As I started on the task of putting together words and pictures for this website, I was truly amazed at the sheer number of various breed sites out there. I've been around a while, but how does the new potential puppy owner sift through all the sites and claims? Here my observations and opinions to assist the newcomer in choosing the right breeder and increasing the chances of obtaining a healthy, happy puppy which meets the breed standard:
.. The American Kennel Club website has a link to the parent club of every breed recognized by them. Contact the parent club, in this case the Irish Wolfhound Club of America (see links). Membership in the national club or a regional breed club indicates the breeder is serious about this breed and has subscribed to a code of conduct/ethics.
.. How long has the individual been active with the breed? You do not become an "expert" in a few years. Learning about your breed is a life long experience. Time is involved in learning the standard, showing your dogs, learning the lines in various pedigrees and knowing what virtues or problems are behind these pedigrees. This doesn't happen overnight.
.. What is a championship pedigree? If the champions don't appear until the 2nd or 3rd generation, this in NOT a championship pedigree. A championship pedigree is one where the parents and grandparents have earned this title.
.. What is AKC registered? This means that the parents of the puppy were registered with AKC so the puppy is purebred. This DOES NOT speak to the quality of the puppy involved. Many puppy mills and back yard breeders have purebreds that are registered. You must look at this fact in conjunction with the other factors in choosing a breeder.
.. Does the individual show their dogs? If not, why not? One way to validate the quality of the dogs and that they truly meet the standard for that breed is through showing and gaining that championship title. These are the dogs that should be in a breeding plan. Not every puppy in a well bred litter is meant for the show ring. In fact, many breeders keep what they want to show and later put in their breeding program and don't care if the others are shown. Their concern is that the other puppies are in the right home with a loving family.
.. What about breeding for health and longevity? These are very important factors in owning this breed. The parent club is involved with several research projects looking into the health issues that affect our breed. As a member of the parent club, we become very aware of the issues and the potential for these problems in various lines and possibly have to avoid/eradicate them. The breeder should be aware of the history behind the dogs in the pedigree. How can a person in the breed for 5 or so years, state that they are producing lines with no inherent problems? Where are the credentials for the claims?
.. Finally, is the breeder going to be there for you? When you buy a puppy, you should have the support and advice of the breeder throughout the dog's life. Are they concerned enough to take a puppy or dog back if it doesn't work out, no matter the age?
As I stated when I started this, these are my suggestions
and opinions. I hope; however, that I have given you something to think about
and a possible approach to finding the right puppy.