Questions to ask
These are a few questions that the Mastiff community as a whole wishes more people would ask! I've borrowed them from the MCOA and the CMC, in the hopes that you will ask them of any breeder who's puppies you're looking at. Believe me, you want to know the answers to these questions long before you have your heart stolen by that sweet little puppy face!
1. Are the parents proven to be clear of the genetic problems discussed in the Mastiff Health and Testing Requirements? Have the suggested tests been performed on the parents? What is the breadth of the testing - just the parents? Older siblings? Grandparents? Aunts & uncles? The breeder should be willing and able to produce copies of all test results, at least for the parents - if not offered - ask for them!
2. If the breeder doesn't test, ask why. Do NOT accept the answer that they don't test because they've never had a problem with something - how can they know they don't have a problem if they don't test? Do not accept their vet's opinion on hip or elbow dysplasia x-rays - a regular vet is not a trained radiologist - OFA uses three board certified radiologists to examine all x-rays. If not OFA, then PennHIP or OVC are the other 2 acceptable radiology groups in North America.
3. How old is the dam? How many times has she been bred? How far apart were the breedings? A Mastiff bitch should not be bred before 24 months of age nor after her 7th birthday; nor should her breedings, other than in exceptional cases, be any closer together than 12 months. The CMC also states that bitches shall not be bred more than 3 times in her lifetime.
4. Why did they choose the stud dog they used? What traits were they looking for? What was the purpose of this breeding? What improvements were they after? Are the breeders planning on keeping a puppy from this litter? If not, why not? If yes, how did they pick which one? A reputable Mastiff breeder will have a good reason for every breeding, either to improve their line or solidify and continue traits they already have. A reputable breeder will NOT be breeding just to have puppies to sell.
5. What faults do the dam and sire have? EVERY Mastiff has some faults. How has this breeding served to correct these faults? What are their good points?
6. What breed clubs do the breeders belong to? At a minimum, they should belong to the CKC & CMC or MCOA, and/or one of regional Mastiff clubs, thus exhibiting an interest in supporting the future and direction of the breed, as well as being willing to place themselves under the oversight of their peers through the mechanism of the club's Code of Ethics.
7. Have the dam and sire been shown? Conformation showing is intended to identify the dogs that best fit the Mastiff standard; if the dogs haven't been shown, how do the breeders know, objectively, how well they are doing?
8. What are the living conditions of the breeder's dogs? Do they have adequate living space and room to exercise? Are the quarters clean and well kept? Is fresh water available?
9. What steps have the breeders taken to socialize the pups? Are they used to children? Other dogs? Other animals? Public places with lots of people? Early socialization is extremely important for a Mastiff; the lack of adequate socialization can cause serious problems later on.
10. What are the pups being fed? Are they being given supplements? If so, why? Mastiff pups will eventually grow to their genetically programmed size, it is much better for their health if they do so slowly. Good, quality food is usually all they need.
11. What are the terms of their contract? What guarantees do they offer? What conditions do they impose on your treatment and care of the dog? What penalties are imposed if you violate the terms of the contract?