The Breeder’s Perspective

The Puppy Buyer’s Guide (Part 2)

If you took to heart our exhortations in The Buyer’s Guide - Part 1 and have figured out which breeder does the health testing and nurturing that is characteristic of responsibly-bred and responsibly-raised puppies, you should contact them soon.  They may not have a puppy immediately available (be wary of those who constantly have puppies to sell).  It may be several months before the most admirable breeders plan on producing another litter.   

Before you contact them, it would be helpful to ponder the breeder’s perspective.  For starters, the little furry bundle of puppy-joy you hope to take home with you — ASAP — was years, and many thousands of dollars, in the making.

If the puppy’s sire and dam have AKC Championship titles (“Ch.” or “GCh.”), then that process alone took several months to a year or more and required the expenditure of thousands of dollars. The “CHIC” health testing the sire and dam should have undergone prior to breeding cost around $2000. There may have been substantial costs associated with the breeding — such as progesterone-testing or artificial insemination. If the breeder does not own the stud then they would usually pay a “stud fee” which typically costs $1000-2000 for a Samoyed. There are pre-natal and post-natal exams to be performed by a veterinarian.  And vaccinations for all the puppies.  If a cesarean surgery (“c-section”) were required, that would cost the breeder $1000-2000, or more. Intensive veterinary care of newborn puppies or a dam, if required, can lead to exorbitant medical bills.

As you can see even from that abbreviated listing of expenses, responsible breeding is more fraught with risk than riches.  If one were to account for the hundreds of hours of work the responsible breeder puts into raising the puppies in their first months of life, even the very best may not be compensated at a minimum wage rate for their efforts.   

The breeder has additional, less easily quantifiable, factors to consider: 1) pregnancy entails risk to their dam’s health; 2) an ethical breeder’s dam can produce only a few litters, at most, and; 3) ethical breeders assume responsibility for the entire lifespan of the puppies they produce. 

What Good Breeders Want in a Buyer

Good breeders love their puppies and feel an abiding personal obligation to place them with homes that are loving, devoted and capable.  For starters, the breeder needs to be confident that prospective puppy buyers are able to provide the kind of personal attention and high-quality care -- particularly in regard to nutritional and veterinary needs -- that any dog deserves to have throughout their lives. 

Veterinary expenses should be part of the financial planning of all prospective and  current dog owners.  Ask an experienced Samoyed owner how much a Samoyed “costs” and they may chuckle knowingly, mindful that the purchase price is just a down payment on the lifetime of expenses associated with owning a dog.  For instance, if your puppy eats a sock that causes an intestinal blockage, expect a veterinary hospital to charge a few thousand dollars to save their life.  In the Washington, D.C. area, emergency surgery for “bloat” (gastric dilatation volvulus) will cost $6000-8000, or more.  And be aware that animal hospitals require payment -- via cash or credit -- before they will perform an emergency surgery.  In the DC area, a simple dental cleaning will cost upwards of $400-$500.           

Puppies are a lot of work!  Puppy buyers are going to experience some sleep deprivation, because young puppies will not make it through the night without emptying their bladder.  It will require patience and effort to potty-train them.  You will also need to “puppy-proof” your home.  Puppies explore with their mouths, and when they begin teething they will resort to chewing -- anything and everything -- to alleviate the discomfort.  We recommend you look into “crate-training” to help with potty-training and to keep your puppy out of trouble when you are unable to closely supervise them. 

Samoyeds don’t mature, physically or behaviorally, for at least a couple of years.  For instance, they will go through a pronounced adolescent period at eight months to a year old and that will try your patience as they may backslide in the training you [should] have been assiduously engaged in.  Before you bring a puppy home, you should make a plan to begin obedience training classes and socialization.  And it is imperative that you protect your puppy from physical trauma (jumping from furniture, being dropped, over-exercising, etc.) as their immature skeletal structure is especially vulnerable.

Grooming is an essential part of having a Samoyed, to keep their skin healthy, their coat attractive and their nails at an appropriate length.  Weekly combing will help keep the undercoat and longer hair free of tangles and matting that could cause “hot spots” resulting in infections. “Line-combing” is a life-skill for experienced Samoyed owners and a powerful blower a valued investment so that you won’t need to retain the services of a professional groomer.  Keeping the hair on the bottom of their paws trimmed will help prevent slipping on smooth floors.  

