Questions to Ask Breeders
When researching breeders, you will want to purchase from a reputable breeder. However, just because a breeder says they are reputable doesn’t make it so. You will want to ask questions to gain an understanding of what makes the breeder reputable as well as whether the breed you are considering is suitable for your lifestyle. A good breeder will never be offended by your questions.
Unethical breeders thrive on the uninformed puppy buyer. The questions below can serve as a guideline for making informed decisions regarding your purchase of a puppy. Please remember that a good breeder will also ask you many questions to ensure that their puppies go to homes that are good for their puppies. Do not be offended; lots of probing questions will help prevent heartache and ensure you as a puppy buyer find the right puppy.
What made you decide to get into this breed? What are the good and bad points about the breed?
Breeders breed Manchester Terriers for a variety of reasons, and they should be more than happy to tell you why. They should also be willing to tell you the pro and cons of owning their breed. A Manchester Terrier is a unique but true terrier and may not be suitable for all households. Try to spend time researching and talking to breeders before you make a final decision.
How long have you been involved in the breed?
The length of time that a breeder has been involved with the breed is not always an indication of quality breeding practices. Rather, the individual's overall commitment to the betterment of the breed should be considered. A relative newcomer to the breed who shows their dogs, competes in various disciplines and is active in the national or regional clubs, thereby networking with other fanciers, may be a better choice of breeder over someone who merely claims expertise based on length of time involved. Conversely, someone who has been committed to sound breeding practices over many years would certainly be a better choice than a breeder who is uninvolved with a club, does not compete in conformation or other events, and is relatively new to the breed. Interview breeders and ask them questions. Ask for references, and check those references. If you don't get the answers that you are looking for, move on.
Do you show your dogs in conformation or obedience? Do you compete in activities such as agility, earth dog, scent hurdling, etc? Do any of your dogs have temperament titles such as CGN, TT, TD etc? Do the sire and/or dam have championship, obedience or other titles?
Breeders that make the commitment to show their dogs are likely to be more committed to improving the breed. By competing in conformation, their dogs are being measured against the breed standard and are awarded accordingly. Breeders who have working and obedience titles on their dogs have made a significant time investment in training. Breeders who are involved in conformation, obedience and other activities have a better understanding of their individual dog's merits and weaknesses.
What breed related organizations do you participate in? How involved are you?
Often involvement and membership in national or regional breed or similar organizations are a good indicator of a breeder’s commitment to betterment of his/her breed. Ask your breeder about their involvement.
How many litters of puppies do you have per year?
Keep in mind that properly rearing and socializing a litter of puppies takes a great deal of time and effort. Beware of breeders who always have puppies available. Generally speaking, most responsible breeders are breeding 1 or perhaps 2 litters per year. Remember-quality over quantity is what good and responsible breeding is all about. Ideally you want your puppy to be the product of a well bred and well planned litter.
Can you get references from previous puppy buyers and other breeders?
Be sure to talk to other breeders of the breed and contact all references. If the breeder will not give them, go elsewhere.
What do you feed your dogs?
Most breeders are not certified nutritionists, but can make educated recommendations on appropriate feeding regimes. Manchesters typically do poorly on low quality pet foods and it will be apparent in their coat quality. Observe the dam and question what food she is fed.
What sorts of health testing do you do? Do the sire and dam have health certifications from VetGen, OFA and CERF (request to see copies of these certificates) Note that the following is specific to Standard Manchester Terriers; Toy Manchester Terriers should be screened for some additional conditions not mentioned here.
While Manchester Terriers are generally a healthy breed, there are still diseases that can afflict them, and screening is the best way to help prevent perpetuating hereditary diseases. Health testing is not inexpensive and not all good breeders will choose to do all testing. However, ongoing testing and health monitoring is an indication of a conscientious breeder. At minimum, a breeder should have substantiated evidence that their breeding stock is either a carrier or free of vWD (vonWillebrand’s Disease), and how they manage carrier stock.
VetGen (Veterinary Genetic Services) does a variety of tests but the one of interest to a Manchester breeder is the genetic test for vonWillebrand’s Disease (vWD). The disease is genetic and can occur where both sire and dam are affected or carriers. Because the disease is autosomal recessive, both parents must carry the affected gene. A puppy that has only one carrier parent will not develop vWD but may be a carrier...a consideration only if that puppy is to be used in a future breeding. It is not always necessary to test parentage for vWD, as a pedigree that has been determined to be vWD clear by some prior testing cannot produce affected puppies. Hence you may see the term “vWD clear by parentage”. The only way to know if a puppy is “clear by parentage” is to see evidence of past tests within the pedigree. Discuss this with your breeder.
