Frequently Asked Questions
Here are some questions we frequently get from people looking for puppies, and the answers:
What is AKC?
What is an OFA?
Why is OFA certification so important?
The OFA website says that it is ok to breed OFA fair…why do you say "only breed good to excellent"?
I have read that unless you OFA all the littermates and back 3-5 generations OFA is meaningless and can actually be harmful. Is this true?
What does a preliminary OFA mean?
Should you breed a dog with only a preliminary?
I do not want a show dog so why should I be concerned about champions in the pedigree?
Why should I be concerned if the breeder shows their own dogs and has produced champions?
Is socialization important for a puppy before eight weeks?
This breeder is breeding dogs that are related. Won’t all the puppies be stupid and have health problems?
What types of breedings do you do?
Why do many breeders charge so much for puppies when I can get them in the paper for less?
What is the difference between males and females?
I am only looking for a pet...What should I look for in a responsible breeder?
What are "Old Time Bloodlines"?
Are there more health problems in today's weimaraners than past weimaraners?
There are so many dogs in the shelters...aren't you just contributing to the problem of pet overpopulation by breeding?
What is a Puppy Mill? or What is wrong with buying a Pet Store Puppy?
1. What is AKC registration and what does it mean?
AKC stands for the American Kennel Club. It is a organization created to register purebred dogs. In order for a puppy to be AKC registered the only qualification it needs is for its parents to be AKC registed or registered by a comparable organization in another country. "AKC registered puppies" do NOT mean the puppies are healthy, correct in conformation, have good tempements, come from good lines etc etc. Do not be fooled!!! If you want a puppy with good qualities you need to look for MORE than AKC registration. Local Weimaraner Clubs are a good place to start. Most weimaraner clubs can give you a list of reputable breeders that belongs to his or her parent club, who exhibits his or her dogs to ensure that they continue to conform to the standards of the parent club, and who performs genetic testing such as OFA certification on their dogs.
2. What is an OFA?
OFA stands for the Orthopedic Foundation for Animals. It is a not-for-profit organization created to advise, encourage and establish control programs to lower the incidence of orthopedic and genetic diseases. One of the genetic conditions this group has helped to dramatically reduce among responsible breeders is hip dysplasia, a serious and debilitating condition in dogs. The premise is: if you breed 2 dogs known to be clear of hip dysplasia, then the resulting offspring will be less likely to develop hip dysplasia. And…this premise has been shown to be true! So how does it all work? Once a dog is two years of age you get the dogs hips x-rayed. Then these x-rays are sent into the OFA organization where a group of skilled veterinarians evaluate the x-rays and grade the hips based on preset grading scale. The results of the evaluation are put into an online database accessible by anyone…and are sent to the owner of the dog. The dog’s hips are now considered certified with a rating. Our belief … only dogs certified with good to excellent hips should ever be bred to dogs certified good to excellent. To get more information about OFA you can go to OFA Website
(An additional note: Penn Hip evaluations are also a great way to evaluate the parents)
3. Why is OFA certification so important?
Hip dysplasia is a serious and debilitating condition that is genetically passed down from the parents. Screening has helped to decrease the incidence of hip dysplasia among responsible breeders. Bottom line, you want to find a puppy with BOTH parents having good to excellent OFA certifications in order to reduce the chance your puppy will grow up and get hip dysplasia. A true story: some people in the Denver area did not want to spend very much on a puppy so they found one through the paper for $500. The puppy looked completely normal and healthy when they got him. Neither parent had been OFA certified. The puppy at seven months started developing hip dysplasia. Now they are looking at the possibility of a $6000 hip replacement procedure. One scary additional note…even though the breeders were notified of the problem…they are still breeding without OFA certifications.
4A. The OFA website says that it is ok to breed OFA fair…why do you say "only breed good to excellent"?
The answer to this is strictly our opinion. The OFA website does say that a dog rated OFA fair can be bred if it has a known family history of OFA good to excellent certification and is bred to another with a strong family of known good/excellent OFA certification, but we believe the risks are too great. Here is the description of OFA fair per the OFA website “minor irregularities in the hip joint exist. The hip joint is wider than a good hip phenotype. This is due to the ball slightly slipping out of the socket causing a minor degree of joint incongruence. There may also be slight inward deviation of the weight-bearing surface of the socket (dorsal acetabular rim)”. This is not something that we believe should be bred.
4B. I have read that unless you OFA all the littermates and back 3-5 generations OFA is meaningless and can actually be harmful. Is this true?
