What are some questions you should ask a breeder before you take home one of their puppies? What sorts of answers should they give? Is there anything you wish you'd asked your breeder? As a breeder is there something you think prospective corgi owners should always ask? 

 

Let's talk about the discussion you have had with your breeder before you brought home your dog!

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Yeah, I realize that shipping is more common than I thought at the time of writing the blog post. :]  My goal in keeping my blog is to help people make the right decision, so I've edited the blog post (but I can't edit the comment).  In regards to shipping, the blog now says:

Finally, you should avoid your puppy being shipped unless necessary.  Meeting the breeder and seeing the dam and the condition of the home is something first-time buyers should do if at all possible.    

Before Waffle had his hips evaluated, my breeder said she would take Waffle back if I wanted to replace him for a dog without hip dysplasia so I could do agility.  But, I would never do that in a million years.  I don't care if he doesn't work out for agility, he is my soul mate.  He could have IBS and poop on everything all the time and I would find a way to make it work for me.  I will feel the same about my next dog, too, even if he has problems from day 1.  The only way he would have to go is if I couldn't give him the care he needs.  Fortunately your family can take care of Franklin!  My family would be sure Waffle weighed 60 pounds, lol.  He got a bit chubby just being home for Christmas.

Here's the e-mail I used when looking for our first pup.  I've deleted bits (names, places).   I used this to start a dialogue and then moved to other questions on phone and/or in person:

*****************

My name is Beth.  My husband and I are interested in finding a Pembroke Welsh Corgi puppy and found your name on the PWCC website.   We were wondering if you would have any litters available this spring or summer, anytime from June onwards.   We are looking for a female.

First let me tell you a little bit about us.   This will be our first puppy, though both of us had dogs while we were growing up.  We own a home with a yard.  It is not fenced, but we do live across the street from a very large park.   Our only other pet is a female indoor cat, who is 14 years old and very sweet-tempered.  We do not have children.

We researched a lot of breeds and picked the Corgi because we were looking for a small-to-medium sized breed with a big-dog personality, and everything we've read about the Corgi seems to fit what we are looking for.

If you will have a litter available, I also have a few questions for you.   What health certs do the parents have?  Are the parents on premises where we can meet them?  What type of breeding do they have (bred for show, obedience, agility?).   Do you offer health guarantees?

If you will not have any litters, are there any other breeders you would recommend?

Thank you very much for your time.  I look forward to hearing from you.

******************

That first breeder did NOT have any litters but she did let us meet her dogs and spend a good hour or so at her house.  I can't say enough about how helpful she was, and how kind it was for her to spend time with us even though she had no pups planned (and one of hers went BIS at the Nationals over the past few years, and I was SO happy for her because of how helpful she was to us).

 

Anyway, she referred us to another breeder where we got first Jack and then Maddie.  Also wonderful, also very nice and helpful.

 

Here's one thing I will say:  If the breeder is not ready to spend an hour talking to you about her dogs, I would probably be a bit concerned.  It wouldn't rule the breeder out, but I'd want to do some more checking.  I found that it's best to start with e-mail then have them invite you to call at a time when they can talk.  Most have jobs, many are away showing or waiting for a bitch to whelp or helping do evals on a friend's bitch's litter.  They are busy people, but most love to talk dogs and that's why it's important to let them set a convenient time for you.

 

I'm flexible on some of the health certs with Corgis.  I have talked to more than one good breeder of Corgis who is very reputable and hates OFA for hips, for instance.  I've had two different breeders say you can send the same set of films on the same Corgi to OFA and have them come back Fair one time and Poor the next.  Not two different x-rays of the same dog, but the same set.  So if the breeder has been breeding a long time, and especially if that breeder has pups who do well in performance sports, and they use their own evaluations of hips, I'd be ok with that.  BUT they should still be testing, not just ignoring the hips.   There are a lot of Corgis who will never have signs of dysplasia who will be only Fair on hips for OFA, even on an ideal set of films.

 

Vaccines are another thing where I am flexible; different people can read the recommendations and come away with different ideas of the "best" time to vaccinate.  Worming is a must.

