Frequently Asked Questions__How to Purchase the _Right Puppy.jpg (11182 bytes)

Who determines the quality of papers issued?

THE BREEDER. The ISSR has established certain guidelines that all breeders are required to follow, but the breeder strictly determines the actual designation of puppy quality. It is the buyer’s responsibility to determine the breeder’s qualifications.

How is a breeder's experience determined?

Unfortunately there are no real set guidelines. Anyone can produce a litter of puppies and call himself or herself a breeder, appearing to be on equal ground with someone that has spent decades developing a certain line. It is definitely a BUYER-BEWARE situation, and anyone interested in a specific puppy from a particular breed should be willing to spend enough time investigating many "breeders." A few months of sincere effort now, could save years of heartache later.

Example of some questions you may want to ask a breeder before making a final decision;

How many years have you been breeding dogs, and Shilohs in particular?

How did you get involved with this breed, and who would you consider as your mentor*?

A "mentor" is similar to a "teacher", or the (experienced) person the breeder relies on.

How many litters of ISSR registered Shiloh puppies have you produced? Total number of puppies? (This information can be easily verified through the TCCP.)

What method do you use to evaluate conformation and temperament of your pups, and how much experience have you had using this method?

Could I please have a list of all of the people that purchased puppies from your litters?

Be sure to ask for names & phone numbers for all of the owners, on each specific litter.

How important is a Champion loaded pedigree?

It does not mean that you are going to get a "perfect" champion puppy. It just means that the dogs in the pedigree have been shown, and earned their titles by (hopefully) passing the breed standard requirements. The more such dogs that are present in the first 4 generations of your puppy’s pedigree, the better his chances of being a great specimen of the breed. A lot also depends on many other factors, like the dogs that are inbred on in his pedigree. The quality of the littermates of those champions plays an even stronger part in your puppy’s genetics, then you may realize. Be sure to investigate all "relatives" carefully. In conclusion, the answer is very simple: It looks great framed, and hanging on your wall.

Why are GOLD "papered puppies so expensive?

In all honesty the prices were raised for several reasons. First of all it was to ensure that the "best possible" show prospects would go to homes that could afford to campaign them. The extremely high price would also afford the breeder an easy way to refuse a placement. Most conscientious breeders only sell their absolute best progeny, and require a Breeders Agreement or Co-Ownership contract on their Gold papered puppies. This also allows them to provide large discounts, and maintain better control over future breeding. On the average a $4500 Gold papered show prospect, actually sells for around $2,000. after discounts.

How much would a good pet quality puppy cost?

Most families only need a good companion. Those that do not plan to show or breed, usually will not mind a slight fault, like a "bitchy head" or "hook tail" etc. Such people are more interested in health, hips, and temperament  than in "non-faulty" conformation. These puppies still have the great hips and intelligence the breed is so well known for, even if they got cheated a bit in the "beauty" (as per breed standard) department! Most breeders sell their "faulty" pups for around $750 (less discounts) with full (Hip and Temperament) guarantees. For those that want huge size and exceptional structure, an upgradeable pet may be the best choice. The initial price is very reasonable, averaging between $900- $1250 (less discounts), and such puppies will most often grow up into excellent specimens that CAN later be upgraded if their owners decide that they DO want to show or breed.

What kind of faults can I expect a non-upgradeable puppy to have?

It would depend on the individual puppy, and the breeder. Some breeders feel very strongly about "heads." This type of breeder would let all males with "poor stops" (for example) go as pets, so that they will never be bred, thereby eliminating the genotype for the "narrower" heads. Other breeders have a "personal dislike" for dogs with short of curled tails, and any male with a tail that is less then a "perfect plume" would be downgraded. While others may fault a puppy for "faded pigment." Most conscientious breeders will definitely fault a puppy that appears to be low stationed (legs are too short for the body) or short coupled (does not have the proper length of body), exhibits a shallow or east-west front, etc. The average owner would never notice most of these structural "show faults", and often such puppy’s have gone to shows and even won (big) under certain judges! The only reason for reducing such a puppy’s quality to a non-breeding status is to prevent him from passing such faults on to his progeny. When such puppies are allowed to breed dogs that may also have similar/other faults, the quality of the breed itself is reduced very quickly! Only the absolute BEST (as near to the standard as possible) quality studs should be used for breeding. That is why breeders seem to reduce a lot more males to "pet" status, then females. Since one male can breed hundreds of bitches per year, only the absolute best possible should be utilized.

