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Buying a pup (retriever)

You have made the decision to purchase a pup and have selected the retriever breed. Well where do you go from here? The least expensive thing about buying a pup is the initial price. Remember to add in vet bills, dog food, training time and equipment, etc. But more important, the attachment and love you and your family have for this pup. It's difficult to reject a pup that doesn't turn out to be a hunter. There are many places for locating a well-bred pup. Check out the web, ads in the gun dog magazines etc. These are all excellent sources to find the type of pup you are looking for.

If you are a hunter it is important to get a pup out of the best hunting and field lines. As a hunter, you need a dog with very strong hunting desire. A pup out of solid hunting stock has a better chance of becoming a good hunter. Lets look at how important bloodlines are when buying a pup. To understand this you will need to study a pup's four-generation pedigrees, which consist of 30 dogs that contribute to the genetic makeup of the pups born in litter. A pup will receive 100% of its "Ancestral Inherence" from its parents, 50% from each of them. That is why it is so vital that the parents be out of the best field and hunting lines. If they are Hunting Champions, Field Champions or hunters, you know they are working dogs, If the parents are not hunters, you really can't tell what if any, field ability they have and are able to pass on to their pups. a pup out of show lines or non [working parents can sometimes work out, but more often than not, doesn't.

If you are buying a retriever and it will be a family pet and not used it as a hunting dog you do not need to purchase one out of working parents, but you need to be sure it is out of dogs with sound temperament certified hips and clear eyes.

Questions to ask the breeder:

  • Are the sire and dam hips OFA certified?
  • Are the eyes clear of PRA and RD?
  • Is the sire of the liter a Hunter, Hunting Champion or Field Champion?
  • Is the dam a Hunter, Hunting Champion or Field Champion?
  • How many litters has the female had?
  • How old is the female?
  • What titled dogs have the sire and dam produced?
  • Do you guarantee the pups you sell?
  • What does your guarantee consist of Hip/Eye/RD/PRA Health?

  • It is important that you ask the questions and let the breeder fill in the answers. Let him/her tell you what their guarantee consists of. This way you will find out how knowledgeable they are and if indeed he or she knows what problems exist in the breed. Determine the age of the female and the numbers of litters she has had. Has she been bred every time she has been in season" If so, maybe this breeder is more interested in making money than producing quality puppies. The accomplishments of the offspring will tell you what you can expect to find in a pup out of this breeding.

    When you find litters you are interested in, ask the breeder to send you a copy of his guarantee. Copy of both parents's pedigree's so you can examine the bloodlines. Ask for a copy of the hip and eye clearances on both parents along with a list of references of people that have purchased pups from them. No breeder should be offended by the questions you ask or the material you request. If they seem to be CAUTION is the watchword. Ask the puppy reference two questions. Are they happy with the field ability of the pup they purchased? Would they purchase another pup from the same breeder? The answers to these two questions will tell you all you need to know and will let you decide if this breeder is one you want to buy a pup from.

    Compare the information you receive on litters you are interested in. Is one pedigree better than another is? When you have decided on the litters you want to check out, call the breeder and set up a time to see the pups. Write down any questions you have to ask the breeder. It is best to look at prospective litters during the day, when there is good light and you can observe the pups. If you have been told the dam of the pups is a hunting dog, ask to see her work. Do you like the way she looks, does she look healthy, does she have a good temperament, is she happy, does she have good retrieving desire? Remember the pups out of her will have 50% of her genetic make-up. If they own the sire go through the same process with the sire.

    Check out the parents BEFORE you look at the pups. It is too easy to fall for cute pups especially if you have kids with you. Heck all the kids want is a pup. They don't care a bit what the parents are like. If you like what you see in the parents, check out the pups. Tell the breeder what qualities you want in a pup. The breeder has spent countless hours observing the pups and knows a lot about each of the pup's personality. They can point out pups that have the characteristics that you are looking for. If the pups looks healthy, are clean, outgoing and seem well socialized, other than size, there won't be much difference in the pups.

    All breeders wish there was a sure-fire way to pick the best pup in a litter. Let me assure as a breeder that isn't. Take the pups outside one at a time. Set each pup down and walk away for the pup. Call the pup to you, see how he reacts. Is the pup's tail up or tucked down you want an outgoing pup. Do the same with all the pups until you narrow it down to a couple, then compare the two of them together. Take the pup that catches your eye.

    If you are taking a male pup, be sure to check his testicles to be sure there are two. If the pup you selected has only one, which has dropped ask the breeder what is her policy if the other one does not drop. If she ask her to make a note of her policy on the guarantee. If you have any plans on using this dog as a stud dog, I would consider taking another pup. No dog with one testicle should ever be bred.

    You also want to check the teeth on the pup. The upper and lower teeth should have an even bite. Not an under-bite or an over-bite.

    Lastly, ask the breeder if the pups have had a full examination by a vet? It is very important to take the newly purchased pup in for a veterinarian health check. Do so with in the first 48 hours. If the vet finds any problems have him put it in wring and notify the breeder.

    Kim Moses
    Hunters Marsh Kennels

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