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What should I look for in a breeder?

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Hello, new member here. I've been lurking here for a while. I've had a border collie before, but I got him as an adult and then he sadly died quite young. I've wanted a border collie puppy for a few years, but now I finally feel ready for one. I don't need one right now, I can wait until I find the right dog. 

So, what should I look for in a breeder?

 

 

 

 

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Me personally.. 

1. If they care enough to vet you on the breed

2. Their general demeanour 

3. The mum and dads temperaments 

4. If they get the pups checked at the vets for any health issues

5. How many litters they have a year

6. If you still aren't sold and they have previous litters ask to see how those dogs are doing.. 

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when finding out about temperaments/personalities/quirks of the parents (and grandparents, and siblings of parents, and older dogs of same breeding if any) make sure to ask for *descriptions*, not *judgements*.  "So, what does <name of dog> mostly do in his spare time?" is more likely to give you useful information than "what's <dog> like?".  There is a really really wide range of variation in border collie brains compared to many other breeds, and one person's "funny, loving" may be another person's "hyper-busy, won't learn to take no for an answer, drive ya nuts". Similarly, quirks like obsessions etc may be unimportant to one person but really important to try to avoid for someone else.  "Quiet" can mean floppy calm switched-off-til-needed, or it can mean "sits in corner and stares at dust specks all day, or waits for the cat to come by to chase and bark at".  Just having as loooong a conversation as possible can often tell you a whole lot, just let the other person do the talking :)

JMHO,

-Pat

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Start with what are you looking to do with the border collie. Agility, herding, flyball, companion. Where the dog will live. Will there be other dogs? Cats? Kids? Elderly people? What do you need your dog to behave as default? 

if you are looking to compete talk to people in the venue you want to trial at. Watch the dogs compete, watch their dogs on the sideline. Talk to the people about where they got the dogs you liked.

 

Breeders for me personality I want to be able to trust the person. I want to see they have solid dogs who can do the job they need to. How invested are they with their pups. How invested are they with their own dogs? Do they follow up with the dogs they have produced? Do they just mention titles. What do they do if issues arises with the dogs they produce? Do they give advise or pointer? Or do they just play the blame game and wash their hands of the problem?

 

good luck! Can’t wait to see puppy pictures 

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Thanks everyone!

So, basically I need to find out as much as I can about the breeder, their dogs and the dogs they bred, and possibly talk to people who have dogs from that breeder, to see if they fit my lifestyle?

The dog will first and foremost be my pet and beloved companion. I do want to do *something* with the dog, maybe agilty, but it's not the most important thing to me. If it turns out that agilty isn't just "the right thing", for whatever reason, then that's ok. 

And I've seen many people on these boards say that it's best to get dogs from working breeders and to look at weather or not the parents work. Most of the bc's I've met were working bred, or 'from a farm' and they were great dogs. The few show bred ones I've met were very different and not exactly what I'm looking for in a border collie.  So I think I'll go for a working bred one,

BUT

I've also heard that most of the working bred puppies are raised in barns and recieve little to no socialisation. A friend of mine got a border collie puppy last year, who was ISDS (I'm in the UK) registered and raised in a barn. The puppy was terrified of regular household objects and noises, wasn't used to the sound of the washing machine, hairdryer, etc. She's one year old now and is a wonderful, fearless dog. But my friend had to work very hard on getting her used to living in a normal house. 

Does that happen very often with working bred dogs? Or was my friend just unlucky and got a fearful pup? Should I be worried if my puppy was raised in a barn, or does it really not make any difference?

 

Sorry if I'm asking stupid questions, but this is my first time getting a puppy and I'm trying to find out as much information as I can :)

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since you mention agility as a possibility, be aware there is a third food-group of border collies, bred not to work or for foofy show purposes but for flyball/agility purposes. For what you want, I'd steer clear of those breeders (tho they certainly do produce some dogs you'd probably enjoy) b/c you are more apt to get a rocket-fuelled maniac and have to be extra careful of epilepsy etc.  (That is not an insult to sport breeders, I'm basically an agility person myself, sorry everybody <g>, just saying that sport-bred dogs can be a pretty different kettle of fish and really suited best to sports)
The socialization thing is fairly easy to deal with, just don't get a puppy from someone who hasn't socialized them :P and really if you can talk to people who have grown-up dogs from whatever breeder you're thinking of, that will probably answer any lingering questions you have on that score.
Also consider rescue!

Good luck and have fun,

-Pat

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Location of where the litter is housed is not the key for determining socialization of the litter.  We looked at 2 litters (both bred for livestock work) when getting our first Border Collie; both litters were kept in buildings outside of the house.  When we approached one litter, the entire litter and the dam backed up away from the pen door.  When we approached the other litter the dam and all the pups came to us.  It was immediately obvious which litter was being socialized.

