When selecting a pup it’s important to learn as much as possible. Asking the breeder the right questions will increase your odds of buying the right dog. Good luck with your next hunting companion.
Do you train/hunt your dogs?
I prefer that a breeder trains and hunts their own dogs. I feel they have a better idea of how the dog works and what to expect. Breeders that don’t hunt likely have other priorities and produce pups mostly for household pets or trials. In the case that someone else does the training you may want to reach out to the trainer to learn about trainability.
Are you keeping a pup out of the litter?
It’s a good sign if the breeder plans to keep a pup. There’s also a chance the litter is a repeat breeding. Ask how those pups turned out. Learn what traits the breeder wants to see in a dog. For example, pheasant hunters and field trialers may not mind a restless dog that barks a bit, while duck hunters wouldn’t tolerate it.
Can I see the pedigree?
Breeders should know the dog’s pedigree. While bloodlines aren’t everything, they can certainly tilt the odds in your favor of getting a healthy dog.
What other breeders do you recommend?
Breeders usually have a network of people in their industry. Don’t be afraid to call other breeders and ask if they’ve trained any dogs out of the sire or dam. Certain dogs produce steadier pups than others.
Where do most of your pups go?
To family homes, trials, hunting homes or guides? Breeders focus on different attributes depending on their customers. While labs especially go to family homes, the ownership trend will tell you a bit about the pups.
Can I see the dog hunt/work?
If you’d like to see the dog on birds or in training, call ahead and find out if the breeder plans to work the dog soon. You can offer to throw birds as often trainers are short staffed. I’ve had friends luck out and get to hunt behind the sire before making a decision. If nothing else find out if the breeder has any videos of the dog in the field.
Do you have any restrictions on breeding the pup? This may not matter if you don’t plan to breed, but many people don’t know about breeding rights until they’ve already purchased their pup. A breeder can withhold the full registration and many well-known hunting dog breeders do.
It seems like a lot of picking a pup comes down to feel and luck. You’ll likely know within the first ten minutes of talking to a breeder whether they are trying to get anything past you. Call around and get a feel for what’s available before putting down your deposit. I hope these question help you track down a great pup.
Thank you for reading,