Find a Breeder
What is a "Responsible PWD Breeder"?
Serious and dedicated breeders do not really expect to profit from selling puppies, and are referred to as "hobby breeders". They breed dogs for the enjoyment and pride that comes from producing high quality, happy, healthy puppies that become cherished family companions. These breeders acknowledge responsibility for each and every puppy produced and stand behind every dog they breed over its lifetime.
Unequivocally, you should choose your puppy from a responsible hobby breeder who is also a member of their national breed club. You deserve a dog that was the result of careful planning; a puppy who was bred and carefully raised to be happy and healthy. Only the established breeder can offer you predictability and consistency of quality, health, and temperament with a selective breeding program. Surprisingly, you won't pay more. Indeed, pet shops, puppy mills and backyard breeders often sell their puppies at prices that are equal to, or higher than those charged by hobby breeders.
The PWDCA, its board, volunteers and members all care deeply about the future of Portuguese Water Dogs. You are also part of this extended, global family of PWD lovers. As such, the breed's future truly depends on your diligence in supporting responsible breeding practices by choosing breeders who do the right thing.
That dedication extends to providing PWD puppy buyers as much information as possible to help find a healthy, properly raised pup. The PWDCA has developed one of the most robust databases for purebred dogs, called the Health and Litter Log (HLL). The club supports full disclosure to the HLL of all significant health issues (from pet owners as well as breeders) in our quest to protect and preserve the PWD.
The resource sections below will help you identify responsible breeders. We've also developed a handy "Puppy Buyer Cheat Sheet" for you to download/print and use when talking to breeders.
How does one recognize the serious, dedicated hobby breeder? The list below identifies many of the attributes and characteristics of the serious hobby breeder. Don't be afraid to ask questions or to confront a prospective breeder if they aren't forthcoming. It is your right, and a dedicated and reputable breeder will respond positively and with pride.
- Involvement in Breed and other Purebred Dog Organizations
Each breed of dog has a national breed club and, in many areas of the country, local specialty (single-breed) clubs exist. Also, throughout the country, there are local all-breed dog clubs. Ideally, your breeder will belong to all three types of clubs, and possibly to other dog-related organizations as well, although sometimes not all the options will be available to them. Usually, participation in dog clubs indicates depth of involvement. The breeder is exposed to other points of view, learns more about their breed and is kept up to date about general dog care and modern breeding practices.
- Participates in Conformation and Companion/Performance Competitive Dog Events
Breeders should be involved in "showing" their dogs competitively, so that they aren't breeding in a vacuum. In addition to conformation, you’ll often find breeders at obedience, agility, nose work and of course, water competitive trials. Breeders who don't show may have no idea how their dogs compare and are deprived of the opportunity to share information and ideas with others. Showing provides competition which encourages breeders to produce better dogs. Breeders who show are not relying solely on a pedigree to indicate quality. The show ring is the forum that indicates the degree to which a dog conforms to the standard for its breed. Breeders who show are known by others, have a reputation to uphold, and will be as careful and honest in selling you a pet as they are in selling show dogs.
- Requires Health Exams by Vet
Your breeder should give you a reasonable period of time after purchase to have your pup examined by a veterinarian to determine its state of health. If a problem should arise, it can be quickly resolved. Reputable breeders will have the puppies vet-checked prior to placement to check for things like heart murmurs which aren't easily identifiable by visual inspection.
- Provides Contracts, Pedigrees, AKC Registration, Care Instructions, Vet/Shot Records
Breeders should give you written instructions on feeding, training, care and grooming. Breeders should also supply you with basic information about the breed, either as a gift, or to purchase at a nominal cost. You should also receive the pup's health and vaccination records. Breeders should provide a contract or some written, signed conditions of sale. You should also get a copy of your puppy's pedigree. You should be shown official AKC registration paperwork, which either you or the breeder will fill out (online or hard copy) and submit to AKC. You will recieve by email or mail an official AKC registration for your puppy.
- Provides Proof of Puppies Parents’ Health Test Results
The breeder should supply you with proof that the pups' parents have had their hips X-rayed and certified by the OFA (Orthopedic Foundation for Animals). For the most part, dogs less than two years old should not be used for breeding and OFA final ratings are not given before a dog is two years old. The breeder should provide both parents’ test results for GM-1, JDCM, PRA, EOPRA, IC and Micropthalmia. Also, the breeder should show you that the pups' parents have had an eye exam within the last 12 months by a certified canine ophthalmologist and registered with CAER (formerly CERF) or ECR, and are clear of hereditary eye defects.
- Takes on a Lifetime of Responsibility
Make it clear that you expect the breeder's responsibility to continue after you have taken the puppy home. Dedicated PWDCA member-breeders abide by the PWDCA’s Code of Ethics, and will ask that the pup be returned to them or placed with new owners that meet their approval if, for some reason, you are unable to continue ownership.
- Asks a lot of questions!
