Q: Why not a pet shop Wheaten?
Wheatens in pet shops come from commercial dog breeders and brokers, identified most accurately by a US Department of Agriculture license. USDA licensing is not an endorsement of the quality of a puppy or a breeder. Under the Animal Welfare Act administered by the USDA, anyone owning more than three female dogs used for breeding that sells puppies to the wholesale trade or buys and sells dogs for resale, MUST be licensed as a Pet Dealer. Their facilities are subject to USDA inspection (hence the claim by pet stores that their stock comes from "USDA inspected kennels"). Licensed "Pet Dealers" may also, by law, sell puppies and adult dogs to research facilities for use in experimentation. The requirements of the Animal Welfare Act are minimal, often less than those required for farm livestock. Inspections are infrequent and violations common. There are no requirements for socialization with humans.
Q: What is a kennel?
Traditionally, a kennel is an area where dogs are kept and bred. A hobby breeder with two Wheatens is a kennel. So might be one in which several hundred breeding pairs are kept to supply pups for commercial sale. Pet stores often call themselves "kennels" although their puppies are from commercial establishments which breed for resale. Some kennels are large-scale retailers who breed and sell their own stock. It is best to visit the kennel yourself in order to determine with which type you are dealing.
Q: What does a pedigree mean?
A dog's pedigree (family tree) lists his ancestors, usually five generations. It shows relationships among the dogs listed. It will also show their accomplishments; e.g., Ch. Before a dog's name indicates that the dog is an AKC champion. CD, CDX and UD following a dog's name indicate Obedience Titles; i.e., Companion Dog, Companion Dog Excellent and Utility Dog. Similarly, there are Agility, Tracking and Rally titles representing various levels of achievement. ROM as a suffix means Register of Merit Top Producer, an award bestowed by the SCWTCA on males producing 15 or more champions and bitches producing 8 or more champions. Breeders use a kennel name and a dog's registered name will include this name. Thus, a pedigree can identify who bred the dogs listed. In planning a litter, the quality breeder carefully evaluates the pedigrees of the dogs involved.
Q: What does AKC registration mean?
It means the puppy's sire and dam are both pure bred, of the same breed, and have full AKC registration. Thus, the pup is eligible for AKC registration. The American Kennel Club is a registration body and does not sell puppies or license, endorse or register breeders. AKC registration does not imply quality. The owner or lessee of the dam is the breeder of record. The owners of both the sire (father) and the dam (mother) must be in good standing with the AKC in order to register a litter. A conviction for cruelty to animals or failure to keep proper records of dogs owned and bred may result in loss of AKC privileges (including right to register dogs).
After a litter is born (whelped), the breeder sends a Litter Registration Application to the AKC. This application contains the signatures of the owners of both sire and dam and declares the number of pups in the litter and their sex. A litter number is issued and the breeder receives individual registration applications for each pup. Each one provides a separate number, date of birth, names and AKC registration numbers of the sire and dam as well as their OFA and CERF numbers. It also includes the name and address of the breeder. A puppy cannot be AKC registered without this application. Litters must be registered within six months from date of birth. The individual registration application is then sent to the AKC (with the registration fee) and the pup becomes "AKC registered". If a pedigree has not been provided by the seller, one can be obtained at this time from the AKC for a fee. Dogs must be registered within one year of the date of issue of the AKC Dog Registration Application.
Q: What are papers?
The most important paper is the application for AKC registration. According to AKC policy, there should not be a price differential between a dog with papers or a dog without papers. The information on the AKC Dog Registration Application should also be on the bill of sale. If a pup is sold without this application the contract/bill of sale should clearly state how and in whose name the puppy will be registered and how the registration will be transferred to the new owner. Many ethical breeders withhold registration papers or register the dog in their own names until the conditions of the contract have been met. Others use AKC's limited registration option described below A dog may be designated as such by checking the limited registration box on the application. In some cases the breeder will list himself on the application as co-owner. All terms of sale should be in writing. The buyer should also receive a four-generation pedigree and medical records listing vaccinations and dates. These records should provide name and address of the examining veterinarian.
Q: What is Limited Registration?
A breeder has the option to register a pup under a limited registration. This means that, although the pup is a purebred AKC registered dog, no offspring of the dog may be registered with the AKC, Limited registration allows a breeder to control the dogs from his or her line being bred. It may be rescinded BY THE BREEDER ONLY. A dog registered in this manner may not compete at dog shows in conformation but may compete in obedience trials.
Q: How do I know the papers are good?
Many commercial kennels have been boycotting American Kennel Club registration because of certain requirements imposed on all breeders to insure the validity of the registry. Instead, they have established brand-new, highly unregulated registries with similar sounding names. Make sure your new puppy can be registered with the American Kennel Club. Some things to look for:
  • The sire and dam should have Registration Numbers beginning with RA, RB, RM, or RN and followed by 6-8 numbers.
  • The address on the registration documents should be The American Kennel Club, 5580 Centerview Drive, Raleigh, NC 27606.
  • The pedigree is a dog's family tree and can be certified by the breeder alone as true and correct. Unless it is an AKC Certified Pedigree, bearing the AKC address and seal, it does NOT prove AKC registration.
If you're still not sure, write down the sire and dam's Registration Number and puppy's date of birth. Call AKC Customer Care at 919.233.9767 and they will confirm the parents' registration and if there is a litter application on file.
Q: How do I know the parents have been cleared of hip and eye problems?
A reputable breeder will provide documentation. Hips are typically certified free of hip dysplasia via x-rays evaluated by OFA or PennHip. Eyes are examined by a Veterinary Ophthalmologist and certified by CERF. You can read more about these tests, and check the parents certification by visiting the websites: Enter the sire or dam by name or AKC# and enter your breed into their search engines and you'll see if the dog has been certified. You can also use this to learn a bit more about the breeder's practices. Just enter the breeder's kennel name and breed into the search engine and see what comes back. If they don't do OFA or CERF, there won't be recent entries and you should beware.
Q: Should I be able to see the dam?
Generally, you'll want to see the mother of your puppies (the dam) to reassure yourself you're not dealing with a broker or other commercial source. However, sometimes a reputable hobby breeder won't have the mother when you see a puppy. A breeder may have received a puppy back from another reputable breeder. Typically, this is the case when the individual owns the sire of the litter or sold the dam to the breeder of the litter. Part of their agreement is that the person will receive a puppy back when the litter is born. Sometimes a breeder will have sold a bitch and instead of the owner whelping a litter, the breeder will do so. In these instances, the dam will usually go back to her owner when the puppies are a few weeks old and have been weaned, which may be done before you see the puppies. To know if this is the case, ask where the mother is and get the name, address, and phone number. Also, the breeder should be able to show you AKC documents to help explain the situation. They should typically be shown as the owner or co-owner of the sire or dam of the litter.
Q: Why doesn't SCWTCA recommend backyard breeders?
Breeding dogs, while considered a hobby, is also a great deal of work and requires a great deal of knowledge. It involves an investment of time and money that a casual owner, just looking to have a litter, will not invest. Typically, their Wheaten was not purchased from a reputable breeder because reputable breeders do not support casual, ill-informed breeding.
Q: Why doesn't SCWTCA recommend commercial kennels?
In many instances, necessary pre-breeding health checks have not been done. Second, SCWTCA does not believe a commercial kennel provides the right environment for any dog and should not be supported. Third, not all commercial kennels register their dogs with the American Kennel Club and therefore are not subject to their inspections or regulations. Finally, you as a new owner will not receive the appropriate support.

A quality puppy is worth the wait.


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