If you’ve decided that a puppy is the right fit for you (though we encourage you to look into the many fine rescue organizations out there, as well!), the next step is choosing the right Aussie breeder.
The first thing you’ll want to decide is what you want in a dog:
- Pet – good with children, good with other animals, etc?
- Exhibition (agility, frisbee, showing, etc)
- Stockdog work
There are many kinds of Aussies out there and it’s important that you establish what you’re looking for so that when you call or email around, you find the right fit. Getting a dog can be just as difficult as dating: the more work you put in up front to weed out the wrong ones, the happier you’ll be for the long term.
Once you know what kind of dog you’re looking for in general, you’ll need to whittle it down to some qualities:
- Temperament (friendly or protective? Focused on you, or okay with hanging out with anyone)
- Athleticism – will your dog be running 50 miles a week with you, or do you need one that’s okay hanging out on the porch most of the time?
- How will your dog live? Will you keep it in a kennel, in the backyard, in your home, in an apartment, on the road with you in an RV?
- Color – a LOT of breeders get very annoyed when the first thing you ask is if they have a blue merle (or whatever color) available. This is because color should be secondary to whether the dog fits your lifestyle. It’s generally a good idea to open with other qualities you’re looking for before you worry about color, because again, it can be like dating: don’t ask the guy on the phone if he’s hot or not . . . find out if you can stand to eat dinner with him. You can reject your date on looks after you establish that *you* are worth dating first.
Armed with these things, it’s time to look for breeders. A lot of people are willing to ship dogs across the country (or ocean) for the right home, so if you’re looking for the very best dog for you, you don’t need to limit yourself to the immediate area unless you want to. Our breeder listings are sorted by date for easier starting points, but once you’ve established you’re a good puppy home, if the right fit isn’t in your state, usually breeders can help you find the right fit wherever it is through networking.
What is your priority when looking for a breeder?
This is up to you. Going back to the above lists, if you’re serious about something, you’re going to want to find somebody who is also serious about that thing, and talks like they are. A phone conversation or a lengthy email exchange can reveal a lot. Again, remember you’re just dating at this stage. You’re screening them and they are screening you.
Things you might want to ask to ascertain if they are the breeder for you:
- Why are you breeding Aussies to begin with?
- What do you look for?
- Do you do health clearances? Why or why not?
- Do you register your dog? Why or why not?
- What do you do to raise your puppies? (Where are they kept, how do you medicate them, do you socialize or train them before they go home with their new owners?)
- Do you have any guarantees on your puppies (ie – you can get a replacement puppy if something health-wise pops up or the dog doesn’t work stock, etc)
- What are the parents like? (Look for temperament, performance if you’re looking for a dog to exhibit)
It’s good to ask very clear questions that allow you to get a picture for the kind of dog you might get. And remember, this is also a business transaction – would you want to do business with this person? Do you have a good feeling about it?
Whether you’re getting a dog from a family looking to produce healthy pet dogs or a world-famous show line, look for a fit. Some breeders will be your friend and support for the duration of your dog’s life (and beyond), some will take your money and you’re on your own. You absolutely get what you pay for.