Pick the right breeder for your new dog

This week’s programs are about finding the right bird dog. It’s a big investment, so you want to do it right.

Monday I talked about making a list of what you want a dog to do. Yesterday’s show dealt with picking the breed that will fit that list. Now that you have a breed in mind, it’s time to find a reputable breeder. Your best ally in this is other hunters who already have dogs. Find these people and spend some time with them. They’ll tell you where they got their dogs, what problems they had to work through and how helpful the breeder was through the whole process.

Listen carefully to what they say. And if you’re at their house or somewhere else where they have their dog with them, watch the dog, too.

If you want to stretch your search out farther from home, you might have to settle for talking to other owners over the phone. Most good breeders’ll willingly supply you with a list of references. These people are other hunters like you who have bought pups from the breeder. A sign of a breeder who really cares about the dogs he raises will give you a list, then when you talk to him again, he’ll ask who you called and what they said about their dogs.

You might also get guarantees from a breeder. If the dog doesn’t work out for some reason, as long as it’s a problem with the dog, and not with you, the breeder should take the dog back. There are even breeders who guarantee the dog’s health. That’s a good sign. If they have enough faith in their animals to offer you a full or partial refund if the dog turns out to have genetic problems, it means they’ve paid attention to the bloodline and have done everything they could to keep inheritable problems out of their dogs.

Talk to several breeders before you put down your money. And be aware that you might not get your dog this year. Good breeders often have waiting lists, and your name might not come up until next spring. Don’t be discouraged. Good things come to those who wait. Besides, it’ll give you more time to come up with the money you need.