Chesapeake Bay Retriever

Buyer Beware When Searching Out Breeders

In an effort to educate the Public about buying a puppy, we have put together this information about what to look for, what to be aware of and what some things do or don’t mean. Of course we won’t be able to cover every situation but we hope to get you started with a little basic knowledge to help you navigate the large market of breeders present today.

Here are some phrases or logos you may find on websites or puppy advertisements:

- Health Tested:

At the most his only means that the breeding dogs are tested for health defects. It does not imply that the      dogs have passed any health tests. Not to get too complicated here, but some tests are pass/fail (hips/eyes/elbows) and       some are not (gene tests). Our main concern with the ‘health tested’ phrase is mainly in reference to hip dysplasia, which is a pass/fail test. There are breeders out there that have no problem using dogs with dysplastic hips in their breeding programs. So, make sure you ask about specific parents and require proof of test results showing a passing grade.

- Breeder of Merit or Bred With H.E.A.R.T. logos:

Both of these are programs provided to breeders by the American Kennel Club. You will see them as logos on websites or advertisements. They may look impressive, but in reality they are not an endorsement by AKC of any breeder credentials as to the health of their dogs or the breeders integrity. A breeder only needs to meet minimal requirements and pay a yearly fee and they can use these logos. (only Bred With H.E.A.R.T. requires a fee)

- Health Tested Parents for Healthier Puppies logo:

This a logo from the OFA. Again, only claims dogs are tested prior to breeding with no guarantee the test results were 'passing'. Not an endorsement of a breeder by the OFA.

Red Flags that could indicate you may want to look for another breeder:

- Refusal to let you see the living quarters where there dogs are kept such as their
  kennel building or other area.

- Dogs that are excessively dirty or smelly - indicates unhealthy living conditions.

- Sending puppies to new homes before 7 weeks of age.

Common Health Screening tests that are not a gene test, but are ‘pass’ or ‘fail’:

Hip Dysplasia - Passing grades for hips are ‘Fair’, ‘Good’ and ‘Excellent’. Anything else such as  'Mild, ‘Moderate’ or ‘Severe’ indicates a degree of hip dysplasia evident upon x-ray. A rating of ‘Borderline’ indicates the hips are not considered normal, but do not show any arthritic changes at the time of the x-ray as is seen with the other dysplastic ratings. Any breeder should be able to show you online their passing hip test results recorded with the Orthopedic Foundation for Animals (OFA).

CAER - Yearly Eye Exam (formerly this was referred to the CERF test. Many breeders will still use this term) Results of this test may not show in online databases because many breeders do not register the results being it is a yearly test. However, they will have the paperwork signed by the Veterinary Ophthalmologist verifying the test & results.

Elbow Dysplasia - Elbow dysplasia is a general term used to identify an inherited polygenic disease in the elbow.
There are no grades for a radiographically normal elbow. The only grades involved are for abnormal elbows with radiographic changes associated with secondary degenerative joint disease. Dysplasia in the elbow is classified as Grade I, Grade II or Grade III Elbow dysplasia.

***Note - OFA certification for hips and elbows will not be determined until the dog is 2 years of age or older.

Common Genetic Tests:

These are more complicated & subjective when it comes to what is a breedable animal and what it not. Keeping in mind that no dog is perfect, breeders all have individual standards of compromise when it comes to how much any test result will influence their breeding decisions. Gene tests allow a breeder the option of using a carrier, affected or at risk animal when paired with a clear tested animal.

PRA (Progressive Retinal Atrophy) - causes blindness. Dogs are certified Clear, Carrier or Affected.

DM (Degenerative Myelopathy) - can cause paralysis. Dogs are certified Clear, Carrier or At Risk. At Risk dogs, dogs carrying 2 copies of the mutated gene, are not classified Affected, as with the PRA test, because some dogs testing as At Risk, do not develop the disease. The DM test is not entirely predictable for the development of DM in a dog. Dogs classified as At Risk may never develop the disease and dogs classified as only Carriers have developed the disease. There are still other unknown factors besides than the gene identified by the DM test that contribute to the expression of the disease. Research is ongoing.

Breeders may talk about the genetic heath tests that are performed, this is all well and good, however according to OFA, hip dysplasia is still the Number One health problem in Chesapeake Bay Retrievers. (Choose Chesapeake Bay Retriever from the list, then click on Show Chesapeake Bay Retriever Statistics)

The national parent club Board of Directors for Chesapeake Bay Retrievers, the American Chesapeake Club, strongly recommends in their Code of Ethics, that “all breeding animals be free of hip dysplasia and all hereditary eye disease”. You should ask to see certifications showing breeding animals are in compliance with this recommendation.

If you are buying a puppy with specific plans in mind, make sure your expectations of any guarantee are spelled out in your contract. Most breeders have a standard contract that may not address specific concerns of the buyer. In other words, it you want a guarantee that is not in the contract make sure it is added and initialed by the seller. Too often verbal agreements are not honored by the seller in the event of a problem down the road. You may also want to request a copy of the contract before putting a deposit down so that you know what to expect, especially if the deposit is non-refundable.

All this being said, be careful and do your homework. Ask to see the clearance certificates on the parents or in some cases even grandparents to make sure they passed their health tests. Or not. Only you can decided how important a factor health screening is to you when purchasing a puppy.

Don't just go puppy shopping - all puppies are cute. Visit kennels, see breeders adult dogs, ask questions and don't get in a rush.


Make a free website with Yola