Our website has a section that talks about the characteristics of a responsible breeder. Things such as informed breeding, demonstrating care for the dogs, thoughtful matching of pup to owner, breeding with show champion lines etc. All of these are important, and future posts will discuss informed breeding and why showing the dogs is important; however, a cornerstone to responsible breeding is the support you receive AFTER you take the pup home. This is one of the hallmarks of a truly responsible breeder, yet it is the one often not considered until you don't have it.
The number of times we are approached by Dane owners seeking advice on their dog and a particular problem or concern is staggering. Our first question is always, "Have you spoken to your breeder?" Too often the reply is that they can't get in touch with them. There are some who 'seem only to contactable when they have puppies advertised for sale, and some who were fly-by-night breeders - only breeding for the short term. Others believe that once you have paid for the pup their involvement is done. These are NOT the actions of a responsible breeder. It demonstrates no care or concern for the pups, let alone the owners and is a contributing factor to dogs ending up in shelters. This is especially so for Great Danes, who whilst they are gentle and lovable, have specific needs for food and training when young.
A breeder should give you an information pack of some kind that lists the raising requirements for your pup, some Dos and Don'ts and other useful information. But it can't end there.
New puppy owners have questions and concerns. A supportive breeder is available. That may mean your breeder can personally come and help with a behaviour you are experiencing, or provide a suggested plan of attack. Being able to phone the breeder and ask a question has the potential to save a visit to the vet for common issues. Not only does an experienced breeder have an in depth knowledge of his particular dogs and what 'works' best for his lines, he also has connections with other breeders, veterinarians and other professionals.
It is our belief that as the breeder of a dog we should be available to support the owners for the life of the dog. If a family cannot keep the dog for whatever reason, the first contact should be the breeder. A responsible breeder will want to help find another home for the dog.
A responsible breeder is supportive of all the dogs he breeds - for life.
So, how do you find out if the breeder is supportive? Guaranteed if you ask, all will say, "Keep in touch", or "Let me know if you have a problem." But HOW do you KNOW he means it? The answer is twofold.
1. Go with your instinct - do you get the feeling that he cares, that he know what he is talking about, that he is passionate about his dogs? Did you feel he was transparent and open in conversations?
2. Research - has he been breeding for a good length of time? Does he show his dogs? (more on the reasoning for this in a future post) Can you be in touch with people who own dogs from the breeder? Is there evidence of 'After Sales Service'?
The partnership between breeder and owner is important. The breeder trusts that the owner will follow his guidelines and the owner trusts that the breeder will offer support when needed. If that happens they can both share in the joy that comes with having a Great Dane in the family.