That is one of the most ridiculous cop outs I have ever seen with reguard to OFA certification. Of course the more data you can get the better, and a stronger family history of good hips wil definately increase the odds of healthy offspring, BUT to not OFA certify a dog because you do not have a family history of OFA certification on every siblings/grandparent... etc is just stupid. If you have 2 parents that are OFA fair, borderline or have hip dysplsia, the odds of their offspring eventually getting hip dyspasia are GREATLY increased over two parents with good to excellent hips no matter what the family history is! It is all about increasing the odds for healthy puppies...and everything we can do as breeeders to increase those odds are good.
5. What does a preliminary OFA mean?
A preliminary OFA means a dog had their hips evaluated before two years of age. It can tell you how the hips are looking at the time. Keep in mind though that certification cannot be done until the dog is two years of age…why…because that is when the dog is fully mature physically. The OFA preliminary can definitely show different results than the certification because the hips may change slightly with maturation. The difference though is usually only a grade or two Breeders may do a preliminary OFA on a dog they want to show, because they would not want to spend the time, effort and money on a dog that does not have promising hips.
6. Should you breed a dog with only a preliminary?
The WCA code of Ethics says: “Choose only healthy parents of good temperament and qualities in relation to the Weimaraner’s AKC – approved official standard, and whose hips have been x-rayed and certified free from hip dysplasia by either the OFA or any ABVR certified veterinarian.”
7. I do not want a show dog so why should I be concerned about champions in the pedigree?
If you only want a grey dog that resembles a Weimaraner then it may not be important. All puppies are very cute, and yet all puppies eventually grow up. If you take a large group of adult weimaraners from different backgrounds you will notice some very major differences. Some may have sway back, some hump backs, some pigeon-toed, some cow hocked, some straight shoulders, some straight rears, and other may have none of that. People that show, breed to try and get the resulting puppies/dogs to conform as close as possible to the standard, along with breeding for health and temperment. Therefore puppies coming from show breeders and a pedigree with show dogs in the first three generations are more likely to conform to the standard. Breeders that just breed to “produce puppies” are not likely to be concerned about looks, the standard, temperment or health issues. Be aware of people that say “champion pedigree” and yet there are only one or two dogs that are champions, or the champions are more than three generations back. These dogs are likely to have very minimal impact on the pedigree. Also look closely at the pedigree to make sure it starts with the parents and not grandparents or great grand parents.
8. Why should I be concerned if the breeder shows their own dogs and has produced champions?
The easy answer is that is shows a great degree of dedication on the breeders part. A more detailed explanation: There are numerous dogs in rescue and shelters. So is it responsible to breed to just produce puppies?? Unfortunately irresponsible breeders will not stop breeding, so if all responsible breeders stopped…what would we be left with? A mess. Responsible breeders breed to improve the breed…to try and have the resulting puppies closer to the "ideal" weimaraner than their parents.
When we started breeding we had terrific mentors. I would sit with my mentors and talk for hours about what a nice Weimaraner looks like. We would look at pictures of Weimaraners on the internet…pick apart the good and the bad. We would go to numerous shows a year to see the other dogs in person, how they moved etc and evaluate each one. We now belong to an exclusive breeders group on the web made up of the top breeders in the country. The group was formed for breeders to work together in order to produce weimaraners of the best quality and health. Having a good eye for a Weimaraner that matches the standard is a constant work in progress. And even more difficult, being able to pick from puppyhood which weimaraners would be show quality in order to constantly improve breeding programs. Showing, though very expensive, and not without flaws overall is not only a good way to prove your own lines and show you may be on the right track, but also is a way to continue breeder's education on the weimaraner. So if you are looking for a puppy to more closely resemble the standard from an educated responsible breeder, look for champions on the pedigree, and a breeder that shows or has their own dogs shown. (if a breeder has someone else show their dogs, they should also attend dog shows regularly for the educational aspects). Many breeders try and act educated on the weimaraner, but true knowledge come not only from reading, but doing/experiencing. Ask the breeder how long he or she has been breeding and how many show or field champions have been produced from their own breedings/lines. Also ask how many dog shows a year they personally attend. An additional note: If you are looking for a field dog…look for field champions or titles in the pedigree, or look to see if close relatives of the parents have field titles. Also make sure the puppies are tested for field ability and you get one rated high in that area. There are also very responsible breeders out there that field trial their dogs instead of showing, and or show in addition to field trialing.
