Hobby Breeder People who are hobby breeders are the best choice when purchasing a puppy or dog. They tend to be serious and dedicated breeders who plan their litters, research pedigrees, collaborate with fellow breeders, take pride in what they produce and place puppies in homes where they will be loved and cherished. The primary goal of a hobby breeder is “to improve the breed”, NOT to supplement their income or operate a commercial breeding operation. The breed the best possible dogs they can for temperament, health and conformation. Typically they are people wo are home full time who can care for puppies around the clock and are always available for consultation with their puppy families when there is a challenge. The primary goal is NOT to supplement their income. They place their puppies with responsible, dedicated individuals or families. Pups are home-raised, well-socialized and well on their way to being crate and potty trained when leaving for their new homes. Puppy packages are very comprehensive focusing on early training and intensive puppy care. Dedicated hobby breeders DO NOT make a profit from the sale of their puppies. Any proceeds go directly back into their breeding programs. All dogs are health tested and documentation is provided at the time of placement on both the sire and the dam.
The following is a checklist that you can use to establish whether or not your breeder is reputable:
They show their dogs and have a good reputation with other breeders.
They don't “always" have puppies, they breed selectively, and want to get to know you before they will consider you for one of their pups.
They will provide a referral to another breeder if they do not have pups available that suit your timing, family needs and skill level.
They offer a contract that includes health guarantees and a reasonable period of time to have the pups examined by a veterinarian after purchase. The contract should also clearly state under what circumstances the initial deposit is refundable.
If the deposit is not refundable, think twice about signing the contract or clearly understand what you are signing and the terms, both real and implied. Under the Consumer Protection Act you have 10 days after signing the contract to change your mind and have your deposit fully refunded no questions asked.
Most reputable breeders will have their pups vet checked prior to placement. First shots, microchips or tattoos and deworming are also standard.
They provide written instructions on feeding, training, care and grooming of your Portuguese Water Dog.
They temperament test their puppies and attempt to establish the best “fit” between pups and families. Ask your breeder about this and what testing materials are used to assess temperament. If the breeder does not know or is unsure of temperament, and allows you to select your own puppy without qualification, BEWARE.
Reputable breeders do not breed dogs that are under the age of 2 years old. Ask how old the sire and dam are. If the sire and dam are under the age of one year, definitely avoid this breeder.
They provide documentation from OFA (Orthopedic Foundation for Animals) or Optigen (not their vet's assessment, or any other organization) for GM-1 testing, PRA Optigen testing, current ECR (OFA Eye Certification) OFA hip x-ray results, JDCM (test for Juvenile Dilated Cardiomyopathy – heart disorder resulting in puppy death) as per PWDCC requirements. And additionally, may have Improper Coat testing (one parent should be Normal), elbow x-ray certification and thyroid testing. Accept no excuses for lack of health testing on their dogs.
If the breeder gets snarky… MOVE ON. The AVAILABLE PUPPIES list found on this website is a good place to look if you are considering purchasing a puppy. To post on this list the breeder must demonstrate that all required health testing is completed as per the Portuguese Water Dog Club of Canada recommendations for breeding pairs.
They disclose any other high risk health issue that may be evident in the pedigree.
They offer coaching and consultation after the puppy has gone home, if needed for the LIFETIME of the dog.
They make it clear in the contract that if you are unable to continue ownership of the dog, that new owners must be approved by them or returned to the breeder for placement in a new home.
They provide extensive references – both from their veterinarian, past puppy purchasers and fellow breeders.
They require your pet to be spayed or neutered as there is a firm commitment to maintaining a high quality breeding program.
The puppy home environment is clean and the pups live in the home and not in a kennel or barn. Emphasis is placed on socializing pups before placement.
They are firmly committed to improving the breed first and foremost and NOT supplementing their income. Always ASK how may litters they have had in the past year. One or two litters is acceptable. More than this is an indicator that someone is in it for the money. If the breeder gets snarky when asked questions… MOVE ON.
Conscientious breeders ask a lot of questions that you might find personal in nature and they may be hesitant to sell you a puppy until getting to know you a bit better. Do not take offence. Dedicated breeders are genuinely interested in finding quality homes for their puppies.
WHO AND WHERE NOT TO BUY A DOG
A Pet Shop, Dealer or Rural Farm Many of these puppies are produced in "puppy mills". A puppy mill is an environment where many litters are procued each year. Typically, these dogs are not registered with the CKC. These dogs often live in cages and are bred non-stop. Conditions are usually dirty and deplorable. Some puppy mills claim that they "home raise" their puppies but don't let you see the sire and the dam. BEWARE. These people care little for the dogs and are only concerned about turning a profit. The dogs are often poorly bred and/or sick. These dogs often end up in pet shops or sold through dealers on the internet.
Backyard Breeder These are people who own pets and think it might be a great way to earn some extra money or provide a “great life experience” for the kids. Often they don’t know or care about breed standards, health concerns, temperament issues and inheritance or proper methods of raising dogs and puppies. The goal is often to make money and supplement the family income. These individuals do not show their dogs, are not members of breed affiliated clubs such as the Portuguese Water Dog Club of Canada or America and do not produce the paperwork on genetic testing and have some excuse why not. They often might offer to discount the price of the pup if it is not registered with the Canadian Kennel Club. Note, in Canada, it is a federal offence to offer a pure bred dog for sale and not register it, the breeder must register it, not you the owner (purebred dogs are governed under Agricultural Canada Statutes). These people do not stand behind what they produce or operate according to ethical standards published by established breed clubs. Many talk a good line but do not necessarily charge less for their pups, but often the dogs are poorly bred. BUYER BEWARE. Good breeders provide life time support, documentation on health testing and are involved in established breed clubs.
You can verify health testing on the sire and dam of the puppy you are considering by searching with their registered name at: www.offa.org or pwdhld.com