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Let’s begin with what it is that makes for a respectable GSP breeder. They should have a keen interest and extensive knowledge of GSP, that kind of goes without saying really! A sound knowledge of the breed is paramount to producing healthy litters. If you’re a first-time dog owner or a weathered dog parent, you want to be able to ask your breeder anything that comes to mind. No one can know absolutely everything about a dog and so it’s a responsible trait to ask questions. You want to gain as much information as possible before committing to a dog, they’re going to be a part of your family for a long time! And whilst not everyone will have all the answers, a responsible breeder should show willing to take your queries on board and ultimately find out for you.  A keen interest in the breed goes hand in hand with the knowledge of basic genetics. Now some breeders delve deep into the family trees of studs and bitches, this is a thorough approach that is common practice with working breeds. As the GSP is a working dog by nature, they are bred for working and so the necessary genetic research is essential to produce not only healthy dogs, but dogs with good working instincts. Gene pools for the best working dogs are complex and can span to different countries! This means there is a delicate balance to ensure that no inbreeding occurs. It goes without saying that inbreeding, at any level, can produce unhealthy puppies. For working stock, you want the prime physical specimens with clear, intelligent mental capacities. You don’t get that from breeding family members.  Now, you don’t have to get a GSP with stellar working genetics, but you do want one that was bred with its hip and elbow scores in mind. So, what this means is that before they’re mated, a bitch and a stud will be x-rayed so a vet can assess the conditions of their hip and elbow joints. Should they score well, they will have the green light to be mated. If they don’t, they will not be mated, they will either be paired with another dog with a better score or not be mated at all, its all dependent. This is to protect any future generations of GSPs from suffering with arthritis in their joints. Bigger breeds are vulnerable to this, German Shepards, Labradors, Great Danes, are all commonly joint scored before being bred.  Now, I’m not saying that you need to know about your puppies whole family tree and their respective joints, it’s just something your breeder should at least be aware of. You also want to have that insurance that they have the evidence of doing their part to help their litter. If you find that the breeder is unaware or dismissive of the health concerns, you’re best looking elsewhere for a healthy puppy. You want to have 100% confidence in knowing that the breeder did everything to produce a healthy litter. Another key subject you should be aware of is your puppy’s parents! Seeing your GSP pup with its siblings and their mum is arguably one of the most important aspects of buying a puppy. If you are able to see your new puppy in the whelping box it was born in, eagerly suckling, groomed and fussed by mum ect, chances are that they were bred ethically. Whilst GSPs aren’t known for being bred on puppy farms, not everyone that breeds them will be doing it properly. Even some breeders that class themselves as working breeders can sometimes be unscrupulous. If you take one thing from this video, let it be this key point. Mum has to be with the puppies up until they’re ready to go to their new homes. If you are allowed to see the puppies at 3,4, 5 weeks old, mum will have to be with them. If a breeder is making an excuse as to why you can’t see the bitch, walk away. A respectable breeder knows the importance of mum’s role in not only feeding and cleaning her puppies but also teaching them social skills. Puppies removed too early can exhibit behavioural issues or can have physical development issues from nutritional deficits.  Suitability  Now, let’s say you’ve researched and located a reputable breeder that will give you rambunctious, alert GSP puppy, you have to be able to give them the best home. Again, in the early stages, it is best to ask a reputable breeder who they think the breed is perfect for. They will know the breed inside and out, meaning they can make sure suitable homes are found. So, we’ve touched on the fact that the GSP is instinctively a working dog. This is going to mean that they have boundless energy and the intelligence to match! If you’re someone that enjoys hikes off the beaten track, has a lot of patience and time to train, a GSP will be the perfect hiking buddy. However, if you only have the time or access for simple walks around the block, don’t enjoy a stubborn challenge, maybe start off with a breed that isn’t so highly strung! As much as you might prefer one breed over another, you have to be somewhat objective when looking at your suitability.  Insurance We’ve only really touched on the joint issues that GSPs can suffer from and that is because they are fairly healthy, sturdy dogs, they are working stock after all, they’ve been bred that way! We do need to keep in mind that that doesn’t make them invincible. We are blessed with the NHS for all of our own medical care and so vet bills can take a lot of people by surprise! Which can end in the hardest of decisions being made… *Having consulted a colleague in the veterinary industry, I have it on good authority that* GSPs can come with their own challenges. Whilst you can implement preventative measures to protect against some issues such as bloating, there is little to be done if your GSP happens to suffer from hip or elbow dysplasia. Bloat is a critical emergency and so it will result in surgery and a night or so in intensive care, which can set you back upwards of £500. Whereas dysplasia can be ongoing, needing long-term medication and even surgery, again, this won’t be cheap. Now, I’m not saying this to scare you. But I’d be doing you an injustice if I didn’t at least make you aware of it.  Don’t be that person that thinks it’ll never happen to them. Don’t take that chance with your pup. You wouldn’t take that chance with your car, and at the end of the day, that’s a replaceable machine. So we ask that you don’t take that chance with the life of your new puppy.  Overview I will leave you with a brief but vital conclusion to this video! At Fenrir, we aim to educate. If nothing else, we want to get the vital information out there. So, key points of a ‘Perfect Breeder’. Ensure that you see mum with her puppies, and that she looks healthy and cared for. Ask questions; questions about the breed, questions about any concerns you have, questions about breeding regulations, any question you can think of, just ask! Do your research, trust your instincts, and if you are truly concerned about any welfare issues, report any evidence to local authorities. Be objective about breed is right for you and your situation, really look into the needs of the dog. And lastly, please get a good insurance policy. A GSP  can be the perfect dog to take on outdoor adventures for well over a decade, do them a justice and have their welfare in your priorities. 

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