You have found a breeder you are interested in getting a puppy from, now what?
Call the breeder and let them know you are interested, discuss your situation. In order to find the right puppy for you, they will need to know about your family, lifestyle, living arrangements, reasons for wanting a puppy, and any preferences you might have about the puppy's gender, color, and coat type. After that discussion, if they both believe one of their puppies is right for you, they will discuss when litters might be available and what additional steps you need to take.
We've heard people mention "show/breed" homes and "pet" homes. What do these distinctions mean?
While all of our dogs should be placed in homes where they are members of a family, a show/breed quality puppy is one that has been evaluated as potentially having qualities worth preserving through breeding once they are mature. A "pet" puppy may have a slightly bad bite, a low-set tail or some other characteristic that we do not wish to continue. But a "pet" is still a healthy and happy dog that makes a fine companion. A responsible breeder should have a long-term goal: To perpetuate and improve all the good qualities that make the PWD a lovable companion and stable working dog. The only way they can achieve that goal is to have access to show/breed quality puppies from their downline breeding program. The breed will not improve if they spay and neuter show/breed quality puppies, or if they only breed pet quality animals. A litter will normally have one or two breeding quality puppies, and an equal or much higher number of pet quality puppies. It would be rare for a litter to have a very high number of breeding quality puppies, but it could, and has, happened. In such a case, "pet" homes, buyers who are not interested in showing or breeding, may have to wait just a little longer for a puppy.
How do we select our puppy?
You will need to be able to trust in the breeder's years of experience to guide you in the selection process. This is one of the many reasons you have spent so much time researching and looking for a responsible breeder. Multiple factors must be evaluated in order to get the right puppies into the right homes. The most important factor is temperament. From your discussions the breeder will know if a particular puppy's personality will match your needs. After temperament, they will evaluate the puppy's structure and quality to determine whether it should be placed in a show/breed home or a non-breeding home. Finally, after sorting through these considerations, the breeder will try, as best they can, to match your preferences in coat, gender, and color. Regarding gender preferences: unlike some breeds, where gender-specific personality issues are often seen, there is very little difference between PWD male and female personalities. For the average pet owner a neutered PWD male makes the perfect family companion, as does a spayed female. Please remember that temperament is the most important consideration. You cannot live with a dog, no matter how beautiful its coat or markings are, if it does not have the right personality for you.
When will we know which puppy is ours?
While breeders observe all of their puppies throughout their development, they do not complete the evaluation process until they are seven weeks of age or more. At that time they will likely conduct a Temperament Test. This test is a formalized and widely-accepted method of judging a puppy's personality. The test indicates factors such as independence, dominance, willingness to work with people, and sound sensitivity. Identifying these traits is very important. The dominant puppy might be too strong-willed for a home with very young children. The sound sensitive puppy would be physically and mentally miserable in an urban situation. The independent puppy, which can amuse himself, will probably be happy in a household where everyone is gone all day. These are the types of conditions and temperaments that must be weighed, balanced, and matched.
Additionally, structural evaluations, and sometimes certain health test results, are not complete until the puppies are at least seven weeks old. These test and evaluation results must also be used to determine the type of home needed for a particular puppy.
As soon as all the testing is completed they will usually call you about the results and the availability of a puppy for you. They cannot promise you a puppy from any litter until all of the test results are known. It would be irresponsible of them, and possibly heartbreaking for you, if they promised you a puppy prior to the completion of the testing. For example, suppose they promised you, prior to all the testing, a show quality puppy and then, later, the structural evaluation eliminated all the available puppies? Or, what if they allowed you to pick out a specific four week old puppy for your New York City home, and then, at seven weeks, discovered that the puppy was sound sensitive and thus, inappropriate for an urban setting? In both instances, you'd be very disappointed. Testing may delay some of the fun and gratification of planning for your new family member, but it insures that you get the right puppy for your home.
A responsible breeder wants you and the puppies they place, to be happy. You and your dog will hopefully be living together, and loving each other, for the next twelve to fifteen years. That's a long time. They adhere to conscientious placement standards so that you will enjoy the years you spend together. They will also want you to know that they will always be available for help and guidance with your Portuguese Water Dog. They don't just place puppies; they begin long and valued relationships with their puppy buyers.