Choosing a Puppy

A guide to purchasing a Koolie puppy

With our Club membership and facebook group growing every day we have a lot of new people wanting to buy a Koolie (and let’s face it, we all know why!) But I have found a lot of these new-to-the-breed people as well as current members are not sure what to look for, or what questions to ask a breeder when they approach them about puppies. So, here is your complete guide for ‘what to look for and ask when purchasing a Koolie puppy’.

The Koolie Club has a puppy officer that is able to answer your enquires when looking for a puppy from our registered breeders. At the moment I also wear the puppy officer hat, so this is an insight into what might help when approaching breeders!

A key point to remember is Koolies are their own breed. Our Club vision is to see our breed progress into the future as healthy and as untainted as possible. This means we do not promote cross breeding. Koolies are such a wonderful breed it is always a shame to see them bred with other breeds. Especially non-working breeds!
One of the reasons Koolies are such wonderful dogs is because of their willingness to work and their devotion to their owners, this means they are always eager to please; be that as a top work dog, agility star or best friend. This leads point number 1.

1. Find a breeder that is registered with the Koolie Club Of Australia

Many people will find their Koolie pup advertised on Facebook or on gumtree and many of these ads say they are a ‘registered breeder’.
However, there is a VERY big difference between have a ‘breeders number’ given out by the state and being registered with the club.
Most States now mandate any person breeding or selling dogs must have a breeders number (different wording for different states). This number can simply be obtained online and must be displayed on all advertising.

So the question to ask, (or you can refer to our list of breeders on our website):
Are you a registered breeder with the Koolie Club of Australia and will these pups be registered?
Many people will also sell pups saying the parents are registered or a grandparent was registered. However we highly recommend purchasing a pup that will be registered by the breeder. This ensures the records submitted by the breeder are verified by the Registrar in our database. Purchasers and breeders can confidently view the records shown on registration certificates issued by the Koolie Club of Australia as being true to the clubs knowledge, with no ability to create illusions as opposed to those that may be presented by a breeder on their own behalf at the time of a potential sale. Breeders that register their pups show they are open and honest about their breeding history and are willing to share all information with those who put their trust in them by purchasing their Koolies.

2. Have the parents been DNA Health Tested ?

For many years now the KCA have been working with Orivet. We have DNA tests (that are very simply completed with a salvia swab) and can test diseases we have found to be within our breed. On a whole, our breed is extremely healthy, but breeders that follow the clubs code of ethics (clause I shall breed only for the purpose of improving the breed, not for the pet market or any other commercial purpose) have taken the time to DNA health test all their dogs to ensure our breed continues to be one of the healthiest working dogs in Australia. This is another key reason for not buying a cross bred dog – the other breeds can have a whole swag of different diseases to what we have found in Koolies and this then not just threatens our
breeds future with creating cross breds but the potential to introduce more diseases into the mix.

A quick overview on the DNA, essentially we look for clear of all testable diseases dogs to breed with, ensuring no diseases are passed onto offspring. However a carrier status means the dog carries one copy of the disease and in most cases will never be affected by the disease or have any health issues from it. Breeding carriers can be done (and breeders will do this if that dog is an outstanding dog, ticking every box they require for a dog to be bred with, however a carrier MUST be bred with a clear dog, and many breeders will then litter test (testing all pups or pups that are potentially going to enter a breeding home) to ensure they are clear of that disease.

The other status is affected which means the dog has inherited two copies of the disease gene (which often occurs when two carriers are bred). This is what we are looking to avoid at all costs as these dogs have an extremely high chance of having health issues caused by the disease in its future.

Ask to see the parents health test results and ensure they are up to date including the new diseases that have been recently added.
Many breeders will have these test results openly displayed on their website.

Have a read of our DNA article in this edition of the newsletter for more detailed understanding or feel free to email us!

3. Are these pups from a merle to merle litter ?

This topic is a hot one, and for good reason! Koolies come in solids and merles. The merle colour is a gene that is inherited (and that is a very in depth topic all of its own!).

Breeding two merle dogs together gives the chance of the pups receiving two copies of the merle gene – these pups are referred to as double merle. Double merle pups have the very real possibility of having sight and hearing issues. Some backyard breeders are not aware of this, and often breed two merle dogs, resulting in litters that can have pups that have minor issues right up to being completely deaf or blind. It is encouraged to avoid this, and the way to do so is breeding a merle dog to a solid coloured dog. This ensures only one copy of merle can be inherited, which results in pups that are healthy.
Double merle dogs can have a lot of white and not having much colour pigment around the eyes and ears can often be a sign the dog could potentially have issues.

Some breeders will say the pups have been health checked by the vet and have no issues, but unfortunately many vets are not familiar with the issues that can arise from breeding merle to merle and are not sight and hearing specialists so do not know what to look for in these pups.

Many people are very passionate about this topic and have seen stories like ‘Keller and Calamity the Deaf Double merle duo’. Double merles can occur in any breed that has the merle gene like Aussie Shepherds, Dachshunds and Catahoulas to name a few. Solid to merle matings are the safest option and sadly many backyard breeders that do not have the best interest of the breed at heart breed for colour as the merles are always so popular. Unfortunately this means double merles (many refer to it as lethal white) are being sold onto unsuspecting people that then have a dog with very serious health issues. It always pays to meet the parents or ask for photos.
And if in doubt you can always ask!
So if this is something you feel passionate, ask the breeder “Are these pups from a merle to merle litter?”

4. Do the parents fit the type of dog you are looking for? Will the breeder be able to advise which pup will suit you best?

Whether you a looking for a future working dog, sporting dog or the family pet asking this question is very important. Most breeders will ask you what you are looking to do with the pup and this gives them an idea if a pup from the litter will suit.

