Picking A Puppy
To make an intelligent choice about what kind
of puppy to buy, a puppy buyer should do plenty of research before
making a decision.
Ask The Breeder For Help
breeders of well-bred gun dogs will ask prospective puppy buyers lots
of personal questions," says Jim Julson, a Small Munsterlander breeder
from Colman, South Dakota. "In most cases, the breeder wants to get
sort of a profile of that person's experiences with gun dogs in
general, hunting with them, training them and maintaining them on a
"The idea is to match individual pups
from the litter with the hunting lifestyle of the buyers so that the
new puppy owner will have a gun dog best suited to his expectations and
needs," Julson feels. "If a breeder spends most of the time making a
sales pitch about his puppies and gives little attention to the buyer's
personal background as a hunter and gun dog owner, the buyer should be
wary," Julson warns.
"Don't believe any puppy seller who says you can't make some general
judgments about a puppy's temperament at seven weeks of age. Anyone who
says that probably hasn't spent enough time watching the pups at play
or personally handling each individual pup," says to John Luttrell, a
Labrador breeder from Clark, South Dakota.
"Sure, you can look at a litter of 10
black Labs as they charge around the yard and chase each other then
decide there is no obvious difference in the temperament of any of
them. But spend several hours watching them eat, play and have mock
fights with one another and the pecking order will appear, along with
some insights about the personality of each individual pup," Luttrell
Reasons For Producing A Litter
"Always ask any breeder why the two parents of the pups for sale were
bred," says Larry Hansen, owner of a British Labrador kennel in Tracy,
Minnesota. "What are the breeder's stated objectives and how will this
pairing of dogs produce some specific pre-conceived results? Is this a
repeat breeding and if so, why? And if there have been other litters
out of this line of dogs, are there references from satisfied puppy
buyers?" Hansen suggests these are all worthwhile questions.
Among the ways to evaluate a pup's personality is to hold the youngster on its back for a minute and see how he reacts.
If references are given, "Do get in
touch in person or at least on the phone to see how the owners of these
dogs feel about their purchases," Hansen adds. "Ask the same pointed
questions asked of the breeder. And be sure to ask how much and what
kind of hunting the referred persons do so you can get a solid sense of
perspective on the pups you're considering."
The Breed's Health History
"Before picking any kind of puppy, make sure the lines of dogs from
which it comes have certified sound genetics with major emphasis on
normal hips and healthy eyes," advises Tom Dokken, a Labrador breeder
from Northfield, Minnesota. "Joint and eye problems plague many breeds
of gun dogs, so every puppy buyer needs to study each breed's genetic
background for a history of chronic hip dysplasia or eye disorders as
well as any other genetic-related problems.
"When buying any gun dog, get a
guarantee in writing from the breeder that your puppy will be free from
any major debilitating genetic disorders and that the pup you have
bought is healthy," Dokken adds. "Take your pup to your vet as soon as
possible for a complete examination for genetic soundness and good