Cocker Spaniel Club
Western Pennsylvania, Inc.
HOW TO FIND A QUALITY PET
There are many ways to find a good pet and all of them start with good people. When searching for a pet, you are, in fact, looking for part of the next 10-15 years of your life. But what should you look for to increase the chance of finding a happy, healthy companion? You will find out in the following sections. But to sum it up, you must find a breeder you can trust to tell you the truth, and to be there to help you in the future.
First some terms that are used to give you background knowledge before you begin your search.
AKC - The registry to keep track of parentage of pure-bred dogs. This is the main registry in the US. It also holds shows and trials for dogs to compete in and earn titles. AKC does not regulate quality, health, or temperament.
pure-bred - Any dog whose parents are registered as the same breed. This does not regulate quality, health, or temperament.
breed standard - A written desciption of what a specific breed of dog should look and act like. You can go here to see the Cocker Spaniel Standard.
conformation show - A competition held to determine how closely a dog matches its breed standard.
obedience trial - A competition to determine how well a dog responds to training.
show dog - Any dog that has been entered in a show, whether it won or not. This does not guarantee quality, but is a step in the right direction.
title - The goal of most competition is to earn a title of achievement in that area. A conformation title is a championship (CH). Obedience titles include Companion Dog (CD), Companion Dog Excellent (CDX), Utility Dog (UD). Titles can also be earned in other canine competitions, including but not limited to, agility, tracking, hunting, herding and lure coursing. These titles are one way to prove the ability and quality of the dogs.
championship - Title earned in conformation competition. To earn its championship, a dog must accumulate 15 points, including 2 major wins.
points - These are earned when a dog is declared the best of its sex at a conformation show. The number of points is determined by the number of dogs defeated at that show.
major points - These are points that are won by winning over a larger number of dogs. An example is, a male dog beating 6 other male dogs may earn him a 3 point major. Two majors wins are needed to earn an AKC championship, and must be earned under two different judges.
all breed club - A club organized to promote all recognized breeds in a specific area. They may sponsor shows or trials that are open to all AKC breeds.
specialty breed club - A club that is organized to promote a specific breed. They may sponsor shows or trials for that breed called specialties. CSCWP is a specialty club.
rescue - Is the placement of animals in need of homes. This is often done for low or no cost. There are many rescue groups that foster and place pure-bred dogs and mix-breeds.
reputable breeder - This is a breeder who specializes in one or two breeds and is an expert in those. Such a breeder does testing for inherited disorders common to their breed. They provide a healthy environment for puppies and adults where puppies are handled and socialized to make them good pets. Most of these breeders will be actively involved in local and national clubs that promote issues related to their breed. Most will also be involved in one or more canine competions. Their puppies will be registered with AKC. UKC (United Kennel Club) and the Canadian Kennel Club are also considered to be reputable clubs. Beware other registries that may be fronts for breeders who do not meet the standards of the above mentioned organizations.
backyard or pet breeder - This is a breeder who produces puppies. Many do not have experience or knowledge. A person who breeds their pet "to show their children the miracle of birth" is in this catagory. Though many are well meaning, most do not take the responsiblities of a breeder seriously. Most do not health test the parents. Often these puppies do not even look like their breed standard describes.
puppy mill - These breeders produce puppies on a large scale for resale with the purpose of making a profit. Most have little regard to conformation, health or temperament. Many do not provide a healthy environment for their puppies and adults. Most pet store puppies originate from puppy mills.
pet store - Any store that sells pet supplies and/or pets.
code of ethics - Written document stating what breeders and handlers of a certain organization should do or not do. CSCWP's Code of Ethis is available here.
Why Choose a Puppy
A puppy can be pure joy to a new owner. The challenge of looking for a personality that best fits the family can be an adventure. Because of the mental needs of a young puppy, it should never be seperated from its littermates until at least the age of 7 weeks. This is the period of time that a puppy learns how to act like a dog. They also learn bite inhibition at this age. A better age to take a new puppy home is between 9 and 16 weeks. If you are getting a puppy from a hobby breeder, keep in mind that most will let a puppy go to new homes as they determine which puppies are the best in the litter to keep for themselves to show. This means that the longer the puppy was held back - the better the puppy is. There are many positives to getting a young puppy. 1) The puppy's personality will be more flexible at a younger age. You will be able to socialize the puppy to the lifestyle that it will be expected to lead. 2) You may want to be able to watch the puppy grow. It can be a lot of fun to see the puppy grow and learn new things. 3) You may want to be in charge of training. If you have high expectations for your puppy you may wish to plan a training schedule to teach skills and behaviors at a young age. There are also many responsibilities and challenges to owning a young puppy. 1) The puppy will still be developing its personality. This means that socializing is a must, not an option. The puppy will probably go through fear periods when it will be sensitive to new situations. It is the owners responsibility to train the puppy and that takes time and patience. 2) Growing puppies get into things. Your house will have to be puppy proofed and you will need to spend most of your time supervising and training your new puppy. You will need to take your puppy to the vet and groomer to be sure the puppy will be healthy and used to these settings. 3) If you plan to take charge of a young puppy's training, you will need to invest a great deal of time in order to provide the right situations to teach proper manners. The most important part may be housetraining. This will include 2 AM potty breaks. To learn more about housetraining go here.
Why Choose a Rescue or Adult Dog You may find that a rescue dog or an adult available for other reasons will better fit your lifestyle than a puppy. Many times an adult dog is already housebroken and well past the destructive puppy stage. You will already be able to tell what the temperament is, whether it likes children, is active or calm. Even if it is not housebroken, it is often easier to housebreak an older dog than a puppy. You will also know how large it will be, and what it will look like. An older dog often adapts better to a home where no one is home during the day.
Benefits of a Breeder VS a Pet Store
Finding the Right Breed
Finding the Right Breeder
Finding the Right Puppy or Adult
Rescue: Who to Contact