To an aspiring hunting dog owner, choosing the right puppy from the right litter of the right breed can be confusing and daunting. It is a life-changing task after all… you are choosing a new member for your family and your new best friend for a significant portion of your life. Although there may not be an absolutely “perfect” breed that can excel in all fields, there will certainly be a puppy that can fully satisfy your goals and desires.
Here are the most important questions you should ask your dog breeder in order to make the correct decision.
- Does the dog breeder themselves hunt with their bird hunting dog on a regular basis? Do they participate in trials or competitions?
- Does the dog breeder use any evaluation programs to assess the abilities and value of their puppies? If so, which programs do they use? Are you expected to participate?
- How does the dog breeder socialize their litters?
- Does the dog breeder have any recommendations of other breeders with similar litters and breeds?
- Does the dog breeder know their puppies’ strengths? If so, what are these qualities? Do these qualities match with what you have in mind?
- Does the dog breeder know their puppies’ weaknesses or problems?
- What problems has the breeder encountered with this litter or similar litters?
- Does the dog breeder offer any guarantees to you, as the buyer, when you purchase a puppy?
- When will the next available puppy litter be ready for aspiring owners?
- Does the dog breeder have the sire and dam’s certifications and documentations?
- Does the dog breeder’s puppy litter match your definition of an ideal dog?
Asking these questions will help you effectively communicate your goals and hopes in a dog, giving both yourself and the dog breeder a better understanding of whether their puppies are right for you. While these questions are quite broad, there are specific details that you should focus on when relaying information to and from the breeder. Read further to understand the importance of each question…
The Meaning Behind Each Question
Each and every question is filled with important detail, varying from the puppies’ compatibility to your lifestyle to ensuring that your puppy lives a happy and healthy life. Listed below are the most essential and detailed questions that are crucial to any new dog owner and why it should matter to you.
Does the dog breeder themselves hunt with their bird hunting dog on a regular basis? Do they participate in trials or competitions?
In the case that they do, they will be much more knowledgeable regarding your needs and desires when searching for the right puppy. Inform your dog breeder of what you aim to achieve with your new companion.
Further, you should ask whether they hunt with the litter’s sire and dam specifically. Usually, these puppies are able to genetically carry forward their parents’ capabilities, behaviors, and habits. What events and activities do the sire and dam participate in? How often do they hunt? What are their range, style, and game? These qualities can sometimes be passed onto their younglings.
Does the dog breeder use any evaluation programs to assess the abilities and value of their puppies? If so, which programs do they use? Are you expected to participate?
Almost all experienced dog breeders will have their litters evaluated by those that have thorough experience with bird hunting dogs in order to determine the success of their puppies. There are a plethora of available testing programs for puppies; one example is the North American Versatile Hunting Dog Association’s Natural Ability Test.
The test evaluates “hereditary traits of the puppies that are essential for a versatile, active hunting dog.” While not all tests are identical to the ones carried out by NAVHDA, these tests are usually broken down into multiple phases. NAVHDA’s test has three phases: the Tracking phase, the Water phase, and the Field phase. These tests are able to evaluate a dog’s scent-tracking capabilities, search capabilities, water compatibility, pointing capabilities, tracking capabilities, integrity and perseverance, and ability to cooperate and listen to orders.
These tests usually show the results of not only one specific puppy but also the results of the rest of the litter. With this information, you are able to determine whether or not your breeder’s puppies are in good care and of good, healthy quality. Because the results are broken down into multiple categories, you may want to pick a puppy that can excel in the category you aim to develop your puppy in. For example, you may want to pick a puppy with an excellent score in water compatibility if you plan to do a lot of waterfowl hunting.
You should be able to obtain these test results from your dog breeder as per your request. In short, this is the best way to identify the puppies’ compatibility with what you have in mind. To every aspiring hunting dog owner, you obviously want a puppy with inborn talent and natural ability.
If you are expected to participate you will want to know that up front. Some breeders will even cover the cost of the tests or provide additional support to get you to help get their litter evaluated.
Does the dog breeder socialize their litters?
Socialization is essential for every dog, regardless of whether or not you plan on hunting or participating in competitions with your new best friend. For a puppy to be comfortable around other dogs, as well as other animals, children, and the elderly, it is really important that your puppy is socialized from a very young age. If the puppy is not socialized when little, they may even develop aggressive tendencies towards others in the future.
