Before You Buy Your Puppy:

Deposits - When should you put a deposit down on a puppy?

This is a thing we hear so many times and is a very popular topic on many a forum: A person has put a deposit on a puppy and now the breeder will not give it back.

Some new puppy buyers have been asked to put a deposit down on a puppy that is not even born yet sometimes months even before the litter is planned and ready to go. So much can happen or change in this time. The mating may not have taken and the bitch is not pregnant, or the pups may have an issue and die in the first days following birth

.Some breeders will demand a deposit put down on a puppy before the litter has even been consumated (ie the mating done) or before the pups are even born. Many of these same breeders will say the refund is "NOT REFUNDABLE". PLEASE CHECK WITH YOUR CONSUMER AFFAIRS IN YOUR STATE AND THE STATE THE BREEDER RESIDES IF THIS IS EVEN LEGAL. This is important as you may not be getting your money back if your circumstances change or something happens to that litter. The breeder may then state in these cases that your "Deposit is transferred to another litter".

A good ethical breeder will be happy to talk to you about their lines, the breed and what you need to know to own and keep a border collie. This does take time on the breeder, however this should be part of the service and screening done to make sure the pup will be well looked after and the puppy buyer knows what is to be expected when they take on a border collie.

I personally will not take a deposit until the pups are at least two weeks old when the eyes and ears are open. I want to make sure they can see and hear first. So much can happen in those first two weeks. I have lost pups in the first days following birth. The pup may have a blue eye (a breed fault) which means it cannot be used in a breeding program and therefore will be a pet only.

Before placing a deposit on a puppy, please consider carefully if you are comfortable with the breeder, their rules and stipulations and whether you are comfortable to talk to them if something should arise in the future where you may need their help or are unable to go though with the sale.

Some Tips and Questions to Ask

When you buy a puppy, you are adding another member to your family, not just another piece of furniture that can be disposed of at the smallest whim or when it does not go to plan. You would not have a child without careful research and planning for the child's future ten or fifteen years down the road. Your new dog should be no different. Adding a dog to the family is a long term commitment and responsibility that should be taken seriously and only acted upon after careful consideration and research.

Before you buy your puppy, you need to ask yourself "is this breed suitable for me and my family?" Too often, many people when starting for their new family member base their decision on a dogs markings or popularity and rush into getting a puppy even at the pressure of their children only to regret it later when they realise the breed or the temperament of the animal is not suited to their lifestyle.

There is no "classical" border collie. Sure, some have a pretty white stripe up their forehead, a big white collar with white feet and legs and a white tip to their tail. However markings are only fur deep and many border collies have a solid colour leg or not a full white collar.

When choosing a border collie, you have to look past physical markings to the temperament of the dog and whether that individual dog will suit your lifestyle. Sometimes you may need to wait for your perfect new family member. AFTER ALL, YOU WILL BE LIVING WITH THIS DOG FOR THE NEXT 14-16 YEARS.

Here are some things to consider before you buy your next puppy.

1. Attend Dog Shows and Sporting Competitions:

Attending dog shows and sporting competitions will allow you to see a variety of breeds and dogs performing in their various chosen sports. Not all dogs are alike, and some bloodlines will show certain characteristics in looks, temperament and physical stature. Talk to the exhibitors and breeders. A good time to approach a breeder/exhibitor at a show is after they have been in the ring as they are often very busy grooming and getting ready beforehand.

2. Avoid Impuse Buying:

When you appraoch a breeder, be honest in what you are wanting the puppy for. Eg, family pet, sporting (obedience, agility etc) or possibly show/breeding. You may have to wait a little while for your new family member. Ask to see the parent/s of any prospective litters. It may be difficult to see the sire as he may reside in another city or state. Ask if there are any pups from a current or previous litter from the mother. This will give you a good idea on temperament and style of border collie the breeder is aiming to breed. If the breeder is not local to you, ask if there are any of their puppies in your location and ask if they mind you contacting the owner. A border collie comes in many different colours and markings. Please do not choose a puppy based on markings. A pefectly marked puppy may not be the best choice for your household if its temperament is not suitable. If you are looking at a litter. Take someone with you.

Most good breeders will ask you to come back later with your decision. They will also guide you towards puppies that may suit your lifestyle, based on individual temperaments. Avoid any breeder who tries the hard sell. It may be the worst decision you make.

3. Happy, Healthy Puppies:

Border Collies like many breeds come with their specific health issues. Any puppy sold in Queensland (and many other states) also MUST be micro-chipped prior to sale. This applies to everyone, not just registered breeders. Puppies should also be regularly wormed from 2 weeks of age and vaccinated between 6-8 weeks.

Ensure the breeder of your pup completes the health testing as advised by the Breed Clubs:

  • Collie Eye Anolomy (CEA)
  • Trapped Neutrophil Syndrome (TNS)
  • Ceroid Lipofuscinoses (CL)

With these diseases, they are all recessive disorders. Mating two carrier parents together will create affected offspring. Carriers, however will never get the disorder, only pass on the gene if mated.

Other tests which should be done are:

  • Hip/Elbow X-Raying and scoring
  • Gonioscopy of the eye for Glaucoma & yearly eye tests

Be wary of any breeder who claims to have completed the testing and cannot show proof it has been done.When a breeder does any sort of health testing, a certificate or results from the veterinary establishment is given. Ask to see the originals of any health statistics claimed by the breeder. They should also be willing to provide copies of these with your puppy pack.

Male or Female?

This is often a question asked of breeders. Which is better - Male or Female?
In truth, either is acceptable. What is more important however is what is the temperament like of the individual animal?

One thing often said to me is "females are cleaner as boys have to mark everything". In my experience, I do not think this is necessarily so. I have had females who are not clean and will soil crates and bedding and I have had males who are exceptionally clean. With any puppy, proper early toilet training is a must.