9. Is socialization important for a puppy before eight weeks?
ABSOLUTELY!! Before we started breeding and showing, we were looking for a Weimaraner puppy for a pet. I drove several miles to meet someone that had puppies listed in the paper. The puppies were all outside locked in a pen. They had been born and raised in that pen. They were huddled together...and were very nervous around me and the breeder. The pen stunk and looked like it had never been cleaned! The breeders were not concerned and said with extra love and attention the puppies would be fine. Luckily I followed my instincts and got out of there quick without getting a puppy. Research has shown that early socialization is VERY essential for getting a well adjusted puppy. Puppies need to be held, loved and have very regular interaction with people and sounds in the home right from the start. I have talked to many people that are very well meaning, that end up buying a puppy out of this situation because they feel sorry for the puppy. In the end they often end up with a lot of heartache. The breeders, able to sell their puppies continue breeding and end up bringing more maladjusted puppies into the world.
10. This breeder is breeding dogs that are related. Won’t all the puppies be stupid and have health problems?
The quick easy answer…Absolutely not! Genetics in dogs is different than genetics in humans. But the detailed answer to this question requires a bit closer look at breeding basics, and three types of breedings: outcrossing, inbreeding, and linebreeding.
Out crossing is when you breed two completely unrelated dogs. With out crossing there will be more variation among the offspring due to a bigger bag of genetic potential. It is like "grab bag breeding" with very little predictability on what you will get. Inbreeding is when two closely related dogs are bred such as a father - daughter, mother - son, or full brother - sister. Inbred animal contains more than 50% of its genetic material from one individual. (there are computer programs that can now measure the "inbreeding coefficient" of an animal). While inbreeding can firmly fix positive characteristics due to a smaller bag of genetic possibilities, it also carries a greater chance of negative consequences and health issues due to recessive genes. Line breeding is when two dogs are bred that are related, though the relationship is not as close as inbreeding. An example of a close line breeding may be a half brother - half sister where the other side of the pedigree is unrelated. This option is a better way to fix desirable traits with better odds of avoiding possible negative consequences. With line breeding you are better able to predict how resulting puppies will look and behave. In addition knowledgable breeders can eliminate many health problems from their lines creating "clean lines" using line breeding.
One of the misconceptions people have is that with outcross breeding and the genetic diversity you get, you will have a better pup. This is completely unfounded in any scientific study. What you do get, is a lot of "unknowns."
Most top breeders use line breeding, with occasional out crossing in their lines which has resulted in numerous show, obedience and field champions. (It is hard to be “stupid” and an obedience champion at the same time.) In addition I have known outcross litters that have had health problems and line bred litters without any problems, so out crossing does not guarantee healthy puppies. Whatever type of breeding is done, the breeder should thoroughly know the lines being bred.
Guiding Eyes For The Blind, Inc., located in San Raphael, Ca., has a breeding program designed to produce dogs to use in their program. They heavily employ line breeding in order to make their dogs as similar as possible intellectually and temperamentally. The results: happy, healthy, well-adjusted dogs that can successfully guide their blind owners through city traffic, etc.
An additional note: there is another type of breeding some people classify separately: backcrossing, where a dog is bred to a grandparent. This can be classified with line breeding if there is enough out crossing in the pedigree.
11. What types of breedings do you do?
We primarily use line breeding, with occasional outcrossing. We do not use inbreeding as defined above.
12. Why do many breeders charge so much for puppies when I can get them in the paper for less?
One HUGE mistake people make when looking for a puppy is to assume that all puppies and breeders are the same. While most all puppies are cute, puppies are NOT all alike! They vary in temperment,intelligence, health, conformation, and looks. Responsible breeders breed for the entire package, and take the time effort and money needed to ensure that. They want puppies that are beautiful, healthy, intelligent, with great temperments. Other breeders only breed to produce puppies.
Breeder B (for backyard) takes any two weimaraners, puts them together and makes puppies. They then sell them and are done with those puppies.