Be prepared to answer a few questions yourself. Reputable breeders are genuinely interested in finding quality homes for their puppies. Don't be offended if the breeder asks whether you have a fenced yard or what kind of dogs you have had in the past and what happened to them. A serious breeder will want to know what kinds of situations their puppies will be subjected to and what kind of care they will receive. Some breeders may seem a bit hesitant to sell you a pup until they know a lot more about you.
- Will want to meet you and your family
Breeders should be willing to have you visit their premises. You should see a clean environment, well-socialized pups, and a dam with a good temperament. Puppies should be happy and self-assured. It is desirable to have the puppies living somewhere in the house rather than in a separate building or kennel. This allows the puppies to become socialized to the ordinary sights, sounds, smells and activities of a household.
- Provides Solid References
Breeders should be willing to give you references - their veterinarian, or the names of people who have purchased puppies from them in the past.
- Has Spay/Neuter Requirements
Breeders will require that your pet be spayed or neutered when it reaches the correct age, and may withhold registration papers until proof is provided. It's important to pay attention to WHEN your breeder wants you to spay/neuter your PWD, as there are health implications in performing the surgery too early, before the puppy has had time to fully develop. Until your PWD is spayed/neutered, It is important to avoid breeding accidents, as serious breeders spend a lot of time and effort planning a breeding program designed to improve the breed by using only the best breeding quality dogs. Pets should be loved and enjoyed as pets.
The reputable breeder is interested in producing sound, healthy dogs. S/he has devoted much time in determining which dogs to use to produce the best possible offspring. S/he is concerned with structure, size, pedigree and disposition (the latter being important in ensuring the continuance of good temperament in the breed). S/he endeavors to produce dogs nearest the accepted STANDARD OF THE BREED as defined by the PWDCA and approved by the American Kennel Club. The Portuguese Water Dog, as with all purebred dogs, has health issues that we, as breeders assisting veterinarians and researchers, are working to eradicate.
Once you’ve communicated your interest to a breeder, it is very common to be placed on a waiting list for a future breeding. Be careful of putting your name on more than 1 or 2 waiting lists. If you put a deposit on a puppy, make sure you understand if any portion or all of the deposit is refundable. Most breeders sell their puppies and dogs with some type of written contract. Contracts can be very basic, little more than a bill of sale or more typically require you to spay or neuter your puppy. Usually, a contract for a show or breedable puppy will require you show the dog or even to give back 1 or 2 puppies from a future breeding. Ask for a sample contract, so you may study the wording and terms carefully. NEVER sign a contract you do not understand or are not completely comfortable with.
Many breeders choose a puppy for the new owners rather than let the buyer choose from all the puppies in the litter. Breeders will perform temperament tests and conformation/structural evaluations and ask you many questions about your lifestyle and needs in order to best match personalities and temperaments to families.
Ask the breeder if prior to placement, puppies will seen by a veterinarian and Board Certified Veterinary Ophthalmologist, wormed for internal parasites, vaccinated with initial puppy shots, microchipped and if the litter has been registered with the AKC. The breeder should provide you with this information as well as the registered names and individual registration numbers of the sire (father) and the dam (mother), the date of the puppy's birth, the name of the breeder, and the AKC registration number.
The PWDCA maintains an online Breeder Referral List to assist you in locating responsible breeders who deeply care about the future of the breed. It is by no means complete, as many reputable breeders may choose not to publicly list here. Instead, they might list their contact information on their Regional Clubs' websites. Or they might find their puppy owners by referral or from return clients. While we do not vet them, you will find that breeders who are PWDCA and Regional PWD Club members normally follow the health recommendations of the PWDCA.
As earlier mentioned, it is important that you speak with any PWD breeder you are considering and ask the tough questions, request proof of health testing, etc. If for any reason, you feel uncomfortable with your interactions, move on. It's important that you have a good rapport with your breeder. You’ll find that conscientious PWD breeders will ask to be informed about your pup's welfare throughout its lifetime. And likewise, they’ll encourage you to contact them whenever you have questions or concerns.
PWDCA-sanctioned Regional Clubs offer a multitude of local benefits to new and experienced PWD owners. Some clubs have online breeder referral pages, but even if they don't, a little research might just connect you with a member-breeder.
Even better, join a regional club now, attend a few of their fun events and competitions and network to find breeders in your area. Many Regional clubs offer specialized training, water trials, host regional PWD specialty shows, host the National Specialty, sponsor "Supported Entries" at local dog shows and more. And most of the individuals in these clubs are very dedicated to the betterment of the breed and are willing to spend a lot of time answering questions. PWD owners are rather gregarious, fun-seeking group (much like their dogs!), and you'll make lifelong friends who care about the breed as much as you do.
Side benefit - they'll refer you to reputable PWD breeders!
PWDCA Rescue, Inc. is charitable corporation whose only member is the PWDCA, Inc. It is led by PWDCA member volunteers and regional club member volunteers. The organization evaluates and places PWDS that have been given up by their owners or are abandoned or found.