Finding a Breeder
Now that you have narrowed your search for a dog to the Samoyed, you will need to find a responsible breeder with whom you feel comfortable, given this person will act as your guide and help you for the life of your Samoyed. A responsible breeder should be breeding to improve their own Samoyeds and will only breed those dogs that have completed all of the currently recommended health certifications for the breed. The health tests recommended by the Samoyed Club of America are found on the AKC site at http://www.akc.org/dog-breeders/bred-with-heart/healthtesting-requirements/ and currently include:
- Annual ophthalmologist evaluation for eye disorders
- Hip Evaluation by the Orthopedic Foundation for Animals (or similar organization in that breeder’s country)
- Cardiac Exam by a boarded veterinary cardiologist
- DNA Test for Progressive Retinal Atrophy (an eye disorder that can be transmitted genetically)
- DNA Test for Retinal Dysplasia/OSD (an eye disorder in which some forms are transmitted genetically)
The above five (5) health clearances will earn a Samoyed a Canine Health Information Center (CHIC) number. CHIC is a database sponsored by the OFA that works with the parent club (SCA) to research and maintain information on health issues prevalent to specific breed and recognizes those dogs tested in accordance with that protocol. Be aware that a CHIC number only means that the testing has been completed and all results have been released to be published by the owner on the OFA website and may not have a clear or positive result. All testing can be verified by searching the OFA site at www.offa.org for the sire and dam’s AKC number or name. You may find additional testing was done for elbow dysplasia, thyroid disease and correct patellas.
The American Kennel Club (AKC) has two programs for breeders – the Breeder of Merit and AKC Bred with H.E.A.R.T. Both have certain requirements to be able to participate in the program. A Breeder of Merit has to have had 5 years of participation in AKC events and produced 4 dogs from litters that have earned AKC Conformation or Performance titles. The Bred with H.E.A.R.T. requires participation in continuing education on breeding topics, provides on-line educational seminars and guides people to comply with AKC care and conditions and health testing You can find more information about these programs at www.AKC.org.
There are many breeders who have dedicated years of work to their Samoyeds and their breeding program, and take the utmost care in finding the best homes for their puppies. You may be asked to fill out a questionnaire about yourself and your family, for the breeder to get to know you, but don’t hold back on thoroughly interviewing the breeder also. Ask to see their contract or puppy agreement and individuals you could contact about them as a reference, such as previous puppy buyers, veterinarian,etc. Normally a breeder’s contract will require that the dog be returned to them if you are unable to care for it anymore. This is their way to keep track of the animal toward which they feel a lifelong commitment.
The breeder should welcome your visit and allow you to see the dam and the whole litter, if possible. You may wish to purchase a good book or two to learn the developmental stages the puppies go through and what you should look for in temperament and personality. The puppies should be well socialized and raised in a clean and healthy environment. Remember that the breeder will be there to help you for the life of your Samoyed, so the important thing is to choose someone with whom you feel comfortable.
When you visit the litter, do not be offended if the breeder does not allow people to handle the puppies if they are under 4 weeks of age. Expect to be asked to remove shoes and wash hands and not to visit if you have been around an ill dog. Be prepared to carefully observe and ask questions of breeders you are considering. Some suggested items for consideration include:
- How did you find out about this breeder?
- What clubs/organizations does the breeder belong to (i.e., kennel clubs, rescue organizations, breed clubs)?
- What dog-related activates does the breeder participate in? (Conformation showing, obedience, tracking, hunting, herding, agility, sledding, etc.)
- How long has the breeder been involved with Samoyeds? Do they have other breeds as well, or are they specialized in Samoyeds?
- How often do they breed their bitch? When was the last time she was bred?
- How old are the sire and the dam?
- Have the parents and/or any siblings of the parents been tested for inherited diseases and have certificates of health clearances? What about grandparents?
- Do either of the parents, or litter mates of the parents, have any known health problems that could be inherited?
- Do the sire and dam have hip and elbow clearances? How are these documented?
- Do both parents have current eye clearances?
- Do both parents have a heart clearance by a board-certified cardiologist?
- Is there a history of thyroid disease in the parents/grandparents of this litter? If so, have the parents both been tested?
- Does the breeder know and discuss what kind of inherited problems are most common in Samoyeds? Are they willing to share with you if they have ever experienced any of these problems?
- Are both Samoyed parents free of allergies, hot spots, skin problems and chronic ear infections?
- Will the breeder take the dog back at any time, for any reason, if you cannot keep it?
- Are there a majority of dogs with titles in the 3-4 generation pedigree of the puppies? (The initials CH., GCH, CD, WS, NA, MACH, etc.)?
- Is the breeder knowledgeable about raising puppies, critical neonatal periods, and proper socialization techniques? What seminars on these topics has the breeder attended in the past five years? What books on the subjects have they read and can recommend?
- Have the puppies’ temperaments been evaluated and can the breeder guide you to the puppy that will best suit your lifestyle? Are the breeder’s other dogs friendly? Do they have good temperaments?
- Do the puppies seem healthy, with no discharge from eyes or nose, no loose stools, no foul-smelling ears? Are their coats soft, full and clean? Do they have plenty of energy when awake yet calm down easily when gently stroked?
- Do the puppies have clean water, are their surrounding clean? Are they bright eyed and no discharge from their eyes? Are they at least seven weeks old before being sent home?
- Is the yard and/or kennel free of feces, urine and debris?
- When you’re ready to take your puppy home, will it have had its first shots and have been wormed? Will there be a health certificate? Will it be micro chipped?
Utilizing all of this information, take time to consider:
- What are your overall feelings about the environment? About the breeder? Trust your instincts!
There are other ways to buy a Samoyed. You may be able to find one faster on the Internet or at a pet store. However, consider the level of commitment of breeders of these dogs. The dogs are seen as merchandise and are raised for profit. They may not be screened for the health conditions that are found in Samoyeds and are not typically the best specimens of the breed. You may reflect on the fact that ideally your Samoyed is going to be a member of your family for 12 to 15 years. Why would you want one that was raised in a cage or a barn, and had never heard the telephone ring or television or any normal part of daily living? Maybe they have never been handled and are not used to people’s touch. In some cases, they are being shipped to the pet store during the most important weeks of their development. If there is a negative experience, they can be affected for life.
You will find that larger city newspapers and Craig’s List has become a hot bed in the surge of puppy sale scams, so buyers beware. Use caution in Internet puppy sales as well, in that some individuals have “ordered” a puppy and sent a deposit, only to discover there were never any puppies available.
The Samoyed Club of America Breeder Listing is a list of members that occasionally have litters for sale. If they don’t have anything available, they may be able to refer you to someone who has. If you ‘click’ with them, they will put you on their waiting list. You may possibly want to consider an adult Samoyed that may be available for placement. A show prospect that didn’t quite mature as expected will make a wonderful companion and will possibly be well trained.
There is also a list of local Samoyed Clubs on the website. Find one in your area and attend their shows and meetings/activities. Meeting the people and their dogs is the best way to learn and find the breeder that is right for you. You can also see the versatility of the breed and how much they love to do things with you.
If you take your time and search responsibly for your Samoyed, you will have years of companionship and fun. It could lead to new experiences as you try different events and you will definitely meet a lot of other caring Samoyed owners who will share their years of knowledge and the love of this truly remarkable breed.
Best wishes in your search for your new Samoyed.
- How to Raise a Puppy You Can Live With, by Clarice Rutherford and David H. Neil
- The Art of Raising a Puppy (Rev Edition), The Monks of New Skete