When looking to add a dog like a Swissy- a rare breed that requires you to work with a breeder to find and bring home a puppy- there is a lot to know. Here are some points and some HOT TIPS.
First, it’s a good idea to figure out, Is a Greater Swiss Mountain Dog Right for You.
Please read this article, by our friend Karen Conant, who has been in the breed for over 20 years.
Next, consider timing for bringing home any dog, and other matters that you will be deciding like puppy raising and training. We love the book, The Art of Raising a Puppy, by the Monks of New Skete. It’s an “oldie but a goodie”. The best time to read the book is before you have your little biter at home, so you can spend the most time getting ready to raise her to be a terrific family member.
In selecting a breeder, do research on questions to ask breeders. If you use Facebook, there is a FANTASTIC group called “Finding a Greater Swiss Mountain Dog”. The focus is on helping people find the dog that they really want. If you don't use Facebook, maybe you can still read the page? We don't know. Worth trying. If you read the files in this group, you will find some aspect(s) of our breeding program might differ slightly. So, ask us about it! We will answer honestly. The information and lists are a collaboration from a number of breeders (including us) and there are differences of opinion, naturally.
Finally: the real point of this post is us! Ok, just kidding, but we want you to know What breeders look for, and what We are looking for in you. We get between 4-10 times more applications per litter as the number of puppies available. You are all GREAT, but we have to find some way to choose who will get one of our puppies. The decisions are not scientific; we try to make the best guess on who will provide the best life for our babies. We love these puppies so much and from our perspective, all that matters is picking the best home for them, not how badly YOU want them. It’s very hard for us to turn people down – the dogs bring so much love to our lives. Its somewhat uncomfortable that we become the “decider” in whether YOU bring home some of that love. But, we have to make these hard choices.
This is not exhaustive, but I would like to give everyone some ideas, including some HOT TIPS, on what we are looking for:
#1 is commitment. We want people who are committed to the dog for its life. Without a crystal ball, we try to predict commitment based on: previous experience with the breed, raising dogs in general, living with big dogs, past dogs raised and commitment to them, and time invested in researching the breed and making relationship with us and other Swissy people. If you don't know much about the dogs and breed, how can you even be sure of your own commitment level?
Care: financial/mental resolve to provide the best possible care including high quality food, training, medical care including insurance, the best approach to medical like not over-vaccinating, not de-sexing too soon, the best care for day, to day living, for vacations, etc. Again, we are trying to guess the future, so we base this on interviews, your stated plans, our perception of your attitude towards care topics, and evidence of financially ability to provide these things.
Lifestyle: these are family members. We try to intuit who also sees the dogs as family, the same way we do. For example, you hear us saying things like, “four people” were in the room, and then…." and you look around and see 2 people and 2 dogs. Our dogs live inside with us, and the time spent outside is part of their lives, but not their whole lives. It also means the dog has the environment they need to grow into a happy healthy dog, a safe place when you are gone, a good place to move their bodies at home when not on outings (an adequate fenced area at home), a safe arrangement to ride in a safe car, a home structure that is safe (usually an owned home without excessive stairs, or a stair management understanding for growing dogs) and an approach that properly considers the dogs' mental and physical needs. We think of our dogs needs before our own- because they trust us to care for them and we decide when they eat, (and what and how much), when they get to go outside, who they get to play with, where they will spend their days, pretty much every step of their lives' dance - so we need to do right by them and honor that trust they have in us to choose wisely.
Connection: your puppy is our family its entire life. If we send puppy home with you and never hear from you again, we grieve the loss of that relationship. We worry about puppy and its life. We are able to share help and advice, and freely provide this when asked by our puppy families, to help you nurture the puppy through all sorts of life situations. When we hear about people going through a situation that could have been easily solved if they had just TOLD us or ASKED us about it, we are sad. Show us that you know it takes a village and that you won’t leave and try solve everything on your own, wasting our 15 years of experience, along with our access to decades more experience through our mentors--At the expense of your puppies own experience. They are the ones that are missing out when that happens, not just you.
So, you read this far and now you get the promised HOT TIPS. If you have already met us at a dog event, you are ahead of the game. We are most comfortable with people who make a noticeable effort to meet us and/or other Swissies. The more time you invest in the process, the more seriously we consider your application. As you can tell, the above goals are intangible- it’s hard to know. So, we use this EFFORT EXPENDED scale as one way to make our best guess. That is why it’s a good idea to attend a dog show (or two or three) even if you don’t plan to show your dog. Check our show schedule HERE. We belong to a club that organizes events (Golden State Calendar of Events). So, take a look, plan some events, and when you are sure you are attending, let us know so we can make some connections for you with people who will attend. Swissy owners are great people! You will love meeting them. Then, let us know you went! Send a photo of you with some dogs you met. Ask some questions that such an event will bring up for you, after meeting new people and dogs.
You are the winner in this process. You will meet great people and dogs and further understand what would be best for your family. You will make connections with other breeders and people who got dogs from other breeders, which may even lead you in another direction, or provide a backup should we not have a puppy for you. So, you have everything to gain from this process.