How Do I Get A Puppy? by Colleen Porter
With the increasing frequency of inquiries I receive as to how to acquire a Korthal’s Griffon puppy, and the awareness of unethical and irresponsible breeding practices taking place at present in the UK, I have put together a hopefully user friendly information section concerning what things to look for in a ethical quality breeder of Korthal’s Griffons and as equally important what attributes in the buyer these kind of breeders require when selling their puppies. The reason for me offering this information is simple: I do not wish to directly advocate any individual breeder. I want you to do your own research.
But before we get into that- first let’s talk Griff.
What is a Griff?
Korthal’s Griffons or KGs or Griffs are a hunting, pointing and retrieving breed. But they are quite different from the majority of HPR’s most of us are familiar with.
Griffons do not make good full-time kennel dogs. They are extremely active as puppies, and are intelligent, social, tenacious, and physically powerful as adults. Due to their above average intelligence, they require considerable mental and physical challenges on a daily basis, or they can become bored, unhappy, and destructive. Saying that, a KG whose mental, emotional, and physical needs are met daily and who is exercised with purpose, can be an exceptionally pleasant and easy to live with house and hunting companion as well as best friend. But their existing purpose is to HUNT. Period. They are happiest when they can be exposed to game birds, rabbits, hares or tracking deer on a regular basis.
All members of the family need to be prepared and willing to commit to consistently and patiently training a KG puppy. Many a Griff’s life as been saved by their ability to immediately drop on a “Down!” command while off lead in the field, as an unexpected rabbit, squirrel or even deer has run across it’s path as a car or train approached. They have to be able to be safely run off lead in order to stride out and be exercised adequately. They are bright, headstrong, and will test each person’s limits which is why the entire family has to be involved in training the Griff so they know what is expected of them. The thing is they LOVE jobs that tax them mentally and physically. They shine in obedience, agility, hunting and tracking-all of which require a strong basis of obedience.
Adolescence and its accompanying hormones and instability can last two to three years. They tend to live long healthy lives averaging between 10 to 14 years long. The happiest and most successful KG owners are ACTIVE people who enjoy outdoor activities. No couch potatoes here. Being so social the KG will be very unhappy if left home all day long, all by themselves. These are living creatures with feelings and needs that equate roughly to a three-year-old human child.
Then there’s the lovable scruffy beard that drips water, food and anything else they have managed to stick their head into -all over the floor, car seats, carpets, bed, sofa or your clean trousers just as you are about to leave for work. Most detest having their nails trimmed…which means another vet bill for a lot of us. Ears have to be cleaned regularly as with most floppy eared dogs to prevent yeast infections. Coat is hand stripped or with a stripping comb/wand. No clippers or you risk ruining the wire undercoat this dog needs to protect itself in the harsh bramble/ hedgerow undergrowth. It can take a long time to comb out the burrs/sticky buds from ears, face, legs and tummies after a good romp chasing rabbits and the like. So whilst the KG’s coat can appear maintenance free it is certainly not; in fact quite the opposite.
So if after careful consideration, through research, after attending a pointing test where you have met and seen the workings of this great hunter, have talked to it’s owners and witnessed first hand the meaning of field companion, and you are still intent on getting a Griff -then now’s the time to talk breeder. I am here to help.
WHAT TO LOOK FOR IN A BREEDER
In a rare breed it is possible to damage a portion of the already limited gene pool by just a few incidences of irresponsible and uneducated breeding-irrevocably. These breedings are not found coming from conscientious ethical breeders. But rather by those who are motivated by greed and ignorance. Why would a person breed a dog with little or no regard to the purpose with which it was created?
Only heartache, loss of type, or instinct, poor structure, inappropriate size, poor coats, health and temperament problems or lack of proper versatility come from poor breeding practices.
Below I have compiled a simple check list format to assist the potential Korthal’s Griffon owner in finding a reputable breeder and what you as a buyer can expect to be asked by a quality breeder in your quest for a puppy. Red light sections being “run the other way” and green light sections being “all OK” when doing your research.
RED LIGHT: Litter not registered.
Why was the litter not registered?
Does the breeder care so little for what they are doing?
