Before you set your mind on a puppy, there are a few things you should know. Puppies are a serious commitment of time, energy, and money. You need to be fully prepared and aware before taking on a puppy, especially a GSP puppy!
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If this sounds a bit overwhelming (and especially if you work full-time), you may want to consider adopting an adult dog. Since the GSP is such an energetic breed, they are often thought to be much younger than their actual age. They don't "settle down" when they turn 2. Most 10-year-old GSPs act like they are 5.
You've decided you really do want a GSP puppy. You are ready to make a lifetime commitment including daily exercise and tons of training. You'd like to get a puppy through rescue, but there aren't any (we rarely get puppies in rescue, but you are welcome to keep your eye on our available dogs postings). Most GSP puppies are snatched up directly from the shelter, so if you see one be prepared to hop in the car right away. You've checked local shelters but you're too late. Now what?
Where to find a puppy
Please, never ever purchase a puppy from a puppy mill (commercial breeder), pet store, backyard breeder, or over the internet. Instead, we recommend that you work with a reputable breeder. To find a reputable breeder, check the German Shorthaired Pointer Club of America's Breeder Listings and local breed clubs. Do your research, expect to answer lots of questions, and be prepared to get on a waiting list. Educate yourself about the recommended health clearances of the sire and dam (OFA, CERF, Cardiac, Cone Degeneration, Thyroid, LD, DNA). Ask lots of good questions about the health and temperament history of the lines, longevity, the number of litters per year, etc. Quality pups are not cheap, and the purchase price will likely be the least of your expenses. Note: California law does not permit the sale of puppies before 8 weeks of age.
What Makes a "Reputable" Breeder?
A reputable breeder will . . .
- Do health testing. Most parent clubs have certain health tests that they recommend to ensure that breeders are working towards a healthier future for their breed. Most health testing requires that a dog be at least two years of age.
- Not be breeding for money. Any reputable breeder will tell you that they lose money on every litter due to the cost of all health testing, whelping, and raising the puppies and all of the costs that go into showing a dog to prove that it is worthy of being bred.
- Be able to tell you both the good and the bad of the breed. They do not want you to go home with a cute 8-week old puppy only to have you turn around a year later and want to get rid of the 70-pound dog it grew into.
- Usually only breed a litter when they are planning on keeping a puppy from that litter. They are breeding to improve their breeding program - NOT to make money!
- Provide a pedigree for the litter, going back at least three generations.
- Be able to answer questions about the temperament of the parents. "Beauty" is not the only quality a breeder should look for in a litter, but also the temperament that is being passed down through the generations.
- Allow you to come to visit both the dam and the litter. If the breeder does not own the stud dog, it may not be possible to see both parents, but you should be able to see the mother and at least pictures of the stud dog. (Many breeders use a stud dog or semen from another part of the country or import it from outside the country so as not to limit the "local" gene pool).
- Show you where their dogs live. A reputable breeder's dogs will generally live in the house. Walk away from anyone whose dogs live solely in kennels or runs, as this may lead to poor temperament and/or socialization.
- Compete in dog-related events, including conformation dog shows, hunt tests, field trials, agility, obedience, etc. Dog shows in particular are designed to evaluate breeding stock.
- Belong to a dog-related club, particularly the national parent club of their breed.
- Provide references of previous puppy buyers.
- Ask you for references or request a home visit if possible. They want to make sure that their puppies are going to the best home possible with the hope that it will be a life-long home.
- Be available for the lifetime of the puppy, willing to answer any and all questions regarding the care, training, and health of the puppy.
- Require that all puppies be sold on a contract. Non-show quality puppies will be sold on a spay/neuter contract to ensure the future of the breed. They will also be sold on an AKC limited registration which disallows future puppies to be registered with the AKC.
- Take back any dog of their breeding, at any age. A reputable breeder does not want to see any of their dogs end up in a shelter or euthanized for no reason.
- Never sell their puppies through a retail outlet, broker, or over the internet.
Backyard Breeder vs Hobby Breeder
A backyard breeder is not the same as a hobby breeder. A backyard breeder is either looking to make money by breeding dogs simply for the fact that they have "papers" or so their kids can see "the miracle of life." A hobby breeder is in it for the true love of their breed. They are not in it for the money (in many cases, they are losing money on every litter due to all of the costs that go into breeding a litter) and are trying to produce a future generation that will enhance their breed and come as close to perfection as is possible. They will compete in dog sports such as conformation, obedience, agility, tracking, hunt tests, field trials - anything that allows them to spend time and bond with their dogs. This is truly a passion for the hobby breeder. Most people do not have the means to give up their careers and do the "dog thing" full time - that is why they are called hobby breeders.
(adapted with permission from Willow Glen GSPs)