Breeder R (for responsible) researches pedigrees, studies dogs and the standard, takes two dogs from some of the best lines they can find, spends a lot of time and money showing these dogs to championship or field trials these dogs to titles and or championship in order to prove breeding worthiness, does genetic testing, breeds these dogs and gives the female the best in prenatal and postnatal care, gives the puppies the best health care, socializes the puppies daily, has a GOOD health guarantee, knowlege and information to share, and is there for the new owners long after the puppy goes home. In order for breeder R to continue doing all this for the breed they need to be able to charge more money or they would end up losing a lot of money! The rescue and shelters are full of dogs from breeder B...dogs that may now have temperment or health problems. I have also talked with several dog owners that bought their dogs from breeder B that are now paying a lot of money in vet bills. If a puppy from Breeder R were to have a clearly genetic disease, breeder R would be there to help the owners, replace the puppy, and/or possibly compensate the owners to some degree financially. People save up for their homes, for cars, even for children. Shouldn't people save for a puppy from a responsible breeder...a puppy who could be with them even longer than their cars?? Also a puppy that may cost a bit more initially, but in the long run could cost them less not only financially, but in heartache?? In my opinion one of the biggest mistakes people make when looking for a puppy is to buy the first puppy they find at the least expensive price. I actually saw a website from a breeder, where you can purchase a puppy through "pay pal" by clicking on a button. I was appalled!! First the breeder obviously does not care who may be buying their dogs, and the buyers do not care about the breeder, or the backgrounds of their dogs. If you are looking to buy a puppy, do not give into impulse buying!!! Do your research on the breeder, the puppies, and the parents. I have seen several backyard, irresponsible breeders tell HUGE lies about the puppies they breed. They may claim "genetic testing, top dogs in the country, breed for health and temperment, show quality, champion pedigree" etc, and yet none of it is true! (note champion pedigree in my book means more than 60% champions in the first 3 generations of BOTH parents.) I actually had one breeder insist her puppies were all OFA certified...and yet you CANNOT OFA certify a dog until he is 2 years of age! Take your time and be willing to wait on a waiting list if need be for a good honest reputable breeder.
One additional note: just because your puppy came from a very responsible breeder does not guarantee he will be free of all genetic health problems. There are strange things that pop up no matter how careful you are. But buying from a responsible breeder (1) reduces the odds of health problems and temperment problems and (2) lets you know that the breeder will be there to help you emotionally (and financially to a degree) if health problems do occur.
13. What is the difference between males and females?
Differences between males and females are generalities. Keep in mind there are always exceptions to these generalities. Males tend to be larger, more muscled, a bit more carefree, outgoing and playful. They are a bit easier to train. Females are a slightly more mellow they as they get older, and a bit more stubborn and opinionated. Again I must stress there are always exceptions!! Both are very sweet and loving, but if I had to choose, my preference, probably leans towards the males.
14. I am only looking for a pet...What should I look for in a responsible breeder?
We have already discussed several above: OFA certification or Penn Hip Evaluation of both parents with ratings of Good or Excellent, pedigrees with at least 70% champions in the first three generations, breeders who actively show or field trial their lines/dogs, socialized puppies, breeders with knowledge and good health guarantees. In addition expect responsible breeders to be nosy and ask you to complete a questionnaire. Responsible breeders care about where their puppies go. Additional Questions you can ask: How long they have been breeding and how many champions they have bred from their lines. Even if you are only looking for a pet and not a show dog...this information will tell you if the breeder is truly dedicated to breeding to the standard. Ask how many litters a year they breed. Ask when the last time the female has been bred. Only in very rare cases should a female ever be bred back to back heats. Ask about WCA membership, but realize that does not ensure a responsible breeder. Responsible breeders are WCA members, but not all WCA members are responsible breeders!! Ask to see the mother, at minimum and pay special attention to her personality (but do keep in mind new mothers are likely to be protective and nervous about their puppies). Ask to see the health guarantee...and keep in mind that many genetic conditions do not show symptoms until after the puppy is a year old! An additional thing to look for....we believe it is vital that all breeders no matter who they are...have in their contracts an agreement to take the puppy/dog back no matter what the age or condition or the dog. People when they buy a puppy have every intention of keeping the puppy throughout his lifetime. Unfortunately unforeseen circumstances happen (job loss, tragedies etc) which may lead to a dog needing to be placed elsewhere. Often these dogs end up in shelters and rescue. If all breeders would be responsible for the dogs they breed and take back and find new homes for these dogs, rescue and shelters would not see nearly as many dogs as they do today. Breeders MUST take responsibility!!! Look for breeders who treat their dogs as family members and pets!! Dogs are companion animals and are not live stock to be acquired and managed as a cash crop. Breeders who allow their dogs to live the majority of their lives in Kennels or dog runs do a HUGE disservice to those dogs. By buying puppies from these breeders you are contributing to the continuation of this type of life for these mommy and daddy dogs. Finally do not be swayed by the cute puppies, or a breeder who uses hard sell tactics. If something seems wrong...trust your instincts, take the time to do your homework on the breeder and any claims they make. Just because a breeder claims to "breed only the finest" or "only the best" etc...does not mean they actually do!!! I have seen breeders tell incredible lies to sell puppies. Ask to see proof...OFA certifications, championship papers, pedigrees etc! This is a puppy that will eventually grow into an adult dog...a dog that will hopefully be part of your family for a LONG time to come.