GREEN LIGHT : Registered with one of the reputable stud books ie. UKKC, French Club etc
Registration-it is simply a record that the dog is considered “purebred.” Registrations are given based on the word of the breeder. No one from these organizations comes out to look at the litter or to see how they are being raised unless the breeder has been visited by the Kennel Club under the Assured Breeder Scheme and Accredited. Currently, in the UK one can be listed as an Assured Breeder by filling out an application and paying a small fee, but these breeders have not had their facilities inspected nor their paperwork scrutinized. Only the Accredited breeders have had an actual representative from the Kennel Club visit their kennel..
REGISTRATION IS NOT A SIGN OF QUALITY. Just because a dog is purebred does not mean it SHOULD BE BRED.
RED LIGHT: Biggest red light of all is breeders who sell through Intermediary like a pet store or puppy broker. These breeders don’t care about where their puppies wind up or what kind of homes they go to. If they don’t care about the pups futures, how much did they care about what they were producing?
: Classified ads- the best breeders have most of
their litter sold BEFORE the breeding even takes place
GREEN LIGHT : Breeders who announce a planned mating on respected club internet site or news letter or on their own kennel web site. Really good breeders do not breed until they know they have secured homes for the litter and should not put two dogs together unless they know they have homes for each puppy they create. In fact be very prepared to be put on a waiting list with a deposit requirement to show commitment.
RED LIGHT : A breeder willing to work with you when it comes to payment- this
breed is rare enough that I can assure you that demand is very high
and supply very low so good breeders will not need to be flexible with
payment and if money is an issue you can’t afford the dog-full stop.
GREEN LIGHT : Breeders who offer incentives or rebates. Breeders may offer these to their buyers upon proof of gun dog training, spay or neutering, or gaining a title or award in tracking, obedience retrieving pointing etc.
BUYER BACKROUND CHECK
RED LIGHT : Breeders who do not ask for a references.
: Breeders who do not ask to speak to your vet.
Breeders who don’t ask for references really do not care where their puppies are going-what kind of care did they take in planning the litter and what kind of care will they offer you if your pup has problems????
GREEN LIGHT : Home visits. More difficult when purchasing at a distance but the breeder may be able to have someone else do the home visit for them.
: References as mentioned above-expect those references to be checked. If you have pets now, or have had in the past, expect one to be your vet. (Be sure to let your vet know it is OK to disclose information to the potential breeder)
: Feeling like it is easier to adopt a child than get a puppy out from under the breeder. Quality breeders are very very careful where their pups go. Their concern is for the future welfare of the pup.
: Breeders who try and talk you out of buying a Korthal’s Griffon. The Korthal’s is not an easy breed to own. Responsible KG breeders will be sure to highlight the difficulties in having a KG. They are concerned for your well being too.
BREEDER BACKROUND CHECK
RED LIGHT : Breeders who refuse to provide you with references from vet and previous buyers.
: No experience statement.
: No statement clearly outlining what they offer buyers.
: Breeders who don’t know why you require this information and refuse to provide it or can’t provide it.
GREEN LIGHT : Breeders who have a prepared sheet or list to give to prospective buyers
: Breeders who have a written mission statement or set of breeding goals. These are breeders who have thought long and hard about the direction they want their breeding programme to take.
QUESTIONS TO ASK REGARDING THE LITTER-WHY WAS THIS LITTER BRED??
Always, always, always ask this question. It will give you insight into who this breeder is and what you can expect from your pup more than any other question you can ask
RED LIGHT : To get a return on our investment in her.
: So the kids could see the miracle of birth.
: We like her a lot and wanted to keep one of her pups.
: So she would be fulfilled before we spayed her.
(Sometimes at the unenlightened vet’s recommendation!!!!!)
All of these answers show a lack of forethought and planning. The actual breeding was probably haphazard, as was the care of the pups.
GREEN LIGHT : This breeding furthers my breeding goals. With a detailed explanation of how that is.
: Because we were looking to produce pups with specific qualities. With a detailed explanation of those qualities.
You’re looking for any sort of answer that shows forethought, planning, and specific goals for the breeding. This means research was done before the litter was bred
HOW OFTEN DO YOU BREED?
RED LIGHT : Multiple litters on the ground at one time
: More than two or three times per year.
Each litter requires tremendous amounts of time to raise, expose, and evaluate properly.
GREEN LIGHT : Whenever I can keep a pup.
