Picking the Right
After recent discussions on email lists about some REALLY BAD breeding practices, I started surfing and found some rather First of all, let me emphasize that most puppy listing services do NOT check the breeders, nor do they monitor the accuracy of
tricky ads and websites.
ads. The exception is the PWDCA Breeder Referral service. To be included on this list, breeders must be members of the PWDCA
and must subscribe to the Code of Ethics of the PWDCA. I strongly recommend that you VISIT THE PWDCA WEB PAGE. They have
excellent information for people interested in a PWD pup, information about health concerns of the breed, and information about
the breed itself.
The American Kennel Club puppy referral does NOT check on the breeders- although they do have to be in "good standing" with
the AKC (have not been barred by the AKC). If they are listed with AKC, it does mean that the claimed parents of the pups are AKC
registered. Please understand that some puppy mills will breed undocumented dogs and credit them to the registered dogs.
Furthermore, an AKC registration simply means that the claimed parents are registered. It does NOT say anything about the health
or worth of the pup nor does it guarantee that the breeder is an ethical person. (AKC now has a DNA registry used to verify
parentage. It is not REQUIRED unless the dog has produced a large number of litters)
The PWDCA does not investigate a breeder unless there has been an ethics complaint. If the person has been found to have not
complied with the PWDCA Code of Ethics, they will be removed from the Breeders List and may be barred from the club. The club
addresses ONLY matters of breeding ethics. They do NOT address contract disagreements.
I found some interesting and misleading statements in ads and on web sites. Use of these terms does not necessarily
mean it is a lie- but it should be a warning to look into it more carefully! I have noticed that "bad breeders" visit the web
sites of people I know are GOOD, conscientious breeders. They then copy the wording! The following examples are
copied from actual ads.
May 2014 from an email from LH on the PWD-L email list: "There was an ad in the Minneapolis Star Tribune today for PWD
puppies. When I googled the phone number, I also found numerous ads for Newfoundland/Poodle crosses that had run in
April. A friend called the ad for the PWDs and the “breeder” was very truthful as she informed my friend that the “PWD”
puppies are actually the result of a litter between her standard poodle female and her boyfriend’s young Newfie. She had
been marketing them as such when a “very knowledgable” person (This turned out to be a person making big bucks from
mixed breed pups- in other words mutts- being sold as "designer dogs") informed her that the pups have white chins
and therefore since newfies and poodles are ancestors of PWD, the pups are actually, PWDs!! AND since both parents are
“purebred”, the pups are purebred as well!! (No, it does not work that way. Newfies and poodles are not ancestors of the
PWD, although all three breeds do have a common ancestor. However, both parents must be registered purebred PWDs
in order for the pups to be considered purebred UNLESS they go through a detailed procedure set up by the Portuguese
Kennel Club to include native dogs of undocumented parentage in the gene pool. )
My friend then inquired as to the projected size of the pups when mature and the woman told her 70-100 pounds
probably. When my friend (who actually owns 2 PWDs and knows the breed well) remarked that she did not think
Portuguese Water Dogs got that big? The breeder informed her that she should really do some research on PWDs so she
would know more about them before actually buying one!!! (Female PWDs are 35-45 lbs and males are 45-55 lbs...although
there is a lot of size variation in the breed...but definitely NOT 70-100 lbs!) BTW-These pups are all “hypoallergenic” and
shed free. (A first generation cross would have a lot of coat variation. A pup might take after the Newf side instead of the
poodle side.. which means it would shed!) They are for sale for $1500 on a “first come first served” basis. And, not to
worry about health issues/tests or anything because both parents have had their shots!! (No- a good breeder does DNA
tests, eye examinations, xrays hips and often elbows, too. However, since these are mixed breed dogs, the DNA tests
might not work. Both of these breeds are prone to hip dysplasia so both parents should be x-rayed and submitted to the
Orthopedic Foundation for Animals for evaluation.)
I can only imagine some of the surprises the new owners of these pups will have in store as their pups grow and shed
and grow some more.............
