Buying a Puppy
First and foremost, you want to make sure that the Leonberger is the right breed for you! Let's assume you did a lot of homework about different breeds and you have decided that the Leonberger is the breed for you. Now you are looking for a puppy - actually you are looking for the right breeder. Your breeder should be a resource you can turn to for advice and with whom you can share the happiness and milestones that you and your puppy will reach together.ALWAYS KEEP IN MIND THAT SHOW DOGS DO NOT PROVE QUALITY! Any dog, given enough time and money, can gain a title. The title stipulates only that the dog has acquired enough points to become a Champion--it does not indicate that health checks have been completed or that it even meets the Standard. Do your homework--do not be impressed with the words Champion either here in Ireland or abroad. Buyer Beware!
Most Leonberger breeders are hobby breeders, i.e. they have the occasional litter and invest serious time, energy and thought into producing a litter and are very responsible. Others simply see breeding a litter as a way of making money. When a hobby breeder becomes a commercial breeder (frequent litters), they step over a dangerous line and too many litters bred in a kennel diminishes the quality time spent raising the puppies and creates issues into the future with a restricted genepool. But, how does one recognise the serious, dedicated hobby breeder?
(“Buying from a Reputable Breeder” by Linda Ward).
- Does the breeder volunteer any history of medical problems or is the entire time devoted to show wins? You must make a decision based on conversations with a voice on the phone. Most of us are positive people wanting to believe what is told us. We also believe in the myth of the perfect dog. We all want to own one and are all too willing to think we are getting one. Gullible or naive does not however need to equate to stupid. Breeders who present themselves as trouble free are doing the breed a disservice. A misrepresented pet cause untold heartache and medical expense for its family.
- In a perfect world our dogs would not be the source of anyone's second income but would only be bred cautiously for ourselves and a very select few. Unfortunately today there are some among us who exploit these innocent babies without regard for the best interest of the breed going forward.
- Anyone buying a dog not only needs to ask questions but also needs to make clear what they want from the breeder. If you want a guarantee of some sort ask for one. Ask the questions that matter to you. Make a list of priorities.
Features of a good Breeder
- A good breeder will show you health test results and certs of their dogs and will explain them in detail to you. Health tests for Leo’s include Hip and Elbow X-rays, Eye Tests and LPN1 test. Accept no excuses for these certificates not being shown to you. It is not a privacy breach for you to view these!!!!!!!
- Expect the Spanish Inquisition from the breeder. If the breeder is asking more questions about you and your environment and family than you are of their dogs and the pups, then it is likely that they are a conscientious and reputable breeder.
- The puppies should be living around the heels of humans.
- The breeder should not allow you to take the puppy before it is 8 weeks old. This improves the pup's socialisation (it learns a lot between 6-8 weeks from its siblings and mother) that help it make sense of their world.
- Good breeders pick puppies out for you rather than allowing a buyer to choose their own pup. There's a good reason for this. The breeder should be concerned with matching a pup with your home and family and who knows the pups better than the breeder.
- Expect a lifetime guarantee. Good breeders stand behind the quality of their pups and insist on taking the dog back if it ever must be given up (another reason we don't see good breeders' dogs in rescue and should be written into the contract of sale) for whatever reason -- for the entire life of the dog. This can be a little misleading, though, as some disreputable breeders still offer guarantees, knowing full well that you're unlikely to return a dog after you've become attached to it emotionally.
- Be wary of those that advertise -- particularly in national magazines or newspapers or on unsuitable on line forums. Inappropriate on line selling (puppy finder sites) puts Leos right up there with all the puppy farmers that are selling on line too and this is a poor reflection on the breed. Good breeders don't need to advertise generally (word of mouth is enough for them). Many have long waiting lists of future puppy buyers. If they are advertising in national magazines/newspapers or on inappropriate on line sites, they are probably producing far too many puppies. Most great breeders only breed occasionally and make sure they do it right. Quantity and quality are oftentimes inversely related when it comes to puppies.
- Use your best judgment and take your time. This is a living being that you will be spending the next decade or more with and you should be careful in your decisions. This is not an item that you can just toss away if it doesn't work out or trade in for a better model. Do your research and learn as much as you can about any individual breeder before purchasing a puppy from them. You'll reap the rewards in the end.
- And finally, some breeders will suggest or require that you enter into the purchase ‘on breeding terms’. I would advise to NEVER accept breeder’s terms. Your puppy should be just that. Breeder’s terms usually mean you are tied down to a contract giving the breeder your Leo for litters. Nearly if not all financial gain goes to the breeder
A word on Websites
Typically, there are two kinds of websites developed by breeders of purebred dogs: Those created to showcase the breeder's kennel and accomplishments, and those created to sell puppies. The former type of site belongs to the responsible breeder. The irresponsible breeder creates the latter. Irresponsible breeder’s primary interest is not to share information about their dogs, but to sell their puppies. For them, a web site is just another way to advertise a litter, not unlike a classified ad.
While browsing the site does the breeder mention showing or other activities with their dogs? Are there show photos of the dogs winning various prizes? If not, are there photos of the dogs doing other activities? Do the activities the breeder participates in with their dogs seem to be of primary importance on the site? If not, what is the primary focus of the site? Ethical breeders, without exception, participate in some type of activity in order to prove their dogs worthy of breeding. If the primary focus of the site is puppies, you are in the wrong place.
Also be mindful of how often puppies/litters are mention on the home page/news page of breeders’ websites. Are social networking platforms also used to promote puppies? If it discusses latest litter information multiple times within the first several pieces of text, you are dealing with an commercial breeder. Certainly, responsible breeders will mention their litters; however they will not be the central issue.
You may also want to take note of how many males there are in the kennel compared to females, and how many litters these males have sired. Unethical breeders very often have one to three males and a "harem" of females, as it is very easy to use one male to impregnate several females. Very often, one male will be the sire of two or more "upcoming", or already-whelped, litters. This is a sign that the "breeder" is paying no attention to how the male will genetically complement their females, but is only concerned with how many puppies they can produce and sell.
Also beware of sites who boast about the fact that their breeding dogs are "our beloved pets" or that their puppies are "raised underfoot", as if these things were major 'selling points'. These things are a given with an ethical dog breeder. For a responsible breeder, however, Leo’s are pets first and foremost, but they are also companion dogs, therapy dogs, water-work dogs, carting dogs and show dogs. They do more than simply hang around the house and have a litter every year; they are a MAJOR part of our lives.
So, to sum it up:
Irresponsible breeders create websites to sell their puppies.
Responsible breeders create websites to celebrate their devotion!
Information adopted from Leonberger Club of America and reputable on line sites offering advice on purchasing a puppy.