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Old 12-14-2012, 01:37 PM   #21 (permalink)
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EDIT this is kind of long so it is just a personal account of the routes I have gone down with puppy vs adult.......may not add to much other than anecdotal perspective.

My two cents from the perspective of one who recently "took the gamble" again as I DO feel a puppy is more of a gamble than with a properly screened young adult raised in a working environment and properly socialized, drive building done, etc. [as I have done that as well]

My perspective is from wanting to wind up with a working SAR dog (cadaver) not for a pet where I might adapt to a dog with certain quirks and look at them as a challenge for my own skills as an owner.

Having spent almost 3 years (2003-2006) training a young GSD from proven working lines with a good litter ZW only to wind up with bilateral severe HD so now I had 3 years invested in what ultimately became a beloved pet - and no closer to having a SAR dog.

I made a choice to get a young adult the as soon as she was retired, so I could hit the ground running. I paid more but I knew he was OFA good, had a good back, and no known diseases or illness and I could screen his drive and working ability. He certified (in 2008-I had some delays because in 2006-2007 my dad got lung cancer and mom had a massive stroke and I am an only child so I was not engaged in training for almost 6 months with him) and was operational for a number of years (last certified in 2012) until about the age of 9 when little things started happening that led me to retiring him.

I was faced with the same challenge when I got Beau as my intent was to get a young adult green dog again - even turned down two free working line puppies.
But here is the thing.......it seems good working prospects are a little bit costlier when I got Beau than when I got Grim. DOD and all that. So now the $2000 I spent for Grim (who was 2 and OFA good when I got him) would have been about $4000-6000 for a young adult with what I needed, and one I could evaluate and return if not suitable.

But I knew Beau's breeder, what she had and what she was going for, and the solid working history of his close relatives (parents, aunts, uncles). He is working out remarkably and, honestly, the last hurdle is OFA x-rays at 2. Until that is complete I still feel there is somewhat of a gamble though he is showing no signs of any issues.

About the only gamble so far I have lost is I am pretty sure I do not have a "genetically obedient" dog. Ah well, he is definitely engaged but quite a handful. I can live with that. he is good at what I need him to be good at. (cerfied as a 15 month old in 2012)

I was straight up with the breeder as was she with me because she is all about working dogs - if he has a health issue that prevents him from being a working dog, I get a refund. I find a new home for him. [can't have ANOTHER pet right now]. It seems people who deal in dogs for actual work understand the idea a little more than folks looking mainly at pets who could not understand the prospect of rehoming a dog that was not just perfect.
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Old 12-14-2012, 02:00 PM   #22 (permalink)
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Originally Posted by jocoyn View Post
I DO feel a puppy is more of a gamble than with a properly screened young adult raised in a working environment and properly socialized, drive building done, etc. [as I have done that as well]
Very interesting stuff, jocoyn. Thanks for your perspective! The quote above caught my attention. A puppy is more of a gamble than a screened young adult who has been raised in a working environment, socialized, built drive, holy cow- that's what I'd be doing with a puppy!

I was more referring to puppy vs rescue than I was puppy vs semi-trained green dog. I do think your perspective is pretty worth while. It must be so frustrating and heart breaking to put in so much time in order for the dog to wash out due to health issues or otherwise. Which brings me to this:

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You are an engineer..I dont know if you can "build" the perfect dog. A breeder can certainly strive toward the breed standard..but does the dog love your choosen sport. Only time will tell.
I only partly agree. I 100% agree that dogs are individuals, and will of course have different desires/drives for certain sports. However all of those SchH puppies don't come out of the womb loving bite sleeves. It's a desire that is built from puppyhood. And I admit that I don't speak from experience since I didn't start Pimg as a pup- but I think that the human's sport of choice should basically end up being the dog's sport of choice if well trained. That sounds harsh, but when I see puppies picked up by prong collars because they won't out a bite sleeve, I find it hard to believe that such desire wasn't built, engineered, if you will. Whether SchH people want to admit it or not, the dog doesn't know what a bite sleeve is the instant it's born. And I'll be the first to admit that a puppy wouldn't know what a dogwalk is or stopped contacts. No, it is trained to love it. A desire built from positive motivation.
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Old 12-14-2012, 02:08 PM   #23 (permalink)
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And I'll be the first to admit that a puppy wouldn't know what a dogwalk is or stopped contacts. No, it is trained to love it. A desire built from positive motivation.
There's going to be some serious karma here if I end up getting a puppy that doesn't like agility!
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Old 12-14-2012, 02:09 PM   #24 (permalink)
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Any living thing is a gamble. Heck, having kids is a gamble.
There are no sure things in life.. Well, except death.
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Old 12-14-2012, 02:25 PM   #25 (permalink)
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I'll always believe that a puppy is more of a gamble than a grown rescue dog. The thing is though is that you really have to consider what it is you're trying to get out of said dog. If you're looking to do some advance training/trialing (schutzhund, agility, tracking, AKC obedience/rally), a puppy with a proven pedigree of dogs that are successful in that sport is probably your best bet. But if you're looking for a service dog or a SAR dog, an older dog is much more likely to fit those needs as you'll be able to test their "finished" temperament.