Some dogs that are bred to work will not suit life in a backyard just as many that are pets may not create good work dogs. An experienced breeder will be able to give their opinion if they think a pup will suit as they know their dogs temperaments and abilities better than anyone.

If it is a work dog you are looking for, ask about the parents work styles, the stock they have experience with and ask for some work photos to show they do in fact work! When looking for a work dog it is very important to know the parents do have the drive and ability you are looking for to ensure there is more of a chance the pup will work and be what you are looking for.

And if it is a new family member or jogging buddy this question is just as important as finding a pup that may have a more laid back nature would suit this lifestyle more than a high drive pup. A registered breeder will take the time to understand what it is you are looking for in a pup and help you to decide which pup from the litter will suit you best – especially if you are a distance and can not view the puppies.
This is why finding a breeder with experience and a good name is essential!

5. Will the pups be vet checked, vaccinated, microchipped as well as being wormed regularly ? At what age can they head to their new home ?

It may seem very basic but is a question that is very important. A lot of breeders will put this on their advertisement or the information will be on their websites and this should be non-negotiable!

Worming is extremely important with puppies and should be done at least fortnightly from 2 weeks of age and a good quality wormer should be used. Puppies are particularly suspectable to worms and the affects can be deadly if not done! Hook worm in particular can kill a puppy very quickly and some breeders in more suspectable areas will worm more regularly if required. Be sure to check when the pups are due for their next wormer and trust your breeder and vet for information on worming schedules.

Many breeders will have their litters vet checked, microchipped and their first vaccination done at 6 weeks of age. Doing this at 6 weeks ensures they puppies will have some immunity when they are ready to leave home at 8 weeks. 8 weeks is the typical standard age a pup is ready to leave to their new homes and is quoted in each states ‘Breeding regulations’ when obtaining a breeding number. 8 weeks ensures the puppies are weaned and feeding on all solids as well as being well socialised.

6. Have the pups been well socialised ?

This is a great question to ask as it is very important in the early development of puppies. Many breeders will spend countless hours with their pups; not just feeding, worming and taking thousands of photos but making sure they are comfortable with their surroundings and those things in them. Socialising can include humans, adult dogs (often different to their parents), children, cats and poultry.

A puppy that spends time with older dogs develops some pack manners learning to respect boundaries and learn skills from the older dogs. Depending on where a pup is born (suburbia or a farm) will show the different exposure they have had. This can include different noises; cars, lawn mowers, trucks, tractors, livestock and children (we all know how noisy kids can be! But they are brilliant to help puppies in this stage of development). All these are great essentials for a young pup to become accustomed to and they all help later in life. Some breeders also do ‘puppy culture’ or adapt certain parts of this program to their pups upbringing.

7. If transport is required, will the breeder organise ?

As our breed is so diverse our breeders are all over the Country (and the world for that matter!)

Don’t let the fact a breeder is in a different state deter you from enquiring with them as most breeders are more than happy to arrange transport for their pups.

If the breeder isn’t too far away they may suggest road transport as an option, however if it is a longer distance the best means of transport is via plane. Air transport is quite affordable and means your new puppy is with you in the shortest possible time. Many people ask “Isn’t that stressful for a puppy?!’ the answer is if your breeder has socialised their pups well, they travel brilliantly! Often bounding out of the crate at the other end ready for a cuddle and looking for their next adventure.

Breeders that have the experience will be all too happy to talk you through the process involved and obtain a travel quote for you.

8. What are waiting lists and guarantees that come with the pup ?

When you have decided a Koolie is right for you, taking the time to find the right breeder is very important. Breeders that have the experience, proven dogs and progeny that ticks all the boxes often have a waiting list. A waiting list is essentially an expression of interest from people that are looking for a puppy. Some breeders only have one or two litters a year and people are happy to wait if they think a pup from that litter is what they are looking for. Breeders will take all your details and what it is you are looking for in a pup and place you on their list. You may decide you have several breeders and potential litters that will suit you, so you contact those breeders and put your name on all their lists. This is very common but remember if you are lucky enough to get a puppy, to let those other breeders know you can be taken off their waiting lists. At the end of the day puppies from these breeders are worth the wait!

Sometimes breeders will advertise their pups come with a guarantee. Whether this is a work guarantee or a health guarantee. These can be hard topics to guarantee. A pup can be born from two top working dogs and have a lot of natural ability, but if the new owner has no clue what they are doing and do all the wrong things they can shut their pup down – which is essentially operator error and it can have massive affects. So many working dog breeders will say the pups are bred to work. This tells people they should tick all the boxes for a work home and in the right hands should do well.

The same can be said for a health guarantee. As technology is ever advancing the tests we had 5 years are very different to what we have today! A line of dogs that was clear of all testable diseases 5 years ago, may now show to carry a disease that has recently been added to the testing panel. Which again is why many breeders will advertise saying their dogs/pups are clear of all testable disease as unfortunately we do not have a crystal ball to see what diseases may pop up in the future. Which is why it is so very important to do as much as we can today to ensure our breed is as healthy as it can be moving into the future!

Another note worth mentioning is many breeders are only too happy to take their pups back if down the track you have a change of circumstances. This may mean they will bring the dog home and take the time to work through any issues before looking for their new home or sometimes the breeder may keep the dog themselves. It is worth noting as this is another positive sign the breeder really does care about their dogs.

Spending time to do genuine research to ensure a particular breeder and their pups suit your needs and tick all your boxes is essential! We all know dogs are a lifelong commitment and taking the time to ensure your new addition is the right one for you is extremely important. With any luck, using the above checklist when approaching breeders will help you on your decision!

If you have any additional questions or would like more information please don’t hesitate to contact one of our committee members – we all love talking about Koolies!

Just remember – Koolies are addictive and it can be very hard to stop at just one!