when purchasing a puppy.  KNOW WHAT YOU'RE BUYING BEFORE YOU BUY IT!  EDUCATE YOURSELF!

My rating:  educated consumer: (4), depending upon the breeder to choose for you: (2)

From the book:  "Breeding a Litter"........Breeding a Litter: The Complete Book of Prenatal and Postnatal Care is the most up-to-date and inclusive guide to breeding, whelping and placing puppies. There is a focus on making the most of the "breeding experience" in order to produce puppies who are physically and emotionally sound and go on to enjoy life and enrich the lives of the humans around them. This book contains the all-important basic knowledge necessary to serve as a foundation for the reality of firsthand experience. A clear and commonsense format shows everyone who is thinking about breeding a litter how to create the best possible environment for dogs, puppies and owners alike. Beyond the basics, author Beth J. Finder Harris gives detailed information on selecting breeding stock, neonatal care, puppy development, social conditioning, and also fully addresses the aspects of breeders' responsibilities, contracts and puppy care instructions.

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