The Hovawart Club of Great Britain

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A collection of articles regarding Hovawarts and dogs in general. If you have an interesting feature or article that you think our visitors would be interested in then please Let Us Know.

Avoiding Puppy Farmers
There are lots of resources on the Internet that give advice on how to avoid puppy farmers and we encourage everyone looking to buy a dog to read up on the subject. Dogs Trust has advice on their website on how to avoid puppy farmers. Ironically many of the ‘puppies for sale’ web sites also give advice on how to avoid puppy farmers and yet it is on those sites that puppy farmers are most active.
The best way to avoid a puppy farmer is to check out the breeder.
• Don’t assume that just because a breeder seems caring and responsible that they are! Take nothing for granted and be prepared to check and double check anything the breeder tells you!
• Find out the registered names of the parents of the puppy – make sure you see their registration papers.
• Look into the pedigree of those dogs and check any claims about winning show dogs in the line.
• Check how many litters the mother has had already and how frequently she has been bred from.
• Check how many litters and puppies the breeder has registered with the Kennel Club in total and over what period of time.
• If the breeder is breeding a large number of litters each year (more than 4) check whether or not they have the appropriate licenses to breed dogs.
This is all easier to do than you may think! Read on to find out more … and don’t forget that you can contact us for advice.
Responsible breeders very rarely advertise puppies for sale on general websites. Good breeders generally have a waiting list of homes for their puppies as they do not tend to breed very often. Please be prepared to wait for a Hovawart puppy from a responsible breeder, even if you are not looking for a dog to show. The old saying ‘good things come to those who wait’ is very appropriate in this situation - Hovawarts are a rare breed in the UK.
Puppy farming in a home near you
Puppy farmers don’t always have an industrial sized shed filled with caged dogs in squalid conditions. They may keep their dogs as ‘pets’ in their homes, may ensure that mother and father are available for you to meet, may grill you about your personal circumstances to demonstrate that they are concerned about the homes their puppies are going to, and generally do a very good job of convincing you that they are a caring, responsible breeder. But they may also be breeding their bitches season after season with no regard for the health and well-being of those bitches. So never assume that because a breeder appears to be responsible that they are. Make sure you do the following checks.
1. Check the pedigree of their dogs.
Puppy farmers often claim a great pedigree for their dogs. Perhaps with lots of champions in the line, or related dogs winning lots of shows, or qualifying for Crufts. Whatever the claims of the breeder it is possible to check the pedigree of the dog. When you are speaking to the breeder ask for detailed information and make notes. Always ask for the registered names of the parents, and ask to see the registration papers to verify their names.
If the breeder is claiming a history of top show dogs in their lines then ask them for those dogs’ registered names too, and ask which shows they have done well at and in what year.
If they can’t answer these questions, are vague, or are reluctant to tell you, alarm bells should be ringing in your head.
If they do answer your questions, make a note of the answers given, in particular registered names of the parents of the puppy and you will be in a position to check their pedigree and any claims about related dogs doing well in the show ring.
If a breeder has misrepresented themselves to you or lied in any way you should not buy a dog from that breeder.

2. Kennel Club Registration Papers and ‘Endorsements’
All responsible breeders register their dogs with the Kennel Club. But Kennel Club registration does not guarantee that the breeder is responsible. For £15.00 anyone can register a puppy with the Kennel Club as long as the parents of the puppy were registered at birth and they meet the registration guidelines. Sadly the KC registration scheme is abused by some irresponsible breeders and puppy farmers.
Endorsements are ‘not for breeding’ clauses that most responsible breeders put on the KC registration papers, especially when selling a puppy to someone previously unknown to them. Endorsements are used to help prevent irresponsible breeding and puppy farming – more information about endorsements can be found on the Kennel Club Endorsements page on the KC web site.
We strongly recommend that you do some more detailed research into a breeder if they are:
a. Offering to sell a puppy without KC registration papers at one price and with papers at a higher price
b. Offering to sell a puppy with endorsements on the papers at one price and without endorsements at a higher price.

3. Abuse of breeding bitches
The Hovawart Club of Great Britain Code of Ethics states:
15.2 ‘Not to mate any bitch under 24 months of age. Not to mate any bitch aged 8 years or older without Kennel Club and veterinary approval and a Certificate of Health. A bitch should not be bred from at successive heats unless under specific veterinary advice in writing.’

Always ask to see the registration papers for the mother of the puppies and make a note of her registered name and her date of birth. Also ask how many litters she has had, and when. Make a note of the answers. It’s not a perfect system because puppy farmers don’t always register every litter but it is a good place to start.
The guidance in our Code of Ethics is there to protect the welfare of our dogs and to stop breeding bitches from being abused and used as puppy factories.

4. Dog breeding licenses
The Breeding and Sales of Dogs (Welfare) Act 1991 makes it illegal for a bitch to have more than 6 litters in her lifetime. And from 2012 the Kennel Club will no longer register litters from any bitch that has already had four litters.
Following the changes to the law in 1991 every Local Authority in the country has an animal licensing policy that requires breeders of dogs to be registered with them if they breed more than a specified number of litters each year, regardless of the number of dogs that they are breeding from. This is to make sure that the breeder meets minimum requirements with regards to animal welfare. This limit varies from Local Authority to Local Authority but it is usually set at 4-5 litters per year.
If you are speaking to a breeder that indicates to you that they breed a large number of litters every year (more than 4), or if you find evidence elsewhere that they may be breeding a large number of litters (e.g. they are regularly advertising puppies online or in newspaper classifieds), make sure that you ask them whether or not they are licensed with their Local Authority, and check with the Local Authority that there are no pending investigations or complaints against them. If they’re not licensed, and especially if they have no knowledge of the legal requirements around breeding dogs, then proceed with extreme caution and do more research on the breeder.
Responsible breeders will not be offended or put out by these questions.

5. Contact the Club for help
We can help you research the breeding practices of any breeder that you are speaking to, and the information we will provide you with will be based on fact, not hearsay or gossip. Our only interest is in protecting the welfare of individual dogs being used to breed, their puppies and the long-term welfare of the breed.
Contact us through our Enquiries Form.

(Adapted from an original article by the Italian Greyhound Club with their permission)
This article was posted on: 25-Jun-13