What should you, a potential Lhasa Apso owner, look for as you search for a Lhasa Apso breeder? Just what is a reputable breeder and what should you reasonably expect from him/her?
The first thing you should expect from a reputable breeder is questions. . .lots and lots of questions. We're a nosy bunch! Some of us will ask these questions as we talk to you on the phone. Others will mail you a questionnaire. We'll ask why you want a Lhasa Apso; what your past experiences with the breed have been; what other pets you have; the ages of your children or grandchildren who visit often; your philosophy of raising and training a dog; your philosophy about making a dog a part of your family; and your philosophy of crate training. We'll ask for information about the research you have done on the breed (especially if you have never had a Lhasa before) and where you found the information. We'll want to know if you have a fenced in yard and, if you don't, how you intend to protect and exercise your Lhasa. We'll ask if you understand the amount of care a Lhasa's coat takes and if you have made arrangements for a groomer to care for your dog or if you plan to do the grooming yourself. We'll ask if you want a male or a female (and why) and if you're looking for a companion puppy or a show prospect. We'll ask what you understand about the Lhasa's personality. (For example, what does "chary of strangers" mean?) And, if you don't know the answers to some of our questions, that's okay. We'll take the opportunity to educate you on some of the joys and tribulations of owning a Lhasa. Oh. . . and we'll probably ask for names and contact information of references, and it's just fine for you to ask the same in return.
The next thing you should expect from a breeder is answers to your questions. You can be nosy too! You should be given ample opportunity to ask questions about the breed in general and the breeder's dogs in particular. Make a list before you make the phone call and add to the list during the conversation if necessary. Many of your questions should be generated from the reading you have done about the breed. Don't be afraid to ask questions regarding how and where the puppies are raised and socialized, the number of litters the breeder has each year, the number of years the breeder has been involved with the breed, the breeder's practices regarding waiting lists and deposits, and the breeder's health guarantees, return policies, policies on spaying/neutering, policies on withholding AKC registration paperwork, and prices. Ask whatever you think you need to know to help you find a puppy that is right for you.
You should expect information. A good breeder wants you to know everything you need to know before you welcome a Lhasa Apso into your life and a relationship that could last 15 years or longer. Most of us enjoy talking about the breed - and our own Lhasas - so we might give you more information than you really want. A good breeder will be able to provide you with resources for finding more information, especially if you seem not to have done your homework before you called!
You should expect honesty and integrity. A breeder's value system should reflect the "treat others as you want to be treated" philosophy. Unfortunately, that is not always the case, and more than one puppy buyer has been hoodwinked by a breeder who seemed honest and sincere. (I might also add that more than one breeder has been taken in by a puppy buyer who was less than honest. The trust factor works both ways.) The American Lhasa Apso Club (ALAC) has endorsed a Code of Ethics for its members that covers behavior related to breeding practices, kennel management, sales, advertising, written agreements, and health guarantees.
Once you've chosen a breeder, you should expect the following:
1. An opportunity to meet the puppy's dam and sire. If the breeder does not own the sire, he will not be available for you to meet and that's okay, but you should be able to meet the puppy's mother.
2. An opportunity to meet other Lhasas the breeder has produced (most of us enjoy showing off our dogs!) Ask to see siblings of the sire or dam or other offspring of either dog. Many breeders can pull out photo albums to show you pictures of the puppy's relatives back many generations.
3. A health guarantee that outlines how long the guarantee is in effect, what particular diseases or conditions are covered by the guarantee, and what procedures to follow if a health problem arises while the guarantee is in effect. Don't expect the guarantee to cover injuries or illness caused by accidents, neglect, or abuse, including improper diet, improper grooming and coat care, or inadequate veterinary care while the dog is in your possession.
4. A sales agreement with return policy that explains under what circumstances the dog may be returned for money back or for a replacement puppy. You can also expect the breeder to request the right of "first refusal," meaning you are expected to contact him/her should circumstances prevent your keeping the Lhasa, even when he/she grows up. The breeder may take the dog back (usually no money changes hands) or may help you find the dog another home.
5. Your puppy's AKC paperwork. Depending on the sales agreement, the AKC registration paperwork may be provided at the time of the sale or at a later date. Most breeders require that puppies sold as pets be spayed or neutered and will only provide AKC registration paperwork once they receive documentation of the procedure. This is entirely within their rights as a breeder, but you must be sure to get a sales agreement that states the paperwork will come to you. If the breeder does not intend to provide paperwork, a statement of that fact should be part of the signed contract.
6. Continued support. Most breeders want to maintain some kind of contact with puppy buyers. They realize that their job as a breeder does not stop with the puppy sale. Your breeder should be a resource for you as your Lhasa grows and should welcome your questions as opportunities to educate you further about the breed. By maintaining even intermittent contact with puppy buyers, a breeder becomes educated about his/her lines, how they mature, and the problems that may arise. By keeping in contact with your breeder, you are doing him/her as well as yourself a favor. (P.S. Breeders always appreciate occasional photos of the Lhasas they have bred.)
Good Lhasa Apso breeders are not hard to find, but you need to do your homework about the breed so you know the kinds of questions to ask and can feel comfortable with the answers you receive. Again, thanks for being interested in the Lhasa Apso. Good luck as you search for the right breeder who has just the puppy you've been waiting for!
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