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Choosing a Pedigree puppy

I hope you are now more aware of the Dangerous Dog Laws here in Spain even if they do seem to have very many variations. If you live in an area where there is a major anomaly to the normal base then do please contact me so we can all share this information. Also if you have ever had to use the Dangerous Dog insurance policy and not felt happy with their service please do write in and I can pass on your good or bad experiences in order to stop them recurring again and again.

I often receive requests for information on breeders and in particularly certain breeds for recommendations. Norma Knox is a very successful breeder of Pugs here in Spain. She frequently competes with her dogs at the Spanish breed shows often gaining best in breed. You can always give Norma a call for some help but she admits she does not know all the breeders so sometimes sadly she cannot make recommendations for the entire breed of dogs we have here.

Just as another warning for you all I received a call the other day from a lady who purchased a puppy in reply to an advertisement for Pedigree Poodles from someone purporting to be a registered breeder. The puppy died from Parvo very soon after the owner got it home. When taken to the vet he said the dog, advertised as 8 weeks, was in fact 12 weeks. There was no pedigree issued or the certificate booklet to say what vaccinations the puppy had received. The vet concluded the breeder had never vaccinated the puppy at all and fears the breeders remaining puppies would also have this disease.

Do not let this happen to you. If you do have a problem like this do contact me and send me all the information and I will see if there is anything I can do to sort out the problem of compensation on your behalf.

Moving on from the Spanish dog laws you may now feel you would like to have a puppy and need to know how to purchase one from the many registered breeders that exist here in Spain. The next guest article written by Kathryn Hollings should make that process much easier for you.

Buying a Pedigree Puppy in Spain (by Kathryn Hollings)

Buying a puppy is a very big step, after all you will be caring for a living animal for 12-15 years, but with so many different ways of buying a dog, where do you start? Just like the UK, there are 4 main ways of buying a pedigree dog in Spain:

* Animal Shelter
* Hobby Breeder
* Pet Shop
* Registered Breeder

The Animal Shelter

Like the world over, Spain has its fair share of abandoned puppies. Either unwanted presents or from the result of unplanned mating, they end up being dumped, often next to rubbish bins, and once found being handed in to an animal shelter. All these abandoned puppies need good homes, some are pedigree, more often mixes, but if you are not particular about wanting a particular breed, is a kind-hearted way of buying your new puppy.

Hobby Breeder

Some people like the thought of their dog having puppies, and if done correctly, with a great deal of thought, planning and care, is another way of buying a puppy.

Pet Shop

That adorable puppy in the window of the pet shop is hard to resist, but chances are you paying a lot of money for a dog that you know very little about.  Pet shops generally rely on impulse buys to sell their "product". There is a good chance that the pet shop puppy will develop a health problem sometime in its life that may cost you a lot of money to remedy, let alone the heartache you will suffer. When you buy a pet shop puppy it is very unlikely that the puppy's parents were screened for genetic diseases that can be passed to their offspring. Almost certainly, a puppy bought from a pet shop will have missed out on vital socialisation with its littermates, which may create behavioural problems in the future. Although the easiest way of buying a puppy, it is in my opinion, by far the worst way.

Registered Breeder

I believe this to be the preferable way of choosing and buying your pedigree puppy. Like the UK, professional breeders of pedigree dogs must be registered with the Kennel Club, and must abide by its rules and regulations. In Spain the UK Kennel Club equivalent is the ‘Real Sociedad Canina de Espana’ (RSCE), the Royal Canine Society of Spain. It was founded on 16th November 1912 in Madrid under a different name, the name changing to the RSCE in 1995.

All professional breeders are registered with the RSCE, and breed according to the current FCI (Federacion Cynologique Internationale) standard. This is the official breed standard recognized throughout the world. It is the official international standard that registered breeders here in Spain must abide by. The FCI governs areas such as size, weight, appearance etc.

Breeders in Spain are assigned an identification number by the RSCE. If you find a breeder that you are interested in, you can check that they are registered by calling the RSCE in Madrid (tel 902 35 35 42).