Service dog organizations that breed their own dogs generally have a more than a year evaluation process while the dog grows up (in a family) and is trained in general obedience/manner type things. At over a year, they are tested to see if they can perform the service work and at that point are trained for said service. I'm guessing SAR is much the same...not all dogs have the it (and like jocoyn stated, the health), so its much better to see the dog a little older and assess it then. Problem with dogs is, once 99.9999% of us have had a dog for anything more than a week, we're not going to give it up, and if your goal is to do SAR or your need is for a service dog, its not very practical to raise a dog for a year, figure out its not cut out for the work, and then move on to the next one while keeping the other one. You'll end up like ponyfarm's mom except that you might actually NEED your dog more than just a WANT to have your dog do sport X.

So, if I get a puppy, and it turns out to not be the best Schutzhund or Obedience prospect, its not really the end of the world to me. I still have a nice pet. But if I get a puppy, and it can't be my service dog in a year or two, I've just wasted all that time and now have to start all over for something that is truly affecting my life negatively.
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Old 12-14-2012, 03:38 PM   #26 (permalink)
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I believe I could go get a puppy from some litters that come out biting a sleeve...well maybe not a sleeve but you get the gist.lol....still, pups with health issues factored in are a gamble, IMO.
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Old 12-14-2012, 03:45 PM   #27 (permalink)
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Quote:
Chris Wild It depends one what means by "gamble" really. If one equates that to a 50/50 coin toss, or worse casino or lottery odds, than I would disagree with the statements that getting a pup from a breeder is a gamble. A buyer doing his/her research and using a reputable breeder certainly has much better odds.

If by "gamble" one means that the outcome is not certain and there is the possibility that things may not turn out as planned and hoped, regardless of how much research is done or how reputable the breeder and solid the bloodline, than I would agree. Had that happen myself as both a customer and as a breeder.

As far as breeder vs rescue vs anything else, the biggest factor to me there is age. A breeder puppy is less of a gamble than a rescue puppy, just based on how much is able to be known about the genetics behind the breeder pup and how much is unknown about the genetics behind the rescue pup.

But if talking a breeder pup vs a rescue adult, now things are different. The older the dog, regardless of where it comes from, the more that is known about that individual dog. The older the dog the less the pedigree is important, and the less any temperament testing or health testing of generations past matters. As the saying goes "pedigree says what a dog should be, the dog tells you who he IS". With a puppy, many temperament and health issues remain to be seen. With an adult, they can be seen. No guesswork based on pedigree and relatives is needed. They are simply either present or not and the chances of things changing in the future are much lower when the dog being looked at is already mature.

So I would say getting an older dog, any older dog, is less of a gamble than getting a puppy, any puppy.
Quote:
Originally Posted by wildo
Hmmm... I didn't expect that coming from you. I think that's a good saying; it makes sense. But not all medical issues can be seen in the adult rescue dog. (I'm having a hard time coming up with an example other than hip dysplasia- which CAN be checked). Certainly there are other genetic issues (perhaps DM? Chronic Heart Failure?) that are not so easily checked.

I don't know. If the idea is to get a SPORT dog, it just makes sense to me that a puppy from a very well known genetic past is probably less of a gamble than an adult rescue who seems promising, but might die of heart failure the first time he jumps the apex of an a-frame, or breaks a leg due to weak bones when falling off a dog walk...
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If you're looking at an adult, most things can be checked. Heart can be checked by a cardiologist armed with an echocardiogram. Hips, elbows, shoulders, back can be checked with x-rays. DM cheek swab can be done at any age to see if the dog is at risk (if one puts stock in the current DM DNA test). Full blood work can be run to check for a slew of other things.

All of that is going to cost money. Quite a lot of money. Probably more than most people would be inclined to invest in a rescue dog they are interested in. But the point is that it CAN be done on an adult if someone wants to pay for it. It can't be done on a puppy.

Will it rule out all potential health issues? No, of course not. Nothing will with an adult or a puppy. But it rules out the majority of those that are the most common and most likely to affect the dog's quality of life and ability to participate in sport or other activities. The health issues remaining that can't be tested for are mostly ones that affect senior dogs, are less common, and often appear far more random so even knowing the pedigree and background of the dog wouldn't provide a much better guess at what the future may bring.

Now if one wants the smallest possible gamble of all, buy an adult dog that has been temperament and health tested but also has a known pedigree. And pay the price that goes along with that level of assurance.
These are great, informative posts and very much appreciated.

Rescues doing it right will be able to tell you about the dog.

My most recent foster was with me for 10 months (1 month of that was waiting for her pending adoption). I knew what she did, when she did it, how she did it, what color her poop was, she had 2 heartworm tests, was vet checked 3x and we would have (at the cost of the adopter) had her xrayed, etc as requested. She was with me so long because she is not a pet dog. She is a sport dog. There is no potential there, there just "is" there. In fact, she got adopted because I had had enough of trying to keep her occupied and out of trouble at our meet and greets and asked if we took a flyball class if we could be waived from the m/g requirement!

