Now that you understand the need to buy a puppy from a reputable hobby breeder, what do you do? Since it's probably your first time doing so, here are some tips on what to expect from Wheaten breeders you contact:
- Real People, Real Lives
First and foremost, breeding Wheatens is a hobby for us. Quality breeders participate in many dog-related activities such as dog clubs, shows, obedience and agility trials and educational events. Most of us also have jobs, families, and, yes, other interests. They don't have a staff to help them — and expenses mount far quicker than puppy income. This sometimes comes as a surprise to people. When looking for puppy, don't forget what time zone you're calling, and try hard not to interrupt a breeder's dinner or sleep. Have a bit of patience when that email or voicemail aren't responded to as quickly as you want. If you're asked to contact them at a better time, understand that breeders have to juggle things just like you do. Check the Breeders List for preferred contact methods and you'll have a more productive experience.
Every SCWTCA member is bound by the club's Code of Ethics. You should expect that they live up to it, without any excuses. You should expect that financial matters are handled carefully, and that terms of deposits and payments are clear. You should expect that any referral they give you to another breeder is to another reputable breeder.
This is a hobby and breeders certainly don't expect to live off the income from our dogs. That said, breeders do take their hobby seriously and you should expect professionalism on theur part:
- Expect to be interviewed
Placing a puppy is making a match. A breeder wants to match your interests, expectations and capabilities to both the breed characteristics and their individual puppies' needs. The best way for them to do that is via an interview. Everyone does it differently. Some use questionnaires, some use the phone or email, and others prefer in person meetings, while most use a combination. Whichever method they choose, it's a sign they care about their dogs — which should also explain why a breeder won't sell a Wheaten as a gift without also interviewing the recipient.
- Expect a contract
You may have thought that contracts are limited to your house and your car. Every reputable Wheaten breeder has some form of written agreement with their buyers. You should make sure you understand the contract, have discussed it with the breeder, and ensure it contains everything you have been promised. If you have concerns, take it to a lawyer to review. The contract should protect your interests as well as those of the Breeder. Contracts about dogs have been enforced in court, so do take them seriously.
- Expect to receive paperwork
The SCWTCA Code of Ethics lists what breeders must provide. Don't be surprised if you get additional information that the breeder thinks will be useful resources for you. It's all worthwhile reading material.
- Expect a wait
Hobby breeders aren't breeding every other week. You may be asked to call back in a few months or you may be put on a waiting list. When the litter arrives, you may find that there are a limited number of puppies available for placement, so your first choice of gender or size or coat type may not be possible. You may luck out and happen upon an available puppy but it's not unusual to wait 6months to a year for a puppy.
- Expect courtesy and respect
If you're taking your search seriously, you should be met with courtesy and respect by the breeders you contact.
- Expect to be interviewed
Your research in the library and on the internet, along with your conversations with other Wheaten owners has provided a lot of information about the breed. We applaud you for putting in this time and if you haven't, do a little more before you start calling breeders. However, that research is only the first step. You should expect to learn a LOT more from a breeder. Even the newest breeder has encountered more Wheatens than a long-time single dog owner, the author of a piece in a guide to dogs book, and even most veterinarians. A breeder not only knows the dogs they've bred but also those all the ones encountered at events. A reputable breeder will have a large national and possibly international network of other breeders to tap into for insights. So, don't be surprised if your breeder's answers contradict some of what you have heard or read. Most umoirtantly, plan on asking a lot of questions and you should expect a breeder to answer them.
We hate to use the H-word again, but this is a hobby not a business. That means breeders are concerned about their puppies for their entire lives. They are prepared to be a resource for you long after you take your puppy home. They want to hear all the good things, sure, but they really want to hear problems, especially in regard to behavior and health, so they can help you. This may mean that some breeders will only place a puppy close to home. As one breeder put it. "Buying a puppy from me has both the advantages and disadvantages of a long, long friendship."
All that being said, every breeder has different ways of handling their breeding and puppy placement. Provided they meet the SCWTCA Code of Ethics, the details of contracts, interviewing styles, sales arrangements, breeding, care, and socialization will vary from breeder to breeder. So, just like you and your puppy should be a good match — you and your breeder should be one, too.
A quality puppy is worth the wait.