In November, 2010, there was an ad on petfinder for PWD/Poodle cross puppies. It had VERY misleading statements. For
example, it said "Registered/registerable". Well, yes, sort of. AKC now has a registration category for mixed breed dogs
that allows them to be shown in performance classes. Also, it may be that some of the "designer dog" breeders have
created their own registries. It means nothing as far as the quality of the dog. "This is a planned cross between a very
nice Standard Poodle and a champion lined Portuguese Water Dog sire with show quality coat..." All PWDs in the USA
have champions in their blood lines- and it is a rare PWD that does NOT have a "show quality coat". Of more concern is
the conformation of the dog! "...wanted a non-shedding puppy with all the personality of the PWD, but with a little tighter
curl coat.." There are plenty of PWDs with tight curl. However, breeding a curly to a curly is more likely to produce hair
loss problems. " These are very healthy puppies and will not have the health issues of pure bred dogs such as the
eye issues with the PWD breed..." These people obviously do not know what they are talking about! They do not indicate
ANY DNA testing. Research has proven that the same gene for PRA is found in both the PWD and the Poodle. Therefore,
these pups are in great danger of developing Progressive Retinal Atrophy. Another disease found in both breeds is hip
dysplasia, yet they do not indicate any OFA certification.
CH SCAM! There is a web site that calls itself the "American Champion Club" that sells "American Champion" certificates
for $45. You just send them two photos of your dog, tell them what breed it is suppose to be, plus $45 and you get your
certificate within seven days. Seems to me that $45 is a lot of money for a piece of paper you can print out on your
computer! However, if you are looking for a puppy, be sure you know who awarded that "CH" to the parents!
ANOTHER SCAM: An on-line puppy miller has STOLEN the kennel name of a prominent long-time PWD breeder! She is
using the kennel name, the other person's last name, even photos of the other person's champion dogs and the health
records of those dogs! Although the real person is well known in the PWD community and has shown and bred for many
years, she had never registered her kennel name with the AKC. So- the puppy miller has actually registered dogs using
the stolen kennel name! So be careful that you are talking to the real person! Also check the kennel name carefully.
AKC registers an exact name only. For example, my kennel name "Planalto" is registered, but "Planalta" is NOT
protected. Update: This went to court and the "bad guy" was fined. That will not, however, prevent her from trying this
again! For more information on this case, CLICK HERE
AN EVEN WORSE SCAM! The owner of another prominent kennel was shocked when people started calling her wanting to
know when they would get their pup...and she had never heard of them! Turns out some bad guys were using her kennel
name and advertising on one of the on-line puppy sales sites. People actually wired them money for non-existent
puppies! This case has been turned over to the FBI, but these folks will probably never recover their money. The best
bet for being SURE you have the real breeder is to go to www.pwdca.org and check their Breeders List for contact
information. (Note: I am going to be off the Breeder's List for a while as there are some health tests I need to get done
before I breed again. I will be back on before I have another litter)
"Had all necessary health tests before being bred": There are NO "necessary" health tests since the only thing required
by law is a rabies shot! HOWEVER- the implication is that they have had the health tests recommended by the PWDCA. In
this specific situation I know that the poor bitch was bred at her first heat at 6 months. When I questioned the breeder,
she said that her vet had examined the sire (then less than two years old) and the dam and they were both "healthy".
This does NOT mean they had any of the genetic testing done by reputable breeders! They could NOT have been OFA
certified as they were too young. This bitch has been bred every time she has come into heat and is now on her fourth
litter. NOTE: I feel that no dog should be bred before they are two years old because 1) OFA hip certification cannot be
done until they are two and 2) I want growth plates to be closed before a bitch is bred. Otherwise, the bitch's body will
take nutrition she needs for growth and give it to the puppies. By the way- I recently checked the NEXTDAYPETS website
& this person had several listings. She is now breeding the offspring of the previously mentioned bitch.
"The parents have all of their health clearances": This may be ok, but note that they do NOT say which tests were
performed nor do they give the results. Furthermore, CERF is an annual test.
(Puppy this, puppy that). OFA, OptiGen, GM-1 tested. The way this was written, it was implied that the puppy had been
tested. I am pretty sure this referred to the PARENTS. Furthermore, it does not give the results nor does it indicate that
there was any CERF testing. Note that a dog cannot pass the OFA hip dysplasia examination until it is at least TWO YEARS
old. Some people do preliminary x-rays, but the hips often change as the dog matures. OFA places the two year
requirement because the hips should be stable by then. PENN-HIPS measures the laxity of the joint and it is an excellent
tool which can be used before the age of two.
OFA, OptiGen, GM-1 tested What were the results? Just being tested does NOT mean they passed!
