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Concerning Trends

When should you put a deposit down on a puppy?

So often we see on social media, trading or breeder websites breeders demanding non-refundable deposits for pups either before a litter is even born, as soon as someone places an interest in a puppy, or straight after the litter is born. Puppy buyers are then asked to choose which puppy they want in that litter, with the belief that if they don’t choose straight away, they will miss out.

This is a thing we hear so many times and is a very popular topic on many a forum: A person has put a deposit on a puppy and now the breeder will not give it back.

Some new puppy buyers have been asked to put a deposit down on a puppy that is not even born yet sometimes months even before the litter is planned and ready to go. So much can happen or change in this time. The mating may not have taken and the bitch is not pregnant, or the pups may have an issue and die in the first days following birth. Some breeders will demand a deposit put down on a puppy before the litter has even been consummated (ie before the mating is done) or before the pups are even born. Many of these same breeders will say the refund is “NOT REFUNDABLE”. Please check with your consumer affairs for both in the state you are located and the state the breeder is located if this is legal before putting down any deposit.   This is important as you may not be getting your money back if your circumstances change or something happens to that litter. The breeder may then state in these cases that your “Deposit is transferred to another litter”.

A good ethical breeder will be happy to talk to you about their lines, the breed and what you need to know to own and keep a border collie without demanding a deposit first. This does take time on the breeder, however this should be part of the service and screening done to make sure the pup will be well looked after and the puppy buyer knows what is to be expected when they take on a border collie.

I personally will not take a deposit until the pups are at least two weeks old  when the eyes and ears are open. I want to make sure they can see and hear first. So much can happen in those first two weeks. I have lost pups in the first days following birth. Often, I will not take deposits until the pups have reached 6 weeks when the temperament starts to show.

Before placing a deposit on a puppy, please consider carefully if you are comfortable with the breeder, their rules and stipulations. Ask yourself whether you are comfortable to talk to them if something should arise in the future where you may need their help or are unable to go though with the sale. If you are not comfortable – do not put down a deposit.

Things to Consider

Waiting Lists

Some breeders keep waiting lists. This can be daunting when you hear this. But a breeder’s waiting list does not tell you the breeder is ethical or a good breeder. Some equally good ethical breeders do not keeping waiting lists. Some breeders do not breed often, so keeping a waiting list is often not advantageous to the breeder as quite often, the prospective buyer has gone elsewhere in the mean time.

As various colours have become popular in border collies, so has the rise of breeders breeding for the pet market and colour. Not all breeders in this group are ethical, they may have long waiting lists – this is due to the popularity of the colours becoming the “in thing” rather than an indication of ethics or quality of the pups being bred.


The current average price for a well bred pedigree puppy from an ethical breeder with fully health tested parents is between $2500 – $3500. Some of your breeders who “specialise in colour” may charge more, however a higher price does not always reflect the ethical or responsible breeding practices.

It is important to note that price does not guarantee quality. There are puppies priced to the top of this average and over this average that may not come from fully health tested parents, but are rather priced due to the popularity of their colour or gender. Likewise there are breeders who are selling puppies from fully health tested parents charging towards the bottom of that average or lower, who are more concerned with finding their pups loving family homes without wanting to rip people off.

Rather than looking at price alone – look at what you are getting for your money. Are you receiving value for money, or are you paying too much?

Remember, you are adding a family member, not just a dog.

When you buy a puppy, you are adding another member to your family, not just another piece of furniture that can be disposed of at the smallest whim or when it does not go to plan. You would not have a child without careful research and planning for the child’s future ten or fifteen years down the road. Your new dog should be no different. Adding a dog to the family is a long term commitment and responsibility that should be taken seriously and only acted upon after careful consideration and research.

Before you buy your puppy, you need to ask yourself “is this breed suitable for me and my family?” Too often, many people when starting for their new family member base their decision on a dogs markings or popularity and rush into getting a puppy even at the pressure of their children only to regret it later when they realise the breed or the temperament of the animal is not suited to their lifestyle.

There is no “classical” border collie. Sure, some have a pretty white stripe up their forehead, a big white collar with white feet and legs and a white tip to their tail. However markings are only fur deep and many border collies have a solid colour leg, dark or more white on the face or not a full white collar.

