BUYERS BEWARE: If a breeder advertises health and other "certifications", you should ask to see them before you consider purchasing a puppy. A breeder who says breeding dogs are "certified" should be able to produce said certification from a recognized registrty. Purchasing a puppy from a breeder who is falsely advertising health and other "certifications" is dishonest and you should proceed with caution.
BUYERS BEWARE: Some breeders in the United States (and overseas) are overusing their stud dogs in order to make more money and produce more puppies. A purebred dog population needs to maintain a certain genetic diversity in order to remain healthy and functional in the future. The SWD gene pool is miniscule in the United States. By using the same stud dog many times we are taking very large risks, especially if the overused stud dog is a carrier of genetic diseases, or even affected with late onset disease, if they are young, as their "bad" genes will be widely distributed within the population and will most likely surface extensively in the future. Using a male often when he is young does not allow us to evaluate whether he will develop a serious disease in mid-life, nor if his offspring might develop serious diseases. The widely accepted protocol for responsible breeding is to breed a stud dog approximately 8-10 times over his lifetime. Breeding a stud dog multiple times in a row does not allow us to evaluate the offspring and adjust the usage according to their health and development. When interviewing a breeder, ask how old the stud dog is and how many times the stud dog has been used in the their respective country. Any breeder should answer any question openly and honestly. This is true of all breeds, especially rare breeds. There is much research which you can find on the Internet and in standard breeding manuals. Simply do a search for "Popular Sire Syndrome" or "Matador Breeding".
BUYERS BEWARE: Dogs and Bitches should be at least two years old before being bred. The SWD is a slow maturing breed, and they are not finished growing or psychologically maturing until at least two years old. Temperaments are not set until then. Breeding dogs or bitches under two years of age is like breeding puppies. Ask the breeder how old the sire and dam are.
BUYERS BEWARE: Every breeding dog in the US should have either a CERF eye certification or an OFA Eye Certification performed yearly (as the certification is only valid for a year). Doing OptiGen prcd-PRA DNA test is not enough, as there are other HERITABLE eye diseases that can occur throughout the life of the dog which will have implications for breeding. To find the dogs who have current eye exams go to the OFA Eye Registration Certification, click here. You should ask to see the CURRENT CERF/OFA Certification. There are dogs being bred who's last CERF/OFA was in 2007. There are dogs being bred who have never had a CERF or OFA Eye exam. This is UNACCEPTABLE. Dogs from overseas should also have their eyes evaluated by a Canine Ophthalmologist and the breeder should be able to produce the certificate.
BUYERS BEWARE. The prcd form of PRA (Progressive Retinal Atrophy) is a preventable disease in the Spanish Water Dog. Fortunately, some breeders have begun to test only after pressure from puppy purchasers and members of this club. For dogs tested in the United States, please go to the OFA site. There are carriers in all lines. Since prcd/PRA is an autosomal recessive trait, all a breeder must do is breed at least one normal/clear. Putting pressure on breeders by not purchasing a puppy from parents who are not tested will force them to test and eradicate this terrible disease!!
BUYERS BEWARE: Autoimmune Thyroiditis is the most common cause of Primary Hypothyroidism seen in dogs. It is a serious, but treatable condition seen frequently in the Spanish Water Dog. Every breeding dog should have a Thyroid Panel including TgAA (Thyroidglobulin Autoantibody). A complete Thyroid panel including TgAA will tell you if there are antibodies present well before regular thyroid levels (T3,T4) are affected. Elevated antibodies is an indicator that the disease is genetic. This information should be used as a breeding tool. Please read about Autoimmune Thyroiditis.
BUYERS BEWARE: Puppies should not leave the breeders kennel before 8 weeks of age. There are at least 10 states which prohibit a puppy being sold or transported before 8 weeks of age. Please check your states "Lemon Laws". Even if it is not in your state's (or the breeder's state/country) Lemon Law, it is not good practice to take a puppy home before 8 weeks of age.
