Once you have decided that a MAS puppy is the right breed for your family there are several stages to finding the perfect puppy.
A MAS is an affectionate animal, it forms a close bond with its owner and also makes a fine, easy-to-train companion if the owner is prepared to commit to structured training.
A medium sized friendly dog, with an appealing face and happy smile, but do not be deceived, these are not the easiest of family pets and not necessarily the best choice for a first time dog owner. Left to their own devices and without purpose, they will become bored and naughty. They need to work or be occupied.
As a consequence of being highly intelligent, they can sometimes be highly strung and many will react like a farmyard collie – shooing visitors away, barking and being fiercely loyal to ‘their people’.
They need exercise, but not mindless rounds of ‘the block’. They need stimulation, 25 minutes of great, interesting places is better than 40 minutes of the same old route, so go the other way round, vary your route, walk with different friends, cross the road, vary the park you use and best of all find them something to do that they love. Then you will have a happy content dog who is quick and lively, learns lessons well and best of all comes home and happily goes to sleep whilst you get on with other things.
Taking your puppy to socialisation and obedience classes is a great idea for all dogs especially MAS and eventually as an adult they can partake in performance sports such as Flyball and Agility to keep them physically and mentally stimulated. (See Article On Raising Your MAS). Their coats need to be regularly groomed to prevent matting.
Firstly, you need to find a reputable breeder. Because there are very few MAS breeders in the UK, inevitably all will have a waiting list for their puppies. MAS puppies are few and far between, so the trick to getting a puppy is to get your name on waiting lists and, above all, be patient! If you have a colour or gender preference, you might have to wait even longer, so try not to be too specific. Above all else, temperament is more important than colour.
When the breeder lets you know there are puppies available, it may be that the litter is not old enough for you to see, and it is quite likely not old enough to take home. Many breeders encourage new owners to visit several times as the puppies are growing. This gives time for you to ask any questions you may have and to see the mother interacting with them. It also gives you time to be certain that a MAS is really the breed for you. Also expect to be thoroughly “vetted” by the breeder to determine your home life is suitable for a MAS puppy. A responsible breeder will ask many questions of you before they agree to sell you a puppy.
When you visit, you should see the puppies in their normal environment. They should not be brought to you from a different part of the premises.
They should be kept in clean accommodation and be pleasant to handle. You should see their mother with them, she should show no sign of fear or aggression to you and the puppies should be confident, out-going and be happy to meet you and not be nervous or withdrawn.
Please ask to see a copy of the puppy’s pedigree and parents health certificates at an early stage. The MASCGB maintains a database of all UK MAS and a large number of MAS worldwide, and if you have concerns about a pedigree, then please contact the Secretary for further information.
Apart from all the standard paperwork you will get when you collect your puppy, most responsible breeders will also have their own sales contract. This should be given to you in advance of you collecting your puppy, so that, as with any other type of contract, you are given the chance to read and digest its contents before signing and to ask any questions you consider relevant. Do make a point of asking for a copy during one of your early visits, as it avoids any misunderstanding at a later stage. You should be aware that many breeders place restrictions on their puppies for breeding and export purposes. Such restrictions and any associated conditions should be thoroughly explained to you and understood before any contract is signed.
When you take your puppy home, you should get a diet sheet, a supply of the food they have been reared on, details of when and how the puppy has been wormed and a copy of the pup’s pedigree. Your new puppy may have also been micro-chipped or vaccinated already. Please ring or email the breeder for advice if you have any particular concerns.
UK breeders normally register their pups with AKC on the owners behalf and then papers are received through the post. There can be a bit of a delay which should be explained by the breeder and agreed upon by both parties. Some breeders also like to register their pups with the Kennel Club Activity Register so that they can partake in performance sports later in life or you can register the dog on this at a later date should you choose to do so.
The parents should have been checked for the following hereditary diseases: MDR1, PRA, CEA, HSF4 & DM. You should ask the breeder to show you or supply copies of the official test result certificates as appropriate. Hip/Elbow Scoring & Eye exam should have been done on the parents before breeding.
Responsible breeders should be able to show you certificates to demonstrate the status of their puppies either because the parents or ancestors have been tested, or that the puppies have been individually tested.
Remember that in genetics, there are no guarantees. Breeders can only do their best to rear healthy puppies.
Breeders should be prepared to help with any problems you may experience. They should be responsible for all litters they breed. Many will insist on the dog being returned to them if you are unable to keep it and/or will help in the rehoming, or should at least be informed should ownership change. This is often embodied in a sales contract.
The Miniature American Shepherd Club of GB makes no warranty as to the quality or fitness of any puppies offered for sale and can accept no responsibility for any transaction between the purchaser and vendor.