 

I think the one area where many otherwise excellent breeders sometimes fall down is on socialization.  It's a lot of work to socialize a litter, and it's critical.  One must balance protecting unvaccinated pups from disease while still getting them socialized.  Good breeders will usually talk about having puppy parties and stuff.  Two things I loved about the breeder we used was that she would load up whole litters of pups into crates and take them to the parking lot of a big store and let kids play with them, and she also made sure she personally handled her pups at times the way a child would (unexpected movements, petting them a little roughly, etc).  

 

Since many breeders don't send pups home until 10 weeks, if they have not begun socializing there is frankly too much lost time and your pup may never be totally steady.

 

I also would not want a breeder who sent pups home before 8 weeks, at the very earliest.  In my opinion 9 or 10 is even better, but there is not one clear-cut answer there.  Six weeks is definitely too young.

 

The breeder should also ask you a ton of questions.  They need to not only make sure your home is a good one, but also know which pup will suit you.  They may try to discourage you from being married to one sex (you will notice my e-mail asked for a female; I ended up with a male!) unless you have a good reason (i.e., I have a female now so I want a male to reduce chance of fighting).  

 

Finally, I have found that most good breeders want to pick the pup for you, or give you maybe two to choose from.  If you just won a national title last year in agility they might let you pick the pup, but they have lived with them for months and they know them well (you might show up on a day when they are tired or cranky).  They know what you are like from talking to you and watching you with their dogs.  And they can probably do a better job matching than you can.  

 

Good luck!

I wanted to add, too, that by the time we were ready to get our puppy, we had probably talked to the breeder a good 3 or 4 times for a total of probably about 3 hours.   She had lots of stories about her dogs over the years.  If the breeder can't tell you about her own dogs, how they are in the house, what their personalities are like, then they don't know enough about them to be breeding them.  They should be able to mention in passing if they've had titles, but IMO they should be shaping the conversation to you and if you want a pet, you are more interested in personality and temperament than titles.  They may sneak the titles into the conversation so you know they have quality dogs (i.e. "One year when we were at the big show at Madison Square Garden, little fluffy was so fascinated by this dog statue in the hotel room....").   But they probably won't spend an hour going over pedigrees.

 

If you are buying a show prospect or top-level performance prospect, they might spend that hour on pedigrees.

Look at the contract they'll require you to sign.  

At a minimum, it will require that, should things go wrong, you will relinquish the dog to no one but themselves without their permission.  They will take the dog back, no questions asked, if necessary.  In no case will you be allowed to give it up to a "shelter".

The more hoops they make you jump through,the better.

Find out where the litter is.  Some outbuilding?  Bad sign.  Should be in the home, with the people.

Many people release pups at 8 weeks.  We didn't get Al until he was 12 weeks.  We didn't get to choose him.  The breeder chose him, personally delivered him, and spent well over an hour observing him in his new home.

Find out how active they are in showing their dogs -- this is an indication of how knowledgeable/serious they are about the breed.  You don't have to ask this; look it up online.

The major questions I asked where can I see the mother and father, and I did, do the parents or grandparents have any genetic disorders? And they did not. Can I see the litter now? And I did, the place she had them was a nice little shed next to the house where she had little rooms for the mothers and toddlars. She had the newborns in a seperate room in the house. There were 3 mothers in all she had two mothers in the shed with seperate rooms with the little puppies running around and playing and she had the little room in the house for one mother who had just giving birth that morning and they were very clean. Non of her dogs were caged they were all free roaming on her farm except when the mothers were feeding. Next question I ask is if for any reason I cannot keep the puppy will you take him back? And she said yes she then went into detail on how she would rather she the puppy back with his blood family than in a kennal at the humane society. Then I asked about her health gaurentee which covered everything and it was a 3 year thing which was good for me! I love the place where I recieved my puppy and she made me feel like if I had any question ever in his life that I could call and to her and that was what had me sold.

Wanted to add to my post that the best place to start is with your local rescue, because they have a list of reputable breeders who are also registered with the AKC and other recognized organizations. I found Charlie's breeder, (Sandy from Sunny Garden Farm - great breeder; there is a group just for corgis from her farm here on mycorgi.com) on the Lakeshore Corgi Rescue's breeders list (Illinois area). 

It's been awhile since ive popped on here, but felt this was an important point to add for anyone selecting breeders for both pems and cardi's.

pls ask if the parents have been tested for degenerative myelopathy, (DM). Do your research about this disease - it affects both types of corgis. you can ask for copies of the DM test results for both parents to ensure your new pup will NOT have a future of DM.

