This document was developed by the Bull Terrier Club of America of which the Texas Gulf Coast Bull Terrier Club is a recognized Regional Club.
Please contact the TGCBTC at email@example.com for Breeder Referrals.
Questions to ask BEFORE purchasing a Bull Terrier:
You have decided that a Bull Terrier is the dog for you. Choosing a reputable person from whom to purchase your puppy is your primary concern. After all, the little bundle of fun and energy will be with you and your family for a decade and hopefully more. Since it is virtually impossible for you, the buyer, to know what any of the puppies in a litter will grow into physically and emotionally; you must rely on the knowledge, integrity and honesty of the person from whom you purchase your pup. The following are questions you can ask that will help you assess the qualifications and dedication of the breeder. Don't be afraid to ask questions. A serious breeder will be willing to patiently answer your questions.
How long have you owned and bred Bull Terriers? Experience is often an indicator of specialized knowledge of the breed. Conscientious new breeders should be mentored by more experienced breeders.
There are three types of persons who sell dogs; two of them call themselves breeders;
Pet Shop or Dealer The worst possible choice. Puppies in these situations come from many sources. You will be assured the puppy is healthy and that its' parents were healthy, but often nothing about the parents' temperament, health or size will be known. Sometimes these dealers import whole litters from other countries and sell them as quickly as possible through stores and over the Internet. Little or no socialization or temperament evaluation is done. Here a puppy is merchandise, bought at a low price, sold at a high price as quickly as possible to the first person that comes along.
Backyard Breeder Another poor choice. This person owns a pet Bull Terrier and thinks it would be "fun" to have puppies, or thinks it will be an "educational experience" for their children. Even worse, perhaps it is being done to make a "little extra money". Usually, this person knows little or nothing about breed history or the accepted breed standard. They are usually not knowledgeable about feeding, grooming, socialization, and breed health issues, and typically don't want to know. Their goal is to produce a litter of pups and sell them quickly, usually by 6-8 weeks, and sometimes even earlier.
Hobby Breeder The best choice. The serious, dedicated hobby breeder considers his dogs members of the family. He does the breeding not expecting to make a profit, and frequently doesn't. These people breed for the enjoyment, pleasure and thrill of producing the very finest possible specimens of the breed, rather than profit, the result is superior quality. These breeders acknowledge responsibility for each and every puppy produced and stand behind every dog they breed. Also, don't be surprised if the Breeder asks you questions about your home, knowledge of dogs (or the breed), and reasons for wanting a Bull Terrier.
Do you participate in conformation, obedience, agility or other events sponsored by the BTCA, AKC or regional clubs? Participation is good indicator of commitment to the Breed and the sport of dogs.
Your breeder may belong to the Bull Terrier Club of America and/or one of the many regional Bull Terrier Clubs around the country? Membership in one or both is a good indication of more serious involvement in the breed. Also, to belong, a person has to be sponsored by two people who are already members. Membership in an All-Breed dog club or a Training Club is a plus. Participation in the Clubs’ activities usually indicates depth of involvement and dedication to the Breed. Here they (and you) can learn about care, training, socialization and up-to-date breeding practices. Frequently, they will be breeding in accordance with a club “Standard of Conduct”.
Is your breeder involved in some form of AKC sanctioned competition with his/her dog(s)? This is an indication that your breeder is not breeding “in a vacuum”. The breeder who does not show may have no idea how good his/her dogs really are and is deprived of the opportunity to share information and ideas with other breeders. Showing is a competition, which encourages a breeder to produce better dogs. Breeders who show do not rely solely on a pedigree to indicate quality. A show ring is a forum that indicates how closely a dog conforms to his standard, as opposed to the other competitors. Even though you may not want a show dog, you deserve a puppy that was the end result of a carefully planned litter that received the same care and socialization as a potential champion. The breeder who shows is known by others, has a reputation to uphold and will likely be more careful and honest in selling you a pet or show stock.
Do you sell Bull Terriers to pet shops or dog brokers? A reputable breeder has promised to never sell to shops or brokers, but to place puppies personally.
BTCA members have committed to never selling puppies through commercial sales avenues like pet shops or brokers. Some members use websites to promote their dog activities including breeding. But be careful, unscrupulous dealers and brokers have developed “slick” websites to lure you into purchasing from them. Their dogs are produced solely for profit and virtually never from top quality conformational parents.
Do you health test your Bull Terriers and what conditions do you test for? At present there are four recommend test areas; hearing, hearts, kidneys and patellae (knee caps).