When choosing a border collie, you have to look past physical markings to the temperament of the dog and whether that individual dog will suit your lifestyle. Sometimes you may need to wait for your perfect new family member. AFTER ALL, YOU WILL BE LIVING WITH THIS DOG FOR THE NEXT 14-16 YEARS.

See the breed in action – Attend Dog Shows and Sporting Competitions

So often you will see online and in books “A border collie needs to be exercised by running 5km every day, needs have high levels of mental stimulation and a large backyard”. While this is true for some dogs, it is not necessarily the norm. Any dog breed is the product of its genetics, it’s upbringing and most importantly the training as you as the new owner puts into the individual dog.

A border collie is from the working dog group yes – but that does not mean they need or should be high drive to the point of crazy and untrainable. A farmer does not want an untrainable dog, and would never intentionally breed a dog that was high drive to the point of crazy as it would be of no use to him on the farm working livestock. The same goes with a show, sports and pet bred border collies. Those not bred for high drive sporting activities would generally not be as full on, but all border collies should have an “off switch”. This is where they are just as content to be a companion at home as to rise to the occasion and be willing to go for a walk/run or be easily trained.

Attending dog shows and sporting competitions will allow you to see a variety of breeds and dogs performing in their various chosen sports. Not all dogs are alike, and some bloodlines will show certain characteristics in looks, temperament and physical stature. Talk to the exhibitors and breeders. A good time to approach a breeder/exhibitor at a show is after they have been in the ring as they are often very busy grooming and getting ready beforehand. Ask the exhibitors about their lines, where they got their dogs from and what they look for in a dog and what you as an average pet owner should be looking for in a breeder.

Avoid Impulse Buying

Border collies are a popular breed and there are many breeders out there breeding this diverse breed. It is important to avoid impulse buying on what is possibly ready now, or on popular holidays – such as Christmas time or school holidays. Unfortunately some breeders are constantly pumping out litters and always have puppies about ready to go. It is important to identify these breeders as they are catering to the pet market and may not be providing the best care or breeding from sound healthy dogs or bloodlines.

When you approach a breeder, be honest in what you are wanting the puppy for. Eg, family pet, sporting (obedience, agility etc) or possibly show/breeding. You may have to wait a little while for your new family member. Ask to see the parent/s of any prospective litters. It may be difficult to see the sire as he may reside in another city or state. Ask if there are any pups from a current or previous litter from the mother. This will give you a good idea on temperament and style of border collie the breeder is aiming to breed. If the breeder is not local to you, ask if there are any of their puppies in your location and ask if they mind you contacting the owner. A border collie comes in many different colours and markings.

Please do not choose a puppy based on markings. A pefectly marked puppy may not be the best choice for your household if its temperament is not suitable. If you are looking at a litter. Take someone with you.

Most ethical breeders will ask you to come back later with your decision and will not force a sale on you. They will also guide you towards puppies that may suit your lifestyle, based on individual temperaments.

Avoid any breeder that will attempt to force a sale onto you and make you put a deposit down on a puppy until you are fully comfortable the breeder is right for you. You may regret the decision later.

Happy, Healthy Puppies – Health Testing is important

Border Collies like many breeds come with their specific health issues. There are a number of genetic diseases that affect the border collie breed. A number of these have DNA tests available as a resource for breeders to ensure they do not breed affected animals. However there are still a number of genetic issues that do not have a pre screening DNA test available.

DNA disease testing is constantly being updated as markers are found for more diseases that affect breeds. A good ethical breeder will be constantly updating the DNA disease profiles of their breeding animals.

A full current DNA list of what DNA tests are available are available on the Orivet website.

Dogs Queensland Rules

Any puppy sold from a breeder in Queensland now needs to have DNA parentage verified prior to registration to Dogs Queensland. This means the DNA of Sire, Dam and any puppy planned to be sold on the Main Registration must be DNA parent profiled to verify parentage. All puppies should be microchipped prior to sale. This applies to everyone, not just registered breeders. Puppies should also be regularly wormed from 2 weeks of age and vaccinated between 6-8 weeks.

Be wary of any breeder who claims to have completed the testing and cannot show proof it has been done. When a breeder does any sort of health testing, a certificate or result document from the veterinary/testing laboratory establishment is given. If possible, ask to see the originals of any health statistics claimed by the breeder. They should also be willing to provide copies of these with your puppy pack.