 

 

Hi Patti.  I know your heart is in the right place.   From a scientific perspective, though, the advice you are giving is just not possible.

 

http://www.welshcorgi-news.ch/Gesundheit/DM_eng.html

 

So far, only 9% of Pembrokes tested are DM Clear.  39% are Carriers, and fully 52% are At Risk.

 

Now, I don't think any of us needs to be a geneticist to imagine what would happen to Corgis if all breeders only bred to that 9% that are clear.   Think for a minute what it would mean to eliminate 90% of all dogs from the gene pool in one generation.


Even breeding to just the 39% that are carriers would create a tremendous genetic bottleneck, and goes against all advice that is given by the scientists studying this disease.


This is why my guess is that many breeders will be reluctant to discuss the DM status of their dogs with pet buyers.   

 

Here's what we know:

 

MOST Corgis are either genetically at risk or carriers.   The huge majority of at risk Corgis will NEVER get DM, so something else must be at play and they are still studying the disease to find out what that "something" is.  Other genes?  Lifestyle? Exposure to viruses?  We just don't know.

 

Until we know more about the "something" that triggers disease in At Risk dogs, breeders without DM dogs (meaning sick dogs, not just genetic At Risk) may choose to just wait and see.

 

Those who DO have DM dogs in their lines (again, meaning dogs that came down with DM, not just "At Risk" dogs which are the majority of all Pems as far as we know) will breed more aggressively away from it.  And guess what that means for pet buyers?  It means they might breed a Carrier to a Carrier and end up with (hopefully) some clear pups, some carrier pups, and some at risk pups.

 

And the responsible breeders will then KEEP the clear pups, or maybe the carriers, and place the At RIsk pups in pet homes.


Which is why I would not want to be a breeder trying to talk about DM right now.  The responsible thing to do--- put at risk pups in pet homes and keep the carriers and clears--- is exactly what pet buyers won't want to hear. 

 

And if pet owners demand nothing but clear or carrier pups, they may well be unwittingly responsible for creating a genetic bottleneck and having another disease that is now rare become more prevalent.  Corgis are fairly healthy overall, not prone to heart problems or cancer or seizures or any of a host of genetic problems that plague other breeds.  We don't want to ruin that in the effort to fix something else.

 

So by all means ask about DM, but let the breeder answer and don't demand something that breeders cannot provide.  I imagine if someone had already had a DM dog and could not bear it again and went to a breeder, they might be willing to work with them.


And if a breeder is breeding nothing but DM clear to DM clear at this stage, I'd honestly see that as a huge red flag.

 

Don't believe me?  Then go right to the source:

 

http://www.caninegeneticdiseases.net/DM/testDM.htm

 

"The “A” allele is very common in some breeds. In these breeds, an overly aggressive breeding program to eliminate the dogs testing A/A or A/G might be destructive to the breed as a whole because it would eliminate a large fraction of the high quality dogs that would otherwise contribute desirable qualities to the breed. Nonetheless, DM should be taken seriously. It is a fatal disease with devastating consequences for the dogs and a very unpleasant experience for the owners who care for them. Thus, a realistic approach when considering which dogs to select for breeding would be to consider dogs with the A/A or A/G test result to have a fault, just as a poor top-line or imperfect gait would be considered faults. Dogs that test A/A should be considered to have a worse fault than those that test A/G. Dog breeders could then continue to do what conscientious breeders have always done: make their selections for breeding stock in light of all of the dogs’ good points and all of the dogs’ faults. Using this approach over many generations should substantially reduce the prevalence of DM while continuing to maintain or improve those qualities that have contributed to the various dog breeds.

Summary: We recommend that dog breeders take into consideration the DM test results as they plan their breeding programs; however, they should not over-emphasize this test result. Instead, the test result is one factor among many in a balanced breeding program."

By the way, this refers to Pems.  With Cardis, the tested numbers are smaller but are basically reversed:  only 11% At Risk with 52% clear and 37% Carriers.  

 

If those numbers hold, it is probably possible to never breed a Carrier to an At Risk, or an At Risk to an At Risk, in Cardis and still preserve diversity.

