Choosing a sporting dog in a seller’s market
Impulsive decisions have their place in life from time to time, but are generally a bad idea when it comes to buying a dog. This is true of all pet owners, but anyone looking for a hunting dog with all the right genetics and health checks should really eschew the urge to buy on a whim.
Couple this with the fact that a global pandemic has placed a premium on puppies to the point where finding litters isn’t all that easy, and you’ve got your work cut out for you if you want a new, four-legged addition to the family.
The due diligence phase of finding a great dog should start with an honest assessment, not only what kind of performance we want out of it, but what we are willing to put in. If training time or experience is highly limited, headstrong breeds are probably a poor choice. Think about general breed choice in these terms to really suss out what would be good for you, versus just what you want, because they’re often different things.
I’ve had quite a few people reach out to me and say they want a dog that is a specific breed, but they want it to have all of the traits of a different breed. See the disconnect there?
If you do narrow your choice, it’s time to start looking for breeders. Look at pictures of dogs all you want, but give more weight to conversations with the breeders on what their dogs are like, and what they’re really bred for. Ask them about litter availability, health checks, and bloodlines. If at all possible (it should be), inquire about watching one or both parents actually run through some drills.
Seeing a dog do what a dog does is the best way to tell if you want that style or not. Some people want a burner that’ll go from dark to dark at 100mph, while others want something that stays in a lower gear. Granted, there are no guarantees that a set of parents will throw carbon-copy pups, but it’s a general reality that like throws like. What you see in the parents will tell you an awful lot about what you’ll probably get in the litter.
Lastly, give it some time. Research multiple breeders and understand that the perfect pup for you might not be available right away, which always opens the possibility of making a rushed decision. But don’t. You’ll be much happier if you put in the right amount of time to get a dog that really, really works for you and your family.