Epic Mastiffs Lisa Armstrong * 507-837-9075 * lisaarmstrong15@yahoo.com Minnesota, USA
WHAT IS A BREED and HOW DO YOU FIND AN ETHICAL BREEDER: Learn the difference BEFORE you buy! First, it is important to know what a breed is. The easiest way to do this is to see if the AKC (or are part of the Foundation Stock Service (FSS), the oldest and most prestigious Kennel Club in the USA, or another respected Kennel Club abroad, such as the Canadian Kennel Club, recognizes the breed. Pet registries, like the Continental Kennel Club, are not reliable sources for helping identify true breeds since they will recognize any mix without investigation, they do not keep accurate breed standards nor do they maintain high standards for breeders that participate in their registry. A breed has a written and documented history, as well as a recognized function that it was original bred for. They also have a detailed breed standard (a physical description of the breed ideal), a Breed Club and active health and rescue committees. On the other hand, to be recognized by the Continental Kennel Club, a dog must merely have three pictures and 2 witness signatures (nothing is verified and the witnesses do not need to be breed experts). If you select anything other than an AKC, FSS registered or an abroad equivalent recognized breed you run the risk of not really knowing what you will end up with since the breed has not been properly established, proven to breed true nor are they overseen by strict policies such as the AKC puts forth. For more information regarding how a breed achieves AKC recognition please visit: http://www.akc.org/reg/fss_details.cfm There are 157 AKC recognized breeds and 65 breeds working towards completing the recognition requirements one will surely meet the needs of your family! After you've chosen the breed that is right for you and your family you will need to find a breeder... How do you identify an ethical breeder? The definition goes far beyond someone breeding two dogs. An ethical breeder is concerned and involved with the breed as a whole, standard, health, research, rescue, education, etc. They are concerned about their contribution to the welfare and health of all dogs. An ethical breeder is not part of the problem, rather part of the solution! As a puppy buyer your job, if you will, is to decide what is important to you and what role do you want to play in the canine society. Even if it is just to be a pet owner, that doesn't mean you have any less profound effect on the community than the exhibitor or breeder. From the beginning, being your initial decision as to where you are going to purchase your new family member from, you are having an impact. Your decisions have a ripple effect on the community and the dogs themselves. If you decide to buy your puppy at a pet store/broker (supplied by puppymills) or a Backyard Breeder (BYB) you are in essence supporting their lack of ethics and general misgivings to the canine community. You are also risking much heartache (both emotional and financial) down the road for you, your family and your pet. Pet stores, brokers and BYBs do not have the concern or the knowledge necessary in regards to the breed standard and health concerns that should be screened for. They do not understand or care about the importance of testing for specific health problems. By not supporting careless breeders you take away the BYB/Puppymill market. Furthermore, by purchasing from a breeder who is committed to only one or two breeds you are bettering your odds of getting a healthy and temperamentally sound dog that will bring you and your family years of happiness. Make sure the breeder's primary concern is the welfare of the breed and their dogs. One of the first things that will prove this concern is the effort they put forth to make sure their puppies go to good homes. Do they ask YOU a lot of questions? Then, evaluate their knowledge of their breed. Do they know about special grooming needs, temperament, and health concerns? Do they know the breed? history? (Please note: these things are breed specific, if a breeder constantly references another breed as the basis for describing their dogs run the other way!) Do they take back any dogs they breed if the owners can no longer keep them? Once you've established your potential breeder is knowledgeable about the breed you will want to find out what they do to maintain a high standard in their breeding program. Do they show their dogs in conformation shows to help evaluate how well their dogs meet the standard? What health testing do they do? It is also important to note that it is necessary to require PROOF of health testing. A breeder should maintain a full disclosure policy regarding their dogs health, which includes the availability of all documentation. Here is a list of some concepts and important questions to ask yourself and your potential breeder to make sure you get a healthy and temperamentally sound dog that meets your selected breed's standard. 1. What is the breed standard? 2. What are the standard grooming practices for the breed? 3. How much exercise does this breed require? Does this change with age? 4. What is the proper nutrition for the breed? How does it vary from puppyhood to adulthood? 5. Are supplements necessary? If so, what do they recommend and why? 6. What are the desirable and not so desirable traits of this breed? 7. What are prevalent diseases and/or other issues in the breed? What tests have been performed on the sire and dam? What were the results? What tests were performed on previous generations? What were the results? What documentation can the breeder provide to verify the results? Find out before hand: What are the health tests available to breeders to ensure they are not breeding afflicted dogs? What are the must have health tests? What health tests are done to go the extra mile? 8. What does your puppy come with? Contract, Health warranty? Shots? Microchip? Pedigree? Health records? 9. What kind of health warranty does the breeder offer on their puppies? What does it cover? How long is it in effect? Do they explain that there is no guarantee (even with health testing) of perfect health, but rather a warranty and an explanation of what they will do should a health issue arise? 10. What are the terms of their contract? What do they expect from you? What do they offer you in return? 11. How do they evaluate their breeding dogs? Do they show them in conformation shows? 12. How old are the sire and dam? If younger than two years what were the circumstances of the breeding? Note: There are medical reasons that allow for the breeding of a bitch earlier. If this is the case, the breeder should be able to fully explain the reasons as well as provide medical documentation regarding their decision. 13. What was your goal in matching this sire and dam for breeding? What are their strengths and weakness? 14. Have them describe their breeding and whelping practices. Do they do natural breedings or Artificial Inseminations? Do they do natural whelps or C-sections? Do they have a vet on-call if the dam or pups need help? 15. Do their dogs live as part of the family? 16. How old are their puppies when they allow them to leave for their new homes? (Should be no younger than 8 weeks) 17. What kind of contact do they like to keep with their puppy buyers? What is their availability like for advice and support? 18. Did the breeder have any problems with you asking questions or were they happy to see you so interested and concerned? 19. How did the breeder evaluate you? Did they question your lifestyle and family, dog experience, why you chose this breed as your right fit? 20. Do they intend to keep a puppy from the litters they breed? 21. Can you meet the sire and/or dam? Can the breeder describe their personalities in detail? 22. What care is given to finding your family the puppy with the right temperament (outgoing, quiet, energetic, etc)? 23. Do they sell their puppies on Full (breeding rights) or Limited Registration? Do they require Limited Registration pets to be spayed/neutered? 24. Do they discuss the emotional and financial commitment involved in buying a puppy? What special purchases may be necessary for your puppy? 25. What is the vaccination protocol they follow? Where did they get their information on vaccination schedules? 26. What exposure do pups have before leaving? Exposure to children, other animals, noises, etc? 27. Do they make a living breeding? Or, do they breed on a limited basis? 28. Do they have a strong sales pitch? Or, do they freely answer your questions and let you make your decision free from pressure? 29. Do they hype Champions in the pedigree even if they only appear many generations back? Do they hype bloodlines even if they only appear far back in the pedigree? Do they hype size or color, rather than standard and health? Note: You probably do not want to deal with someone that does this. 30. Can you speak with previous puppy buyers? Remember, breeding is a passion to an ethical breeders...NOT a BUSINESS! An ethical breeder will want to build a trusting and lifelong relationship with their puppy buyers.

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