Helping you to choose the right dog for your home. In part one I discussed health problems and risks, and in part two I told you what you need to do before you go to see the pup. This part gives you some alternatives to think about.
That's my experience, and here are some more of my thoughts on the subject of buying a puppy or what might be better for your needs.
Is a puppy better than an older rescue dog?- A lot of people want a pup to prevent taking on anyone else's problems, and the risk that it might be a danger to children. But not all rescue dogs are screwed up, and for those with behaviour problems a lot of the time their bad behaviour was caused by the owner not caused by a bad dog. I have seen for myself how dogs change with new owners. You have a second chance to change the way a dog behaves by doing things differently. If you rehome through a reputable UK rescue organisation you will get an idea of the dogs strengths and weaknesses, and they will endeavour to match a dog to a new family that suits both needs. A rescue dog can be a mixed breed too but for a lot less money. Another advantage is that they are often past the puppy stage so you don't have the chewing and the peeing and the puppy madness, which can be a challenge for those not experienced. However, if you are thinking of a rescue dog imported from outside the UK read this post from the British Veterinary Association about some of the risks they are concerned about. If you already have a rescue dog and are struggling, then get in touch with a dog trainer who can help you read the dog and respond appropriately to get the behaviour you want.
Finally, why not try rehoming a retired or failed gundog?
It may be the best option if you are working full time, or older and don't have the time or energy to train a young dog or pup. Gundogs have been raised and trained to walk to heel and come back when called - job done. Failed gundogs may be too soft in nature - perfect for a loving family home. Older working gundogs often find it hard to retire and it is not fair if they are left in the kennel when the younger dogs are taken out to shoots. The retired dogs know what is happening and they are being left behind which is sad. A kenneled rescue dog will adjust to living in your home given time - a crate might help them transition. They are most likely to be healthy and intelligent companions for all ages. Ask someone who trials and I'm sure they can put you in touch with someone wishing to rehome a gundog, I share dogs on my facebook page, or why not try Labrador Retriever Rescue Scotland,or Perthshire Gundog Rescue.
Other Useful links; introducing dogs to children and babies, puppy socialisation.
Field Trial Winner and OFTAW Nullsecundus River Druie, current eye certificate (to July 2022), hips 2/2, elbows 0, clear of PRA, CNM, SD2, EIC. Full standard vaccination as well as kennel cough. Stud book number 3155DE. Carries yellow (EeBB). Approved bitches must have all of the above health tests and registered with the appropriate kennel club. EBV score will be checked as well as inbreeding coefficient of any proposed mating. Ovulation test must be undertaken prior to mating, the best time to mate a bitch is two days after ovulation when the eggs are fully mature and capable of being fertilised. The fertility of this dog has been tested and confirms viable healthy semen, and frozen semen is available for artificial insemination. This dog has sired several litters and details can be found on the Kennel Club website.
Druid's hip scores are 2/2 and his elbows 0. The estimated Breeding Value EBV score evaluates the genetic value of an individual dog, in relation to the whole of the dog’s breed. The EBV score is intended to help breeders reduce the prevalence of hip and/or elbow dysplasia by more accurately evaluating genetic risk. The breed average is always set to 0. Higher risk EBVs are shown as a positive number and lower risk EBVs as a negative number. The further a dog’s EBV is from the average, the higher or lower its genetic risk. Druid's EBV score for elbows is -33 and hips - 36.
Link to health tests details and pedigree. See also our home page for achievements and about us for the story about Druid and why I chose him to found my Accio kennel.
You want to buy a puppy but are not sure what breed or where to look?
Read about my puppy owning experiences over 25 years, the mistakes I would not do again, and answers to common questions and difficulties about choosing the right dog for your home. What to do before you go to see the puppy.
My first pup was a mixed breed from a rescue centre. My second was a 6 months old street rescue beardie collie. The next pup was meant to be a jack russell pup who came from a puppy farm. I then bought a pedigree kennel-reared failed gundog at about a year old. She looked healthy so I didn't health test, but she died suddenly in middle age and her pup is going blind. For the past 5 years I have owned health tested pedigree dogs. I loved them all but wouldn't make the same mistakes again.
That's my experience, and here are my thoughts on the subject of buying a puppy. In part two I will tell you what you need to do before you go to see the pup.
What is the benefit of buying a pup from health tested parents?
"Healthy dogs create healthy puppies - All pedigree and crossbred dogs can suffer from inherited diseases which are passed on from parent to puppy. Health testing and screening allows owners and breeders to screen for inherited diseases, the results can then be used to help make sure that only healthy dogs are bred from. Responsible breeders should always health test the dogs they plan to use for breeding. To make sure you are buying a happy and health puppy, always ask to see the relevant health test results for both parents."
Firstly, be aware that health tests don't just mean they tell you that they had the vet check the pups over and they were fine. It means the pups parents hips and elbows have been independently assessed and lodged with the Kennel Club for those with pedigrees, and it means that blood tests have been taken to check for a range of genetic diseases common to the breed, and that their eyes are tested annually. Read more.
If the mum has been vaccinated, new born puppies get some protection against diseases through their mother’s milk that can help keep them healthy before they are able to get vaccinated themselves. Unfortunately, puppies that have been illegally imported or that were bred on puppy farms could be much more likely to suffer serious illnesses like parvovirus as their mums won’t have been vaccinated so can’t pass on their immunity.
There are many pedigree dogs who have been bred responsibly but who may not have been health tested. The mother looks healthy but there is no guarantee against, or reduced risk of, hip or elbow dysplasia, or genetic diseases like PRA and blindness. Read more.
What is hip or elbow dysplasia?
Hip and elbow dysplasia are both complex inherited diseases that cause a dog’s joints to develop incorrectly, which can result in pain, arthritis and lameness as they get older. Read more
A pedigree dog's parents who are health tested gives you the best chance of proven robustness or confirmation, because of a written guarantee of being clear of prescribed genetic diseases, and a reduced likelihood of expensive vet bills/ or a shortened pet life/ or a life of pain and discomfort.
Why should I test my bitch if I do not intend to spay her?
Some dogs may be carriers of a genetic disease and you would still have a healthy pet, but if you breed it (accidently or on purpose) with another carrier then some of the pups will get that genetic disease. However, it's important to keep the gene pool as wide as possible, breeding a carrier to a non carrier means the pups will only be carriers. This is why health tests are important it allows you to make informed breeding choices. On the Kennel Club website you can enter the sire and dam's details and find out the likelihood of any issues or risks.
"The more informed you are does not remove a risk but it does reduce it." Read more on the breed health information for labrador retrievers.
Useful links; introducing dogs to children and babies, puppy socialisation.