Buying a Black Russian Terrier Puppy
by Richard Hawkes, DVM
Having researched the Black Russian Terrier and investigated health problems commonly seen in the breed, you have made your decision to move forward with the purchase of a BRT puppy. What should be your next step? This article will help you select a breeder and aid in the purchase of your puppy.
Given the BRT is a rare breed, finding a breeder close to home may be challenging. Attending dog shows and joining a kennel club are good ways to become more familiar with the breed. At shows, you have opportunity to talk with owners who may have suggestions and breeder recommendations for you. You will also get to see some of the competing dogs and further develop a preference for how you want your BRT to look.
At shows, you may have opportunity to talk with breeders and see dogs that may end up parenting your puppy - giving you an idea of what to expect from their offspring. Ask for kennel names and recommendations. Take notes. Your research has begun!
Find information and contacts online
If you don’t live close to an area that hosts dog shows where BRTs participate, the Internet is a valuable tool for finding breeders, owners and recommendations. Most breeders have kennel websites, as do national breed clubs. Look for Black Russian Terrier or BRT groups on Facebook. There are several. Join groups. Engage with owners. Learn more about the breed. Don’t be afraid to ask questions or ask for recommendations from other owners to create a list of potential breeders.
Choose the right breeder
Once you have a list of potential breeders, begin to narrow your search. Find out if and when puppies are expected. Now is the time to bring up health testing. This is critical. Ask what tests have been performed on the breeding dogs and where results can be verified. Ask to see full pedigrees of the parents. You will want to research parents, offspring and siblings (if possible), and grandparents, etc., to see what tests have been performed and results across pedigree lines. Be diligent. Ask for references from previous puppy buyers. You should start to develop a feel for the right breeder for you, one who health tests, breeds wisely, and will support you beyond the sale. BRT puppies are not cheap, so be sure you are getting what you pay for.
Ask about health tests
When evaluating health tests of different BRT lines, remember that not every dog is perfect. In fact, finding a perfect BRT (one that passes every health test) may prove to be a challenge due to the relatively small gene pool present for this young breed and its current health issues. Regardless, the hips and elbows of the parents should be free of dysplasia. If they are not, research their lines and see how often dysplasia has been diagnosed. If one parent is dysplastic, make sure the other is not. Ensure both parents have healthy hips and normal elbows, and have passed eye exams, heart certification and available DNA tests.
Hyperuricosuria (HU), as well as Juvenile Laryngeal Paralysis & Polyneuropathy (JLPP) status should be known on both parents and if possible, HU status of the puppies. HU is an inherited disease that can cause urate stones to form in the bladder and kidneys, and is a growing problem in BRTs. When carriers of HU genes are bred to other carriers, each puppy in a litter has a 25 percent chance of being affected with HU. Puppies affected by JLPP, which are born to two JLPP carriers, will not survive more than six months. Are you willing to take this risk? Will the breeder guarantee against these inherited diseases?
For detailed health testing information, refer to this article on our website: Health Testing In the Black Russian Terrier
Ask to meet the parents
The BRT is a large guarding and protection breed, so you will want to get a feel for the temperaments of your prospective puppy’s parents. If the breeder does not own both parents, you may have to visit two breeders or get references. Have the parents undergone any temperament testing, such as Canine Good Citizen (CGC) or American Temperament Test Society (ATTS) tests? You will also want to gauge the size and structure of the parents. When you meet the parents, do they interact well with you? Are they AKC champions? Do they have any working titles? Are there any offspring from previous breedings that you can see and touch?
Ask to see where the puppies are raised
A breeder who will not let you into their home, or visit their property or breeding facility should not necessarily be removed from your list but they should raise a red flag.
Unfortunately, there are animal rights activists who pose as puppy buyers and seek to enter breeders’ homes. Their intent is to harm dogs or frivolously report breeders to authorities as animal abusers and have their dogs seized.
This is happening more often. So while some breeders may not immediately let you into their homes, after you have decided to purchase a puppy and paid a deposit, a home visit is a fair and wise request.
What vet care does the breeder employ?
Ask! Do they have a regular veterinarian? Do they vaccinate and deworm puppies? What types of vaccines are given and at what age? These are things you need to know.
When you pick up your puppy, you should receive paperwork detailing all medical activity that has been performed. This information will be needed by your own veterinarian to ensure your puppy is healthy, that puppy vaccination protocols are completed by your vet, and to determine what else may be needed for your puppy moving forward, such as heart worm preventive, flea and tick medication, etc.
The breeder may require you to perform some health testing or show the dog in conformation at your expense. The breeder may want to retain breeding rights on the dog or may force you to have the dog spayed or neutered. All of these things should be spelled out in your purchase contract. If there is any confusion, be sure to get clarification before you sign and encounter any problems. A good breeder will stand by their dog’s health and be willing to guarantee it in the form of a contract.
Breeders scrutinize buyers, too
Do not be surprised if a breeder asks a lot of questions of you. Why do you want a BRT? What type of dogs do you have or have you had in the past? Who is your veterinarian? What do you feed your dogs? Do your dogs live inside? Do you professionally train your dogs? The BRT is not a dog for novice owners and a breeder should ensure buyers are able to properly care for, train and raise a BRT. Be wary of any breeder who does not ask basic questions and seems too eager to make a sale.
Stay in touch
Once you bring your puppy home, it will be beneficial to maintain an open relationship with your breeder. If problems arise, let the breeder know as soon as possible. Most breeders will want to know if there is anything wrong with one of their puppies. Also, there may be health guarantees contingent on the diagnosis of the problem. Make sure you understand what type of health guarantees, if any, the breeder offers. Most breeders will guarantee against congenital defects; however, some of these may not show up until the puppy is older. Will the breeder still guarantee the puppy? Will you be required to return the puppy? Will you be able to return the puppy after bonding with it?
Long-term care for your BRT
You will need to consider who can provide the best veterinary care for your puppy and how to manage your dog’s health over time. BRTs are a large breed and as a result, health services and treatments can be more expensive than for smaller breeds.
Putting money aside monthly for veterinary bills can be beneficial, especially if you are ever faced with an unexpected emergency. You may also want to consider veterinary health insurance. Health care, feeding and general care do not come cheaply with a BRT.
Learn more in our article called: Veterinary Care for Your BRT Puppy