Finding the puppy you want

(Let's open that can of worms)
Now that the internet has become the information source of choice for most of the world, finding the right puppy can be bewildering. Breeders are proud of their dogs and many make claims of field ability, obedience wins, agility talent and other performance virutes that their dogs don't really have. But, how to tell, especially long distance when a potential buyer may not have the opportunity to see the dogs for themselves?

Titles in whatever dogsport the buyer is most interested in is a good start. Of course, a CD earned with scores all in the 170's will look the same on paper as a CD earned with three all breed High In Trials. But if a breeder is producing a high percentage of dogs that earn an obedience title, it is likely that breeder is producing dogs that are trainable and sound in temperament. If there are several advanced obedience titles, it is even more likely that this breeder is producing intelligent, easily trained dogs. One or two titles could be the result of a trainer working hard to achieve a goal but multiple titles, particularly advanced ones, is more an indication of the quality of the dogs than the trainers.

The same is true of field dogs. There are breeders that will say that a majority of their dogs hunt and that field titles are not a good indication of a dog's ability, but generally these are breeders that don't do any organized field events, or may not do any field work at all! While it is entirely possible that someone who does no field work at all could be producing great field dogs, but even if they were, would they know enough about what makes a good hunting companion to pick the right puppy? And even if the breeder does hunt, it would almost always be in one general area and many times one type of game, where field events expose dogs and trainers to many different setups and game. Someone looking for a duck dog may not get what they want from a breeder who hunts only pheasant. Would someone who only gets the occasional CD title know enough about competitive obedience to pick a puppy for someone that wanted to go for the OTCh? Highly doubtful. Not only do frequent titles in a pedigree indicate that a litter might have potential, frequent titles earned by the breeder indicates this person has the experience to determine which pups might make great performance dogs.

There are breeders who breed mainly for the show ring that claim that breeding to the standard will "naturally" produce dogs that will do well in performance events, even tho there is nothing in the Curly breed standard that addresses marking ability, nose, biddability, etc. Even tho the standard does mention that the dogs should be intelligent and are hunting dogs, the show ring is not the place to judge these things; it isn't even much of a test of a dog's temperament. Also, show breeders tend to maintain more dogs than performance breeders and prefer dogs with lower drive as they are easier to live with - many show breeders of Curlies incorrectly feel that the proper temperament is like that of a pet Golden Retriever.

So, when looking for a Curly puppy, due to the relative rareness of the breed, a buyer is likely to be looking at litters far enough away that he cannot actually go see the parents. The next best thing is to be educated as to what various titles mean, how they are earned and what each breeder actually does with their dogs. It wasn't all that long ago that a buyer could get a pup from pretty much any litter and have an excellent chance of ending up with a good working dog, but that is no longer true today. While there is still not a show/working split in our breed, far too many litters are bred for show and will contain pups that do not have the desire, talent, structure and/or temperament to make good working prospects. Do your homework and then go forth and ask questions!