When you look for a new puppy, you are likely to find that breeders will want to ask you questions to satisfy themselves that you are a suitable owner for one of their pups. This may seem a bit intrusive at first, but if you think about it, it is in both your interest to be sure that you are informed and prepared enough to take on a powerful and fast growing giant breed puppy. But equally, you as the potential puppy buyer also have the right to ask the breeder questions in return. In fact, the more appropriate questions that the puppy buying public ask the breeders, the more positive pressure this puts on all breeders to improve their standards. A good breeder will welcome your questions, so ask away!
Find out if the breeder is a member of the Leonberger Club of Great Britain, which is the only Leonberger club in the UK. The LCGB has a breeders’ code of ethics, which helps to protect the health and welfare of mothers, puppies and the breed overall. Can the breeder provide you with references, ideally from previous puppy buyers, other breeders, or their veterinarian?
How long have they been a breeder and how long in Leonbergers and why did they choose this breed? How many dogs do they currently own or co-own? How often do they breed a litter of puppies and how many litters have they produced over the years? How many litters have they bred this year?
What are their goals or main objectives in their breeding scheme, do they have any? Do they breed other breeds? Is breeding Leonbergers a full-time job, or a hobby?
What do they do to monitor the temperaments of their breeding lines?
PARENTS OF PUPPIES
What can they tell you about the health and longevity of the ancestors of a proposed mating? They may not have all the answers, but you are looking for some indication that they have at least tried to get them.
Sire’s stats (name, age, temperament, height, weight, etc.) and dam’s stats (name, age, temperament, height, weight, etc.)?
Will it be possible to meet either or both parents in person, other close relatives? Do they have photographs of ancestors and close relatives? What are the strengths and weaknesses of the sire and dam? Why did they decide to breed these two dogs?
What can they tell you about the orthopaedic background of the dogs in the proposed pedigree? Are parents, aunts and uncles, half siblings or grandparents scored for hips and elbows? Ask to see the original copy of the BVA/KC hip and elbow scoring sheets, (or overseas equivalent scoring) as well as current eye certificates confirming that they are free of Hereditary Cataracts. If these are not available for both dam and sire, check the KC website’s Health Test Results Finder, located at:
Many test results for a KC registered dog or bitch can be searched for by entering the exact pedigree name of the individual dog or bitch.
At present there is no mandatory reporting requirement for Leonberger Polyneuropathy (LPN1) screening although testing is a requirement of the Leonberger Club of Great Britain, so ask to see the original test results for these tests as well. The only acceptable combinations are clear to clear (N/N to N/N) or clear to carrier, (N/N to D/N). If both sire and dam are D/N they should not be mated and you should not proceed with this proposed litter.
OTHER HEALTH ISSUES
Have there been cases of cancer in the lines of either sire or dam? What about bloat, autoimmune diseases, allergies, neurological or heart conditions and so on. Don’t be surprised to find some of these illnesses in the background, but ask if the breeder is taking care not to “double up” on known health issues.
Were there any known developmental or other health problems with other off-spring of the parents, grand parents, great grandparents, such as Panosteitis?
If the answer to all of these questions is “none at all”, be very suspicious; All lines have some issues and it is better to find a breeder who will deal honestly with these. What is most important is that the breeder is aware of those issues and has addressed them in his/her breeding decisions. A breeder who says, “I do not have any health issues in ‘my’ line”, is possibly either being evasive or has not done enough research.
CONTRACTS / ENDORSEMENTS
It has recently come to the attention of the Leonberger Club of Great Britain that some breeders (not necessarily members of the LCGB) have been demanding additional sums of money or rights to progeny born in exchange for lifting endorsements placed on the registration of puppies they have previously sold. We wish to state quite clearly that this is not considered normal practice and in the opinion of the LCGB is quite unreasonable and unfair. In addition we believe that it is the moral responsibility of the breeder to stay in contact with their puppy buyers, sharing new contact details as and when required should either party move house. It has become common practice for responsible breeders to place endorsements on the registration of their puppies prior to placing them in their new homes. Responsible breeders will put these restrictions in place to discourage careless breeding practices such as breeding from a dog or bitch that has not passed the proper health checks, or exporting their dogs aboard to countries where animal welfare practices do not meet high standards.