15. What are "Old Time" Bloodlines?
Old time Bloodlines are bloodlines from Germany, where the breed originated. A generation or 2 from the Germans lines and the dogs are no longer considered "Old Time". To see if a dog truly has "old time" bloodlines (has been imported from Germany) ask to see the AKC registrations and you should see "Import" and "Germany" on it.
16. Are there more health problems in today's weimaraners than past weimaraners?
This question was brought up and discussed in a breeders forum and the concensus among most long time responsible breeders was definately not...among responsible breeders! Not only has the incidence of hip dysplasia been reduced among responsible breeders, but so has many other disorders through careful breeding practices. The WCA and many generous responsible breeders have also contibuted (and continue to contribute) money for research on several disorders such as Gastric Torsion , Hypomyelinogenesis and HOD. Hopefully we can continue this trend towards healthier weimaraners.
17.There are so many dogs in the shelters...aren't you just contributing to the problem of pet overpopulation by breeding?
My sister actually asked me this question right before I bred my first litter. Here is a paraphrased version of my response: If all responsible breeders stopped breeding can you imagine what a disaster it would be...sporting dogs would no longer be the noble beautiful hunters they were bred to be, working dogs would no longer be able to function as they were ment to... and the health problems in the breeds would skyrocket. Puppy mills would spring up everywhere, where dogs are kept in despicable conditions and treated like a product instead of a living creature. Why? Because irresponsible breeders will never stop as long as they think they can make a buck. Responsible breeders breed to always improve their breed...and they spend a lot of $$ doing so. It is a labor of love. Responsible breeders carefully screed people that will take their puppies and take back any of the dogs they bred at any time for any reason so that NONE of their dogs ever end up in shelters or rescue. (insert: rescue often contacts the breeder of a dog that comes in to see if they are willing to take responsibility and take their dog back...I am always apalled when breeders refuse). Responsible breeders research pedigrees and bloodlines and prove their own dogs in the show ring, so they can breed healthy, beautiful puppies...so people do not have to resort to going to a back yard breeder, pet shop or puppy mill where they will more likely than not get a sick and diseased pet.
There is a demand for pure bred puppies...many people want to raise a puppy and want to raise a certain breed of dog or one with certain characteristics such as hunting instincts, tracking abilities, family history of obediance titles etc. That is not to say some shelter dogs cannot do this work, but it is more of a gamble to get a mixed breed shelter dog for tracking than say a bloodhound from a responsible breeder. What we do need is more education for puppy buyers, and breeders who are cautious about who they sell their puppies to. The problem of overpopulation in shelters stems mainly from people who end up giving up their pets, often because of "behavior problems" (lack of training most often) or because they don't think they have the time to spend with their pets. People that buy a pet needs to make sure they have the time and resources to properly train their dogs, and to think of their pet as a forever family member, not a disposible toy they can get rid of when they tire of him or her. Responsible breeders can be there to help educate and support pet owners. Responsible breeders can screen their potential puppy buyers in order to try and find forever good homes for their puppies. And responsible breeders can take responsibility for what they produce and help ensure that their puppies never end up in a shelter. (One additional note: In my opinion if a breeder is unwilling to take back a dog they bred they should not be able to get AKC priviledges!! That would help the situation more than having all responsible breeders stop breeding and could also help shut down some of those puppy mills).
What is a Puppy Mill? or What is wrong with buying a Pet Store Puppy?
I breed an occasional litter. I own at least the female of every litter I breed. The parents must have had genetic testing, OFA certification, excellent temperments, and have been shown. The litter mom lives in my house, cuddles on the couch with me, is part of my family. I love my gray ones, and their puppies. Puppies are born and raised in my living room. I help deliver them, monitor them constantly, cuddle them, love on them, socialize them and become attached to every puppy we have ever produced or will ever produce. I could not stand never knowing where they will end up or know knowing anything about the homes they will go live in. That is why I screen every potential puppy home and will be there for any family that owns one of my puppies. Contrast this...Commercial large scale puppy operations...Parents live in cages all their lives. They have had NO genetic testing, OFA certification. They could have terrible temperments, and horrible conformation and who would know??? Most never get to cuddle on the couch with anyone. Dams have litters at least twice a year so they are almost always pregnant or with puppies. When they are too old to have puppies most are put to sleep. Puppies are raised in cages, rarely cuddled, and then shipped off in small cages to pet stores where they live in small ages until they are bought by ANYONE with the money for him/her. The people buying could be the most ill suited home imaginable for a puppy. But the pet store will still sell the puppy to anyone with the money. And as long as people continue to buy from pet stores this will continue. Everytime someone buys a pet store puppy because they feel sorry for him...it just opens that small wire cage for another puppy mill puppy. For more information on Puppy Mills and Pet Stores Click Here