Male or Female?

This is often a question asked of breeders. Which is better – Male or Female? In truth, either is acceptable. What is more important however is the temperament like of the individual animal.

One thing often said to me is “females are cleaner as boys have to mark everything”. In my experience, I do not think this is necessarily so. True – males do like to mark their territory. I have also had females mark. However a lot is also in the training of appropriate toilet behaviours. I have stud males here who are gentlemen when it comes to not marking everything in sight.

I have had females who are not clean and will soil crates and bedding and I have had males who are exceptionally clean. With any puppy, proper early toilet training is a must.

There is no difference in the intelligence, cleanliness or trainability of either sex – each animal is individual and will develop their own characteristics according to its genetic inheritance, its environment and what training the owner is willing to put into that animal. On the whole, males are bigger, with heavier bones and longer coats, and being male, can be more dominant and territorial.

Females are usually smaller, lighter and have shorter coats. Neutering any animal will reduce those characteristics related to sex, as dominance in the males, but will not alter the basic animal. ie – If the pup barks a lot, jumps on everyone, and chases cars, he will keep doing these things. Of course, if an animal is to be shown, he or she must not be neutered, and if there is a possibility of breeding, neutering can be put off indefinitely.

What to Look For when looking at your next puppy

Genetics is important when looking at litters. Genetics is the building blocks that define the breed, the genetic health and susceptibility to allergens, genetic diseases, the temperament of each individual puppy and how the puppy will potentially look as an adult.

The bitch or mother of the litter is important as she is the primary educator to those puppies aside from the breeder. How she relates to her owner, visitors, how big or small she is, and whether she is the sort of animal the buyer would like to own. If the pups are quite young, the bitch may be protective and dislike visitors – this is not to say that she is not usually a friendly animal under normal circumstances. The sire of the pups can usually be viewed too if he does not live too far away. Frequently, pups are viewed before 8 weeks, the age at which they are legally allowed leave for their new homes. Breeders may request a deposit to ensure the buyer receives a pup.

Most ethical breeders prefer to leave the final indication of which pup will go to which buyer until as late as possible, enabling them to best decide which pup would suit the needs of each buyer. Remember the pup’s markings are not anything as important as the temperament, general health, DNA genetic status (especially if carrier parents have been used) suitability for the show ring, activity level, apparent intelligence and the place in the ‘pecking’ order in the litter.

Its difficult enough to try to assess these attributes when pups are 8 weeks, let alone at 1 or 2 days or even 1 or 2 weeks old. However by 8 weeks, they do show more than they did when younger. Most long time breeders will say that they are still learning!

Temperament qualities can vary as well between different lines and what the breeder chose to base their breeding program on. A dog bred to work stock and has a very high drive may not be suitable for a family pet in suburbia and a quiet show dog may not be suitable to be on the farm working sheep all day.

Main or Limit Register

You will often see breeders advertising their puppies on either the “Main” or “Limited” register. There are many different reasons why a breeder chooses to place their puppies on these registers.

It is a good idea to be familiar with the terms breeders use when looking at dogs on both the Main and Limited register. Also be familiar with the governing rules for the state or territory where your dog is coming from as these can vary from state to state or territory.

Main Register:
This will allow you to participate in all dog sports including Conformation Showing and Registered Breeding programs. You will receive an ANKC Main Registration Blue pedigree certificate. In Queensland – Any puppy sold on the Main Registration also must be DNA parent profiled to prove the sire and dam listed on the pedigree certificate is the same as the actual parents of the puppy.
Your puppy may also be sold to you in what is termed a “Co-ownership” arrangement. In this document, the breeder will set the conditions down for what each party will be responsible for and maybe even the term for which your co-ownership will last for. If you purchase your dog for breeding purposes, you cannot do any breeding practices without the co-owner’s signature. If the animal you own is a bitch, then there maybe further conditions on breeding, as the differing state canine control bodies have different rules for breeding bitches.

Limited Register:
This will allow you to participate in all dog sports except conformation showing and breeding. In Queensland, you will receive green pedigree papers stating that the dog is on the “Limited Register”. The breeder also requires your signature on a form (Called the Limit Register Agreement) stating that you are aware the dog will be sold to you on the Limited Register.