There is no difference in the intelligence, cleanliness or trainability of either sex - each animal is itself and will develop its own characteristics according to its genetic inheritance and its environment. On the whole, males are bigger, with heavier bones and longer coats, and being male, are more dominant and territorial.

Females are usually smaller, lighter and have shorter coats. Neutering any animal will reduce those characteristics related to sex, as dominance in the males, but will not alter the basic animal. ie - If the pup barks a lot, jumps on everyone, and chases cars, he will keep doing these things. Of course, if an animal is to be shown, he or she must not be neutered, and if there is a possibility of breeding, neutering can be put off indefinitely.

What to Look For when looking at your next puppy:

As all young are more like their parents than any others it is sensible to note the bitch - how she relates to her owner and to visitors, how big or small she is, and whether she is the sort of animal the buyer would like to own.

If the pups are quite young, the bitch may be protective and dislike visitors - this is not to say that she is not usually a friendly animal under normal circumstances. The sire of the pups can usually be viewed too if he does not live too far away. Frequently pups are viewed before 8 weeks, the age at which they leave for their new homes, and breeders may request a deposit to ensure the buyer receives a pup.

Most breeders prefer to leave the final indication of which pup will go to which buyer until as late as possible, enabling them to best decide which pup would suit the needs of each buyer. Remember that the pups markings are not anything like as important as such things as general health, suitability for the show ring, activity level, apparent intelligence and the place in the 'pecking' order in the litter.

Its difficult enough to try to assess these attributes when pups are 8 weeks, but by then they show more than they did when younger. Most long time breeders will say that they are still learning!

Temperament qualities can vary as well between different lines and what the breeder chose to base their breeding program on. A dog bred to work stock and has a very high drive may not be suitable for a family pet in suburbia and a quiet show dog may not be suitable to be on the farm working sheep all day.

Main or Limit Register:

You will often see breeders advertising their puppies on either the "Main" or "Limited" register. There are many different reasons why a breeder chooses to place their puppies on these registers.

It is a good idea to be familiar with the terms breeders use when looking at dogs on both the Main and Limited register. Also be familiar with the governing rules for the state or territory where your dog is coming from as these can vary from state to state or territory.

Main Register:
This will allow you to participate in all dog sports including Conformation Showing and Registered Breeding programs. You will receive in Queensland Red/Pink coloured pedigree papers. Your puppy may also be sold to you in what is termed a "Co-ownership" arrangement. In this document, the breeder will set the conditions down for what each party will be responsible for and maybe even the term for which your co-ownership will last for. If you purchase your dog for breeding purposes, you cannot do any breeding practices without the co-owner's signature. If the animal you own is a bitch, then there maybe further conditions on breeding, as the differing state canine control bodies have different rules for breeding bitches.

Limited Register:
This will allow you to participate in all dog sports except conformation showing and breeding. In Queensland, you will receive green pedigree papers stating that the dog is on the "Limited Register". The breeder also requires your signature on a form (Called the Limit Register Agreement) stating that you are aware the dog will be sold to you on the Limited Register.

What happens of I buy a puppy on the limit register and wish to show or breed?
Most Canine Control bodies will allow at least ONE transfer from Limited Register to Main Register and vice versa. If you feel your pet has matured into a good breed example and you wish to show/breed, it is a very good idea to talk to the breeder and if possible have your dog assessed for suitability for this purpose. It is very hard at 8 weeks of age to guage which puppies will develop into good breed examples and which ones will not.

A good breeder would not want you to go out there with a dog that would they themselves would not be happy to campaign in the ring. A good breeder also realises that not all dogs within a litter would be of a suitable grade to be bred and campaigned in the show ring. They also understand that people's interests may change during the course of owning their new pet and they may wish to enter into the pedigree dog sporting arena.

If you develop an interest for the show ring, approach your breeder and maybe join them at some shows and see about handling one of their dogs and determine whether this would be a sport you would like to participate in.

Questions to ask the breeder:

  • Have they completed all the health tests as recommended by the breed clubs?
  • Can they provide copies of the relevant health certificates proving their Health Status?
  • It is now legislation in Queensland, that ALL dogs, puppies, cats and kittens are microchipped prior to them being sold or given away. Has the breeder microchipped your puppy and can they provide the relevant documentation?
  • Has the puppy been vaccinated and if so, when and with what? Can they provide the vaccination certificate?
  • Has the puppy been well socialised with other dogs, people and animals?
  • What are the temperaments of the parents? Do you get to see the parents. Some sires may not be able to be seen as the breeder may have used frozen semen or an interstate dog.
  • Has the puppy been registered with Dogs Queensland, if not, when do they plan on registering the litter?
  • If the breeder is selling a puppy for a specific target audience, Eg Showing or sporting prospects, do they compete there themselves and how can they tell if the puppy will be suitable for that discipline?
  • Do you get to see the whole litter or just "your" puppy. Ask to see the whole litter, even if they are all sold. Observe how they interact with each other, other dogs if present and people.
  • Is the puppy to be sold on the Limit or Main Registration? Are there other conditions which you would need to be aware of? (such as returning the puppy to the breeder for litters?)
  • What is the purpose of breeding this litter? Some breeders only breed when they wish to keep something themselves. Other breeders breed quite a few litters each month/year. If there is nothing available from this litter, when is their next litter.

Lastly, a word of advice:

The breeder should also be knowledgable about the breed and their bloodlines. Ideally, if a breeder is targeting a specific audience, then they themselves should be campaigning their own dogs in that arena, or have competed in that arena previously.

Unfortunately membership to a breed club or the ANKC or state affiliated controlling body does not guarantee ethics or suburb breeding practices. When choosing your breeder, it is wise to do some homework and research.