Thinking of adding a canine friend into your life?
Please read all of what is written below. Owning a dog is a privelege, not a right, and we should all treat it as such. Your dog will love you unconditionally, be your mate when nobody else is around and his/her greatest joy in life will be to just be with you and your family members.
Buying a puppy is also an investment and you should do as much homework as possible before committing to the responsibility of canine ownership.
Do you have the time?
An Australian Cattle Dog commonly has a life span of over 15 years - this is a long commitment.
Can you afford to feed, vaccinate, provide medical care if need be?
What will you do with your new family member when you want to go away on holidays?
These are the 1st questions you should be able to answer YES to.
Why did you decide on the breed you have chosen? If only because you like the look of that breed please do some more homework to really make sure it is the breed for you.
Finding your puppy.
OK, you have worked out that you have established the right breed & sex your puppy should be. Now you need to find him/her. Will you buy a purebred, registered pup or find the cheapest option? Maybe a petshop is a good place to start? - Wrong.
Registered breeders are your best option. You may pay a little more, but you are getting what you pay for. A good registered breeder will have a breeding program in place which will hopefully be producing pups which are typical of their breed in all ways - both in their appearance & temperament.
The true breeder will have a reason for breeding - do they show, do obedience, tracking, agility etc? If not why are they breeding?
There are also registered breeders who do none of the above. They are often breeding just for the sake of selling pups. These breeders should be avoided at all costs. "We only breed when we have enough orders" is an often quoted excuse. Sorry but this is not a reason to breed
If there is no reason for the breeder to produce a litter, then why should it be produced? Health, temperament & type are all important issues. The breeder who has no reason to take these into consideration is the breeder who has no reason for the litter.
In our breed, the Australian Cattle Dog, there are several health issues that any serious breeder will have taken into consideration, and taken the correct sreps to avoid.
Deafness: Deafness is a problem in the ACD. It is linked to the colour of the breed and is now thought to be poly genetic in its inheritance mode. This means that no single gene is responsible for the problem, but several. Until those studying the problem can crack the DNA code for deafness it will be in our breed. There may well be so many genes involved that it will be impossible to eliminate, only time will tell.
ALL GOOD breeders of the ACD are testing ALL PUPS BRED for this problem; obviously all parents should also have been tested. If your pup has been tested the breeder will have supplied the BAER certificate to you with the test result indicated. ACD's can be totally (bi-laterally deaf) deaf or only deaf in one ear (uni-laterally deaf). If hearing is only affected in one ear the pup will still make a perfect pet, but should never be considered for breeding purposes. Most breeders will discount the pup which is deaf in one ear. Deafness in one ear is considered to be as bad as both ears in breeding terms.
Ask the breeder up front - Do you BAAER test? If the answer is no, then find a better breeder.
PRA (Progressive Retinal Atrophy): PRA is a degenerative eye disease which affects the retina within the eye. The retinal cone degenerates, causing eventual blindness. All dogs affected with the disease will eventually go blind. Symptoms begin with night blindness and progress from there. PRA comes in several forms; in the ACD we have the late onset variety. Physical tests have been available for many years now, but due to the late onset seen in the ACD it was rarely picked up until after the age of 5 years.
One bitch we had was tested every year from the age of 5 through until 11. It was this last test where she was diagnosed as affected.
In the late 90's a DNA test became available for PRA. This disease is simple recessive in its mode of inheritance, so it is carried on a single pair of genes, one supplied by each parent. This means that we can also have unaffected carriers of the disease. In fact at the time when the DNA test became available an estimated 70 - 75% of the breed were either affected or carrying the problem.
The DNA test picks up carriers (known as pattern B) as well as affected (pattern C) & clear animals (pattern A), so breeders can now breed around, and if enough will continue to do the right thing, eliminate PRA from our breed.
Again all tested animals will have certification. If you pup is to be a pet only - not used for breeding, there is nothing wrong with buying an unaffected carrier, the pup will never have a symptom of the problem. I would steer clear of any affected animals, and certainly not go near a pup where the status of the disease is unknown.
Breeders who cannot provide evidence of the litters PRA status should be avoided entirely.
Acceptable mating's regarding PRA are:
Clear x clear (100% clear offspring)
Carrier x clear (50% carrier & 50% clear offspring)
Affected x clear (100% carrier offspring)
No pups from these matings will be affected, so will all be fine as pets. Once again do your homework & you should avoid disappointment and costly problems.
Where both parents mated are of either carrier or affected status, some pups will be affected.
Carrier x carrier (50% carrier, 25% affected & 25% clear).
Affected x carrier (50% affected & 50% carrier).
Affected x affected (100% affected).
"My dogs can all see & some are now old" is neither acceptable or good enough. All responsible breeders are now testing for this problem and a few kennels are now totally PRA free, not even owning a carrier.