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Not just socialization, but genetic temperament.  Plenty of dogs have been rescued from horrific neglect situations and turned out fine.  Plenty of dogs were raised in home environments and turned out fearful.  Socialization and training do help tip the balance, but good genes are critical.

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On 9/22/2019 at 8:01 PM, Swivel3Smile said:

4. If they get the pups checked at the vets for any health issues

Health checks of the parents by veterinarians is important, but not the same as screenings for inherited conditions like CEA, hip dysplasia, IGS, etc. There aren't genetic tests for all inherited disorders, but many responsible breeders do test for the known ones.

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and for health things that can't be DNA-marker screened for, like epilepsy, you need the breeder to know allll about its presence/absence in their lines, and in similar breedings.
 

-Pat

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4 hours ago, Pat P said:

since you mention agility as a possibility, be aware there is a third food-group of border collies, bred not to work or for foofy show purposes but for flyball/agility purposes. For what you want, I'd steer clear of those breeders (tho they certainly do produce some dogs you'd probably enjoy) b/c you are more apt to get a rocket-fuelled maniac and have to be extra careful of epilepsy etc.  (That is not an insult to sport breeders, I'm basically an agility person myself, sorry everybody <g>, just saying that sport-bred dogs can be a pretty different kettle of fish and really suited best to sports)
The socialization thing is fairly easy to deal with, just don't get a puppy from someone who hasn't socialized them :P and really if you can talk to people who have grown-up dogs from whatever breeder you're thinking of, that will probably answer any lingering questions you have on that score.
Also consider rescue!

Good luck and have fun,

-Pat

Yeah, I've heard of the sports collies before, but I've never actually met one. I'm much more interested in a dog that can actually remain calm and sensible when not doing agility. 

I have considered rescue as a possiblity :) And who knows, I might end up with a rescue dog! My previous BC was a rescue/rehome. I was looking for a puppy but ended up with him...

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4 hours ago, Liz P said:

Not just socialization, but genetic temperament.  Plenty of dogs have been rescued from horrific neglect situations and turned out fine.  Plenty of dogs were raised in home environments and turned out fearful.  Socialization and training do help tip the balance, but good genes are critical.

Huh, I never thought about it that way. Well, I always knew I wouldn't get a puppy if the dam was fearful, but for some strange I never really thought about why. 

I won't get a puppy from parents with bad temperaments, even if it is really well socialized. 

 

 

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5 hours ago, Coca Collie said:

Yeah, I've heard of the sports collies before, but I've never actually met one. I'm much more interested in a dog that can actually remain calm and sensible when not doing agility. 

I have considered rescue as a possiblity :) And who knows, I might end up with a rescue dog! My previous BC was a rescue/rehome. I was looking for a puppy but ended up with him...

Well, there *are* sportbred ones that are great around the house, but you'd need to know where to find them, and it can be harder to intepret (IMO) what the flyball/agility set say about their dogs, because they will often put up with a lot more "mental complications" in exchange for a crazy-driven dog!

That said, an awful lot of really good agility dogs come from working (farm dog) parents, which is probably as it should be and not surprising :)  

-Pat

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I’m not discounting crazy border collies but some of it is just certain sports people think to get a good competitive dog the border collie must be crazy... and some don’t train for behavior outside the sport they compete in... it isn’t “just” the breeding but also what the owners find acceptable.

 

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19 minutes ago, SS Cressa said:

I’m not discounting crazy border collies but some of it is just certain sports people think to get a good competitive dog the border collie must be crazy... and some don’t train for behavior outside the sport they compete in... it isn’t “just” the breeding but also what the owners find acceptable.

 

Yes, and also sometimes people see  the  dogs ramped up at the sporting event of their  choice and decide  that the  dog is like that ALL. THE. TIME.   Molly's a  dog throw pillow if nothing's going on,  but if she's at agility she can sometimes get over the top.  There's a point I care, but prior to hitting  that threshold I don't mind some nuttiness.   But anyone trying to guess her temperament based just on being  around agility would assume  she was a nightmare in the house. 

 

She's not.  

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Well, I'm not interested in a sports bred dog anyway. Most of the sports breeders in my area breed dogs from show lines. And I don't want a show type border collie.

Right now I'm looking at ISDS breeders, and I've found one that I *might* like, but I'm not sure yet. The website says that sometimes they have dogs available as pets/active companions. 

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Please strongly consider getting a dog from a border collie rescue.

