Belgians di Coraggio

Dedicated to reaching the highest achievements in dog performance

General Breeder Questions

In your breeding program, of what achievement are you most proud?

It’s a good idea to know what a breeder views as successful.  Production of top winners or so many OTCh dogs?  A broad variety of accomplishments including happy, healthy companions.   There are no right or wrong answers, just a sense of whether the breeder is a good fit for you.


Do you adhere to the BSCA Code of Ethics (COE)?

The code of ethics is something that all BSCA members are required to sign.  There may, on rare occasions, be compelling reasons for a breeder to violate the COE for a breeding.  As an example, using frozen sperm for an AI.  Since the dog is deceased, he may not have had the currently required health screenings.  In those cases, an ethical breeder will fully disclose the deviation and have obviously valid reasons for it.

Yes.  Or, have a fully documented, disclosed deviation, including an explanatory statement for the increased risks.



How do you match your puppies to families?

Many breeders use formal puppy evaluations such as the Pat Hastings puppy puzzle and Vollhard testing.  Other breeders will carefully observe their litters and size the puppies up for their evaluation.  If you’re outgoing and active the most timid puppy in the litter would be a bad fit for you.    Or if you’re a novice trainer, the pushiest puppy in the litter may be more than you want to deal with.  A good breeder will work to understand what you need, and will help you to get the right fit; sometimes even referring you to a different breeder.

The breeder should have sized up each puppy’s conformation and temperament.  Next the breeder should have gotten a lot of specific information from you in return regarding your future puppy’s expected lifestyle.  That way, you’ll get a puppy that will be what you envision.  The breeder doesn’t necessarily have to pick pink puppy vs. white puppy for you, but he or she should tell you that those two are the only two in the litter that would be good choices for you.

First come first served sets everyone up to fail.  This is where the shy person picks the most responsive puppy.  (Who is also very pushy and domineering given a perceived opening.)   Alternatively, pressuring a pet home into buying a show puppy for conformation so that the kennel can have more championships to their credit.  (Worse still, having them show a sub-par dog so that someone else can get the points.)


What is your general breeding philosophy?

Some breeders focus on highly driven dogs for competition, some for protection sport, and others want easy going dogs.

The right answer is a dog that will be the right fit for you.  If you’re highly active, a breeder who aims for an easy to live with Belgian may not be the best choice.  Also, you want to hear the breeder touch upon health, temperament and correct appearance.

Stammering to conjure a reply to this question is a bad sign, as is reciting a canned mission statement of some sort.  Overemphasis of one aspect, such as appearance, may lead to a lack of attention to another, such as temperament.


Do you remove dewclaws from your puppies?

This is very controversial and there’s a great deal of polarization.  Dewclaws, if removed, will be done on all puppies in the litter a few days after birth.  If you have a strong preference that your puppy has his or her dewclaws removed, you need to ask about it up front.  Conversely, if you feel strongly that dewclaws be left on the dog, you need to confirm that it’s standard practice for your breeder. 


What sort of socialization and development do you do for your puppies?

Socialization is a bit of a misnomer, the best explanation of the concept in dogs is in Jean Donaldson’s book Culture Clash.  In essence, socialization is exposure to different experiences and people during the puppies infancy.  For example, having well behaved children and teens play with the puppies, ensuring that people from outside the family visit and handle the puppies.   Exposing puppies to typical household noise, vacuums, pots and pans banging, and the doorbell.  Having puppies walk on different footings, tile, carpet, concrete, wood, rubber, shavings, and grass.  All of these experiences actually change a puppy’s brain, increasing his capacity to learn and feel.

The puppies may be uneasy, then when the experiences are a positive ones, they learn to bounce back from their discomfort.  Socialization teaches the puppies resilience.  In addition, the broad range of experiences shows puppies what it normal, so they don’t react fearfully when they suddenly come across someone smoking a cigarette, wearing a hat, or riding in a wheelchair.

In addition to socialization many breeders do neural development exercises with their very young puppies such as Dr. Carmen Battaglia’s Early Neural Stimulation program.  Puppies need varied environmental stimulation to develop potential just like young children do.

Pretty much any safe experience here is a plus.  Numbers count in socialization, the bigger the better!

