Buying A Rottweiler Puppy - Lessons learned from Cash!
by Chris and Pamela Bayhi
Cash in his Craigslist posting
Before running out and buying the first Rottweiler you fall in love with, please consider the following:
* The MOST IMPORTANT thing you can do before buying that cute Rottie pup is to think about it and do your research. Once that's done, here are some tips to buying a quality dog that will provide you and your family many years of love, companionship, and faithfulness.
* When visiting the breeder's home or facility, ask to see the parents of the pups. Some breeders may not have the male available as they used a stud dog or artificial insemination. But they should have photos of the stud dog, and a copy of the pedigree and health certificates for both dogs. Also ask if they allow the dam to skip a heat cycle after each litter. Back-to-back breeding is unhealthy for the female and genetically bad for the offspring. Skipping to the 3rd heat cycle is best, but skipping every other heat cycle is perfectly fine.
* If the breeder is releasing pups earlier than 8 weeks RUN. It's become common for puppies to be released as early 6 weeks, but between 6 and 8 weeks puppies undergo a tremendous amount of socialization. Expect to place a refundable deposit on the pup. If you have not taken delivery of the puppy at the end of 9 weeks expect to loose your deposit and expect the breeder to sell the pup to someone else unless other arrangements have been made. Breeders vary their refund policy.
* If the breeder has more than 6 females (especially those with out health certifications) and is producing more than 5 or 6 litter per year, it's a good bet you are at a puppy mill. Rottweilers need interaction with their humans daily. Do you think it's possible to have quality interaction with 6 dogs (not counting the puppies) in one day?
* Ask the breeder questions about the pedigree of the pups and parents. Ask how the parents get along with strangers, kids, cats, and visitors.
* Ask the breeder if the sire and dam have been OFA Certified for hips and elbows, have a CERF certification for eyes (Rotties are notorious for having eye problems), and have OFA heart clearances. In some cases an unplanned litter does happen before the dam or sire is 2 years old, so not all dogs will have all of these medical certifications. But if the sire and/or dam are over 2 years of age, they SHOULD have been tested.
* Also check out the breeder's home and general condition of the yard, kids, etc. This goes for third party sellers as well. If the house is a mess, the yard is unkempt, and the kids look like they needed a bath three days ago, it's a good bet the pups are living in squalor. If the house smells of waste, that's generally a bad sign.
* Ask the breeder if they give any type of guarantees. A health guarantee allowing you to bring the puppy to your vet for a check up in a reasonable amount of time (2 to 3 business days) is sufficient. If your vet says something is wrong with the pup, the breeder should give you your money back or at minimum arrange to reimburse you for the cost of the puppy's healthcare up to the purchase price of the pup. If a breeder states "NO REFUNDS-EXCHANGE ONLY" you need to RUN! If something is wrong with your puppy, don't you think chances are good something will be wrong with the replacement puppy from the same litter?
* The breeder should also give a return guarantee, indicating that if you are unable to continue caring for the puppy properly, the breeder will take the puppy back. This is a COE breeder's way of trying to avoid having their pups wind up in an overcrowded shelter.
* Other reputable breeders will give you a genetic or congenital defect guarantee. 1 year is common, 2 years is better, especially for large breed dogs such as Rottweilers. The guarantee should stipulate that the breeder may have the dog examined by their vet for verification of your vet’s diagnosis. If the diagnosis is verified, the breeder should either give you your money back, or allow you to keep the puppy and pay for medical expenses related to the defect up to the purchase price of the pup. Why 2 years? Because most Rottweilers start showing signs of genetic faults by 12 to 18 months and you can't get an OFA certificate until they turn two.
* If you are not planning on showing or breeding your dog, then consider an AKC Limited Registration. COE breeders will usually do limited and give you a small discount. The same guarantees should extend to both Full and Limited Registration. Some Limited Registrations also come with a spay/neuter clause in the contract. Large breeds should not be spayed/neutered until 12-18 months. Some breeders will charge full price for the pup and once he/she has been fixed, give you a reimbursement.
* Beware of low ball prices on Craigslist and the internet. Some quality breeders may attempt to re-home a puppy or two on Craigslist if a buyer backs out and there are no more littermates left. But when it comes to Rotties, you should beware of ads that mention "German", "Championship Bloodlines" and other sales pitches. Ask for documentation!
As an example, our male, Zuwachs, has an American Champion in the 4th generation, and multiple International Champions and SchH 3 titled dogs in the 5th generation and beyond. We can also provide verifiable evidence that traces his bloodline all the way back to multiple Original Foundation Dogs, including the very first Rottweiler registered in Germany. But this does NOT mean he has a "Championship Bloodline". If either of his parents had a championship then he would come from "Championship Bloodlines." Further, he is NOT German. He was born in the United States and is therefore an American Rottweiler with German bloodlines.
* If you're looking to buy a Rottweiler, it may take you a while. Good, quality COE breeders usually have a waiting list and a deposit must be placed on a puppy that has yet to be born. The breeder should choose the puppy that will fit your family best. After all, he/she has spent 8 weeks with the pups and should know that puppy #1 would do better in a calmer house, while Puppy #4 would be best for a active household.
* Do you have the time to train a puppy? Training is important because that 16 pound puppy will grow into a 130 pound monster in about 2 to 3 years. Basic obedience is a MUST for a dog of this size and power! And why are you buying a Rottie anyway? Do you love the breed that much? Or do you just want to tell your friends you own a Rottweiler?
* Are you ready for the expense? In the Texas area, a true German Rottie imported from Germany will cost between $7,000 and $20,000+. An American Rottie with German import parents carrying titles/championships will cost $1,000 to $5,000+. An American Rottie with German bloodlines (like our Zuwachs) will cost about $500 to $1,000. Most dogs you see on Craigslist with no papers or the owner wants to hold the papers? They cost about $400 to $250 or less. You can bet that in most cases the dog you're buying isn't a true Rottweiler.
* Other costs you need to consider include puppy shots ($8 to $12 per puppy), puppy wellness vet check ($100+ for 9 pups) at least twice in 8 weeks, tail docking and dew claw removal by a vet at 3 days old ($200 for 9 pups), annual rabies shots ($25 per dog), County or Local registration in some municipalities, possible increase in homeowner's insurance, micro-chipping & annual membership fee ($30 for the chip and $17 per month), GPS collar & annual membership fee ($200 per collar and $15 per month), AKC registration fees (average $50 per dog), emergency vet visits at off hours, possible surgeries, pet insurance, spay/neutering at 12-18 months (free to $150 depending on where you go), and FOOD! Our two adult Rotties go though 100+ pounds of dry food supplemented by 14 cans of wet food per WEEK! That adds up to about $300 in feeding expenses a month. A litter of 9 puppies that have been weaned go though a 40 pound bag of quality Puppy Food every week. That adds up to $150 per month. These are real numbers from our last litter.
* Do you have an adequate area for exercise such as a kennel or run? Or do you plan on chaining the dog to a tree? A regular 4' or 6' chain link fence will not do. Rottweilers love to dig when they are bored and can jump over a 10' fence with ease. A quality kennel will run $500+.
* If you're not interested in a pure breed Rottie, consider checking with your local pound, rescue, or www.petfinder.com to locate your forever friend. Many people are surprised at the number of Rottweilers (pups, teenagers and adults) and Rottie mixes available. You'll get the dog you want and save money. Most adoptions are under $100.00 and best of all you'll get to give your new best bud a second chance!