Belgians di Coraggio
Dedicated to reaching the highest achievements in dog performance
Belgian Sheepdog Breeder Interview
Questions for the Belgian Sheepdog Puppy buyer to ask prospective breeders.
Congratulations!† If youíre here I know youíre thinking about getting a new Belgian puppy.† Welcome.† I was once doing my own research into finding my own perfect puppy.† My breeder passed my interview with flying colors and sent me a truly perfect dog who is a wonderful match for me.† There was a lot of good luck in that pairing, but I stacked the odds in my favor.† Here are some sample questions I hope will help you on your own quest.
These questions are tailored to USA based breeders for people who plan to adopt within the country.†††
There are several caveats that I should note.† First, you really need to listen with a critical ear.† A breeder may answer these questions with the right words, but thereís a hollow tone to the personís voice.† He or she might be evasive, or may have some off the page answers with very plausible sounding justification.† Those cute puppy photos on an internet site are very tempting, but please put them out of your mind when youíre asking some critical questions.† You need to make rational decisions, after all with good luck your new puppy will be a part of your family for the next 14 years. Donít get in a hurry.
Next, breeding is risky.† Even ethical breeders who carefully plan a litter can have unexpected problems crop up.† Good breeders carefully avoid doubling up on known problems.† But there might be recessive genes that get passed along for many generations that suddenly manifest in a puppy.† Hip dysplasia, elbow dysplasia, thyroid problems, epilepsy and Addisonís disease for example.† Any of them could affect a puppy where there were no known risk factors in the breeding.† Make sure your breeder did his or her homework, and then both of you cross your fingers.
I donít include links since they require maintenance, please use your favorite search engine to look up any references.
This document is organized into four sections.† Click on the section links† on the left hand side of this page to go to the detailed section.
The format Iíve used is question, explanation, preferred responses, less desirable responses. These are all reasonable questions to ask a breeder.† Any breeder who balks at this list would give me serious pause.† I have tried very hard to make this a general list of accepted practices, and to minimize any of my own preferences.
For convenience, here is a list of the questions:
1. In your breeding program, of what achievement are you most proud?
2. Do you adhere to the BSCA Code Of Ethics (COE)?
3. How do you match your puppies to families?
4. What is your general breeding philosophy?
5. Do you remove dewclaws from your puppies?
6. What sort of socialization do you do with your puppies?
7. Where are the puppies raised?
8. What goes into your puppy packet?
9. Iíd like to meet the dam of the puppies, and Iíd like to come to your kennel to pick my puppy when heís available to come home with me.† Will that be acceptable?
10. I want to compete in flyball/dock diving/agility/obedience/herding/canine freestyle/tracking/SAR/ski-jor/canicross/ringsport/therapy dog.† Have you produced dogs that compete in this sport?† If so, please discus their working ability with me.
11. How long have you been breeding?† If three or less years, who is your mentor and what advice did he or she give you planning this breeding?
12. How many litters have you produced?
13. At what age to you send puppies into their new homes.
14. How much will it cost me to get the puppy I want from you?
15. If I have a major life change of some sort, or the puppy doesnít work out for me down the road, what is your return policy?
16. Do you require buyers of pet puppies to complete health certifications such as OFA hip and elbow ratings?
17. Do you require co-ownership for the type of puppy I want?
18. Does your puppy contract include any stipulations pertaining to the lifelong care and training of the dog?
19. For pet quality puppies, do you opt for limited AKC registration upon purchase, or do you withhold registration pending spaying or neutering?
20. Do you specify an age range for spaying and neutering?
21. How are the following resolved:† conformation faults in show dogs; such as a bite going off?† Major health faults for potential breeding dogs or pet dogs?† Major temperament problems such as severe aggression?† Minor problems, such an overly shy but otherwise gorgeous show dog that no one can go over since she shies in the ring?
22. Iím aware that Belgian Sheepdogs may suffer from epilepsy.† How risky do you think this breeding is?†† Have any littermates to the sire or dam had a seizure?
23. What health screenings have been done on the breeding parents and grandparents and what were the results?
24. Have any close relatives been diagnosed with any of the less common afflictions including, but not limited to pannus, Von Willebrands, and Addisons?
25. How old are the sire and dam?
26. What are your goals for this breeding?
27. I have some specific questions about the parents.† Is either parent barky, sound sensitive, fussy about slippery floors, a fussy eater, allergic, aggressive or overly friendly?
28. What are your expectations from me regarding our future communication?
29. May I contact you over the life of the dog for any health and training issues that arise?
30. Do you have an on-line kennel group?
31. Can you provide references from a veterinarian and other people who have purchased puppies from you?
Be prepared to have in mind what you want from your puppy and how you envision it fitting into your family.† Youíll want your breeder to ask as many questions of you as you asked of him or her.
Thank you for taking the time to put so much consideration into getting your puppy!† I love Belgian Sheepdogs and the more we value high quality dogs, the higher the standards for our dogs will become.† Ideally, weíll have healthier, more mentally sound dogs sharing our lives as a result of our intention to strive to accept nothing less.
A final thank you to Susan Hoffman who sent me in the right direction when I went looking for my first puppy.† And my enormous gratitude to Ramona Kraft and Lorra Miller, the outstanding women who are behind the breeding of my first Belgian, the extraordinary Krishna.