 

That said, with the disease much less common, I don't know how rigorously breeders are testing.  Remember, most At Risk dogs will never get signs of disease.

Beth,

I, too am familiar with Dr. Coates research. Unfortunately. My oldest corgi has both DM and IVDD. It was only when I called my breeder - whom I adore! - to tell her about the diagnosis, did I find out that both of his parents were carriers. This was after a lengthy trip to a University vet school, multiple tests, and quite an expense to discover what was wrong with him. That breeder is now breeding with test results, as seen on her website:

"Based upon the current testing and information available on DM (degenerative mylopathy), and my personal experience with dogs at risk,
I will ONLY be doing breedings that result in N/N (clear) or N/A(carrier).
N/N being clear(2 normal genes), N/A being a carrier, A/A being at risk for symptoms of DM
That means:
An at risk dog (A/A) will ONLY be bred to a clear(N/N)= all will be carriers (N/A)
A carrier (N/A) will only be bred to a clear (N/N) =some will be carriers (N/A), some will be clear (N/N)
Or clear (N/N) to clear (N/N)=all will be clear (N/N)"

 

My dog is only 8 yrs old. I had planned on loving him till well into his teens. I do not have that option now.  My 8 yr old now has a cart, boots to protect his feet from scraping, toys to stimulate his mind - because his body no longer can, soon will have to be "expressed" by me in order to go to the bathroom and has a lost and helpless look to his eyes that was never there before. No pet owner that I am aware of would willingly sign up for this.

You brought up the hip dysplasia issue - why is it less important to test for a genetic disease such as DM that takes the life of a corgi, and not only a painful hip issue as dysplasia?

 

I do appreciate the comments about diversity, but healthy happy dogs should be the priority, IMO.  And I will continue to speak to potential owners about DM - absence of knowledge makes for a less than optimal decision making process. And when my DM dog does finally pass and the grieving is over, you can bet that I'll be asking that breeder for the test. I will not accept an "At risk" dog, because that's exactly what they are - at risk, but I would lovingly welcome a clear or carrier pet into my home.

 


Patti, I am very sorry about your dog.   I have a friend who lost an 8 year old boxer to cancer.  Boxers commonly get cancer, at a young age, and a Boxer is very old at 10 (younger than the age that most of the Corgis who get DM come down with symptoms).  

 

I understand where your feeling is coming from.  However, as you are spreading the word, I want you to consider that, if your demand is NO at-risk puppies, what you are demanding is that 91% of all Corgi breeders breed down to just 9% of dogs in ONE generation.

 

Think about the potential devastation.  What if, say, it turns out that the 9% has much higher risk of cancer?  Or IVDD----which hits much younger and leaves dogs not only functionally impaired, but also in physical pain?  

 

I don't think that's what you want but you might end up with it, so instead of having a basically healthy population of dogs with a tiny percent (low single digits) that end up with a devastating but painless disease that hits usually late in life, you could end up with an unhealthy population of dogs that is riddled with painful health problems that hit early (like we see now in Boxers).

 

One breed of dogs, I forget which, bred aggressively away from a high-incidence genetic disease and ended up with a worse one.  The situation was so bad that they had to import ancestral dogs from Africa or something to clear it.

 

The level of inbreeding that would result from breeding down to 9% in one generation (remember, your criteria is NO at-risk dogs, something no one working on this disease would recommend and in fact Dr. Coates has strongly preached against) would cause such lack of diversity that Corgis would be in danger of any number of problems.

 

Your cure is worse than the problem it's trying to fix.  Again, I know your heart is in the right place and you mean well, but it would devastate the breed. 

 

Breeding to only 9% in one generation.  Think about what you are demanding.  You say happy, healthy dogs should be the priority yet what you want would create the opposite.

Beth,

thank you for your concern about my dm dog.  i initially posted here as a response to "Your discussion with a breeder." It is my opinion that when speaking to a breeder one should ask questions that have been posted here. These posts were posted as an assistance to future corgi owners. My post was "pls ask if the parents have been tested for degenerative myelopathy, (DM). Do your research about this disease..." Just as finding out about temperament, socialization, breeder's shipping policies are important, a dog's health should be as well.  The AKC states "Being educated about the health considerations of your chosen breed can help you to avoid or alleviate future problems." 

 

perhaps a separate are should be set up for those who want to debate breeding policies.

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