Choosing a Chesapeake Bay Retriever Breeder.
So you have decided the Chesapeake Bay retriever is the breed for you. Now to find the right pup for you and your family. Perhaps one of the most important elements in buying a puppy of any breed is selecting the right breeder. It is the breeder that you will have to trust to have done the "homework" in making the mating, doing the health clearances, providing a guarantee and matching your needs with the right puppy from the litter.
Not all breeders offer written guarantees and you need to decide if getting a guarantee is important to you. Health clearances are a MUST-Hips, Elbows, Eye Certified, genetic tests done for PRA/DM/EIC. DM is especially important as this is a heart wrenching disease. Ask to see copies of the health reports if information is not readily provided. Most breeders will list certification #’s for the litter parents. You can also check yourself. American Chesapeake Club has a database- amchessieclub.org; Chessiebook.org; OFA-ofa.org and Pawprints Genetics are all sources of certifications.
"LOCATING" While the Internet and email are good ways to locate breeders, contact purely through the Internet is not advisable. In this age of the Internet and web sites, it is often hard to separate fact from "fiction" when looking for a puppy. Email and web sites have made it very easy for people to represent themselves as something very different than what they actually are. Facebook provides ways to research and many breeders have Facebook kennel pages. Ideally, potential buyers should make the effort to go visit the home of the various breeders they may have contacted. Sometimes this isn't possible and in that case, a phone call would be the second choice. Watch out for breeders whose females consistently lack titles in their pedigrees or aren't worked as a gun dog. Many "hobby" breeders are too busy breeding their females to ever earn any title on them or hunt them. Don't be afraid to ask questions! If you feel uncomfortable in dealing with the breeder, go with your gut. There are plenty of good breeders out there!
"FACILITIES" At a home/kennel visit, first observe how the dogs are kept. Chesapeakes need and should have at minimum a kennel run that allows freedom to move at will. A number of "kennels" are actually dog cages in a garage or basement. This is not good for both the physical or mental development and health of the dog. It is great if the dogs are family members. Do they come in the house? If not, do the dogs have adequate shelter and access to water and does each dog has its own run or pen? Chesapeakes can be protective of their runs or crates. It is perfectly normal for the dogs to bark at you when you arrive. However, they should quiet down at the owner's command and the breeder should be able to let the dogs out for you to meet. It should be obvious they have had interaction with their owners too. Chesapeakes of proper temperament should be able to be meet outside of their runs. They may ignore you as some are aloof while others will be more personable.
"THE BREEDER" Do you feel comfortable with the breeder as a person? Do they answer your questions as fully as you would like? Ask: how long they have been involved with the breed; how many dogs have they personally titled (Unless you are working with the dogs routinely, you cannot know the dog's temperament and abilities to work and be trained); lacking any titles do they hunt their dog and even better did they do its field training; a good breeder should ask you why you choose the breed and this is the same question you should ask them. What made them choose a Chesapeake; do they offer a written guarantee; have they ever had any health problems with their dogs? The answer to the last question here should be yes as no one who has been breeding for a while has not had some dogs that have developed hip, eye or some other health problem. If they tell you otherwise, look somewhere else. How many litters do they have at a time? How often do they breed their females and to what age? If every season and at 8 & 9, this is not a good practice. Find someone else.
"PRICES" the costs involved in health clearances, sending a female to a good stud dog, and raising the puppies are considerable. Current price range for a quality- raised puppy is $2000 or higher. Some breeders will sell show prospects for higher prices than others in the litter. It is extremely RARE that an entire litter is show quality. Top notch FT prospects can also command a top level price of more than $2000. Sometimes you will be told that the dogs come from a well-regarded line and are just the same as buying from the person who developed the line. Don't be misled. Every line of dogs no matter how good has individuals who should not be kept in a breeding program. The established and experienced breeder came to their reputations by eliminating those dogs that were not up to the goals- no matter if they were good looking, etc. The more casual breeder tends to be far less discriminating and accepts dogs that are average or less to retain for breeding. Be careful about reduced priced pups with breeding contracts. You can often end up paying far more for the dog than you would have if purchased outright. Read any co-ownership and breeding contracts carefully.