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When looking at any breeder these are the things I suggest:
Be sure to ask to see all the health testing. At absolute minimum the parents (and hopefully) grandparents should have:
• OFA Hips - Xrays
• OFA Elbows - Xrays
• Thyroid - blood test
• Cardiac/Heart - regular vet or for better results Cardiologist
• OFA Patella's - regular vet manual test
• Cystinuria - DNA blood test on all dogs as well as Urine Nitroprusside on males
• PRA - DNA blood test, individual testing or clear by parentage
• CMR1 - DNA blood test, individual testing or clear by parentage
• CERF/EYE - yearly ophthalmologist examination
• Degenerative Melopathy - blood test, individual testing or clear by parentage
Other tests I recommend:
• vWD (vonWillebrand's Disease) - blood test for clotting factor
Ask to see copies of the parents registration papers. Puppies will only be registerable if both parents have their AKC papers.
Does the breeder show their dogs? While it is not imperative that a puppy’s parents are champions it is important that the breeder understands the breed standard and that their breedings strive to improve their dogs. Conformation is important, many things in the Breed Standard directly link to health, form, and function. For example, a mastiff with a straight rear could be prone to cruciate problems; or a mastiff with too long a back may be at risk for spinal injuries. Showing also is a test of a dog’s temperament – can they handle stressful situations? Are they dog /people aggressive away from the home? We are seeing more and more temperament problems coming from poorly bred mastiffs. If they aren’t shown in conformation do they do therapy work; have temperament testing done (i.e. CGC, TDI, or a working dog title)? Mastiffs are large dogs and a good temperament is essential and heavily linked to genetics.
Ask why they have chosen to do this breeding. How do they hope it will improve the breed? Are they keeping a puppy from the breeding? Or did they just own 2 dogs and want puppies, didn't care enough to do health testing or to try and better the breed in some way.
Meet one or both parents if possible (remember many Mastiff breeders use semen from a dog owned by someone else, so you might not get to meet the sire) and get a feel for their temperaments. Make sure you feel comfortable with the breeders as you should have a relationship with them for the life of the dog. If I am going to financially support a breeder I want to be darn sure I know what kind of environment the dogs are kept in.
Do they belong to a breed club? Most reputable breeders will belong to the Mastiff Club of America which has a Code of Ethics that a breeder must adhere to.
What age are the parents? I wouldn’t breed before 24 months (for both males and females) when you are able to see how the dog has matured and all health testing can be completed. I’ve seen many mastiffs that were nice as puppies and teenagers that never matured into half decent adults. Girls should not be bred after 6 years (preferably much younger). Ask about how often the female has been bred are they pumping out puppies not allowing the female to recover in between breedings? How many litters does the breeder produce in a year?
How are the pups socialized? What age do they let them go? Pups should never, ever leave before 8 weeks, I prefer a little longer as long as they are staying with their siblings. Dogs learn a lot about bite inhibition and how to be a dog from littermates and their mother.
Ask to see the contract beforehand and read it carefully. If there’s something you don’t agree with don’t be shy. Mastiffs from a quality breeder should be sold on non-breeding contracts – these can be lifted when certain health/showing requirements are met. If you are asked to enter into a co-ownership, think about it carefully before agreeing.
And ask for references and follow up on them. Ask around the mastiff community, as well.
Please have a look at the Mastiff Club of America website for further information about the breed, health and much more. If you have any questions or would like more information, don't hesitate to contact me.
Ohhhh, little bundles of drool!!!!
Copyright 2012. All text & pictures are the property of Gryphon Mastiffs and may not be copied or reproduced without permission.
We currently have no planned litters for the next few years, but if you would like to be placed on a waiting list for future litters please complete our puppy application. Our pups are naturally raised, meaning we raise and feed our dogs a raw diet as well as vaccinate minimally.
Find out more on the Raising Mastiffs Naturally page.