They get puppies as well as adult dogs.  I fostered a few puppies myself when I was a foster home. There's also a great advantage to getting a dog who is 5 or 6 months or a year old. Already potty trained, and you can see the dog's personality. When you get a puppy at 9 weeks old you really do not know what kind of dog that will turn out to be....fearful? pushy? couch potato?  With a semi-adult you know a whole lot more about what you are getting. And rescue organizations always have great dogs. Just don't be in a big hurry. Put in your application, go through their procedure,  get approved, and then wait until the right one comes along. 

If it turns out that you need to get a puppy from a breeder, please get one from a person who is breeding for working ability, because border collies should not be bred for anything else. And don't fall for the "oh, they are from working stock" line. Find out if the parents really work stock.

And please, don't buy from anyone who is showing dogs or who registers them with the AKC.

But, rescue is best. :)

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Like I said in one of my previous posts, I might end up with a rescue dog. I know rescues are great - all my dogs have been rescues. 

I'm in the UK, and we don't have the AKC. We have the KC :rolleyes: But I won't get a KC dog, I want and ISDS registered one from working parents.

But, I might end up rescuing. Who knows.

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7 hours ago, D'Elle said:

When you get a puppy at 9 weeks old you really do not know what kind of dog that will turn out to be....fearful? pushy? couch potato?  

I’ve bought two puppies and had a pretty  good idea of what I was getting with each. The breeder knew their dogs, was open about everything and could make suggestions based on my needs. And those pups remained consistent as they grew. I saw the parents, saw what related dogs were doing, saw the health testing and knew that there was an excellent chance that they’d be well suited for me.

 

I watched Tess grow up from day one and still see some traits that I first saw in whelping box videos. 

 

Genetics are a powerful thing. Yes, puppies are a bit of a crap shoot. Stuff happens. But nicely bred/purpose bred pups aren’t *that* huge of a crap shoot with a semi experienced owner. It’s why I went back to the same breeder for a second pup from the same dam. 

 

IMO, a bigger issue is knowing what you want in a pup, then being able to ask the right questions and recognize it in breedings that you’re considering. And then being able to be proactive in raising said pup.

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I bought my first non-rescue puppy from a small scale breeder in Scotland. To me the only reason to breed is working ability, this litter was bred as each of them were ready for a new dog. 

I am glad that you are looking for an ISDS dog, my youngster comes from a working mum and a dual purpose dad, open trial and grade 7 agility. 

I wouldn't worry about a pup being reared outside if it is being handled and exposed to life, what could be more scary than large farm equipment! My youngster was raised in the house with a couple of kids but he never went any further than the kitchen and the garden, so I am not sure how different that would be to being in a barn on an active farm. He has grown into a confident young man, from 10 weeks on he was taken on lots of adventures and exposed to a huge variety of things. 

What I looked for: 

Reason for breeding,

Health testing,

quality of the parents. 

As I am not in the UK I went onto a number of UK based sheepdog groups and did some networking and that's how I found my pup, the litter was never advertised and the breeder doesn't have a website as they only breed very occasionally 

The breeder and I spent a lot of time on the phone getting to know each other, she wanted to be sure I could handle a driven ISDS dog, I wanted to know about their dogs. There was nothing hidden, when we went and got him we met the parents, had dinner with the family. One of her concerns was not being able to take him back, as like any good breeder they want the dogs back if doesn't work out so they can rehome them well. 

I am not a fan of sports bred dogs, I have friends with them and I find they are missing the chill gene! My supposedly high drive ISDS dog is the best pet I could have asked for, but get a toy out and go play agility he comes to life, he is very thoughtful around sheep as well.

 

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On 9/25/2019 at 7:10 PM, Maralynn said:

I’ve bought two puppies and had a pretty  good idea of what I was getting with each. The breeder knew their dogs, was open about everything and could make suggestions based on my needs. And those pups remained consistent as they grew. I saw the parents, saw what related dogs were doing, saw the health testing and knew that there was an excellent chance that they’d be well suited for me.

 

I watched Tess grow up from day one and still see some traits that I first saw in whelping box videos. 

 

Genetics are a powerful thing. Yes, puppies are a bit of a crap shoot. Stuff happens. But nicely bred/purpose bred pups aren’t *that* huge of a crap shoot with a semi experienced owner. It’s why I went back to the same breeder for a second pup from the same dam. 

 

IMO, a bigger issue is knowing what you want in a pup, then being able to ask the right questions and recognize it in breedings that you’re considering. And then being able to be proactive in raising said pup.

True, Maralynn. Thanks for the clarification, and things that I had not taken into consideration when I said that. 

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