Having decided that a Leonberger is the dog for you, take some time to select the right breeder. You will find that there are very few litters born each year in New Zealand, so you may have some time to wait for your puppy from the breeder of your choice. A good breeder is interested in YOU. They will question you intensely about your reason for selecting a Leonberger to ensure that you are the right person to love and care for their puppy.
The following questions are a guide to help you find that special breeder. There are no right or wrong answers to these questions, but you need to feel comfortable with the breeder’s answers. Good breeders are only too happy to answer your questions fully and openly.
- Can we visit your home to meet your dogs before deciding on whether a Leo is for us?
You will find that most breeders are only too happy to introduce their dogs to you in their own homes. If you live some distance away from the breeder, and you haven’t met a Leonberger then ask the breeder if they know of anyone with a Leonberger who lives close by to you, whom you may visit. Also try to meet both the dam and sire of your puppy before you commit to purchasing it.
- Are you a member of any dog clubs or organization involved with the breed?
Most currently active breeders are members of The Leonberger Club, which is the only NZKC recognized Leonberger Club in New Zealand. Breeders from these clubs have agreed to abide by their club’s comprehensive Code of Ethics.
- Does the price variation in puppies reflect the more expensive puppy is a better quality dog?
Leonbergers are still a relatively rare breed in New Zealand and Australia and consequently are more expensive than many other breeds of dogs. Many breeders have spent a great deal of time and money researching new bloodlines and have imported new dogs in order to increase the genetic diversity in our gene pool. A higher price charged for a puppy does not mean that the puppy will turn out to be a better puppy than a less expensive one. Nor does it mean that it is less likely to have any health issues.
- What do you think are the major health issues within the breed?
Leonbergers, like all large breeds can suffer from Hip and Elbow Dysplasia. They can also have eye problems such as entropion, ectropion, as well as cataracts. Some Leonbergers are known to have hypothyroidism as well. Un-descended testes are also known to occur in the breed and its prevalence is often understated amongst breeders.
- What health checks do you carry out on your dogs?
The club has a Breeding Standard which club affiliated breeders use.
- Can I have all current copies of the health certificates of the parents of my pup?
Reputable breeders will have undertaken health screening tests on their breeding dogs and be only too happy to give you copies of these score and results from all genetic testing. They should also give you a minimum of a 3 generation pedigree for your puppy. Make sure you request and receive these documents. Be wary about purchasing a puppy from any breeder who does not provide this information to you prior to the sale of the puppy.
- Can I have a copy of your contract of sale for my puppy prior to purchase?
Don’t be afraid of buying your puppy from a breeder with a Contract of Sale. You will find responsible breeders all have one and will send you a copy prior to purchase for your perusal. It will detail the breeder’s and your responsibilities when purchasing a puppy. It should also detail any health guarantees that the breeder is prepared to give to the new owner. If you are not happy about the contract, then find another breeder.
- How many litters do you breed on average each year?
- Can you give details of when this bitch had her last litter and of all the litters she has had?
- How many litters has the sire of my puppy produced?
- What do you hope to achieve through this mating?
- Can I visit the puppies in your home at a convenient time?
Breeders will usually allow, and many openly encourage, people to visit and handle all the puppies in the litter. The age at which this can occur depends on the dam’s willingness to allow visitors. You may be able to visit the pups from a very early age or should at least be able to do so after they have been weaned.
- How are the puppies raised in the home or a kennel?
Responsible breeders care. They spend many hours in raising their litter of puppies. Most Leonberger breeders will raise their litters in the house with them, especially in those first early critical weeks. The puppies living area should be clean and well kept. The puppies should be in good condition and be playful, friendly and happy.
- How old will my puppy be when I can take it home?
The youngest age you will be able to take your new pup home, according to canine association rules, is at 8 weeks of age. Some breeders prefer to keep their puppies longer.
- Will my puppy be registered?
Your pup should be registered with the NZKC.
- Will my puppy be wormed, vaccinated, vet checked and/or microchipped?
Your puppy should have been wormed regularly from 2 weeks of age and received their first vaccination before leaving the breeder. Some breeders may provide a vet-check of their puppies before they go to their new homes. Many breeders routinely microchip their puppies.
- Will I get a diet sheet for my puppy?
All responsible breeders will provide you with information about your pup’s diet including the amount of food your puppy has been receiving and recommendations for its diet as it grows.
- Will I be able to refer back to you for advice if I have a problem with my puppy?
You will find that responsible breeders are only too happy to help with any problem you may have with your puppy and will want you to be their best new friends! They will be keen to keep in contact with you and watch, along with you, to see how your puppy grows and develops. They will offer to take puppy back if somehow down the track you cannot keep it. Feedback from puppy owners is very important as it helps breeder to make decisions about their future breeding programs.
IF THE BREEDER IS NOT FORTHCOMING WITH RELEVANT INFORMATION THEN THINK LONG AND HARD ABOUT PROCEEDING. MAKE YOUR DECISION WISELY AS TO WHERE AND FROM WHOM YOU BUY YOUR PUP.
Good luck in your search to find that perfect family member. We hope that these questions might help you make the right choice when selecting a Leonberger for your family.