Health: What to expect from a reputable breeder

Health — What to Expect

When you’re looking for a Wheaten puppy, how do you know if you’re dealing with a reputable breeder?  It is difficult for a person outside of our Wheaten community to recognize a reputable breeder.  All SCWTCA members are bound by the club’s Code of Ethics.  Not all SCWTCA Breeders elect to be on the Breeders List.  The SCWTCA Endowment Inc. maintains a SCWT Health and Pedigree Database which is open to the public. You can access this database and view the sire and dam of a potential puppy plus view their health clearances. Visit the Database at the link below and send them any questions that you have.

Remember, even reputable breeders have different breeding practices…but these are the minimum they should all be doing.  And they should all be able to answer your questions, not just tell you how healthy their dogs are.

If you have questions, be sure to ask us at board@scwtca.org

SCWT Database

So here are some things to look for:

Reputable Breeder Back Yard Breeder
Hip Clearances The SCWTCA Code of Ethics requires breeders to certify hips of the parents PRIOR to breeding. This is done via Xrays submitted to OFA or the PennHIP exam.  OFA results can be found on the SCWT Database. The breeder can give you a copy of PennHIP results. May not have had hips X-rayed.  They may say that in previous generations, the hips were normal and there has never been a problem so they don’t Xray hips.  REMEMBER: you can always confirm this via the SCWT Database or at the OFA website
Eye Clearances The SCWTCA Code of Ethics requires breeders to have parents’ eyes examined by a veterinary ophthalmologist every 2 years.  Sometimes these results are sent to  OFA and can be found on the SCWT Database.  If not, the breeder can give you a copy of the eye exam results. May not have had parents’ eyes examined.  They may say that in previous generations, the eyes were normal and there has never been a problem so they don’t have eyes examined.  REMEMBER: you can always confirm this via the SCWT Database or at the OFA website
DNA-PLN The SCWTCA Code of Ethics requires
breeders to  DNA test parents prior to the first breeding for PLN-associated variant alleles; there are 3 exceptions as noted in the COE. While some breeders list results on the SCWT Database, they should ALL be able to give you copies of the test results.
May not have done this testing. May say their dogs have never had PLN so there’s no need.

REMEMBER: they may not know what has happened to puppies they have produced.
DNA-Other While not required, many breeders do additional DNA testing. They should give you copies of the results and be able to explain them to you.

IMPORTANT: there is NO DNA test for PLE.
May not know about any other DNA testing.

REMEMBER: they may not know what has happened to puppies they have produced.
Annual Testing The SCWTCA Code of Ethics requires
breeders to do Annual Blood Testing & Urinalysis
on the parents. This is not a guarantee offspring won’t get sick but insures healthy dogs are being bred.
May not test or even know about annual testing.  They may say their dogs have always been healthy so there is no need to do this.

REMEMBER: they may not know what has happened to puppies they have produced.
Health Guarantees There is no requirement in the Code of Ethics to offer a health guarantee except that the Wheaten is “in good health, of sound temperament and in good condition at the time of delivery and…free of internal parasites and are protected against disease according to current veterinary practice” 
A breeder may offer a guarantee or not and be able to explain their practices.

May or may not offer a guarantee. Be sure to read it carefully as some guarantees are not necessarily worth it.  Think about:

  • Will they pay vet bills or only accept return of the Wheaten?
  • Will the guarantee cover genetic or hereditary problems and for how long? Remember, many such problems do not show up until a dog is middle-aged.

Do you have to use their vet? Does their vet have to approve care?

Health Histories A breeder should be able to answer any question you have about the health of the parents.  They should be able to discuss with you health issues they are aware of in close relatives (grandparents, siblings, etc.) May only tell you how healthy their dogs are.

REMEMBER: they may not know what has happened to puppies they have produced.

A quality puppy is worth the wait!

To find a reputable breeder in your area, visit our Breeders List.
You can search by state, first name, last name, or kennel name.
Visit the Breeders List

Updated 02/20/2024