...start looking for upcoming litters or contacting breeders?

I am ideally planning on getting a corgi puppy at the end of next summer, though I realize that the right puppy from a good breeder won't come on my schedule.  I have been reading plenty about what to ask breeders, what they might ask me, and the types of preparations I will have to make in my home before a corgi puppy comes, but I have not been able to find information about how far in advance to start the search. 

Also, it seems that people often reserve puppies before or right after birth.  Is this how all breeders work, or do some breeders keep a queue of potential owners, but let you meet and choose puppies based on personality matches?  I was able to choose my previous dogs in person, but I knew the owners and helped take care of the litters, so I imagine that isn't a standard process.

Thanks for any wisdom.  I'm trying to prepare myself as well as I can to prevent any surprises or hurdles I could have otherwise avoided.

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All the breeders I was in contact with (this is in California) had a wait list before any of their bitches were even pregnant! But I'm sure it all depends on the area and the breeder. It's never a bad idea to start asking around now and found out about waiting lists. If you want a puppy next summer, you'll be looking for puppies born in the late spring, so I'd say between now and January you'd want to contact them. The sooner the better. 

Now. Look, look, look! There are always more options to be discovered. Speak with them all, find out who makes you most comfortable, who has dogs that are in the temperament you want, etc.

You can never be too prepared. Ever.

I started looking for Ace months and months before he was even conceived, because I wanted something very specific (a blue merle Cardigan boy for performance). I finally got what I wanted and that waiting definitely paid off - I reserved him a week after he was born, asked for updates on his growth and temperament weekly, and was very happy to finally welcome him home months later. :-)

Same for my Border Collie! An experienced breeder worth their salt will typically do great matches - puppies can show their future personalities as early as four weeks, which is around the time Lady showed hers. She was very loving, vivacious, playful and submissive - by contrast, one sister was tough as nails, bossy, and an independent thinker. Her other sister was shy, quiet, and very reserved. And all of this evident at just four weeks! So a breeder can easily make a tailored choice to suit your needs, with enough experience. :-)

I think you would be fine starting to ask around now. Many breeders have lists going before the bitch is even bred.

From what I've seen, most good breeders will not decide which pup is going where until about 6-8 weeks. I would be wary of someone who lets you choose your own pup as soon as they are born or close to it. It's pretty difficult to tell what their personalities and structure will be like at that age.

You just never know! So I would start looking for someone that fits your timetable. I got lucky 6 years ago and my Izzy just happened to be a left over puppy...sweetest little girl ever. Sometimes you have to wait and sometimes you don't. Many of the really good breeders will know others that may have a puppy when you are ready.

I knew I wanted to bring my puppy home in May or June, but I started contacting breeders in January to find out if they were planning to have litters in March or April.  I put a deposit down on a puppy in March, just days after the litter was born.  I contacted breeders in about 5 states and checked out airlines and transportation, too, so that I was completely informed.  Turns out our perfect breeder was just 5 or 6 hours away.  I found that breeders took me more seriously if I followed up initial email contact with a phone call.

I live in a less populated area, but I started actively contacting breeders in my area around early February of last year. Kaylee and her siblings were born on January 1. We didn't meet them until late February and decided which one to bring home ourselves based on how the pups reacted to us and what the breeder told us about each of them. At 8 weeks, they definitely had very different personalities that we could notice. We didn't meet all the puppies because some were already reserved, but we were prepared to wait if none of their personalities suited us.

Thank you for all of the responses!  I will start reaching out to breeders this weekend!  So the process begins :)

Should I just mention what I'm looking for, or should I already start selling myself as a worthy owner?

I wouldn't over sell yourself. You are contacting them as a potential owner. Just be honest about your needs, interest and timing required. I would be upfront if you are dead set on a particular color, coat type or sex. If you have specific needs like a payment plan or that you can't bring your puppy home before such and such a date (even if that makes the puppy 12 weeks old not 10) let the breeder know before you and he/she invests too much time into something that won't work out. I bet most will want to meet with you or at least talk on the phone.

Just saw this message, I would contact the breeder *now*, if I were you.  We first contacted our breeder January 2012 and we're just getting our puppy next month, it's taken that long!  So definitely reach out asap.

I actually contacted breeders right after posting this, due to everyone's great advice.  It looks like I may be lucky enough to have three great breeders with planned litters in the time frame I'm looking for! I'm visiting them all this weekend to get a sense of whose dogs I like, and hopefully make more solid plans.  I know plans can go awry, but I'm so excited it looks like things may work out!!

I'd start looking right away as I'd imagine this could take some time. 

Ours was a rescue I found on Craigslist and Corgis are not there all the time either.

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