It is vital that any breeder who places endorsements on their puppies bring this clearly to the puppy buyer’s attention, in writing prior to sale, in an agreement signed by both parties, a copy of which should be given to the puppy buyer. It should be clearly stated whether or not the breeder would be willing to lift the endorsements, and under what circumstances. It is NOT generally accepted that a breeder should expect or require additional payment in cash or kind for this, or to place restrictions on future choices of breeding partners. The committee of the Leonberger Club of Great Britain.
EARLY DEVELOPMENT ISSUES / PLACEMENT
What steps does the breeder take while raising puppies to help produce calm well-balanced temperaments? What sort of environment will they be raised in- within the home or in a separate breeding area away from the hustle and bustle of the family?
At what age do they let puppies go to their new homes and what level of basic training will they come with? Does the breeder allow you to choose what puppy you want from the litter, or do they match a puppy to your requirements, taking into account the development and likely potential of each pup?
Will there be a puppy pack and if so what sort of information will this include? Will the puppies be vaccinated and to what level? What worming treatments will they have had and what guidance will be provide for its continuation? Have they been treated for anything else? Have the puppies been vet checked prior to sale and if so, were any issues detected? Will they have microchips or other form of permanent identification when they leave the breeder and will the forms to transfer the registration for this identification also be included in the puppy packs? Will there be some form of initial health insurance cover provided to bridge the transition into their new homes? Will the puppies have full KC registration documents ready to sign over to the new owners at the time of sale?
What feeding information will be provided and will a sample of the puppy food also be provided to bridge the transition to their new homes? What advice is provided for future feeding? What training information will be provided? What socialisation advice do they have? What information about how to manage its early skeletal development and protect it from harm due to over exercise, free-play on slippery floors etc?
How involved as a breeder do they wish to be in the future health and development of this puppy? Do they organise reunions of particular litters? Do they wish to be updated on the health / development of the puppy at any particular intervals? Do they have any views on future activities such as working, obedience, showing, water rescue training, agility work, etc? Do they have any views on future vaccination protocols? Will they be available to you as a future information resource as the puppy grows and matures and do they seem keen to provide this ongoing contact?
ANIMAL WELFARE ISSUES
Please remember that people who become involved with breeding dogs can be motivated by many different things and that not all will reach the same standards that you might expect. If at any time during your search for a new puppy you encounter a situation that you feel is so distressing that the welfare of the potential puppies, (or for that matter other dogs on the premises), might be compromised or even endangered, please think twice before you accept a puppy out of pity for it. Each puppy removed from the premises of a disreputable breeder simply makes room for another to take its place. If your concerns are serious, please consider contacting the local council or RSPCA. If the breeder is a member of the Leonberger Club of Great Britain then please also inform them of your concerns. If you do, then it is far more likely that something will happen. If you don’t, it probably won’t. Please be aware that many individuals breed puppies outside of the breed club, so the Leonberger Club of Great Britain is powerless to act in such cases.
Non KC Registered Puppies
Occasionally you may see litters for sale that have not been registered or are not going to be registered with the kennel club. You may believe that because these litters are a fraction of the cost of a registered litter that you are going to ‘bag a bargain’. The LCGB strongly advise against buying a puppy from an unregistered litter.
Why are the puppies unregistered? There are a number of possible reasons, most of which relate to the health and welfare of the parents.
- the mother is too young or too old to have puppies
- one or both of the parents have temperament problems
- the mother has had a previous litter within 12 months or has had more than 4 litters
- either or both of the parents have restrictions to breeding imposed by their breeders
If either or both of the parents have restrictions this could mean that your potential puppy could develop or already have an hereditary condition. This could mean at best vet bills and at worst the premature death of your puppy. Still think you have bagged a bargain?