Thank you to Pat Gatenby from Armatan Australian Shepherds for providing the information below. Please take time to read this before committing to buying an Australian Shepherd puppy.
Before you fall in love with the first adorable bundle of fluff you see, take time in your initial phone call to ask questions and also look at their website (where possible) to see what information is given.
You may not find a breeder who fits 100% of your criteria but don't settle for anything less than one or two negative responses. At the end of your list you will find questions to ask yourself. You should answer them honestly and begin your search that is if the Aussie is the right dog for you.
Please take into account that good breeders will have a waiting list.
You are now looking for the additional member to your family that will last for the next 10 years. DO NOT BARGAIN HUNT!!! Prepare to spend £750.00 to £1200.00 and anything in between for a well-bred puppy. You may be aware of someone that has got one from Joe Bloggs down the road. They may have been lucky but why take a chance?
Responsible breeders will do a lot of work researching pedigrees and screening parents to try and avoid health and temperament problems prior to breeding.
Tips For Choosing a Knowledgeable Breeder
1. Look for someone who has been in the breed for more than three years.
2. Select someone who offers information on the problems in the breed, as well as the breed's good points.
3. Select a breeder who asks questions about you, your family, your schedule, and your home, why you want a dog and the type of puppy personality you feel would be most suited to your home.
4. Select someone who knows the pedigrees of the pups, and who can tell you details about their history.
5. Ask if they are members of any Breed or Training clubs. (The correct answer should be "YES")
Tips for Recognising Profit - Focused Breeders
1. They make their living from selling dogs, they usually have a number of breeds but not always.
2. They don't ask you many questions, and they don't want to answer many either.
3. They do not test their dogs for genetic problems i.e.: - HSF4, MDR1, CEA/PRA, Yearly Eye Test, one off Hip and Elbow scores and they will not have restrictions placed on puppies.
4. They will sell to anyone, for any reason.
5. They will not let you see the facility where the dogs are housed.
6. They will not let you see their dogs
Questions to Ask the Breeder
1. Where did you find out about the breeder? Responsible breeders will breed only once or twice a year and will have a waiting list. They usually do not advertise in newspapers and will not advertise on 'free ads' pages but will put puppies on a reputable puppy line.
2. Do both parents have hip clearance from the B.V.A. (British Veterinary Association) Ask if you can see the certificates? "My Vet said that they are ok" Is not good enough.
3. Do both parents has current eye clearances (Certification of Eye Examination) Examined by a specialized vet authorised by the B.V.A. (British Veterinary Association) certification ask if you can see it, this dog has never had any problems is not sufficient. Has the litter been eye tested at 7 weeks? Also, breeders are now testing for CEA/PRA so ask to see the certificates of clearances.
4. Are both parents at least two years old?
5. How often is the dam bred? Use your common sense if the bitch is just 5 and has already had 3 litters then this is too much
6. Do all four grandparents, siblings of the parents and any other puppies that they have produced have all the above clearances (number 3)? A responsible breeder will be able to discuss any problems that they are aware of.
7. Ask if the breeder is willing to provide you with references and telephone numbers of other people who have purchased puppies from them.
8. Will the puppy have limited registration with mandatory spay / neuter contract for a pet puppy? A breeder who cares enough about the breed to insist on these is likely to be a responsible breeder.
9. On what basis was the sire chosen? If the answer is "because he lives right down the road" or "because we were owed a stud" it may be that sufficient thought was not put into the breeding.
10. Will the breeder take the dog back at any time for any reason, if you cannot keep it? This is the hallmark of a responsible breeder and should be part of the contract.
11. Is there a written guarantee against congenital health or temperament problems, promising another puppy or your money back? Ask your breeder to see a prior copy of their contract as all reputable breeders should have a legally binding contract that covers both Buyer and Breeder.
12 Is the breeder knowledgeable about the breed? Is (s)he involved in competition with their dogs (herding, obedience, agility, or conformation)?
13 Are the puppy's Sire or Dam available for you to meet? Normally the sire will not be available as he will probably live at other premise’s but you can ask for a photo.
14 Have the puppies been raised in the home and not in a kennel?
15 Is the breeder knowledgeable about raising puppies, critical neonatal periods, and proper socialisation techniques? Puppies that are raised without high exposure to gentle handling, human contact and a wide variety of noises and experiences or removed from their dam or littermates before 7 weeks, may exhibit a wide variety of behavioural problems!
16 Does the breeder provide you with a 4 - 5 generation pedigree, a contract to sign, copies of all clearances and guarantee, health records and material to help you with feeding, training and housebreaking?
17 Have the puppy's temperaments been evaluated and can the breeder guide you to the puppy that will best suite your lifestyle?
18 Do the puppies seem healthy, with no discharge from eyes or nose, no loose stools, no foul smelling ears? Are their coats soft, full and clean? Do they have plenty of energy when awake?
19 Have they been wormed?
20 How old if over eight weeks have they had their first vaccinations?
21 Does the Breeder belong to any Australian Shepherd Club that is registered with the Kennel Club?
22 Does the breeder have a breeder’s licence issued by the local authority (if they have multiple breeding stock)?
23 Do you feel comfortable with the breeder as you are entering into a long-term relationship? Are you under pressure? If so keep looking.
Questions to ask yourself
Are you prepared to: -
1. Take full responsibility for this dog and all its needs for the next 10 - 15 years? This is yours and yours alone responsibility not the kids or another.
2. Invest a large amount of time, money and patience it takes time to train a dog to be a good companion? (This just does not happen by itself)
3. Always keep the dog safe.
4. Make sure the dog gets enough attention and exercise? (Aussies need at least two hours per day every day
5. Live with shedding hair, high activity for the next 10 - 15 years
6. Spend the money it takes to provide proper veterinary care, care is not limited to vaccines, spaying or neutering and annual boosters.
7. Become educated about the proper care of the breed, correct training methods and how to groom.
8. Keep the breeder informed and up to date on the dog’s progress
9. Take your questions to the breeder or any other problems before it becomes out of hand.
10. Have patience to accept and enjoy the trials and tribulations of puppy hood; this can last up to 5 years.
11. Continue to accept responsibility for the dog despite inevitable life changes - such as new babies, kids going to school, moving home, returning to work the list is endless.
12 Resist impulse buying; instead have patience to make a responsible decision?
13 Take into consideration all aspects of caring for a puppy as he will not always be that little bundle of fluff that you see at first. He will grow into a fully developed dog and things that are cute when a puppy are not so cute as an adult but you are the person responsible. You can have a well-trained dog, or a lunatic and who is to blame?? (You) !!! :-)
ASCUK is the foundation Australian Shepherd Club in the UK and was formed in 1986 by a few dedicated breed enthusiasts.
If you would like to become a member, please fill in the contact form on the Membership page on the 'About ASCUK' tab.