Buying a
Field Spaniel Puppy

Field Spaniels are a wonderful breed of dog.  Or at least we think so.  They are not a breed for everyone however.  
The following is intended to help you assess whether you should have a Field Spaniel in you home and how to find
the right Field Spaniel for you.

Sources for finding your new pup.

There are many places you can finds a puppy of sale.  All of the people you will deal with will call themselves
“breeders.”  I break breeders down into three main categories.  

1.        Puppy Mills:  These are breeders who are in the business of selling dogs.  Like any business, they are
focused on their profit margin.  They are less concerned about improving the quality of their “lines” then they are
about making money.  They do not care who they sell to, only how much they can get for each dog they sell and how
many litters they can get out of each bitch.  You will find there puppies for sale in pet shops, and over the Internet.  
Stay away from these people.  You will pay as much as you would from other sources and will get a dog that is less
socialized (no room in the profit margin to take the litter out to new places to meet new people – they spend their life
in the crate), less healthy (health testing costs the breeder money and eats into profit margins) and over all a less
quality breeding (why go across the country for a better sire, when you have one who will breed right in your kennel.)  

2.        Back yard Breeders:  These are usually well intentioned people who have a dog they love and want to share
their wonderful pet with the rest of the world or have a puppy from her for them selves.  On the surface, this seems
like a far better choice than the pet shop puppy described above.  Usually, they are not out for a profit from their dog.  
Unfortunately, while their wonderful pup may be the best pet they have ever had, he or she is not likely to have been
shown in dog shows to establish they are good structural representatives of the breed.  While they probably have
received good veterinarian care as a pet, they are unlikely to take her to have extensive testing done to reduce the
risk of passing on hereditary problems of joints, eyes, hearts and immune system.  This is far too costly for the
average pet owner, who just wants another “Muffy” to run around the house.

3.         The Hobby Breeder:  These are people who are active in breed clubs, show their dogs in order to establish
the quality of their breeding as compared to other dogs of the same breed and are primarily interested in improving
the quality of the breed.  Just like some one who has a hobby of boating, the hobby breeder is not interested in
making a profit on their dogs.  They have a passion for improving the quality of their dogs and the breed.  They will
spend extensive time and money researching and testing for health issues in their dogs.  They will travel extensively
to find the right mate for their dog to improve their breedings.  They may compete in performance events to give
evidence of the learning ability of their dogs and how much of their natural instinct that was breed into them still
exists.  They often belong to dog related organizations such as the Field Spaniel Society of America to further their
knowledge on the breed.  Dogs from a hobby breeder may cost more than from a “back yard breeder” but usually not
more than from a puppy mill.  These breeders will become your consultant and mentor for the life of your dog.

Questions To Ask BEFORE You Look For A Pup.

What is the reason you are getting a dog?  Are you looking for a pet and companion?  Do you want to try your hand at
showing or dog sports?  Let your breeder know what your goals for your dog are, so that they can match you to the
best pup for your home.

What kind of housekeeper are you?  Field Spaniels are not for people who want their homes featured in "House
Beautiful!"  They do have moderate shedding.  They are sloppy drinkers.  Young dogs will  mess up every throw rug
in the house.  These are active, curious dogs who take significant  time to train and mature.  With guidance,
structure and patience (and a sense of humor) they make wonderful, life long companions for the entire family.

Who will be taking care of the dog? (Hint: it will not be the kids)  Generally in most families, Mom is who gets stuck
with most of the routine care of the dog.  Talk about this BEFORE you go to look at any puppies and be realistic.

Do you have the time that a puppy demands? A well exercised puppy is less destructive.  We advise that a Field
Spaniel puppy should be thoroughly tired out at least once a day.   That means interactive play.  Simply leaving them
out in a big back yard by themselves is not enough.  They need to be brushed every day or two (those lovely long
ears are great collectors of "stuff."  Nails need to be clipped every other week.  Ears need to be cleaned weekly to
prevent infections.  Bathing, vet visits and picking up the yard waste all takes time.

Do you have the financial resources to provide the food, veterinarian care and other expenses needed for the life of
the dog?  (Hint: the initial purchase is the "cheap" part)  Even healthy, well bred dogs take good veterinarian care.  
Spaying, neutering, heart worm checks and medications, as well as regular vaccinations are important to the long
term health of your dog.

Are you willing to make a commitment to the puppy for the next 12 to 15 years?  The dog you buy for your child may
well become yours when they go off to college.

