PUPPY BUYING GUIDE
Buying a puppy pre-COVID was hard enough but the pandemic has made it even more difficult to sift through the multitude of poor breeders that are out there. This is a guide of what to look out for when you make the decision to add a Jack Russell Terrier to your life.
'Why?' I hear you ask. Of course, KC registration is no guarantee that a dog will live a long and healthy life and there are poor breeders who breed KC registered dogs. However, if you take a group of 100 KC registered JRTs and a group of 100 non-registered JRTs, there will be super dogs in both, but a significantly higher amount in the of super dogs with no health or behavioural issues in the KC registered group.
Be aware that there are two types of KC registration available; the Breed Register (for pedigree dogs with both parents registered), and the Activity Register (for any dog, including crossbreeds). The Activity Register allows dogs to compete in Kennel Club events such as agility and flyball. There are numerous litters which are, to me, obviously not eligible for registration the Breed Register, advertised as KC registered on certain websites without clarification that it is the Activity Register that they are registered on, not the Breed Register. Be sure to ask the breeder for the KC registered names of the parents so that you can check the registration.
If a dog is eligible it costs less than £20 to register a puppy with the Kennel Club. There is no good reason not to, just plenty of bad excuses. If a dog is eligible but not registered it is likely that the bitch has either had more litters than allowed by the KC (maximum of four), or was too young or old at the time of whelping (no younger than one year (ideally 2) and no older than 8).
With a KC registered JRT you know what you are going to get; a purebred dog that closely matches the breed standard, has a predictable temperament and is fit for purpose.
The Kennel Club also supports and contributes to research into genetic diseases which can only be a good thing when it comes to our dogs.
Pre-COVID, KC registered dogs were always more expensive than non-KC registered. Unfortunately, due to the demand for puppies in the first lockdown, 'greeders' are now charging extortionate prices for non-registered JRTs and a registered Jack will now cost the same, or even less, than a non-registered one as good breeders have not hiked their prices to the extreme.
As already mentioned, KC registration does not guarantee a good breeder, but, it is the best place to start.
I get asked the price question a lot which is understandable. Straight to the point then. For a well bred, KC registered, Jack Russell Terrier puppy, you should be expecting to pay between £1400 - £2000, depending on the pedigree. 'Depending on the pedigree' means that, if the parents (and the dogs further back in the pedigree) are good examples of the breed but have not proven themselves in the show ring or working, then you should be expecting to pay something in the lower end of that range. Consequently, if you have parents that are hugely successful with champions behind them in the pedigree, then you should be expecting to pay something in the upper end of that range. You absolutely should not be paying those prices for non-registered dogs in my opinion. It is just greed as very little thought, time or money will have been put into the litter.
HEALTH TESTED PARENTS
We are lucky to live in a time where science and technology allows us to test for certain genetic diseases so there is no reason for a breeder not to do this. Yes it costs money, but it is not extortionate and is very little in the overall costs of breeding responsibly. For Jack Russell Terriers you should be looking for good results for the following DNA tests on both parents and also yearly eye testing, again with good results. Click the links for more info.
A good result on the DNA tests is ideally CLEAR, however, it is acceptable to breed from a CARRIER as along as the mate is CLEAR. For more info on breeding from carriers click here.
For eye testing, the only acceptable result is UNAFFECTED.
Health test results can be checked here using the KC registered names of the parents. The breeder should also be willing to show you copies of the results and should send a set home with the puppy if you go ahead.
Endorsements are restrictions placed on a puppy by the breeder which restrict the registration of litters with the Kennel Club and also the registration of a puppy with a foreign KC in order to circumvent the first endorsement. You can find more info on endorsements here.
Responsible breeders place endorsements on their puppies because they care about both them and the future of the breed. Endorsements can be easily lifted by the breeder who will usually be happy to do so when certain requirements are met. These requirements are generally that health testing has been completed with satisfactory results, the puppy has grown into a good example of its breed and that this has been confirmed independently, usually by some form of success in the show ring.
Endorsements are there to encourage puppy buyers who want to breed to do so responsibly, by consulting with their breeder and completing all necessary requirements. There is no good reason for a KC registered puppy to not be endorsed. It is not about keeping any sort of control over the puppy, it is purely for their welfare and that of the breed as a whole.
COLOUR AND COAT TYPE
There are only three colour combinations that can be registered on the KC Breed Register:
White with Tan Markings
White with Black Markings
White with Black and Tan Markings
Any colours other than these three (i.e. Black and Tan or Lilac) will have been crossed with another breed at some point in recent history and WILL NOT be eligible for registration on the Breed Register.
There are three coat types:
A broken coat is basically mid way between a smooth coat and a rough coat, usually a thick coat, naturally slightly shorter on the body than a rough coat, with longer hairs around the legs and face. Using my dogs as an example; Carrot is smooth coated, Pea is broken coated, and Spud and Sprout are rough coated.
You should not be paying more for any colour or coat type as these do not affect the cost of raising a litter!
WHERE TO LOOK
When it comes to finding a good puppy, of any breed, you should actually look for a breeder, not a puppy.
The Kennel Club 'Find an Assured Breeder' service or ChampDogs are good places to start. A member of the KC Assured Breeder Scheme is a good starting point but be aware that there are some not so good members who have taken advantage of the scheme's loopholes. There are also some very good breeders who are not members so don't necessarily rule them out. Another place to look is the breed club, they may be able to recommend good breeders to you.
Word of mouth is a great way to find a responsible breeder; going to a dog show (when they start up again!) and chatting to exhibitors is the best way to suss out who is who. Just make sure you don't start chatting as people are about to go into the ring! Well bred puppies are unlikely to be advertised on the well-known commercial websites so you are better off finding dogs that you like the look of at a show and speaking to their owners to find out their lines. You can then search online for the Kennel Name (for example, mine is Masajack), contact the breeder for a chat and ask to be placed on their waiting list. You will have to wait for a good puppy at the moment, without a doubt, and it may be for quite a while, but, it is 100% worth it in the long run.
Avoid websites like Pets4Homes and Gumtree. They are notorious for poorly bred litters , puppy farmers, and 'greeders' and these poor practices can only be improved or stopped if people refuse to support them.
If you have any questions that have not been answered here please do get in touch.