What Should I Ask?
Below is a list of questions based on the code of ethics. This code is there to help you as a purchaser, by ensuring you are getting a good quality puppy with the best chance of growing up happy and healthy so avoiding huge vets or behaviourist bills associated with poorly bred puppies. Please feel free to copy or print this page if you think it could help you in your search for a puppy.
Are the parents KC registered? Ask to see the certificates. A Kennel Club registration is the best way to ensure you are buying a pedigree Malamute and not a cross breed. This also gives you the chance to see its ancestors and most reputable breeders will give you a copy of the 5 generation pedigree. Avoid any other registration as you will be paying for a worthless piece of paper, the Kennel Club is the only recognised pedigree registration club in the UK.
Are the puppies to be KC registered? Just because you aren't interested in showing, doesn't mean that you shouldn't expect the highest quality! All breeders have puppies they want to go to pet homes and these should be registered along with the rest of the litter. Avoid any breeder who asks extra for a registered puppy. It costs just £12 for the breeder to register a puppy with the Kennel Club, not the £150 some breeders claim!
Is the dam over two years of age and the sire over 18 months? Unfortunately, there are people who will breed from their bitches as soon as possible. This means that she is still a puppy herself when she has a litter! In a slow maturing breed like the Malamute, it is important to allow breeding dogs, both male and female, to grow and mature before allowing mating. Also, any faults can be seen clearly and dogs and bitches can be removed from any breeding plan.
Has the dam had fewer than four litters and were those litters at least one year apart? A clear sign of a reputable breeder. However, beware the puppy farmers who breed a registered litter and then an unregistered litter at the next season. How would you like to be pregnant constantly? Every bitch should be given time to recover after a litter. Occasionally, litters may be slightly under on year apart. This can happen when a bitch has shorter times between seasons. If in doubt, ASK!
Have the sire and dam both been hip scored and eye tested clear? Ask to see the certificates. Hip dysplasia and cataracts are hereditary diseases which affect the breed. No breeder should use a dog or bitch in their breeding plan if they suffer from these conditions. Breeders will have their dogs hip scored sometime after one year of age and this will give a score between 0 (for excellent) and 106 (for severe dysplasia). The current average is 13 and it is recommended to only breed from dogs with this score or less, although breeders can mate a dog with a slightly higher score to one with a particularly low score. Cataracts cause blindness and are again hereditary. Any affected dog should not be bred from and any mating which results in a litter of pups with cataracts should not be repeated. Eye tests should be carried out each year and papers should be available. Health checks are not a guarantee, but they give you the best chance of not having the heartache of a dog developing these diseases. Avoid any breeder who says they don't test because their line doesn't have a problem. All UK dogs have common lines and so every dog has the potential to have a problem. The Kennel Club hold a full list of health tests so if in doubt, take the full pedigree names of the dam and sire and ring the KC to enquire about current health tests.
Have the breeders asked you to visit before allowing you onto their puppy list? Reputable breeders will insist on getting to know you before you are put onto a puppy list. Any breeder who tells you they have a litter, when they will be ready to go and the price and asks if you want one should be avoided. If the breeder isn't interested enough to find out where their puppies are going and whether you can offer them a good home, then they aren't interested in the welfare of their puppies and in my eyes, they are puppy farmers. Any breeder who can deliver or who will meet you half way should politely be refused. Occasionally, reputable breeders will have a pup left or may have kept two for a while longer before deciding which to keep. They will still expect you to visit and will still ask all the questions before considering you for their pup.
Did you see the dam at home? Was she happy and healthy? Have you been given the chance to meet the sire? Is his temperament sound? If the dam or sire show any aggression or fear towards you, it should make you think twice about the temperaments of any puppies. Malamutes should be happy and confident about meeting people and will make their own minds up about whether you are suitable for one of their pups! If the Malamutes are kept in a kennel, you should expect them to be allowed out to meet you. If the breeder doesn't own the sire of the litter, ask who does and see if you can go to meet him. Avoid any breeder whose dogs are unclean, unhealthy, aggressive, fearful, or kept in "breeding pens" alongside other bitches in various stages of pregnancy or litters of differing ages.
Are the puppies pedigrees to be endorsed to stop indiscriminate breeding? Endorsements are placed on the pedigree to stop people from breeding and registering pups from unsuitable dogs. All reputable breeders will place endorsements on their pedigrees and most will agree to lift them under certain circumstances such as that health checks have been carried out and the dog has proved itself to be of a good standard. A dog with faults is unlikely to have endorsements lifted, but then who would want to breed from a dog with known faults? The point of breeding should be to produce healthy, quality puppies. Some breeders state clearly that they do not sell breeding stock and so it is important that you discuss the endorsements and whether the breeder will lift them under any circumstances before proceeding. Any breeder who says they don't endorse pedigrees should be avoided as they show no interest in the quality of the breed.
Does the breeder ask you to sign a contract and offer lifetime support including taking the pup back at any time should you be unable to keep it? All reputable breeders should be there for you throughout the life of your puppy. They should be willing to offer advice and support for problems and should be interested in the wellbeing of their puppy. The contract should also contain any relevant information about endorsements and should clearly state whether they will be lifted in the future and under what circumstances. Make sure you are clear on the meaning of this before you sign and take the puppy. A contract is just that, something to read with conditions you agree to.... not a sales receipt!
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