What happens of I buy a puppy on the limit register and wish to show or breed? Most Canine Control bodies will allow at least ONE transfer from Limited Register to Main Register and vice versa. If you feel your pet has matured into a good breed example and you wish to show/breed, it is a very good idea to talk to the breeder and if possible have your dog assessed for suitability for this purpose. It is very hard at 8 weeks of age to gauge which puppies will develop into good breed examples and which ones will not.

A good breeder would not want you to go out there with a dog that would they themselves would not be happy to campaign in the ring. A good breeder also realises that not all dogs within a litter would be of a suitable grade to be bred and campaigned in the show ring. They also understand that people’s interests may change during the course of owning their new pet and they may wish to enter into the pedigree dog sporting arena.

If you develop an interest for the show ring, approach your breeder and maybe join them at some shows and see about handling one of their dogs and determine whether this would be a sport you would like to participate in. Additionally in Queensland, if a puppy is to be upgraded from Main Registration, it will need to have a DNA parent profile verification done. A buccal swab, collected by a vet or an “Authorised DNA Collection Agent) of the puppy and both parents will need to be done and sent into Dogs Queensland in order to upgrade that animal to the Main Registration.

Other Registries:

In recent years there has been a growing trend an alternative Pet Registry bodies, some of which claim to produce or breed “Pedigree Registered” animals. Some of these registries are quite legitimate and others are concerning. Some other registries include; Australian Working Border collie Registry (AWBCR) – equivalent registry to ANKC for working bred dogs, Responsible Pet Breeders Australia (RPBA), Australian Association of Pet Dog Breeders (AAPDB), Master Dog Breeders Association (MDBA), State Government Breeder Identification Numbers.

Many State Governments are bringing in Breeder Identification Number Schemes (in QLD – BIN number) to combat puppy farming. A Breeder Identification number is not a registered breeder – other than registering with their local council or state government agency. In some states, this number is required in order to microchip the puppies at the local veterinary surgery.

It is very important when you see puppies for sale – whether they be on Social Media, local for sale boards, Gumtree etc to ask “which registry” are they allegedly registered with. A breeder should be able to provide evidence of that membership. If you are unsure – it always good to go straight to the registry and request if the membership is current, as that breeder may be suspended from a particular registry, but still claiming membership.

Questions to ask the breeder

Which body is the breeder registered with?

  1. Has the puppy been registered with Dogs Queensland (Or relevant ANKC State Body), if not, when do they plan on registering the litter?
  2. Have they completed all the health tests as recommended by the breed clubs? , If So; Can they provide copies of the relevant health certificates proving their Health Status?
  3. Do they require a deposit, when is this due, is it refundable if the breeder is unable to supply.
  4. It is now legislation in most states that ALL dogs, puppies, cats and kittens are microchipped prior to them being sold or given away. Has the breeder microchipped your puppy and can they provide the relevant documentation?
  5. Has the puppy been vaccinated and if so, when and with what? Can they provide the vaccination certificate?
  6. Has the puppy been well socialised with other dogs, people and animals? If so, what has been their socialisation to date?
  7. What are the temperaments of the parents? Do you get to see the parents. Some sires may not be able to be seen as the breeder may have used frozen semen or an interstate dog.
  8. If the breeder is selling a puppy for a specific target audience, Eg Showing or sporting prospects, do they compete there themselves and how can they tell if the puppy will be suitable for that discipline?
  9. Do you get to see the whole litter or just “your” puppy. Ask to see the whole litter, even if they are all sold. Observe how they interact with each other, other dogs if present and people.
  10. Is the puppy to be sold on the Limit or Main Registration? Are there other conditions which you would need to be aware of? (such as returning the puppy to the breeder for litters?)
  11. What is the purpose of breeding this litter? Some breeders only breed when they wish to keep something themselves. Other breeders breed quite a few litters each month/year. If there is nothing available from this litter, when is their next litter.

Lastly, a word of advice

The breeder should also be knowledgeable about the breed and their bloodlines. Ideally, if a breeder is targeting a specific audience, then they themselves should be campaigning their own dogs in that arena, or have competed in that arena previously.

Unfortunately membership to a breed club, ANKC state affiliated controlling body (Eg: Dogs Queensland) or one of the Pet Breeder Registries does not guarantee ethics or superb breeding practices. When choosing your breeder, it is wise to do some homework and research.