In the last IGRC Blog, we looked into the important steps that new owners should take when deciding to welcome a puppy into their home. Choosing the right breed for your lifestyle is the first important decision. Then, you must find the right breeder who will produce a happy, healthy puppy and who will remain in touch offering you advice throughout your dog’s lifetime.
The unscrupulous breeding of Italian Greyhounds has been fed by the increasing popularity of this beautiful breed – when there is demand, supply is being generated by some with little or no thought for the welfare of the brood bitches, stud dogs and their puppies. The recent prosecution of Susan Thomas (Francole), who has also been banned for life by The Kennel Club, is one case which demonstrates how the authorities are monitoring and punishing those whose breeding practices fail to meet welfare standards. Unfortunately, (and this happens in many breeds, not just Italian Greyhounds), unsuspecting prospective owners can be unwittingly brought in by unscrupulous breeders so, if you are thinking of introducing an IG into your home, please approach breeders with your eyes wide open. Here are some points to bear in mind:
i) Meet breeders face-to-face before committing to a puppy. It is essential that you meet IGs, their owners and breeders before you can 100% decide that an IG is the right breed for you and your home. There are lots of dog shows held throughout the year up and down the country where you can meet IG experts who will be able to answer your questions about the breed. You will also be able to see IGs in person, rather than photos online or in a book, which is an invaluable experience – were you expecting them to be as they were? To find an event near to you, please visit The Kennel Club website for a full list of upcoming shows. Attending one of the Italian Greyhound Club’s Open or Championship shows are good opportunities to meet breeders face-to-face – please visit the IGC’s website here for dates of their upcoming shows: www.theitaliangreyhoundclub.co.uk.
ii) Online advertisements. Reputable IG breeders do not breed often. Consequently, they usually have a waiting list of prospective owners and do not need to advertise their puppies on the internet.
iii) After choosing a breeder, visit their premises and they may ask to see your home too. How IGs behave out and about differs greatly to how they rule the roost at home – some IGs can appear rather aloof when at a show but, in the comfort of their home surrounds, their character changes and their confidence blooms. By visiting a breeder, you can see how they raise their dogs. Are the premises clean? Are the dogs happy in their home environment? Does anything raise alarm bells in your head? If so, listen to them. Not only must you, as a prospective owner, ascertain whether the mother of your future puppy is relaxed at home, the breeder should also want to know more about you: your lifestyle, is your property suitable to welcome an IG, are you 100% committed to their puppy not just while they are cute but also fifteen years down the line when your IG is entering his senior years. It is two-way process – you must be happy with the breeder, and the breeder must be happy with you. A strong relationship should form between you and your puppy’s breeder as you may need to turn to them for help and advice over the years. If the breeder you meet is more interested in getting your credit card details for a deposit rather than asking you questions about the life you can offer one of their puppies, alarm bells should be ringing loud and clear.
iv) Visit your puppy at home, with his mother and his littermates. If a breeder offers you a “drop off” service, maybe at a location half way between you and them, alarm bells once again should be sounding out. There are not a large number of reputable IG breeders in the UK so it is possible that your breeder will be located some distance from your home – it may initially appear “annoying” to have to travel five hours to the breeder and then back again, but this is a very small price to pay to get a happy, healthy puppy. Please do not let convenience cloud your judgement.
v) Price of your puppy. If you search “IG puppies” on the internet, the price of a puppy will probably make you wince. On average, the price for an IG puppy from a reputable breeder is £800-£900. This is just a guide, but please do not be lured in to paying more simply because a puppy has a “Crufts champion” supposedly in its pedigree (there is no such thing as Crufts Champion) or because the puppy is “rare in colour or size (to read the Kennel Club breed standard for the Italian Greyhound, please click here – any claims from breeders selling puppies with characteristics not recognised by the KC should be avoided).
vi) Age of your puppy when you collect him. Quite simply, if a breeder is trying to get you to collect an IG puppy before they are twelve weeks old, question them. The IGRC recommends that puppies remain with their mother until this age because this stage in development is crucial.
vii) Your breeder should not be a stranger. As mentioned above, the breeder of your puppy should become a point of contact in your phonebook. Many breeders have become very good friends with their puppies’ owners because reputable breeders want to know how their stock is getting on throughout a dog’s life, from their first week in their new home through to their first birthday through to their veteran years. Does the breeder of your prospective puppy give you confidence that they will be at the end of a telephone when you may need them?
These seven point are advisory guidelines that should be in your mind when getting an IG puppy. If you get an uneasy feeling from a potential breeder before getting your puppy, it is usually wise to listen to your gut feeling. Choosing the right puppy from the right breeder at the right time in your life can be one of the most rewarding decisions that you and your family can make. Hastily buying a puppy over the internet from the first breeder you find listed online may prove to be an incredibly costly and painful mistake for you, your family and, most importantly, your puppy.