OFA (Orthopedic Foundation for Animals) is a registry for certification of conditions including heart and joint problems as well as a registry for a number of other genetic analyses. Although Manchester breeders may test for a variety of conditions, the primary test will be for heart murmur. It is not known whether murmur is hereditary or congenital, but many breeders want to track conditions in their breeding stock. For example a level 1 heart murmur that does not progress is not much of a concern. However, a level 1 that progresses to level 4 in a relatively short period of time may be cause for concern and further investigation would need to be done. Because so little is known about heart conditions, a good breeder may not be able to prevent these conditions but at least will be making an effort to contribute to research that will eventually determine cause. Dogs are not eligible to obtain an OFA - Heart certification until 12 months of age.
CERF (Canine Eye Registration Foundation) checks for inheritable diseases and abnormalities of the eye. Manchesters typically do not suffer from many eye diseases. However, periodic testing is the best way to keep it that way. Check to see if the sire and dam of the litter have been given clearance by the Canine Eye Registration Foundation.
How would you describe the temperament of the sire and dam?
Temperaments vary widely in Manchester Terriers. It is wise to meet the dam of the litter and if possible, the sire. Spend time observing her behaviour. Adult Manchesters are typically wary of strangers, and may keep their distance until they determine it is safe to do otherwise. Not all Manchesters are this way but if you are looking for a companion with a friendly outgoing demeanour, a Manchester may not be the right breed for you. (see Is a Manchester Terrier the Right Breed for You?)
A Manchester should never be aggressive. However, they can be protective of their space, and may challenge another dog entering uninvited.
Ask the how the dam (and sire) react to strangers and other dogs? Is she/he confident and outgoing, or shy and timid?
Some breeders will temperament test their litter at or close to 7 weeks of age. Results of this test attempt to give the breeder insight into temperament and behaviour tendencies of the individual puppies. This can be a useful tool in matching the right puppy to the right home.
Has the dam had prior litters of puppies? If so, what health problems were evident in that (those) litters? This question should also be asked of the sire.
This is a good question to ask a breeder. Please remember than some problems and health issues occur in every litter. The breeder should be honest and forthright in telling prospective buyers what health problems have been produced by the sire and dam.
Do you have a questionnaire for prospective homes and what are you looking for in a suitable home for your puppies?
Breeders should ask prospective buyers MANY questions. Many breeders have questionnaires for prospective homes that may ask specific information regarding the home environment, training protocol, past experience with dogs, etc. Some of these questionnaires can be lengthy and detailed, but remember that the breeder should be looking for the best possible home environment for his/her puppies and oftentimes this information can help in the quest to match a pup with a particular person and/or lifestyle.
What is the price of your puppies?
The Manchester is a fairly rare breed of dog and you can expect to pay for quality. Remember a good breeder is focused on improving the breed not on making money. Performing the necessary health testing & veterinary costs is expensive, and puppies that are not destined to be included in the breeder’s breeding program are sold as companion animals in hope of offsetting some of the costs as well as providing a family companionship. The higher price does NOT guarantee a better, healthier pup.
Do you require a contract for purchase of your puppies?
Reputable breeders will sell their puppies on a purchase contract. Not only does this outline the expectations and rights of the puppy buyer and breeder, but it protects the puppy. Under all circumstances, reputable breeders will take back or at least assist in rehoming a puppy that cannot be cared for. (see Contracts & Co-ownerships)
Do you sell your puppies outright or require co-ownerships?
Understand the arrangement completely before you agree to a co-ownership. Many breeders will only sell puppies on a co-ownership which means that they retain all or some "breeding rights" on the animal. If you have no interest in showing or breeding, a co-ownership may not in your best interest. (see Contracts & Co-ownerships)
Are there health guarantees and associated refunds offered in the contract? If so, what are those guarantees? (request a copy of the contract)
Most contracts offer refunds or replacements in the event of specific diseases or conditions.
Your choice of breeder is very important. Choose someone who takes the time to answer your questions. The relationship that you develop with your breeder is one of the keys to successful dog ownership. The breeder should take the responsibility to be available to help and offer advice throughout all stages of your dog's life.
Breeding for Quality & Health
Calgary, Alberta, Canada