When you buy your puppy here you will receive from the breeder a ‘Cartilla Sanitaria’ (Health Booklet), also called a ‘Certificado de Vacunacion Internacional’ (International Vaccination Certificate). This is a small booklet, containing details on the dog, owner, and a complete vaccination history as well as the important worming information. It also contains all the information if your dog is classified dangerous and if it has the exemption certificate of socialisation. I would suggest taking this along with your new puppy to your vet immediately for them to give the dog a good check over, and to inform you of any further vaccinations your new puppy will need and when to have them. Your vet will also advise you when, depending on the vaccinations it has received, it is safe to let your puppy experience the outside world. This is a little different here to what it is in the UK, this is explained below. This is also a good time to acclimatise your new puppy to the dreaded ‘vets visit’.

The breeder will give you around 1 weeks worth of the dried food that the puppy has been fed on, and this will enable you to gradually phase in a good quality dried food of your choice. All of your personal details will be taken too, which will be sent to the RSCE, so they can register you as the new owner of the puppy, and in time send out to you by post a certificate of pedigree. I was told when I acquired my new puppy last week that this would take around 4 months.

On visiting the breeder here you should be able to see mother and littermates together, and any good breeder will also let you see the father, so you can see his temperament, and vital statistics, such as weight and height. Any good breeder in Spain will not pressure you into buying one of their puppies, and will give you all the time in the world to interact with the puppies in the litter and the mother, allowing you to come to the decision of ‘yes’ or ‘no’. They will know which are the more dominant/submissive puppies, the FCI standard for their breed, and answer all questions you may have. In fact, when I first bought a puppy in Spain, the breeder asked me almost as many questions, as I had for him!

My new puppy is a Spanish Water Dog, called Osito (Teddybear in English), who I bought last week at a little less than 8 weeks of age from a good breeder north of Valencia. It took me hours of phone calls to, I think almost all the Spanish Water Dog breeders in Spain, to find a breeder I was happy with. The breeder has 10 bitches, but only breeds them once every 3 years. Her dogs live in her countryside house outside Madrid, but when a litter is due, the bitch is brought down to Valencia to give birth in her house there. Knowing how important it is to expose a new puppy from the outset to as many different positive experiences as possible, I was happy with this, so went to see the breeder. I saw ‘mum’ with all her puppies, along with some of her other dogs as well. Mum was very friendly for a Spanish Water Dog, as they are quite an aloof breed, and all the new puppies seemed extremely well balanced.

I spent several hours there and the breeder took me through the history of the breed, the temperament differences of the new litter, feeding requirements, the vaccination history etc. Her main concern was that all her dogs should have a well-balanced character, but display the true traits of their breed. I found them well socialised, happy and into everything, with no signs of nervousness or aggressiveness.

As with everyone, I wanted to take my new Osito there and then, but the breeder advised against it, she would rather he had another 1 week of socialisation with his littermates and mum, which is the correct thing for her to advise. We returned 1 week later to collect him. Before we went home, we took him to the vet, who looked through his Health Booklet, and advised he needed 1 more injection in 1 weeks time, before he could be walked in the outside world and meet other ‘unknown dogs’. However, the vet strongly recommended me to take Osito out there and then to socialise him, but carrying him, as he wasn’t fully protected to walk on the ground outside. Since then he has been everywhere with me, and my arm is beginning to ache a little!

I have had him now for 5 days, and he has been fussed by adults and children, seen skateboards, roller skates, remote control cars, cats, shops, restaurants. In fact he even had his own chair in a restaurant a few days ago. I have played a ‘Sound CD’ of fireworks, gunshots, crowds, trains, buses etc… We’ve thrown things on the tiles to get him used to loud unexpected noises, played puppy games with him and of course let him sleep too!

He is due to have his final vaccination in 3 days, and 2 or 3 days following this vaccination, he will be out on the street, meeting lots more people, dogs and generally having a lot of experiences. This will help him learn all he needs to in order to survive in his new world, and make him into a well balanced and reliable dog.

If a puppy is bred by a good quality breeder and is well socialised from the outset, you are unlikely to experience any problems, either behavioural or physically.

When you buy a puppy, you are adding another member to your family, not just another piece of furniture that can be disposed of at the smallest whim.  You would not have a child without careful research and planning for the child's future ten or fifteen years down the road.  Your new dog should be no different.  Adding a dog to the family is a long term commitment and responsibility that should be taken seriously and only acted upon after careful consideration and research.

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