Are Field Spaniels Good with Children?

We are asked this question a lot.  I am always tempted to answer:  "Depends - are your children good with Field
Spaniels?"  

As long as a  well bred Field Spaniel is appropriately exposed to children early on, they do very well with them.  An
older Fields Spaniel  who has not ever been around children, may find them overwhelming and shy away from
them.  A properly bred Field Spaniel should NEVER show aggression, but as they are reserved by nature, they will
commonly move away as if to say "I am just going to go sit over here and watch you until I figure out what is going
on."  If left alone, they will typically come back out of curiosity and be fine after that.  Once a Field Spaniel has made
friends with you, you are their friend for life!  Children should be educated to never chase a dog that is moving away
and to never forcefully pull them toward them.  

Which are better - Boys or Girls?
Another common question.  It really depends on what you like in a dog, but we find them both wonderful in different
ways.  The boys tend to be more "puppy like" longer, with the girls maturing and being "more serious" earlier.  The
best description I have seen goes like this:  Boys vs. girls - I usually tell people the boys do things because they love
you.  The girls say, "What's in it for me?"  Another friend puts it this way- the boys say, "I love you!  I love you!  I love
you!"  The girls say, "You may love me."


How to Choose a Breeder

Often, demand exceeds supply with Field Spaniels and out of desperation, you feel compelled to take a chance.
Find a breeder with whom you feel comfortable and work with him or her. The wait is worth it.  Waiting 6 to 18
months for the right Field Spaniel is not unusual.  The best thing you can do is not to be in a hurry and to rely on your
own good instincts as to whether you are dealing with a breeder who is right for you. If it doesn't feel right, it probably
isn't.  Remember, you may very well have this pup for the next 14 years, a few months wait for the right dog will be
worth it.


The following information is useful no matter where you decide to get a Field Spaniel:


Good signs:

The breeder is willing to let you visit and see all the dogs, even if there are no puppies available at the time.

The breeder allows you to interact with his dogs and puppies except for the shy ones or puppies that are too young
for visitors.

The breeder sometimes uses males other than his own because he feels they may be a better match for some of
his females.

The breeder does not have an excessive amount of litters per year.

The breeder has a good contract that protects you as well as himself, guarantees health, and expresses a
willingness to take the puppy back if you are not satisfied. For the latter, he may or may not be willing to make
restitution.

The breeder raises his puppies in the house or in an area where they can be easily socialized.

The breeder does health checks on the parents of the puppies, including a minimum of OFA or PENN Hips, CERF
eye clearance, and OFA Thyroid Panel.  The breeder is happy to show you the parent's paper work for the above.  
"extra credit" should be given to those breeders who do more than the above.

The breeder responds to your e-mails or phone calls.


Red flags:

Filthy conditions

Dogs that just do not "look right."

Reluctance to invite you indoors or into the kennel.

Selling puppies under 7 to 8 weeks of age.

Bad-mouthing of other breeders.

A breeder who says he only breeds for pets, not show dogs.

A breeder who will only tell you the positive things about Field Spaniels. (Every dog is a great dog to someone, but
not every dog is a great dog for you!)

A breeder who says his dogs don't need the health checks, says "my vet said they were good", or refuses to show
you any health certifications.

A breeder who says puppies are one price without papers and cost more if you want the papers. (Note that show
prospects may be more expensive than pets, but registration applications should go with all. Pets should be sold
only on a spay/neuter contract and the "limited" registration should be checked on all registration applications for
pets. A few breeders still withhold registration applications until proof of spaying or neutering is given. This may be
done because the breeder has been "burned" by a puppy buyer who bred the dog that was sold as a pet. A limited
registration does not prevent a person from physically breeding a dog, it only prevents the offspring from being
registered).

Pedigrees that do not have champions in most of the generations.

Breeders who have puppies in several different breeds at the same time.

Breeders who breed "designer dogs" such a Labradoodles or peek-a-poos. These are mutts and anyone who buys
them is really being taken to the cleaners.  People who breed them are just interested in the money.  They "may" be
good dogs, but you can get good dogs at the shelter with out the expense of these modern day "fools gold."

Even if all the good criteria have been met, you may still feel uncomfortable. Remember, if it doesn't feel right
to you,
it is probably not right
for you.

A good breeder will educate you about the breed
and be a resource to you for the
entire life of your dog.