How to Choose a Breeder

Nov. 1997:

You have already taken the first step in locating your breed of choice by searching the Web and perhaps locating breed books on the Cardigan and on dogs in general.  Now you're ready to contact a breeder.  The following would apply in searching for a pup of most any breed.

    Your next step is to call several breeders, getting names from the current Breeder’s Directory of the Cardigan Welsh Corgi Club of America, the AKC, or from your area all-breed club. This information can also be found on the Internet, by searching on the breed name. There are many homepages from Cardigan breeders, and with each day the number increases.

    Talk to the breeders by phone and have them forward information, pictures, pedigrees to you.   Most reputable breeders have their pups spoken for well in advance, so you should be willing to wait before a pup is available. This gives you a lot of time to communicate with the breeder. Remember, good things are worth waiting for!

    Perhaps the breeder lives too far away to visit. This should not prevent you from deciding to buy a pup from that breeder. Get to know the breeder by phone. (Dog breeders are notorious for having large phone bills!) We certainly don’t mind talking about our dogs. Pups can be successfully shipped. (shipping to be discussed later)

    How long has the breeder been active in the breed? If you have a specific interest in exhibition, or in one of the specific areas of performance, for example, agility or obedience, find out how many dogs in their line have completed titles in that field. Ask for references, but as for references, remember no one gives out a name for a bad reference, so use your head and do your homework. Follow your instincts.

    More importantly, see how the dogs are kept. Are they house dogs? How many dogs are on the property? Cardigans thrive best when they get love and attention, and shall I say, receive the spoiling they so richly deserve. A kennel of 30 dogs will have to work very hard to give each one the individual attention so vital in safeguarding an outgoing quality temperament which we love in our Cardigans. You'll find that most Cardigans are raised in homes similar to your own, and not in kennels.

    Temperament is of utmost importance when considering a companion dog of any breed, and you should take the time to choose a line in which a breeder has pleasing, outgoing, friendly even temperaments. A Cardigan is never shy, but may be a bit reserved with strangers at first, (which is great as watchdogs!) and they are loyal, affectionate, and adaptable. A breeder can ensure this with proven sound temperaments of breeding stock and by providing a well socialized lifestyle of puppies.

    If it is at all possible, visit breeders.  Always arrange for a specific date and time.  Please don't just show up at the front door.  For many of us, raising Cardigans is done right in our homes, and it would be inconsiderate to just show up unnannounced.   Arrange for a visit that is convenient for all and the breeder will be happy to take time to answer your questions and spend a visit with the dogs to get to know you as well.  Come with me now, on such a visit.....

    The blue Dodge mini-van pulled into the driveway, and the front doors popped open.  A young couple got out, the woman opened the back door and two young girls, age four and six, popped out.

    As they approached the bi-level home, their mother addressed the older woman standing at the front door with a grey merled Cardigan. "Hello! Are we too early? We were all so anxious!"

    "Not at all," she answered. "Right on time. Come on in. This is Merlyn, the old man. He’s 13 and can’t hear too well. The others are out back. I’ll let them in, once we get settled. Come on to the kitchen. Coffee’s on."

    After ushering the family into the family kitchen, and introductions having been made, their attention turns to the old dog. The two children stoop down to their knees to pet him.

    The breeder pulls chairs from the kitchen table.   "Here.  Come sit at the table.   Coffee?   Something for the kids?" she asks them.

    "No, no, we're fine.  We'd like to sit with the dogs on the floor if that's all right."

    "Of course.  I'll bring in some more!"

      Walking to the back door, she opens it and announces, "Here they come!"

     Thundering into the room, the Cardigans are excited to meet new friends. The two girls squeal with delight.

    "Who’s this? What’s her name? Oh Mommy, look at that one!"

      The corgis hop up to lick the young faces. One 2 year-old grabs a soft, stuffed lambskin pillow shaped like a gingerbread man. A younger puppy has a tennis ball stuffed in her mouth. The father of the upcoming litter has rolled over, belly-up, for the children to scratch his tummy. Behind the crowd of swaying tails, the older bitch enters the room with a deep-set, "Woo..Woo", protecting her home and master.

      "Ok, girl, come in and visit." the breeder assures the older bitch.  

    This is the scene you should expect to witness. Lovely outgoing temperaments, with friendly tails wagging, eager to meet you. Perhaps one older dog came into the room in such a protective manner. That’s okay too.

    The Cardigan is a protector to home and family, but after letting them know, "All is well, okay, good girl", this family guardian will come in for her love, wagging her tail as if to say, "Don’t forget to pet me!"

     You settle in, playing with the dogs right on the floor while the breeder gets to know you as well.  Remember, she is just as concerned about you having one of her dogs, as you are about getting one of her pups.   

      During the visit, the breeder will ask about your home and yard, fenced in, etc. and discuss the upbringing of this potential puppy.   You, in turn should ask about guarantees and health and training and anything else you need to know.

     Some time has passed, and the breeder has invited you to see the pups.  Don't be surprised if you actually do not pick one out yourself from the entire litter.  Many times I merely present the pup for the waiting buyer.  I take pride in matching that particular pup to the type and needs of the person.  Remember the breeder has gotten to know this litter since birth.  Show pups are sorted for the show home.  Pups have varied individual personalities and are matched with the appropriate home.  A home with two young boys, age 10 and 12, get that pup with some vim and vigor and has the personality of chasing a ball all day.  A softer, more quiet female may go to the home of an older, retired couple.  And so on.  So trust your breeder's instincts.  They want to pair you up with the right pup so you will be happy and the pup will have the right home.  

    When you go to pick the pup to bring home, you should bring with you a small dog crate for easier transport in the car.  Perhaps you may borrow one from the breeder or a friend.   This is a vital necessity in house training and discuss this in detail with your breeder.  (Discussion to follow in subsequent update).  Bring a leash and collar in case you have a long ride and will need to walk the pup.  Always do this on leash!!!  Always have a bottle of water in the car. 

    The breeder will supply the up-to-date medical history and the AKC blue slip, as well as a few days supply of food. If you are not keeping the pup on this food, use it mixed in with the new food to gradually switch the pup over to your food.  Perhaps a towel with the "family scent" may accompamy the pup.  You're all set with your new companion.

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