Champion lines: Well, yes. I am ready to bet that every PWD in the United States is from Champion bloodlines! We have a
small gene pool, so any dog will probably have champions in the pedigree a couple of generations back. It does not
guarantee that the parents of your pup are not cross-eyed and green!
Pedigree: I am appalled that some people will not provide a pedigree until you sign a contract! I know of at least one
person who does this. I have been told (remember- this is gossip!) that her foundation bitch was on a limited registration
(which means any offspring cannot be registered with the AKC). Her foundation stud was purchased with a bad check
that bounced & she never received the registration papers and will not have the stud if the real owner ever finds her
(she gave an incorrect address!). A good breeder will be glad to supply copies of registration papers, health documents,
and pedigrees BEFORE a pup is purchased. UPDATE: She was found and this went to court. When the court fined her
and ordered the dog returned, she tried to convince the judge that if she "shot the dog in the head" and returned the
body, she was meeting the requirements of the court! Note that you can find pedigree information at www.pwdinfo.com
No Contract: This translates as "no guarantees". Contracts protect the breeder, the purchaser, and- most importantly-
the puppy! Be sure you read the contract carefully and fully understand the implications of the clauses. Most reputable
breeders will not sell a puppy without some kind of strings attached. This is to protect both the puppy and the breed.
No Kennels: Where do they keep their dogs? How many do they have? Do they train them? When I was a kid, our
neighbor had Bostons and claimed "no kennels"... which was true. They were a feral pack running in a fenced yard that
was so overgrown it was a jungle. They were free breeding with each other and producing horrid, bad-tempered
puppies. On the other hand, "no kennels" may mean that pups are in the house a lot, get lots of human contact, and
really ARE a part of the family! NOTE: Crate training is important! It gives a pup their own personal space and is the
safest way for travel in a car!
"CKC Registered": You have to be VERY careful about this! CKC usually means "Canadian Kennel Club" and there are
some excellent Canadian breeders. However, it can also mean "Continental Kennel Club". They do not require
pedigrees for registration, just that the dog look like the breed and that you pay them a fee.
"Show Potential": This may simply mean it is alive! Has the breeder shown dogs? If not or if they have only limited
experience, they probably would not know a true show potential dog when they saw it. Realize that most reputable
breeders will not place their best show potential pup with someone who just calls them up. If you are really interested in
showing, I recommend that you first contact your regional PWD club and become an active member. This will provide the
opportunity for people to know you. Good breeders are always looking for good homes!
"Raised with children, dogs, cats, and cattle to assure they are well socialized." Maybe good maybe not. This could mean
that they are just another farm animal being raised for income. Take a look at the number of litters they produce in a
year. Some puppy millers involve their whole extended family! So- puppies may be produced all over the country!
Breeding dogs in the proper way requires a lot of dedication and study. It is possible- but not likely- that there are
multiple members of a family willing to do this. It is more likely that they are acting as an agent for people raising dogs as
"Mother Test Bred Clear of Cardio": This is good- the breeder is trying to test for cardio- but it is not as good as is
sounds. Test breeding depends upon statistics, which are accurate only when dealing with large populations. However,
we now have a DNA linkage test for cardiomyopathy! (as of November 2007) So- breeders should now be DNA testing for
cardio carriers. At least one of the parents should be tested PROBABLE NORMAL, which means they are probably NOT a
carrier of the gene. The researchers say "probably" because a linkage test is not guaranteed 100% accurate. For more
information on this, I recommend that you visit the PWDCA health page at www.pwdca.org/health/heart
"We sell all our pups with full registrations": A reputable breeder will use only the best puppies from a litter for carrying
on their bloodlines. Furthermore, they will not allow someone else to breed one of their pups that is not of the highest
standard and genetic health. This is to protect the breed and to protect YOU. Many breeds of dogs have been ruined by
indiscriminate breeding and it is the puppies and their families that suffer. If you are interested in someday breeding,
you should first get a pet quality dog, work with the dog, join the PWDCA and your regional club, learn about the breed
and what you should seek in your breeding stock, become known to breeders of PWDs. If you first prove yourself, you
have a much better chance of obtaining a high quality bitch. Realize that breeding does show the "miracle of life" to
children (with all the blood and gore!)... but it can also show the "miracle of death". I had one litter in which there was a
breach presentation, I rushed to the emergency vet at midnight before the 4th of July, we worked for hours to save the
mother and lost ten of thirteen puppies. This was heartbreaking, not to mention an enormous vet bill! This was one of
my early litters and caused me to refuse to have a litter whelped in my rather remote rural area. When a bitch was due to
whelp, I would move in with Dottie in Flagstaff! Since I now live in Flagstaff, this is no longer a problem.
