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Cocker breeder advice wanted

(19 Posts)
LadyGooGoo Wed 21-Dec-16 10:03:20

I'm really hoping someone here will be able to advise me. We've finally got to a stage where out children are of an age to understand how to care for a dog and so are looking into getting a Cocker Spaniel puppy. I used to have them as a child and believe one would fit well in our family.

I know to avoid Pets4Homes and other free selling sites but I am seriously confused how to tell if a breeder is genuine or if they are secret puppy farmers.

For example, I've been looking on the site ChampDogs.co.uk bit there's hundreds of breeders. Is this a reputable site? They all seem to be KC registered and many have up to date health checks but there's a variety of breeders out there. Some seem to be selling litters from family dogs (http://www.champdogs.co.uk/breeder/25344)

But others seem to have had multiple litters (http://www.champdogs.co.uk/breeder/14258). Is this something I should watch out for or is it a sign that they are professional breeders not puppy farmers?

I'm so sorry for my naivety about this, I'm at the absolute beginning of researching this and I want to do it right but need a few tips. If anyone knows a breeder in the North Wales area they'd recommend that would also be useful!

I'm not in a rush to get a dog, I want to be confident that the dog is healthy and no bitches are being hidden away and used as breeding machines.

Thank you so much.

LadyGooGoo Wed 21-Dec-16 10:48:36

Continuing with my research....
www.thecockerspanielclub.co.uk/breedclubs.htm

Are breeders registered with breed clubs reputable or am i now only looking at Cruft winning dogs when all I want is a family pet?

Argh! This is so hard!

Shedoesntgetthatfromme Wed 21-Dec-16 10:52:30

Watching with interest as we are also looking for a reputable cocker breeder. It's also made more complicated by the working strain versus show strain issue - we want working type but it seems hard to tell with certainty which type of puppy they are beeeding, is there some way to tell...?

LadyGooGoo Wed 21-Dec-16 10:55:11

Ooh, thanks for replying. I have to say I don't know that either! You can see the difference in photos but not just from the names as far as I can see.

DragonitesRule Wed 21-Dec-16 10:55:19

I'd be going through the Kennel Club if you are determined on breed and would want to be seeing evidence of all health checks, dog and bitch.

Coastalcommand Wed 21-Dec-16 10:59:28

Go through the kennel club directly. Then look at their approved breeder list. Go to the breeders home, have a good look around, make sure you see mum (and dad if they have him).
You want somewhere that is clearly the persons own home, and a female dog who is clearly their pet. It shouldn't feel like any kind of business. Be wary of outbuildings Barnes or anywhere where there could be more dogs. But really you will get a feel for them.
Cocker spaniels aren't cheap dogs, but neither are they crazily expensive. I haven't bought one for a good 10 years but I'd expect to pay between 600 and £900.

Whitney168 Wed 21-Dec-16 11:28:32

I would actually be more inclined to go through Champdogs than through the Kennel Club - they are one of the few (the only?) sites that insist on health testing and evidence of results. The KC don't make it so easy to see, and the Accredited Breeder scheme is no guarantee at all of quality.

I wouldn't have a problem with either of those breeders necessarily, although the higher volume one does seem to have had a LOT of litters - however, they are health testing and their dogs are shown so should have reasonable temperaments.

With all breeders, the best thing to do is to go when there are NO puppies available, or certainly not ready, and don't take children with you on a first visit (a good breeder will want to meet all the family before selling you a puppy though). Find a breeder you are happy with, then wait for a puppy - it is far easier to walk away at this stage if there is the slightest thing you are not comfortable with than when there are cute puppies in front of you.

Make no mistake, it's a faff doing it that way, compared to visiting a litter and buying on the day - but you are looking at a family member for 15 years or go, God willing, it's worth getting it right. If the breeders you look at aren't happy for you to visit other than to buy, that's one certain sign to walk away.

Working re. show strains are fairly obvious from photos (and if you see pedigrees with FT Ch. in), although some of the more 'pet' breeders may well be mixing them. Again, take the time to work out which it is you want - they are very different for energy levels and to some degree for grooming requirements, the looks are perhaps the least important bit.

Pogmella Wed 21-Dec-16 11:57:48

I'd be wary of dogs available in South Wales, there just seem to be so many puppy farms there and so many gumtree dogs coming from that locale. Obviously there will be reputable breeders too, but just to be aware of.

Pineappletastic Wed 21-Dec-16 12:34:24

We've got a working cocker bitch (family pet) we hope to breed from (she's got a decent pedigree and is a delight) it's a minefield but if the breeder will tell you the details of the dam and sire you can look them up of the kennel club website and check inbreeding coefficients, health records, and such for yourself.

The assured breeder scheme is good but costs are prohibitive for someone who just wants to make nice healthy puppies from their family pet (and 'proper breeders' often frown upon just having one or two litters like that) but I'd rather my puppy be reared in the home with kids and cats than in a shed with three other litters on the go, I'm not saying all big volume breeders are bad, but it's just not what I'm looking for.

Unfortunately smaller breeders do often use what I'd consider less reputable websites due to cost, and separating the one that know what they are doing from ones that don't is hard.

Luckily working strains are pretty hardy usually due to not being bred for looks, so as long as they parents have had the right genetic tests (you're looking for PRA and FN clear), and their yearly eye test, and the puppies aren't too inbred, you should be fine.

Hoppinggreen Wed 21-Dec-16 12:36:54

Be aware that the puppy farmers are getting smarter.
We saw our pup with his mum, in a domestic setting ( in Yorkshire) asked all the right questions, KC reg, health checks done etc etc.
Turns out he came from a puppy farm in Wales

toboldlygo Wed 21-Dec-16 12:41:45

If you're after a show type I would be happy to PM you a personal recommendation - I handle a cocker for a family member, his breeder is fantastic, all health tests etc. and I've met extended family at shows. East Midlands area.

