CHOOSING A BREEDER
So you have decided that an Old English Sheepdog is the right breed for you. You are ready to provide a warm and loving home for a puppy. Now on to the biggest question, “Where do I find the right puppy”?
Let’s start by examining where not to go.
You've likely heard of puppy mills -- places where dogs are neglected, possibly abused, and where bitches are bred with no concern for their or their pups' welfare. Puppy mills are not defined by the numbers and variety of breeds kept, but rather by the breeder's attitudes: a puppy mill can have over 100 dogs of consisting of different breeds, or only one or two dogs representing one breed. If you arrive at a kennel and find it to be a puppy mill, leave immediately. There are many stories of people who bought a puppy because they couldn't bear to leave it in such a horrible place, only to lose a sickly dog after massive vet bills and a lot of grief. The more pups these puppy mills sell, the more they will continue to produce. Only informed consumers who refuse to buy from these people, have the power to put them out of business.
Purchasing a puppy from a pet store is another bad idea. These puppies are usually from puppy mills.
Often puppies are advertised by individuals or families who have bred their family pet. While these people may love their pet very much, they are unlikely to have considered the long-term health of your prospective puppy in their decision
HOW TO RECOGNIZE A REPUTABLE BREEDER
Anyone selling purebred dogs in Canada must abide by the Animal Pedigree Act and the bylaws of the Canadian Kennel Club (CKC), which state that all dogs represented as purebred must be registered or registerable with the CKC, registration papers must be included in the purchase price, and dogs must be identified (either by tattoo or microchip) before leaving the breeder's premises. You would usually be shown a copy of the pup's litter registration certificate at the time of sale; his individual registration certificate must be sent to you within six months. So, remember: any breeder advertising "unregistered purebreds" or charging a higher price for registered pups than for their unregistered litter mates is breaking the law.
Health Clearances: All Old English Sheepdogs used for breeding should possess at least the following minimum clearances:
Hip Dysplasia: A potentially crippling deformity of the hip joint. Dogs may be certified by the Ontario Veterinary College (OVC) at 18 months of age, or by the Orthopedic Foundation for Animals (OFA) at two years. Some breeders are also working with a new method called Penn-Hip. Watch out for breeders who obtain preliminary diagnoses for animals too young to certify, and then breed them. "Prelims" are not certification; a satisfactory result on a youngster does not ensure clearance at 18 or 24 months. If it did, clearances would be available at the earlier ages!
Hereditary Eye Disease: Dogs may be certified clear of hereditary eye disease at any age, following examination by a board certified veterinary ophthalmologist. Certificates are issued by the Canine Eye Registry Foundation (CERF) Dogs used for breeding should be examined yearly.
Ask the breeder to see both parents’ Hip and Eye Cetifications. This is a must! Any breeder who has done the necessary testing will be proud to show you them. Below are examples of what the Certificates look like.
CERF – insert example of CERF certificate
OFA – insert example
OVC – insert example
You can also look up any kennels certifications by either their kennel name or the registered name of the dog. Please visit our “Health” page for a list of breeder members dogs certifications. Any dog who has been certified can be found by visiting the following links.
Ontario Veterinary College (OVC) - http://www.ovc.uoguelph.ca/cfmx/hip-elbow/search/
Orthopedic Foundation for Animals (OFA) www.offa.org
Canine Eye Registry Foundation (CERF) http://www.vmdb.org/cerf.html
Showing – Whether you are looking for a show prospect or a family companion, a breeder who shows their dogs before breeding them is taking yet another step to ensure they are breeding only the best examples of the breed. Conformation shows are considered the benchmark for affirming that a dog meets the physical standard for the breed; herding instinct testing & trials, among others, demonstrate that a dog possesses the instincts and work functions that are part of the breed's purpose; agility trials, flyball, etc. show athleticism, skill, dedication, and trainability; and obedience trials show trainability and hard work. There are more, of course, and the list is growing. Participation in these events, and proving dogs prior to breeding them, shows a strong dedication to the breed and high personal standards in breeding.
A good breeder will ask questions about your family, your lifestyle, and the type of life your dog will have. They may use a questionnaire, or a telephone interview. They may insist on meeting you before agreeing to sell you a pup. This can seem intrusive and time consuming, but this person is acting in your best interest. This breeder will give you and your pup lots of support, guidance on training and grooming, and, if the impossible happens and you are unable to keep your pet, welcome him back with open arms. They will encourage your questions, and answer all of them. They will be proud to invite you to meet their dogs. Watch the breeder with their dogs; you should see lots of love and affection.
In conclusion, an ethical breeder should be able to produce verifiable documents about the soundness and health of their dogs, and written guarantees for the offspring. They should also be happy to show you sound and healthy 'parent' dogs. A good breeder will answer all your questions and be as concerned about your pet's welfare as you are.