No reputable breeder is going to place their best pup with someone who just calls them up! That is the way life is!
"We use imported dogs": This may be an ethical breeder who is seeking to include attributes found in certain
bloodlines. However, it is probably someone that wants to crank out puppies and no breeder in the states will sell a dog
to them! Even when there is a non-breeding contract or other restrictions, it can be difficult to enforce when the dog is
imported. Some foreign dogs are excellent- but in many countries even the ethical breeders do not have access to the
genetic testing available in the USA and Canada. So- you need to know what you are doing if you are going to import a
dog or purchase a pup from an imported dog- or you may face many health problems!
Parents of Puppies have been DNA tested and registered with the AKC. This is probably true, especially if the parents
are imported. AKC now requires that any imported dog must be DNA tested before any offspring can be registered. It
also requires that a dog be DNA tested after it has produced a certain number of litters. However, this ONLY documents
the DNA sample for purposes of proving parentage of any puppies produced if parentage is questioned. It has NOTHING
to do with genetic health testing
Reworded due to copyright claims: "Breeders claiming to do all health tests are misleading themselves and you.
Furthermore, most of those tests are not indicators for the health problems of the offspring" Sort of true. Health testing
will not guarantee that your pup will not have a health problem. However, it shows that the breeder is taking advantage
of the health tests we DO have to produce a healthy pup. For example, a dog with an excellent OFA rating is not
guaranteed to produce pups with good hips. This is a multiple allele gene. However, careful breeding and attention to
OFA ratings greatly improves the probability of a pup with healthy hip joints. Just because we do not have tests for all
diseases and genetic problems is no reason to downplay the importance of the health tests that we DO have!
Reworded due to copyright claims: "I have the world's largest puppy packet" A rather egotistical claim. Nobody else
brags about the size of their puppy packet, so there is nothing for comparison!
Reworded due to copyright claims: "I have the world's largest health database- which you may see when you visit me." A
very dangerous claim. Health information is sensitive information and should be shared only if provided by the owner or
breeder of the dog or has come from an open registry like the OFA. Furthermore TYPOS HAPPEN! A database needs to
be available for review by owners and breeders to minimize the chance of incorrect information. I would not use
information from such a personal database as I could not trust the accuracy. Plus- I question the motivation of a person
who is not willing to openly share such information with the PWDCA Health and Litter database.
Reworded due to copyright claims: " I have the world's largest pedigree database- which you may see when you visit
me." In my opinion, the only person who can make this claim for a personal database is Kjell Holstad of Sweden. He and I
were neck and neck for the largest database- followed closely by Pat Qvigstad. We were sharing information and all of us
recognized the importance of this information for the breed. We therefore co-founded the PWD Pedigree Study Group.
To make this information available to owners and breeders, it is on the web at www.pwdinfo.com Since this is a
cooperative effort with nearly 45,000 dogs, I doubt if any individual (other than Kjell) has a larger database unless they
have copied our database and have added dogs which they are not sharing with us. (Kjell is an active participant in the
PSG, so if he is ahead, it is just until he sends the PSG an update!) If you see such a claim, I would recommend that you
check to see if they are sharing their information with the PSG. I just don't appreciate self serving, misleading claims. I
also question the motives of a person who hordes pedigree information and refuses to share the information. Notice that
you have access to her database ONLY if you are at her home.
"Member of the American Portuguese Water Dog Club": This is not a recognized breed club. The official national breed
club is the PORTUGUESE WATER DOG CLUB OF AMERICA. The person making this statement is NOT a member of the
PWDCA. There may be such a club, but it was probably an invention of the breeder and her associates.
REMEMBER: If you find a good breeder you will get a well socialized puppy bred for
healthy genetics- plus you will have breeder who will be a mentor.
You may be lucky and get a nice pup from a puppy mill, but you will not have the
knowledgeable support of an ethical breeder.
Unfortunately, even good breeders can produce pups will health problems, but they strive
to improve the health of our breed and will be helpful and supportive if you have problems.