She met a lot of people who were interested in her but weren't ready for her, but ultimately was adopted by the trainer! In 10 classes/sessions she was doing the same things that their puppy bought for flyball was doing in 10 months (not that he isn't great - he is amazing - bred for the sport - and she's not yet as fast as he is). But she was ready to go. That's why some people will say if you want a dog that's going to do whatever, and you want to make sure they want to do it, are good at it, etc, get one that is already doing it - and then, people like me, who foster nutso dogs, say get them from rescue because then we can save them - these dogs, as you can imagine, do not always do well in a shelter eval (my foster was rescue only) and many don't make the adoption floor because of who they are and what they are capable of doing.

And like Chris said, you can buy an adult who is ready to go as well. So you can do either.

But Chris's posts are awesome, mine is just ramble and a not so humble brag about my awesome, diabolically smart former foster dog. (ETA - she is also starting her a little in agility so I am looking forward to seeing this dog do a lot of stuff in the future)
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Old 12-14-2012, 04:13 PM   #28 (permalink)
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I can also share my experiences...I've always wanted to breed GSD's. Over ten years later I still have not bred a litter.

My first GSD turned out overly sharp and very soft. No good for breeding.

My second GSD (Djenga) had/has a fabulous temperament and nice structure, unfortunately she was diagnosed with HD as a young dog.

Then I got Madina, as a 2 year old. I should have tested her more than I did - but I took the seller's word. If I would have tested her, I would have realized she couldn't be titled. Once I started asking her to do obedience, she completely shut down. I think she had very harsh training before I got her and she didn't have the temperament to be able to bounce back from that. So she was spayed.

Then came Kessy, who I got as a puppy. She has turned out better than I could have dreamed. Great health, fantastic working dog, but I was never able to get her pregnant. We tried several times, with different males, did progesterone, thyroid tests, etc...we did everything we could. I am still heartbroken.

Now I have Kira - I was pretty much ready to throw in the towel after Kessy, but it just worked out perfectly that I could take Kira and title her. I held my breath a little til her teeth came in normally, and then until we had her hips/elbows checked out...they were just done yesterday, but they look great.
Plus she's working out really nicely as a tending dog - and she's gorgeous - so maybe things have finally worked out for me.

With my terriers - I took a gamble on my male (Gizmo), I found his breeder online and had no connections in the terrier world at the time - but he has the most fabulous temperament and great health. I didn't get him intending to breed, but he is so wonderful that it's led to my getting a female.
My female came from one of the top breeders in the country. She's co-owned til she has a litter, and is also fabulous They've gotten me hooked on terriers!

I probably could have saved myself a lot of heartache if I'd bought PROVEN adult GSD's from the start. But I really enjoy raising dogs from puppyhood, and starting with a blank slate.

I guess this doesn't exactly apply to the debate of buying a puppy vs. rescuing a dog since I'm looking at things from a breeder's perspective. But that's been my journey...LOL
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Old 12-15-2012, 01:06 PM   #29 (permalink)
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I only partly agree. I 100% agree that dogs are individuals, and will of course have different desires/drives for certain sports. However all of those SchH puppies don't come out of the womb loving bite sleeves. It's a desire that is built from puppyhood. And I admit that I don't speak from experience since I didn't start Pimg as a pup- but I think that the human's sport of choice should basically end up being the dog's sport of choice if well trained. That sounds harsh, but when I see puppies picked up by prong collars because they won't out a bite sleeve, I find it hard to believe that such desire wasn't built, engineered, if you will. Whether SchH people want to admit it or not, the dog doesn't know what a bite sleeve is the instant it's born. And I'll be the first to admit that a puppy wouldn't know what a dogwalk is or stopped contacts. No, it is trained to love it. A desire built from positive motivation.
You are comparing apples and oranges. Yes, some dogs are worked and developed to like doing bitework, but the good ones were born that way. All training does is let these dogs know that they must do what they genetically are programed to do by our rules. I think you can see the same in the really good agility dogs. They love the excitement of the sport and all you have to do is show them the rules. Believe me, Marcia never had to motivate Navarre to run agility. HE LOVED it and still does. Next to bitework it is his favorite things to do.

Read Ellen Nicklesberg's articles about working with shepherd Manfred Hyne and his dogs. They needed no motivation to work sheep. They were genetically programmed to do the work. He just needed to guide them and show them the rules.

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You saw Deja at the breed survey? That is genetics. All I have had to do was teach her the rules and reinforce what I want and don't want (we are still working on that part LOL). The motivation is the work, the fight. No rag play, back tying to create drive or to get a desire to bite a rag or sleeve.

This is what many people don't understand (you are not the only one). Good working dogs are motivated by the work. It is genetic.
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Old 12-15-2012, 01:17 PM   #30 (permalink)
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Hmmm. Very interesting, Lisa! I guess I didn't realize that. The work I've done with Pimg has all been in motivating and training the desire for work. That's my only experience... Geez- working dogs must be so easy!! (just kidding... kind of.)
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