PERFORMANCE

Where To Find A Sporting Dog Puppy

Featuring Josh Miller | River Stone Kennels

The quality of available puppies is much higher now than ever before. Puppies from field trial or hunt test lineages, as well as those with strong hunting genetics, are easily sourced. The increased popularity is not limited to pointers, flushers, and retrievers. Versatile breeds are gaining in acceptance. But finding the perfect puppy can be challenging, so here are some places to search:

Boutique breeder.

The strongest of breeding programs have always been on the boutique level. Small, properly managed kennels define quality. Small breeding programs take the time to study genetics, and they’ll run through a coefficient of inbreeding programs, along with a dozen or more types of tests to examine hips, elbows, and other potential health trouble spots. When boutique breeders arrive at an appropriate sire and dam, they have fully vetted as many health and performance issues as possible. Breeding isn’t an exact science, but the more a breeder studies the dogs’ genetics and bloodlines, the greater success they will have producing outstanding pups for hunting, trialing, testing, and at home.

Private breeding programs.

Private breeding programs focus on performance in the field or in field trials. Their goal is to find next year’s outstanding hunting dog or field trial winner. Most private breeders have only a few litters per year, and when they’re done selecting their own pups to raise, the rest of the litter is usually for sale. These dogs can represent the highest quality. Hunters, and especially professional guides, breed for their own use, too. Like trialers, they focus on quality, and will keep a pup or two and sell the rest. If the pup’s traits and characteristics are in alignment with your standards, getting on a list for a private breeding program might be the way to go, especially because the dogs are usually of exceptionally high quality.

Large-scale breeder.

Large-scale breeding programs whelp hundreds if not thousands of puppies on an annual basis. Large-scale breeders typically have puppies available at any time of year. Most of these kennels focus on breeding and less—if at all—on training. Breedings from different dams and sires is common from these facilities, and ongoing, and there is never a shortage in terms of choice. If a litter isn’t on the ground, it will be very soon. Large-scale breeders work with lots of customers every day. Customers do get personal attention, but likely not to the same degree as at other venues. Many large-scale breeders offer satisfaction guarantees and will accept any dogs that are returned.

Occasional breeder.

“You have a good dog, I have a good dog, if we breed them we’ll have a great dog.” Sometimes that approach works, but some times it doesn’t. Knowing dam and sire lineages is important, and a thorough research of coefficients of inbreeding is a must. The more homework breeders do the better, but if a dam and sire are arbitrarily paired the results may not be what you hoped for. Sometimes you win, sometimes you lose.

Rescue group.

While sporting dog rescue groups aren’t as common as general dog rescue groups, there are a number of breed-specific groups. Most of the available animals are mature dogs, but occasionally there are litters of puppies. Adopting a rescue puppy for use as a sporting dog comes with both pros and cons. The pros are that you can find a puppy immediately, the puppy might fall within your breed requirements, the cost is nominal if not free, and most vaccinations are covered. The cons are that you likely won’t have papers showing the pup’s genetics, and the breeding is likely accidental and not planned. Puppies may be “drops,” which are the result of two different breeds. While the rescue pup might look like a shorthair, the unplanned pairing might be a shorthair mating with a collie. If you’re looking for a companion pet that occasionally hunts, rescue groups might be the way to go. But if the pup’s background and genetics are of importance to you then consider some of the other options.

Everyone loves puppies. Give some consideration up front to the kind of dog you want, and select the puppy based on those requirements. That way you both will be satisfied every time you head afield.

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