Finding an Aussie
WHERE TO BUY AN AUSSIE
There are many ways to locate Aussie breeders and one is through The Aussie Times includes which advertisements from breeders. We have also included a list of ASCA Affiliate Clubs so that you can contact their representatives for suggestions. If they have an upcoming show or trial, you can observe many Aussies at one location and talk to various breeders. You can also search online and possibly visit breeders in your area to find one whose dogs meet your needs. We strongly recommend that you do not buy from a pet shop. It is a violation of ASCA Code of Ethics for ASCA registered Aussies to be sold in pet shops.
It is considered best for both the puppy and the new owner that puppies do not go to their new home until they are at least eight weeks of age. Weaning usually takes place from 5 to 6 weeks of age, and this gives the puppies two more weeks to socialize with their littermates and get past the stress of weaning. This also gives them time to have their first temporary vaccinations.
Price should be consistent with the quality of the puppy. Raising a litter of quality, healthy Aussie puppies takes time and a lot of effort by an informed breeder. If it has been done properly, the breeder will have invested in proper nutrition, veterinary care and vaccinations, worming, promotion of their litter and bloodlines through advertising or competition and perhaps a stud fee to a top quality sire. Beware of the cheap puppy as it may not really be a bargain. The initial investment you make is nothing compared to the investment both financially and emotionally you will make over the next 10-15 years.
WHAT TO ASK WHEN YOU VISIT WITH THE BREEDER
Ask the breeder for a pedigree on the puppies. This should include three to five generations. Be sure both parents are registered with ASCA. Remember that a pedigree full of titled dogs does not always guarantee a quality dog and vice versa. Many top dogs come from non-titled, unshown sires and dams. Conversely, some very poor quality dogs can have impressive-looking pedigrees.
Ask for the names of references who have purchased puppies from them. Talk to these owners to see if their dogs seem like the type you are looking for. The breeder should provide a sanitary environment for their dogs and puppies, proper medical care, and adequate attention and exercise. They should also patiently and thoroughly answer any questions you have, whether on housebreaking, health, training, competition or breeding. If they are unable to do these things, look elsewhere for a reputable breeder. Buying from a breeder who fails to give basic care to their dogs, who is unknowledgeable or doesn’t have time for you or their dogs simply rewards sloppy breeding practices.
Conscientious breeders have specific goals for the dogs they raise. Ask why they chose to use this particular sire for this dam. What do they consider to be the faults of the sire and dam. Do they consider these show, working, pet, etc. puppies? Ask the breeder which pup they would consider to be the best for you and why. Concerned breeders want to place each pup in the home that is the best match for it. Again, consider what traits are important to you.
WHAT TO EXPECT FROM A BREEDER
At the time of sale, the breeder should provide you with information on the health clearances of the parents, registration application papers for the puppy, a pedigree, a health record, and a guarantee. Are both the sire and dam, OFA (Orthopedic Foundation for Animals) certified free from hip dysplasia? Be very wary of a breeder who does not know what OFA stands for. Do not let them tell you they know their dog is not dysplastic because it runs and jumps. Hip dysplasia can only be diagnosed with x-rays, and symptoms do not always show up. Have both parents had eye examinations by a veterinary ophthalmologist certified by OFA (formerly the Canine Eye Registration Foundation) within the past year to verify they are free of hereditary eye diseases? Some breeders also have eyes examined in puppies before they are sold. The breeder can provide you with copies of the parent’s OFA ratings and numbers, or these can be looked up on the OFA and CERF websites under the dog’s registered name or registration number.
The guarantee should specify the conditions under which you are due a refund or replacement, should the puppy develop a hereditary disease. Be aware that neither a written guarantee nor health clearances on the parents can completely prevent the development of a health problem in a puppy later on; however, breeders who screen the parents for hereditary diseases are helping to ensure that it is less likely that such defects will be passed on. Many hereditary conditions have either a recessive mode of inheritance or are polygenic, meaning they are controlled by many genes. Some hereditary diseases that Aussies are susceptible to are hip dysplasia, eye defects (such as juvenile cataracts, Collie Eye Anomoly, Progressive Retinal Atrophy, and iris colobomas, among others), autoimmune disorders and idiopathic epilepsy.
What kind of health guarantee do they give? Breeders should offer a basic health guarantee against communicable diseases for which the puppy has been vaccinated, or the guarantee may give a day or two for you to have a vet examine the puppy and let you return it if it doesn’t pass the exam. What has the puppy been vaccinated for along with the brand and dates? Protocols for vaccinations vary, so speak to your breeder or vet about what types of vaccines are needed and on what schedule. Vaccination for Parvovirus and Coronavirus do not always offer 100% protection so be aware of this and try to keep a puppy away from areas where there may have been infected dogs.
What deworming schedule has the puppy been on and the dates? This is also information your veterinarian will need. Puppies will reinfest with parasites and need routine deworming.
What has the puppy been eating and what is his schedule? Try to keep him on the same feed and schedule for at least a week to lessen the stress of moving to a new home.
WHAT A BREEDER SHOULD EXPECT FROM YOU
Once you’ve found a breeder who is knowledgeable and concerned about placing their pups in the proper homes and have decided that their dogs are right for you, there are certain things a breeder expects from a buyer. First, you must continue to provide proper housing, containment, veterinary care, and nutrition for your dog. If you have purchased a breeding quality animal, you should also do the proper health clearances before breeding and inform your breeder of the results. Commit yourself to early training and socialization with your puppy. Sign them up for a puppy or basic obedience class as soon as possible. Contact your breeder for advice before any behavior or training issues you are experiencing become unmanageable. Their experience with the breed will often give valuable insight on the steps to take to correct or avoid problems. Breeders deeply appreciate being informed of the welfare of the dogs they produce. Updates on health, temperament and ability provide them with information critical to improving their breeding programs. At any time, if you can no longer care for your dog, let the breeder know, as most will accept back any dog that they have bred. Most of all enjoy and cherish your Australian Shepherd. They are deeply devoted and highly intelligent animals that can provide you with many happy years of companionship.