Can I find a good quality puppy with ORANGE papers?

Absolutely!! The main difference between an Orange and a GOLD puppy is the price! An excellent puppy with a lot of show potential is often reduced in price and sold with Orange papers by the breeder for 2 reasons:

The breeder wants to insure the best possible future for the breed. The only "string" attached to the Orange category, is that the owner must get the Breed Warden's approval on every breeding done with this stud/bitch. This insures everyone that only the best quality progeny will be produced. Any questionable/incompatible breeding would not be approved.

It eliminates the breeder’s responsibility to enforce Co-ownership & Breeders Agreement contracts, and to provide "Show" guarantees, where a replacement has to be made if the puppy does not finish his/her Championship within a reasonable amount of time.

Please note: any dog from the RED, ORANGE, OR GOLD category is eligible for PLATINUM Status upon meeting all of the ISSR requirements. This is not a category that a breeder can "give" to his puppy, each dog actually has to meet all of the ISSR qualifications (listed below) before he can enter this elite group.

"2.) GOLD/ORANGE/RED 2.) GOLD/ORANGE/RED dogs that meet the following requirements can be upgraded to the Prestigious Platinum category by submitting a copy of the following:

  1. I.S.S.R Championship Certificate (no other Championship will be recognized)
  2. OFA Certificate with a GOOD or EXCELLENT RATING ONLY. (no fair ratings will be excepted)
  3. Valid proof from the TCCP that said dog/bitch has attained the minimum of 1,000 R.O.M. points."  (ISSR Rules and Regulations)

What kind of Guarantee can I expect from my breeder?

Each breeder has their own "version" so it would be beneficial for you to ask for a copy prior to making a commitment, and then compare it to that of other breeders. After all, one of the reasons you are paying such a high price for a well-bred dog is because you want the security of reduced risk. The "guarantee" your breeder provides is actually your insurance policy, and the cost has been incorporated into the price of your puppy, therefor you have a right (and obligation) to examine it carefully! Most breeders will vary the coverage depending on the quality of puppy you are purchasing, please study the wording carefully, after all it is a legal contract.

Example; a guarantee that states that your puppy is covered "against crippling Hip Dysplasia for up to one year" is useless, since most dogs do not become "crippled" that early, and further more who determines HOW severely disabled the dog must be in order to be considered "crippled"? The same "double-talk" can be seen in some forms of "temperament" coverage, etc.

Finally, make sure that you feel confident that your breeder will be around, incase you do need a replacement! What happens if your breeder "closes shop"? Is there a provision in the contract for all such possibilities?

What will my breeder expect from me?

If you are dealing with a reputable breeder, you will be expected to fulfill all of the ISSR registration procedures, and probably be asked to join the SSDCA so that you can stay educated about your breed. Even if you have a "pet" and never plan to "show" the Newsletters you receive will help to keep you informed about many issues that could prove to be very beneficial to your dogs health, etc. Your breeder will also want you to send pictures, and update reports on your dog so that he/she can accumulate data needed when planning a future breeding. Most of all, a good breeder will expect you to stay in close contact, especially if you have a problem or question. So think of this "purchase" as a commitment (partnership) between your breeder and yourself for the fullest enjoyment of your dog, and the future benefit of the breed.

 Publication History:

This FAQ was one of a series written by Tina M. Barber in 1999, exclusively for the Shiloh Shepherd Learning Center.