Many pups bred are now classed as "obligate pattern A". These pups are from matings where both parents are clear. Certficaton should still be available to prove this, even if it is a few generations old, the testing must have been done at some point in the breeding program.
Should I desex my puppy?
The answer to this question is the easiest you are going to need an answer for - YES. Unless you are intending to breed from your pet (please see above) then they should be desexed. Councils give heavy discounts for de-sexed animals (or should that be heavy financial penalties for entire animals). If you have a female you do not need the stress of having her come into season every 6 months, attracting every entire dog in your neighbourhood around. If you have a male you wont want to live with him when the girl pup next door purchased (& didnt desex) comes into season. Entire dogs are not as easy to live with, do the right thing and have yours desexed.
The below words were sent to me quite some time ago. Please take the time to read and absorb what is written here, it makes good sense.
I don’t want a show dog; I just want a pet.
This is one of the most pervasive sentiments that puppy buyers, especially families, express when they're looking for a dog. What they really mean, of course, is that they don't want a show BREEDER – don't want to pay the high price they think show breeders charge, don't want to go through the often-invasive interview process, and think that they're getting a better deal or a real bargain because they can get a Lab for $300 or a Shepherd for $150.
I want you to change your mind. I want you to not only realize the benefits of buying a show-bred dog, I want you to INSIST on a show-bred dog. And I want you to realize that the cheap dog is really the one that's the rip-off. And then I want you to go be obnoxious and, when your workmate says she's getting a puppy because her neighbor, who raises them, will give her one for free, or when your brother-in-law announces that they're buying a goldendoodle for the kids, I want you to launch yourself into their solar plexus and steal their wallets and their car keys.
If I ask you why you want a Maltese, or a Lab, or a Leonberger, or a Cardigan, I would bet you're not going to talk about how much you like their color. You're going to tell me things about personality, ability (to perform a specific task), relationships with other animals or humans, size, coat, temperament, and so on. You'll describe playing ball, or how affectionate you've heard that they are, or how well they get along with kids.
The things you will be looking for aren't the things that describe just "dog"; they'll be the things that make this particular breed unique and unlike other breeds.
That's where people have made the right initial decision – they've taken the time and made the effort to understand that there are differences between breeds and that they should get one that at least comes close to matching their picture of what they want a dog to be.
Their next step, tragically, is that they go out and find a dog of that breed for as little money and with as much ease as possible.
You need to realize that when you do this, you're going to the used car dealership, WATCHING them pry the "Audi" plate off a new car, observing them as they use Bondo to stick it on a '98 Corolla, and then writing them a check and feeling smug that you got an Audi for so little.
It is no bargain.
Those things that distinguish the breed you want from the generic world of "dog" are only there because somebody worked really hard to get them there. And as soon as that work ceases, the dog, no matter how purebred, begins to revert to the generic. That doesn't mean you won't get a good dog – the magic and the blessing of dogs is that they are so hard to mess up, in their good souls and minds, that even the most hideously bred one can still be a great dog – but it will not be a good Shepherd, or good Puli, or a good Cardigan. You will not get the specialized abilities, tendencies, or talents of the breed.
If you don't NEED those special abilities or the predictability of a particular breed, you should not be buying a dog at all. You should go rescue one. That way you're saving a life and not putting money in pockets where it does not belong.
If you want a purebred and you know that a rescue is not going to fit the bill, the absolute WORST thing you can do is assume that a name equals anything. They really are nothing more than name plates on cars. What matters is whether the engineering and design and service department back up the name plate, so you have some expectation that you're walking away with more than a label.
Keeping a group of dogs looking and acting like their breed is hard, HARD work. If you do not get the impression that the breeder you're considering is working that hard, is that dedicated to the breed, is struggling to produce dogs that are more than a breed name, you are getting no bargain; you are only getting ripped off.
So you want to show your new pride & joy.....
Champions are not born every day, well they probably are, but not all pups are suitable to become champions. Showing your dog can be an enjoyable and addictive experience, but be warned it is not for everybody. It is time consuming and not without considerable expense if done on a regular basis. Very few exhibitors can be happy with just one dog to show, so be ready to end up with 2 or more dogs in your life if you go down this track.
Showing can also be very satisfying, you will meet others with a love for your chosen breed, but be ready, it is a competitive sport and as with all types of competition, some involved will be happier to see newbies than others. Over the years we have made many good friends from our showing, and will make more in the times to come.
As your breeder of choice will hopefully now be a breeder with reason to breed, he / she should be able to guide you on your pups suitability for showing and how to go about joining your state body (a requirement for anybody to show).
If you have read all of the above, and ticked all the boxes, then you are ready to begin the search for your new friend.