Champdogs and KC Accredited Breeder scheme are both decent starting points, some good advice also from Whitney. As for telling them apart online, show types will typically have some 'Sh Ch' popping up in their pedigrees, working types 'FT Ch'.

Wolfiefan Wed 21-Dec-16 12:42:52

Is there a breed club? That's how we found our breeder. (Different breed)
We went to shows. Talked to breeders. Made contacts. Asked questions.
I wouldn't rely on K Club or champdogs TBH. I would go by word of mouth. And I would expect a home check and questions to be asked about you as owners.

Scandicat Wed 21-Dec-16 12:48:01

We got our working cocker through Champdogs. I did start with the kennel club list, but they aren't required to be health checked, as I think someone else mentioned. I got quite a long way through a conversation with a KC breeder before realising she "didn't believe in health checks". I also didn't know much about the process and found it tricky, but I did know that a puppy from parents with clear health screening was essential for me.

TrionicLettuce Wed 21-Dec-16 12:48:38

Are breeders registered with breed clubs reputable or am i now only looking at Cruft winning dogs when all I want is a family pet?

The vast majority of show dogs, even those who make it to Crufts, are primarily family pets and a fair proportion of show bred puppies never set foot in a show ring. You don't need to avoid breeders who show to a high level because you're not interested in doing it yourself. My three whippets have got numerous champions in the pedigrees, including a Crufts Best in Show winner, and they're absolutely fabulous pets grin

I see a breeder showing as a positive thing (even if I'm not looking for a show dog) for two main reasons. One is that it shows at least some desire to have their dogs independently evaluated, rather than breeding from them just because the think they're lovely. The other is that shows, especially larger ones, are actually a pretty good test of temperament. The dogs need to be happy being examined up close by complete strangers, they need to be happy around large numbers of people, lots of other dogs (of all shapes and sizes), loudspeakers, sudden bursts of applause, flappy marquees, all sorts. Particularly in my breed where there can be a tendency towards timidity if not enough concern is given to temperament I find it a very good sign if both parents are successful show dogs.

Of course showing isn't a guarantee of a good breeder but I would always expect any good breeder to be having their dogs independently evaluated in some way or other. Whether it's through showing, working, dog sports, PaT qualifications, etc.

I agree with getting in touch with your regional breed club, they should be able to help put you in touch with decent breeders who are planning litters. I'm with Whitney that it's better to find a breeder rather than look for a litter already on the ground. Champdogs have a good little guide to buying a puppy and their list of questions to ask a breeder is also well reading and keeping in mind.

With regards to health testing both parents should have a current BVA eye test (repeated annually) and a current BVA gonioscopy (repeated every three years). In an ideal world they'd have both been hip scored with results lower than the breed average as well but it seems very few breeders hip score in cockers. Both should have had DNA tests for (or be clear by parentage of) adult onset neuropathy, exercise induced collapse, macrothrombocytopenia, familial nephropathy and prcd-PRA.

Whilst I can understand the argument against hip scoring if dysplasia isn't a major issue within the breed as the test usually involves the dog having a GA, I absolutely would not compromise on either of the eye tests or the DNA tests.

I'd also look for a breeder who is paying attention to the inbreeding coefficients of their matings. Closed gene pools inevitably lead to a reduction in genetic diversity and breeders should be doing everything they can to preserve what genetic diversity there as much as possible. This is a really good article about COIs and why they're so important.

You can use the Lennel Club Mate Select tool to find out health test results for individual dogs and also check the COIs of a specific dog or mating.

TrionicLettuce Wed 21-Dec-16 12:49:27

*Kennel Club obviously, not "Lennel Club" blush

toboldlygo Wed 21-Dec-16 13:04:19

Also echoing Trionic on this one - ours was bought as a family pet, the breeder retained a dog from the same litter for the show ring, and typically has 1-2 litters a year for this reason. For us being able to see his family in the ring first meant we had a very good idea of the size, appearance, temperament and health of the puppy we were bringing home. (I say health not because show judges have x-ray eyes but because all of the relevant tests are a matter of public record, via MyKC).

Our 'pet' dog qualified for Crufts as a puppy, having shown him almost on a whim. He still bog snorkels, attempts to catch pheasants and lives a normal family life in between.

The same applies for a working type, I'd want to know why the litter was being produced (are they retaining a dog for working or are they intended as pets?) and some guarantee of the temperament and ability of the parents by seeing them out and about, as well as their health tests.

Whitney168 Wed 21-Dec-16 14:34:26

Trionic I love your posts, you talk good sense!

Further to Trionic's comment around independent evaluation - another counter to the argument that pet folk don't want/need to buy from 'show breeders' is that by buying from someone who breeds to keep something to show, at least you have a better than average chance that the breed you have chosen for its size, temperament, exercise requirements, coat type and care, will be what you actually buy.

Many dogs bought from pet breeders might (or might not!) have fabulous temperaments, might be reared in the family home, well socialised - but that should be standard, not a selling point*.

I want that - plus I want the dog to look and behave like the breed I've chosen, not be twice the size, three times as hairy, and have every second person in the park asking what crossbreed it is LOL.

I want the pup to have been reared on appropriate food, that won't cause joint problems later through growing too fast. I want the lifetime back-up from a breeder that you know you can pick up the phone and ask if you have issues or questions.

(* See also adverts for puppies that have been treated for fleas - if I had a litter with fleas, I'd be mortified, not advertising it!)

QueenyLaverne Wed 21-Dec-16 22:30:04

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

QueenyLaverne Wed 21-Dec-16 22:34:37

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

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