In the case of sporting competitions, they will have many chances to meet and interact with other dogs. A dog with good social skills will see this as a pleasant experience, those that do not may feel nervous, anxious, or even frightened. There are many methods of socialization; the only thing that matters is that the puppy is being exposed to new things on a daily basis, making them more adaptable to their surroundings.
Does the dog breeder have any recommendations of other breeders with similar litters and breeds?
Oftentimes, popular and successful hunting dog breeders have long waiting lists of many clients hoping to buy from the litter. Likewise, they may not be able to guarantee you a puppy in this litter or even the next. Thus, good dog breeders are usually able to recommend to you some alternative breeders that may have availability while maintaining similar quality.
You should definitely inquire about different breeders before making a final decision. They may have the exact puppy that you are looking for. Although you can also search for different breeders yourself, your dog breeder will be more knowledgeable and experienced with other well-known and reliable breeders within the community.
Does the dog breeder know their puppies’ strengths? If so, what are these qualities? Do these qualities match with what you have in mind?
Different breeders will have different strengths to brag about when it comes to their new litters. Although it can be exaggerated, these claims are usually true. From what the breeder claims, you can decide if this specific litter of puppies is what you are looking for.
Does the dog breeder know their puppies’ weaknesses or problems? If so, what are these qualities? Are these qualities something you believe you can overcome or accept?
Experienced dog breeders should also be aware of the weaknesses of their litters. Even if they do not voluntarily let you know or bring it up to you, the client, you should always be active in inquiring about this topic. While almost all issues can be easily overcome with sufficient training and cooperation, you may find some issues unacceptable or too difficult to face.
As stated before, dogs, like people, are not perfect. When choosing the right puppy, you should not only be aware of the puppies’ weaknesses and problems and be able to overcome them together.
What problems has the breeder encountered with this litter or similar litters? What has been or could be done to resolve these issues?
For any hunting dog breeder, there will always be issues that they will face with their litters in the past, present, or even both. Most commonly, puppies may have issues with their hip, in fieldwork, conformation and tolerance, and pointing and retrieving.
As a puppy, there is seldom a dog breeder that can breed perfect litters; their business is always a work in progress. A good breeder should always be aware of these issues and should always be actively attempting to resolve them. Likewise, you should be wary of those that tell you that they have not encountered any issues with their litters.
Does the dog breeder offer any guarantees to you, as the buyer, when you purchase a puppy?
Although it can be an uncomfortable subject, you should purchase from a dog breeder that offers guarantees on their puppies. These guarantees should minimally include health coverage on your puppy, which includes any genetic flaws or physically developed issues.
A common issue that hunting dog puppies face is known as hip dysplasia. Usually, experienced dog breeders will have their litters and the litter’s sire and dam for it; popular tests include the OFA and Pin Hip. Some dog owners even offer puppies that are already vaccinated and dewormed.
When will the next available puppy litter be ready for aspiring owners?
Once you are satisfied with the dog breeder’s litter, it is strongly recommended that you wait for the next available litter. Why? Many aspiring dog owners are extremely excited for their newfound furry friend, resulting in some cases of impulse buying. In the long term, this will only create a source of misery for you and your puppy. Waiting for the next available litter grants you enough time to “cool down” and rethink your decision. Adopting a new member into your family is a big deal. Consider all the changes to your lifestyle if you were to own a dog.
Does the dog breeder have the sire and dam’s certifications and documentations?
All experienced dog breeders should have the sire and dam’s documentation and registration papers readily available. These documents show that the litters’ parents are healthy and likewise, able to produce healthy puppies.
This information can usually be given to you by the breeder, along with information regarding their kennel and their past litters. It is also a good idea to ask to see photos or to physically meet the sire and dam. As stated above, puppies can sometimes take on the behavior of their parents. They may also have a similar appearance in coat and color.
Does the dog breeder’s puppy litter match your definition of an ideal dog?
Finally, but most importantly, let the dog breeder know what kind of puppy you would like to own and train. This includes, but is not limited to, how often you hunt, what competitions you may want to participate in, what your lifestyle is, and even the types of game you aim to hunt. For example, if you plan to hunt in the prairies or open fields, you may want a puppy that has good range and endurance. After all, the breeder knows the puppies the best. Sometimes, unfortunately, the litter may not be suited to your lifestyle or goals.
For any aspiring hunting dog owner, choosing the right companion is undeniably a difficult task. Not only do you have to choose the breed that can match your hopes and expectations, you also need to choose the right puppy! However, these questions will certainly make your selection process much simpler and straight-forward. Remember these questions, be patient, and keep your head up! The right puppy for you will always be out there!