The breeding of purebred dogs is not an exact science. It is not always possible to prevent the occurrence of inherited diseases, as there are not yet definitive tests to identify carriers of genetic diseases in our breed. A breeder’s obligation with regard to genetic diseases is to make every effort to prevent their occurrence and to share openly and honestly all information available regarding the genetic health status of his/her dogs. Breeders should be able to provide proof that their breeding stock has been checked for hearing, heart, kidney, and patella related issues. These tests are call BAER (hearing) test, auscultation (heart) and/or Doppler Echocardiogram (heart), UPC (urine protein creatinine ratio – kidney), and palpation for checking patella luxation.
Have the sire (father) and dam (mother) been tested and are the results available? Health testing is an indicator or serious commitment to breeding the healthiest puppies possible.
Reputable breeders should test all breeding stock and a written copy of the tests should be made available if you request them. These tests are call BAER (hearing) test, auscultation (heart) and/or Doppler Echocardiogram (heart), UPC (urine protein cretonne ratio – kidney), and palpation for checking patella luxation.
To what age did the immediate ancestors live (i.e. parents, grandparents and great grandparents)? If they are not still alive, what happened to them?
Long lived ancestors may indicate a better chance of long life for your puppy, though this is by no means a guarantee. Sometimes ancestors die from accidental injuries.
What health problems have you had with your Bull Terriers? In general, Bull Terriers are quite healthy, but all breeders with significant experience have encountered some health issues with a few of the puppies they have bred.
All conscientious breeders endeavor to produce healthy stock. However, even with the use of tested stock and screening the ancestral background for health issues, problems still occur. No one, not you, not the breeder want to have the painful experience of a young dog that develops a health issue. Still it occurs. A reputable breeder will be there to help guide you and support through the process. If unfortunately, a problem occurs early in a dog’s life, a reputable breeder will offer a replacement or refund. As uncomfortable as it is to think and talk about this, these terms should be spelled out in a Sales Contract at the time of purchase.
Disreputable people will tell you they never have problems with their dogs. If they’ve bred less than a handful of litters, that may be true. Unfortunately for us as breeders and you as owners, eventually a problem does crop up despite all our best efforts.
Would either or both parents be available for me to see? Usually it is possible to meet the dam, but often, in order to use the best dog available, the sire may be located in another state.
High quality breeding dictates the use of the best available stud dog. The people selling puppies are almost always the bitch owner, so usually she is on premises. On occasion, a puppy is returned to the stud dog owner in lieu of a stud fee, and in that case you would then be able to see the father but not the mother of the pup. In some situations, breeders keep both stud dogs and brood bitches, and occasionally use their own dogs. In this situation, you could possibly see both parents. If you are interested, most stud dog owners would be happy to talk with you about their dog which sired a puppy you might be interested in. BTCA members have promised to be forthright in discussing their breeding stock with potential buyers. This is a promise the Club takes very seriously.
Do you sell with a contract and what are the terms? A contract simply outlines what you might expect from the breeder in terms of health warrantees and support; and what your care obligations are. It also frequently outlines what you options are should you be unable to keep the dog for its entire life.
A good breeder will supply support (advice, training, encouragement, etc.) after the placement. As a new puppy buyer you will need on-going support from a knowledgeable breeder to help minimize problems and maximize your enjoyment of your new puppy. Many dedicated breeders will ask that the pup be returned to them or placed with new owners that meet their approval if, for some reason, you are not able to continue ownership. Terms of this should be spelled out in the Sales Contract. Breeders should provide a Sales Contract, or at least some written, signed conditions of sale. You should also get a copy of your puppy’s pedigree and you should be able to see a copy of the AKC Registration Application Form (blue slip). In some instances, the registration slip may have been applied for but not yet returned to the breeder. In this case, you should get a sales receipt and in almost all cases, the breeder would then forward the registration to you within a few weeks. Be certain to discuss this situation with the breeder at time of purchase if the form is not available.
Breeders will often require that your pet be spayed or neutered when it reaches the correct age and may withhold registration paper work until proof is provided. Terms should be specified in a Sales Contract. The most important reason for neutering is to insure a healthier animal. Spayed or neutered dogs are far less prone to may serious maladies. In addition, serious breeders spend a lot of time and effort planning breeding programs designed to improve the breed. They selectively carry out their programs with only the best quality available. Pets should be love and enjoyed as companions.
Reputable breeders don’t want their dogs used just to make puppies, or worse yet, end up in a “puppy mill” where they will be used to mass produce Bull Terriers. A thorough Sales Contract will address these issues and minimize the potential for misunderstanding and resulting heartbreak at a later date.
Do you sell with a health warranty and what is the length of the warranty and what conditions are covered in the warranty? Terms are specified under which you may return or get a refund of your purchase price is the event of a debilitating health issue.
Your breeder should give you a reasonable period of time to have your pup checked by a veterinarian to determine its state of health. If a problem should arise, it can be quickly resolved. This issue should be specified in a Sales Contract. You should also receive the pup’s health and vaccination records. All responsibilities of both parties should be spelled out in a written Sales Contract. Clear contracts protect against broken expectations for both Buyer and Seller. The potential for later onset health issues and their resolutions should be addressed in the Sales Contract.