Samoyeds are a “working” breed -- they thrive on a LOT of exercise!  For thousands of years, Samoyeds have been the epitome of working dogs -- herding reindeer, pulling sleds and keeping up with the nomadic Siberian tribe they are named for.  A fit, adult Samoyed male can pull over two thousand pounds.  Samoyeds can run over 20 m.p.h. and can pull a sled or a bicycle (“bikejoring”), cart or scooter (“dryland excursions”) for miles upon miles.  Samoyeds yearn to explore, socialize and utilize the physical gifts nature has bestowed upon them.



If you are interested in having your Samoyed compete in conformation dog shows and attaining the “Ch.” (AKC Champion) or “GCh.” (Grand Champion) titles, you should let the breeder know from the outset.  Puppies are typically assessed at eight weeks of age (when their body proportions are deemed to be most predictive of maturity) to try and gauge which ones will mature with the physical structure most emblematic of the Samoyed “Standard.”  It’s a bit of a guessing game and breeders will often consult others skilled in such assessments.  A puppy’s sire and dam may have aced all the CHIC health tests but the Samoyed Standard -- by which Samoyeds are to be judged in conformation events -- has different criteria and is fairly rigorous as to structure and temperament.

Show dogs must remain “intact” -- in other words, they cannot be spayed or neutered while they are competing to earn points toward their championship titles.  This is because conformation is, historically, for the purpose of evaluating breeding stock. 

There are also many medically-valid reasons to delay spaying or neutering until a dog is physically mature (2-4 years of age).  Whether or not you are planning on showing your Samoyed, you should research the current science on the health effects of spaying and neutering and discuss all of this with the breeder. 

The Breeder-Buyer Contract

Responsible (and many non-responsible) breeders will require that the buyer sign a contract.   The contract should primarily be for the purpose of serving the puppy’s interests.  For example, if you, the buyer, were at any point in the puppy’s lifetime  unable to care for them, then you -- or your estate -- would typically be obligated to notify the breeder and get their consent in regard to the dog’s new home, which may well be back with the breeder.  It is a soul-searing sadness that the responsible breeder feels if they someday learn that one of the Samoyeds they bred has landed in a shelter or is being advertised on Craigslist.

Breeder-buyer contracts commonly, but not always, include a “health guarantee.”  Such provisions vary widely as to breeder and buyer obligations, so you should read the contract very carefully before committing to it with your signature.  In fact, you should ask for and receive a copy of the contract in advance of the day you pick the puppy up so that you have ample time to clarify, or request changes in, the language.  

A breeder-buyer contract may include a provision requiring the buyer to have the puppy, at an appropriate age, undergo certain CHIC (Canine Health Information Center) health tests, especially the hip and eye exams.  Such testing can help guide the breeder in making breeding decisions that will result in healthier “lines” in the future and ultimately benefit Samoyed breed health overall.

It has come to our attention that some breeder-buyer contracts stipulate that the buyer is required to feed the puppy a specific brand or variety of food.  Potomac Valley Samoyed Club’s Board of Directors frowns upon such mandates in regard to nutrition.  No particular brand or type of food is the best choice for every developing puppy or mature dog.  And no dog should be on the same food forever. Food allergies can develop.   Ingredients can be altered by the manufacturer, without notice to consumers.  For these and other reasons, a particular food simply may not be the best food for a particular dog.   

While a breeder should urge and even obligate a buyer to feed the puppy/dog a “high-quality” diet, the buyer should remain free to change the particular food whenever they or their veterinarian deem it in the best interest of the puppy/dog to do so.  To guide the buyer in making nutrition choices for their puppy/dog, we recommend consulting Whole Dog Journal’s recommendations on dog foods as well as discussing this subject with your veterinarian and other canine nutrition specialists.

This is just a partial listing of possible provisions in a breeder-buyer contract.  Again, we strongly advise carefully reading any contract before signing it.  

Maintaining Contact With The Breeder    


The most common lament we hear from breeders is in regard to buyers who neglect to provide regular updates on their puppy’s well-being, in the weeks and months after they got them and throughout the dog’s lifetime.  This is beyond frustrating for breeders who love the puppies they bred, whelped and raised for the first months of the puppy’s life.  This failure to stay in touch also denies the breeder -- and ultimately the Samoyed breed -- information needed over the lifetime of these dogs to determine whether improvements need to be made in breeding practices.  And there may come a day when you have a more than casual interest in the health history of your Samoyed’s littermates, parents and other relatives.

So, please, periodically send your breeder photographs and health updates. 

Someday, when you want another Samoyed, those courtesies could stand you in good stead.  


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Common Items That Are Poison to Dogs

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Part 2

Puppy Primer

~ The First Months ~