Lack of awareness of the benefits of a socialization and development program.  Or the attitude that it isn’t necessary.  Explaining that it isn’t safe due to the risk of exposure to disease.


Where are the puppies raised?

Puppies are very much a product of their environment.  A litter of puppies reared in relative isolation in a barn our outdoor kennel are going to feel most comfortable in a dark quiet area socializing only with close pack members.  A litter raised in a boarding kennel will be secure around the noise of other dogs.  A litter raised in a house will be accustomed to being in the center of a busy family.  Puppies need enough peace and quiet to sleep, and they need enough environmental stimulation to be able to cope with the world around them.

In my house.  Or in a kennel with substantial contact with human and canine family members.

Anywhere that minimizes environmental stimulation.



What goes into your puppy packet?

With your puppy, you get paperwork.

Purchase contract, AKC registration application, (may be withheld until the puppy is spayed or neutered), pedigree, medical history including vaccinations with the manufacturer and lot number, worming and coccidia treatments (if applicable) and negative reactions of any puppy in the litter (if applicable.)  Note that many breeders will vaccinate puppies themselves instead of taking puppies to the vets.  This is an acceptable practice provided the breeder keeps thorough records.  Flea/tick/heartworm treatment records, and a small sample of food.  (Foods need to have phased transition or they may shock a pup’s digestion with very unpleasant results.)

Anything less than the above.


I’d like to meet the dam of the puppies, and I’d like to come to your kennel to pick them up.  Will that be acceptable?

It’s a good idea to meet the dam of puppies to get a feel for her temperament.  (Usually the sire lives elsewhere.)  Going to the kennel allows you to see how the puppies were raised.  Were they underfoot getting a lot of human contact; foundation for our relationship with the puppy?  Or were they kept in an outdoor penned enclosure with minimal stimulation of any sort.

Absolutely.   In fact I’d appreciate it if you’d come by periodically to help me with my puppy socialization.



I want to compete in flyball/dock diving/agility/obedience/herding/canine freestyle/tracking/SAR/therapy dog/ski-jor/canicross/ringsport.  Have you produced dogs that compete in this sport?  If so, please discus their working ability with me.

If you’ve contemplating one or more of these sports for your puppy, please begin the discussion with your breeder.  If you’re strongly committed, it’s important that the breeder will understand what you need from a puppy to be successful.  If you’re merely toying with the idea, it’s still nice to know a bit about your dog’s potential.

An open dialog about the dog’s working temperament from the lines.

No idea about the dog’s working temperament.


How long have you been breeding?  If two or less litters, who is your mentor and what advice did he or she give you planning this breeding?

You want to ensure that the breeder has enough knowledge to base sound decisions upon.    If he or she is new to breeding, you need to confirm that there’s an involved mentor helping plan the breeding.

I’ve been breeding for 5 or more years.   Or I’ve been breeding for less than 5 years.  My mentor ________ has helped me compare pedigrees for health issues as well as helping me to learn about complimentary pairings.  Let me provide you with contact information so that you may contact her.

The breeder has been breeding for less than 5 years, and or produced fewer than 2 litters and no mentor is actively involved.


How many litters have you produced?

You want to be sure that the breeder isn’t violating the BSCA Code of Ethics and engaging in back to back breedings over and over.  The best breeders wait to see how puppies develop and try to learn what a girl is producing; seeing if they can improve on it in subsequent litters.  Breeding a girl every 6 to 9 months really doesn’t allow for this.  Many breeders retire a girl after 3 or 4 litters, though if the girl is healthy, they may continue to breed her for additional litters.

A number that would indicate that the girl is not getting bred every heat cycle and that the breeder is obviously putting thought into breeding as opposed to producing volumes of puppies.

Getting bred every heat cycle and/or producing many litters per year.  Anything that makes you wonder how the breeder keeps track of all the puppies.


At what age do you send the puppies into their new homes?

Puppies need to be reared with other puppies.  They learn bite inhibition, frustration tolerance, how to read facial expressions and body language.  In general, ethical breeders place puppies during their eighth week of age.  However seven weeks is acceptable.

I send puppies to their new homes once they’re 8 weeks old.

Younger than 7 weeks.

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