Questions to ask a Prospective Breeder
These are some of the questions we wish we had asked when we purchased our first Coton. We trust they will be of some use to you, the potential Coton owner, to help find the Coton puppy that is absolutely the best for you. Some of these questions may not be appropriate to your situation, there may be good questions we have omitted, but the more you know about Coton breeders, the better off both you and the puppy will be.
How long have you been breeding Cotons?
Why did you decide to breed and why the Coton de Tuléar?
Do you breed any other breed of dog?
Do you ship puppies?
How many litters do you have a year? How many litters will you allow your females?
- Most knowledgeable breeders agree that females should not be bred until their third heat or at least 18 months of age, and they should neither be bred repeatedly in successive heats, nor beyond 5 litters nor past 6 years old. Males should not be bred before 1 year old. All Cotons should be thoroughly health tested before breeding.
Do you have a sales contract?
- A good sales contract is written for the protection of the puppy and will include health and temperament guarantees as well as a lifetime commitment to the puppy and to your continuing education. A good breeder will insist in the contract that they want the dog back if your family circumstances change insofar as you are no longer able to care properly for a dog. Under no circumstances will they allow you to freely resell the dog or place it in an animal shelter. If the puppy is to be a companion there will be an enforceable spay/neuter clause. If the puppy is breedable quality, the contract ought to state that there is no way to know if a puppy is truly breedable until the puppy is at least one year old upon the completion of all relevant health tests. These tests include an eye examination by a certified ophthalmologist, an orthopedic examination by a qualified vet to determine how tight the patellas (kneecaps) are, an examination of hip movement and tightness, a complete blood panel to determine thyroid and other key component levels, and a heart examination to check for murmurs or other defects.
What health testing do you perform on your Cotons?
Do you require that puppy owners spay or neuter their Coton?
Do you have a health guarantee?
- A good contract will state that you must take the puppy to your veterinarian within 3-5 days of purchase to verify health and a full refund upon return of the puppy if it does not pass. The breeder should show you the results of the health tests of the parents and any other dogs in the lineage if available.
What Coton or dog organizations or groups do you participate in?
- Is your potential breeder actively involved in a Coton breed club? This is not essential, but it is good if a breeder knows other breeders and is known by them. A good breeder is always ready to let you know of other breeders in your area who are having puppies at the time you want one. A good breeder will be knowledgeable about the various organizations and registries in the United States. Avoid breeders who register with AKC-FSS, APR or FIC. These registries accept one generation pedigrees which mean the father or mother may not be breedable quality and even may not be a Coton. Any reputable breeder should be able to supply you with at least a three generation pedigree of the adults.
Do you communicate with other Coton breeders?
Do you show your Cotons?
- There is no correct answer here. Conformation shows are useful to meet other breeders and to learn more about the breed, to learn how to judge quality and to decide how to breed. These shows are also a competitive sporting event. Some breeders enjoy the competition, and campaign their dogs to see how many points they can accumulate. Generally for these beautiful dogs, some aspects of the show fancy, such as travel and special attention, are enjoyable for the dog. However, it can be hard on a dog to be out on the show circuit week after week. If it is with a professional handler, the dog misses out on the family social environment. If it is with the breeder, this can interfere with the responsibilities of breeding, which requires a lot of time. It is not necessary for a good breeder who consistently produces quality dogs with good temperaments to frequent the show circuit, but it is not necessarily a drawback either.
Do you sell breedable Cotons? How do you evaluate whether they are pet/companion or show quality?
- There is much more to it than a good bite and good pigment. Show quality and breedable quality are not the same. A nine month old puppy can win an international championship in the show ring, but you cannot tell if it is breedable until it is at least a year old and has been fully health tested. A puppy does not stop growing until a year old; the growth plates at the ends of the bones keep growing together and the lower jaw may keep growing until 8 months old. Be cautious of the breeder who assures you an 8 week old puppy is breedable quality or who tells you all the puppies in the litter are show quality. Even with the best possible mating, usually less than half the puppies and often fewer than that turn out to be breedable and show quality.
Do you have a veterinarian who sees your Cotons on a regular basis?
- Some breeders have the puppies and mother checked three to five days after birth and again at six and 10 weeks. A skilled veterinarian with proper equipment can detect problems even an experienced breeder cannot see. Some heart murmurs are difficult to detect. Some breeders may never take the puppies to a veterinarian, even giving all the vaccinations themselves. This saves money but puppies should be seen by a specialist. As you get to know the breeder, ask what vaccinations are given and at what ages and why.
Do you perform temperament and personality tests on your puppies?
How do you socialize your puppies?
- We recommend that puppies not be released until they are at least 10 weeks old. It is more work for the breeder, but the puppies are still developing social skills with their mothers and littermates and other adults in the house. Puppies should be handled early and often from the time they are born or at least from a few days old. Puppies can be socialized in the home to a variety of sights, sounds and people, taken out for car rides, and taken for short trips around the neighborhood in a stroller. Although this takes a lot of time, it directly benefits the future temperament and sociability of your puppy. Breeders so busy with other activities that they cannot devote the necessary time to socialization foster problematic behavior. Another consideration for you is that puppies within a given litter exhibit a wide variety of temperaments. The breeder you want will extensively interview you to find out just what qualities in the puppies match your family situation. The breeder will be attuned to the puppies development to select the right puppy for you. It is not possible to pick out a puppy on a short visit. Puppies have extended sleepy periods and short bursts of activity, and depending on when you visit, any given puppy may seem lethargic, fearful or bursting with energy and enthusiasm, which may not reflect the true temperament at all. Breeders should be able to tell you exactly how they temperament test their puppies.
What are the health concerns of the Coton de Tuléar breed?
Have any of your puppies gone to people with allergies?
Describe the living arrangements of your Cotons.
- Cotons are companion dogs and they want to be with you all the time. They do not do well when left alone for long periods. If your situation is such that you must be away all day long, you might want to reconsider your choice of a Coton.
Do you stand behind the puppies you sell for the life of that Coton?
What would you do if a buyer wished to return their Coton?
How do you keep yourself updated and informed on the breed?
What type of education and support do you offer your puppy buyers?
Where and how are your puppies raised?
What do you feed your Cotons?
- Breeders should recommend high quality, nutritious and healthy food, without any meat byproducts in it, and should give you a supply of the food the puppy has been eating and complete instructions on how to properly care for a puppy.
How do you support rescue?