Buying a Smooth Collie Puppy
Because I rarely breed litters but have a large number of enquiries, I thought it would be useful if I provided some information that might be of help to anyone seeking to buy a Smooth Collie puppy in the UK. There is plenty of general information on buying a puppy on the Kennel Club website but we have put together some additional questions and answers to help any potential owners find the right puppy for them.
Each buyer must decide what is important for them but never be tempted to buy a puppy or take on an older dog because you feel sorry for it. If you think the condition of the puppy or premises are not suitable, walk away and report the breeder if appropriate.
Try and find a breeder that meets your requirements most appropriately, keep an open mind and be prepared to wait for the right litter. With relatively small numbers of Smooth Collie litters you will probably also need to be prepared to travel to find the right puppy.
This is a personal list of some of the issues I consider important and for that reason please do not ask me to recommend other breeders and if you have any general queries then the Secretary of the Smooth Collie Club of Great Britain may be able to help you.
Questions to consider:
Where will the puppies be reared?
In an ideal world puppies would be reared in a similar environment to your own home and exposed to the same type of noises and activity. Unfortunately this may not be feasible in a numerically small breed with limited numbers of litters available each year.
If visiting the breeder before puppies are born (advisable), ask to see where the puppies will be reared.
Do the premises appear suitable, i.e. clean and warm? When a bitch whelps she should have somewhere quiet initially but as the puppies develop they need to be exposed to lots of new experiences, sounds, sights and people.
Do you feel that any other dogs are suitably housed and well looked after, with both their physical and mental wellbeing addressed?
There is more information regarding the welfare requirements for breeding dogs on the Dog Advisory Council website.
Don't be afraid to ask lots of questions and be prepared to wait for a suitable puppy - if not, then consider if the Smooth Collie is the right breed for you. Don't be tempted to buy the first puppy available - impulse buys are rarely as satisfying as a considered and planned one.
What health checks have been undertaken on the parents? Will the new owners be given copies of these health tests?
If the breeder does not genetically health test the dogs as recommended by both the Kennel Club and the Smooth Collie Club of GB, then question why?
DNA testing for CEA (collie eye anomaly), MDR1 (multi drug resistance) and hip scoring are all recommended. Annual eye screening is also required for KC Assured Breeders and many people also test for Degenerative Myelopathy that affects a variety of breeds.
Some breeders may not test if money is their incentive rather than the long-term benefit of the breed. Some may avoid testing because they suspect their dogs are genetically affected by conditions that may discourage buyers from purchasing a puppy from them. Other breeders do not think it is worthwhile and may fail to understand the difference between genetic health and general wellbeing.
Unfortunately the Assured Breeder Scheme only requires breeders to health test and screen and at the present time does not require them to take any notice of the results!
All potential owners will need to decide if this is important to them and be aware that if testing is not undertaken, are they being charged the same amount for a puppy as those meeting all the recommendations at great personal expense.
(For more detailed information on health issues in the breed, please see the Club website)
Will the puppies be eye-checked by a specialist canine ophthalmologist and does the new owner get a copy of the results?
All puppies should be screened at 5-9 weeks to ensure their eyes are not affected by collie eye anomaly. Most breeders do this routinely and should give the new owner a copy of the results.
What does the breeder provide in terms of socialising the puppy?
There is now extensive literature and guidance available on the optimum rearing of puppies including The Puppy Plan that is supposed to be followed by all Kennel Club Assured Breeders.
Does the breeder offer initial insurance for the puppy?
Most breeders have access to policies that offer cover for a puppy for the first 4-6 weeks with its new family. This is intended to give the new owner time to find a suitable provider or continue the policy if acceptable.
If not, consider what would happen if the puppy had an accident that required medical attention - would you be in a position to pay a large veterinary bill?
Also consider third party insurance to cover the possibility of your puppy or dog causing an accident e.g. escaping on to a road. This is usually offered as part of a pet insurance plan but may be included in your household policy. Dogs Trust also offer third party policy only with reduced rates for the over-60s when membership is taken out.
Did the breeder ask you lots of questions about your family situation and where you live etc.?
Be prepared for a fairly in-depth interrogation from most breeders if they care for their dogs and want them to go to homes with the intention of being there for the whole of their lives.
Did the breeder ask for a deposit?
If the breeder requests a deposit it must be made clear whether it is refundable or non-refundable. Not many people realise that when they hand over a deposit they have made a legally binding contract. It does not need to be a signed agreement for the law to take effect.
The basic rule is that a deposit acts as surety for you entering into the contract and effectively guarantees that you will fulfil your side of the bargain. Therefore, if you change your mind and pull out of the deal the breeder is entitled to keep your deposit. It could also mean that you have grounds for legal action if the breeder pulls out of the deal, and there are occasions when this will happen, e.g. if a puppy dies or proves unsuitable for sale.
Avoid paying a deposit but please be sure of your decision and avoid time-wasting as this can be stressful for both parties.
Is the breeder someone you feel you would be happy to approach if you have any problems or questions about the puppy at a later stage?
You need to be sure that the breeder is someone you feel confident in being in contact with for the life-time of the dog and will provide you with help and support if needed.
Does the breeder use a contract in line with the Kennel Club/RSPCS/Animal Welfare recommendations?
It is advisable that there is a contract of sale for all puppies that clearly lays down the responsibilities of both the breeder and the new owner.
All breeders who are members of the Smooth Collie Club of GB are required to ensure that each puppy and older dog being offered for sale/re-homing, should also have their full Kennel Club registration documents provided.
Will the breeder have the puppy back if something unexpected or unavoidable happens that means the dog needs to be re-homed?
Most responsible breeders will offer this and it should be a clear statement in any contract. It should also state that no puppy/dog should be re-homed without prior discussion with the breeder.
Has the breeder recommended any reading material or specialist books?
Rough & Smooth Collies by Stella Clark;
The Perfect Puppy by Gwen Bailey;
Smooth Collie Club of GB Puppy Handbook;
The Smooth Collie - a family dog by Iris Combe (available to buy through Smooth Collie Club website)