Last Updated: 12 March 2008
We have a lot of visitors here at Traumhof; a practice we encourage. When you visit a breeder you get a glimpse into the care & training of the dogs, and a chance to observe temperament, conformation, and puppy raising techniques first hand.
We pride ourselves at matching people to the puppy most suitable for their individual situation. Meeting you is our chance to observe your personality type, your way of interacting with dogs, and to better formulate an idea of what you need and hope for in a puppy.
I present my potential puppy families with a good deal of information when they visit. I provide documentation of hip/elbow stamps and titles. I discuss bloodlines, my goals for each breeding, as well as the specific characteristics in each of my dogs, and what they reliably produce in offspring. My dogs live in our home and I am intimately familiar with each one. Except in the case of a first time breeding for a female, I have past progeny here from my dogs.
I also ask people what questions they have for me, what information they want me to give them. This is usually met with surprised or embarrassed silence. I think it is so overwhelming to meet all the dogs, there is so much to see, that folks just forget that they should be interviewing me & asking questions.
But, when you visit a breeder, it is important to ask questions and to take note of details. At Traumhof, we don’t fear what you will find elsewhere, and we invite comparison. Here are some potential things you should ask & look for:
1. Does the breeder own the mother of the litter you are interested in? If so, will you be able to meet her?
a. If the breeder does not own the mother, and the litter is imported or co owned with a friend etc. you must ask yourself some further questions.
i. Does it matter to you how the puppy spent his first 8 weeks before he was imported? Because likely, he had little interaction and socialization.
ii. Does it matter to you that you can’t meet the mother? The apple doesn’t fall far from the tree, as the saying goes. Meeting the mother would give you an idea what the puppy might be like as an adult.
iii. It is even better if the mother has had previous litters, if the breeder can show you any progeny he has kept. If a female has had a couple litters and produces well, most breeders will have kept something back for themselves.
iv. If the breeder owns the mother and you will not be allowed access to her, this should red flag you about her character! Many breeders do not own the sire of a litter. This is normal as we search out the best potential males for each female. Sometimes we travel a great distance to breed to a nice male. If you can’t meet the male, ask about what he had produced thus far.
2. Are there available past progeny to view? If so, you can get an idea what the female, or maybe even the male, produces.
3. Why have these two dogs been bred? What is the goal for this breeding?
4. Where do the dogs live?
a. Is this important to you? Dogs that live in a kennel have a different relationship with their owners. They may be very well cared for, but they can not possibly receive the same attention as dog who lives, eats, sleeps in the home. Often they are not housebroken, and so their pups will have a different concept of cleanliness right from the start. If the dog lives in a kennel, you should ask to see the living quarters and be sure it is safe and clean.
b. If the pups are whelped indoors and then transferred outdoors early on, this also means the pups have a different level of interaction with people, and a different start than the puppy who lives in a home, accustomed to all the sounds of a household. You should ask how much individual time each pup gets daily.
c. There is no excuse for dogs spending all day in crates, crammed in small spaces, without adequate exercise room. There is no excuse for puppies shivering out in the cold when they are too young to be outside.
5. What are the strengths/weaknesses of the lines/the breed in the breeders opinion? What problems are known to occur?
6. How many litters a year does this breeder usually produce? Is he available for follow up help/ support once you buy the puppy?
7. What sort of advice or literature will the breeder provide with the puppy, beyond a health record? Any?
8. If the puppy you are interested in is not carrying the name of the kennel you are visiting… why?? For example, if you purchase one of our puppies, it will carry the name “XYZ” vom Traumhof. If I show you a puppy with papers stating “XYZ” vom Elsewhere, this means I did not breed the litter or that I do not own the mother., or didn’t own her at the time of whelping.
9. If a breeder claims to have Champion lines: You must determine if he means back a couple generations, or maybe the mother and sire have champion parents but themselves are not shown/titled. Ask for specifics.
10. If a breeder claims to have successful show dogs, can you look at show cards or see trophies? Can he substantiate claims of titles/hips etc. on the papers of the sire and dam? (Stamped with hip/elbow ratings and titles noted?)
11. Does the breeder have references from puppy owners? Maybe also from a vet or other professional?
12. How do the dogs behave towards the breeder? Do they know him? Are they happy to see him? Indifferent? Afraid? Obedient?
13. How do the dogs behave towards you?
How to be a good guest
Lastly, when visiting a breeder there are some guidelines you should adhere to. Remember that even the most friendly, social dog does not know you yet or have any reference for how you prefer him to behave. It is never a great idea to stick your face in any dog’s face, or grab at him, as this is a behavior which can be perceived as aggressive. You should also not reach to take a ball from the dog. Some dogs like to play tug, or grab at the ball and you could inadvertently be nipped. Give the breeder a chance to TELL you how and where you can safely play with a particular dog. For example, I have one dog who is a bit over enthusiastic with his ball. He has gleefully and quite accidentally got my fingers in the past. SO, I have trained him that when he wants the ball thrown, he must drop it and back up one step before I will pick it up and toss it. I appreciate when my guests follow this rule.
I have another male who likes to play tug in the house. He does so noisily and with great abandon, scrunching up rugs and knocking over items in his wake. I prefer people Not play tug with him in the house, and I instruct them to ignore his pleas until we are outside. Still, he will try to engage folks when I am not paying attention. So, please ask the breeder what is ok.
I had one visitor who kept offering his sleeved arm to my male’s mouth. The dog is a SchH3 titled dog who is trained to grip a sleeve! Luckily, the dog just looked at the guest like he was crazy. Use common sense when interacting with a dog who is not your own! It is better to let the dogs come to greet you and notice how they choose to interact or not interact.
When planning a visit, you should ask permission if you plan to bring young children. We no longer allow very young kids to visit at Traumhof. We have so many dogs, and it is too easy for a little child to get overwhelmed and start to scream and cry, or to be knocked down by enthusiastic greeters. It is a liability for us as we are not set up to safely accommodate children. Further, it is distracting for the parents as well as for us when we try to discuss bloodlines, care, warranty, contracts etc. and a child is having trouble sitting still, or running loose in another room.
Our dogs are used to visitors, and they accept that children do odd things… but why should we subject them to frequent screaming and fear/crying reactions? This could begin to negatively shape their opinion of kids over time!
At Traumhof, older, well behaved kids are welcome to join you in your search.
Another reason to leave kids home: after you weigh what you have seen, you may decide against a particular breeder. It is very difficult to tell a child who has just held a puppy that you will not be buying that puppy. Better to wait until you have found the right fit and avoid disappointment!
QUESTIONS TO ASK BREEDERS
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