At what age do you place your puppies? 7 or 9 weeks is ideal for the human- animal bond. However, if a breeder is maximizing the socialization of the puppy there are advantages to keeping the puppy with its litter mates to even 10 weeks.
Placement at 7-8 weeks is a minimum suggestion. In these early weeks of life, a puppy is going through a rapid and critical maturation process. The puppy is generally better socialized and developed if it goes through these early stages with its litter mates. Also physical maturation, especially in terms of control of elimination functions, is better as the puppy ages. If you are interested in a puppy to ultimately show, you should be in no hurry. Determining ultimate show quality is at best an educated guess at 8 or 10 weeks. The older puppy, several months up to a year of age, is a much more certain proposition in terms of assessing future show potential.
What vaccinations would the puppy have prior to being available? The puppy should have had at least one vaccination prior to pickup. The vaccination schedule is age dependant. Different veterinarians make different recommendations.
As a minimum, a puppy should receive a vaccination at approximately 10 weeks of age and a second vaccination at approximately 17 weeks of age. As a puppy nears the age of 12 weeks, the current thought is it begins to lose the effect of the maternal antibodies which have provided immune protection up to this point. A vaccination at about 10 weeks stimulates the puppy’s immune system but the effect is limited and only lasts for several weeks, thereby necessitating a second vaccination at about 17 weeks. This vaccination should provide immune coverage until the puppy’s first birthday.
What health testing will be necessary in the future? The puppy should be BAER (hearing) tested before being entrusted to your care. It should have had a general examination by the breeders vet prior to your receiving it, but you should have it re-checked by the vet of your choice within a few days of bringing the pup home. If the dog is ultimately to be bred, check the “more info” button for information.
Health testing for dogs which are solely companions is limited to the routinely veterinarian recommended tests. Please consult your own veterinarian for his/her recommendations. You may also want to seek the breeders’ advice in this arena, as long time breeders have all had substantial veterinary experience with their dogs.
Would I have to pick the puppy up or do you ship? It is always best to pickup your puppy as this allows you to meet the breeders personally and to view their dogs and facilities. If a breeder agrees to ship, they should ask you to allow a local fancier to view your home and should ask for references.
Generally the BTCA recommends that members endeavor to place their puppies geographically close to home. When this isn’t possible, the Club recommends that the breeder or close associate check the prospective home before shipping. There are some advantages to having your breeder located in a relatively close geographic proximity. Should you need a technique demonstration, or training assistance, this is more easily accomplished is your breeder is close by.
If I purchase a Bull Terrier from you and events lead to my having to return the dog, what will happen with the dog? This eventuality should be spelled out in the Sales Contract at time of purchase. Usually breeders will evaluate health and temperament and if suitable for placement they will then find a new home for the dog.
As previously stated this should be decided at the time of purchase. Reputable breeders make provision for this and will usually accept the dog back into their homes, or help provide prompt assistance in locating a suitable new situation for the dog. If you have done a poor job in socializing your dog and he has bad behavioral issues, usually the breeder will help, but don’t expect to just “dump” the dog in the breeders lap. Too often owners create behavioral problems and then expect a conscientious breeder to bail them out.
Do you have a website featuring your Bull Terriers? Many breeders have developed websites where you can see photos of there dogs and learn of their activities. Some breeders dont want the flood of enquiries to deal with and have avoided websites. A website is a useful tool for education, but is certainly no guarantee of quality or commitment to the Breed.
Questions Breeders May Ask Buyers
The following are topics you can expect to discuss:
What attracts you to or makes you want to own a Bull Terrier?
What dog experience, particularly Bull Terrier experience, do you have?
Tell me about your domestic details? (i.e. where do you live, marital status, homeowner, employment situation, children and their ages. Is someone home during the time you are at work?
Tell me about your lifestyle. (you will get questions about who is the primary care giver, what is the family activity level, do you have other pets, fenced yard (size and type of fencing).
What do you do in your free time and will it include the puppy, where do you vacation and how often, have you considered BT care giving when you must be absent, As they age, BTs frequently are couch/bed potatoes, is this OK, do you know BTs are a shedding breed - is this OK?)
If you are entertaining thoughts of becoming involved in a puppy that the breeder has designated as one with show and breeding potential, here are some additional considerations to those listed above:
Heat Cycles Breeding Arrangements
Intact Male Behavior Financial Commitments Availability for Showing Health Screenings Responsibilities
Companion puppies are frequently available on a sole ownership basis. This may be contingent on receipt of a spay/neuter certificate or possibly a "Limited Registration". Those puppies with show or breeding potential will most likely be sold on a co-ownership arrangement with the above listed terms specified in a contract.