BUYERS BEWARE: There are breeders here in the United States and overseas who are not performing the appropriate health tests on their breeding dogs. At a minimum, the breeding dogs should have a hip evaluation by a CREDIBLE agency (that does not include the breeder or the breeder's personal vet evaluating the x-rays); here in the US, OFA or PennHIP; in the United Kingdom a BVA or PennHIP; and in the rest of the world, PennHIP or FCI. Each European country has its own Hip Registry. When purchasing a puppy, the buyer should ask for the certification by a CREDIBLE agency. All health registries will have a CERTIFICATE of some sort that the breeder can give you a copy of. Do not purchase a puppy without this!!!
BUYERS BEWARE: Puppies must be socialized extensively by the breeder before they go to their new homes. Puppy development expert, Dr. Ian Dunbar, DVM, recommends "100 people by 12 weeks" Your breeder should introduce the puppy to many different people of all ages, sizes, skin color and sex by the time you pick your puppy up, and you must continue the process. There are safe ways to do this. They should also be exposed to different environments and textures. The experience that your puppy gets while at the breeders home will shape his/her personality for the rest of your puppy's life. The American Kennel Club recommends various ways a breeder will responsibly socialize and rear a puppy. Click here for the full article on Puppy socialization.
BUYERS BEWARE: It is unethical for breeders to withhold registrations for any reason, including spay/neutering. In some states it is even illegal. Check your state "Puppy Lemon Laws". Some states give the breeder up to 120 days to give the buyer a properly executed registration application. Every registries' Breeder's Code of Ethics requires that a breeder register the litter and provide the purchaser with a properly executed application within a reasonable amount of time. Please see Breeder's Code of Ethics for AKC (American Kennel Club) and UKC (United Kennel Club), as well as any other registry.
BUYERS BEWARE: Championships, while impressive and sometimes valuable are not the most important thing when purchasing a puppy. In many cases, it is very easy to obtain a Championship on a rare breed such as a Spanish Water Dog. Many times, there are only one or two dogs competing. Best of Breed does not mean much if it is the only dog or one of two. In some show organizations, such as ARBA (American Rare Breed Association) and ICKC (International Canine Kennel Club) the Spanish Water Dog is usually the only breed in Group. Announcing Group 1 placement is misleading, as the dog had no competition. There are some other show venues where competition is required, such as UKC and FCI in order to obtain a Champioship title. Having "Champion" in front of a dog's name does not necessarily mean it is the best dog. Show is only one aspect of a dog. It is only the way the dog looks on the outside and it is a judge's opinion at that moment. It does not tell you about the health, temperament or working ability. In order to preserve a breed, aside from the structure and beauty of a dog, it is also important that a dog proves that he possesses the ability to perform the primary function (herding) which makes him a good candidate for breeding.
BUYERS BEWARE: The Spanish Water Dog is not and never was primarily a Field Dog, Hunting Dog or a Gundog. By every historical account and by primary instinct, the Spanish Water Dog is a versatile herding dog who was used for a variety of tasks, including working as a fisherman's assistant and hunting. There is no documented historical account that the SWD was EVER used primarily as a water fowl or upland game hunting dog. There is some evidence that it hunted rabbits with the farmer. Some breeders are promoting the Spanish Water Dog as a hunting dog. The Spanish Water Dog does not have the temperament, soft mouth, coat or structure to be an excellent hunting dog. The Spanish Water Dog is capable of learning many things and performing many tasks. He is intelligent, loyal and protective. Many love the water and love to fetch objects. Retrieving a ball does not make a hunting dog. He has webbed feet like almost every other breed of dog. The Spanish Water Dog makes an excellent watch dog. He is usually wary of strangers. He will bark to alert, but is not yappy. Spanish Water Dogs may nip as puppies. Although they make excellent pets, their herding temperament must be taken into consideration. They do best when they are active.
BUYERS BEWARE: As of January 1, 2015, litters born in the continental United States should be registered with the American Kennel Club (AKC). While AKC may accept foreign registrations, there is an additional cost of $100 per registration and a DNA requirement for any dog being bred.