This means the breeders are breeding for themselves, thus are not haphazard but are well thought out and researched.
HOW OFTEN HAS THIS BITCH BEEN BRED?
RED LIGHT : Bitches bred every season.
: Bitches bred more than three times in their lifetime.
: Bitches bred without a year break in between.
: Bitches bred before their second birthday and after their seventh.
All of these are extremely hard on the bitch and it shows an interest in puppy production over the care and welfare of the bitch.
GREEN LIGHT : Bitches bred less than once per year and only two litters for her lifetime and never past six years of age.
SIRE AND DAM GENETIC SCREENING/HEALTH CHECKS
RED LIGHT : No health certifications.
: Only one parent with Penn-Hip/BVA hip certification.
(for the stud, if less than 2 years of age, a Penn-Hip can be done at a very young age so this is not an excuse)
GREEN LIGHT : Both parents with hip and elbow scores and certifications.
: Copies of health histories from both sire/dam upon request.
RED LIGHT : Breeders who can offer no advice when it comes to picking your pup. No one knows the litter better than the person who has been with them since birth.
: Breeders who can give you no insight into the personality of the individual pups. These breeders either don’t know what they are looking at, don’t care what they are looking at, or didn’t pay attention. In general their attitude is that all puppies are alike, so what does it matter.
: Breeders who don’t offer any advice about your pick. Their attitude is one of take the puppy and go.
GREEN LIGHT : Experienced breeders who pick for you. These breeders are confident in their ability to select a pup for you and your situation. And they have the experience to back it up.
: Experienced breeders who select a pup for you and make a recommendation to that effect, but still leave the final selection in your hands. Again make sure they have the experience required to make this assessment.
: Breeders who can provide written notes on each pup. Who have carefully evaluated each pup and noted what they observed. These breeders have the most insight of all to offer. And since they wrote it all down, they don’t have to rely on memory to make recommendations.
CONTRACTS: Health and Return Policy
RED LIGHT: No contract.
: A breeder who doesn’t understand why you would want one.
GREEN LIGHT: Good contracts will protect you, the breeder, and the puppy. They’ll also have some sort of paragraph describing how disputes are to be settled. (Contracts without something like this are basically unenforceable).
RED LIGHT: No health guarantee. This definitely “buyers beware” territory.
: A health guarantee of less than two years. Many genetic disorders can’t be diagnosed until two years or later.
: A breeder who requires the return of the pup if something is found. Let’s be honest at two years of age or older, you are going to love this dog and not want part with it no matter what. The breeder knows this. This clause is a heavy “out” for the breeder should something go wrong.
GREEN LIGHT: Guarantees against life threatening or disabilities at the time of purchase.
: Congenital defects
: Infectious diseases
: Hereditary crippling defects before the age of 30 months.
Note here: the contract will usually stipulate in the contract that you as a buyer have to take the puppy to a licensed Vet for a thorough examination within 5 days of purchase or contract will be void.
RED LIGHT: Breeders who do not offer continued support throughout the life of the dog and who remain un-contactable should you need to re-home the dog for any reason.
GREEN LIGHT: A contract that states that should you at any time, for any reason become unable to care for the dog it will be returned to the breeder. If you find another home for the dog, the breeder must approve that the new home is suitable. These are the best breeders of all. They take responsibility for the lives they have created seriously and they are ensuring that one of their pups does not end up in a shelter.
: Do not expect the breeder to buy the dog back. They are simply guaranteering a good home for the dog should something happen to you.
RED LIGHT: Breeders who give a full registration on every puppy they produce. These breeders have not taken the time to find out what puppies should not enter the limited gene pool that currently exists in the UK with a Korthal’s Griffon. They are not looking to improve the breed for the future. They may be even using it as a sales ploy. “Breed her and you will get your money back out of her”.
GREEN LIGHT: Breeders who offer limited registration until the dog has been tested in a UKKC sanctioned point test or basic natural ability test. These breeders protect their “line” and affix. The gene pool of Korthal’s Griffon is limited and demand way out numbers supply thus this is a breed easily exploited. Also the reason we have seen such unethical breeding practices in the UK.
A good breeder will not relinquish control over their bitches’ future progeny without serious demonstrated dedication on the part of new owner.