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Laddie's World
How To Pick The Right Collie

   While this page is primarily for those that are choosing their own puppy from a litter, it may give others a few things to consider even if they can only see one puppy or are looking at an adult dog.

   Can you believe how adorable those collie puppies rolling and tumbling around at your feet are? There couldn't possibly be anything cuter... except when your wife or husband gets on the ground and starts rolling around with them!

   Just when the excitement at finally seeing the puppies is at its peak, it suddenly hits you. You're here to get only one puppy. There's no way you can take home all eight. Besides the cost and work, your landlord would have a fit if you had eight dogs in the house. So... which one is it going to be?

   How can one possibly choose?????

   Here's how...


   Before you go to look at those puppies...
   Before they're even born...
   Yes, before you've even decided on a breeder, it's time to sit down and figure out exactly what kind of dog you want. Now it seems like a strong bet that if you're on this site you're considering a collie, so we'll assume that since that is what this site is about. What I really mean is what are your hopes and dreams for your future companion's future? Are you looking for a collie that will herd for a living or lie quietly by the fireplace all the time? Do want to try getting in to the show ring with a Best of Show winner or an Obedience Trial Champion? Is this going to be your kids cherished childhood bosom buddy or will he just need to chase Frisbees and balls all day for only you? (It should be mentioned that there are many collies out there that have little trouble being MANY if not all of these things versus one or two. Yes, we are that adaptable!) These are very important things for you to consider before getting a collie. Establishing a clear idea of what you hope to have in the future sets a good clear starting path that will hopefully lead you to your perfect puppy and avoid heartbreak or disappointment. Since most of you will probably be looking for the average family pet that listens decently and looks like a collie, we'll go that route.
   So you want a nice family kind of collie. Great start! Now, how much are you willing to spend?
   Yep. Have to consider that to.
   The amount you are willing to spend will also impact where you get that puppy from. If you want what is loosely referred to in breeder's terms as a "pet quality" puppy and you only can only spend about $400, then you can go to the average breeder and get a nice puppy that will do beautifully. However, if you have $800 to spend on a "pet quality" puppy than you could get a puppy from a winning kennel and he would do beautifully to. Its all relative folks. That $400 puppy and that $800 puppy can look and act exactly alike and both have the same guarantee but the $800 puppy will more than likely come from a place whose name is extremely well known and in many cases known for good quality. One has to hope that it all applies to the puppy you get. Remember though, to try to look at the big picture objectively. Well known doesn't always mean the best. A popular, high priced kennel name doesn't mean that they will absolutely live longer or healthier or are better in any way than the dogs of a breeder who is only known in their hometown.
   Now that the role in the family and price has been established you can begin to look at breeders who fit those initial qualifications. You may even prefer someone close by. This narrows your choices down even more. Start to contact breeders who seem to regularly produce what you hope to get. If you want a dog for conformation than look at breeders that are consistently breeding good conformation dogs, not some Joe down the street who just happens to have a collie and bred her because he felt like it. It isn't that Joe's pups couldn't be in shows and win, its just that your chances of having a dog that can potentially be a show winner are reduced when you get a pup from someone who doesn't breed for that purpose. A good place to begin looking for breeders is at a dog show. The nice plus to going to a dog show is the fact that you have the opportunity to see first hand what each breeder is producing and perhaps even talk to the breeder one on one about what they have. Some other places you can look for a breeder are in the newspaper, on the internet, a referral through a vet or ask people you see with a collie where they got theirs. Compile a list of several breeders so you can compare what each has to offer. Now that you have that done it's time to start to talking.
   After you inform the breeder of your desire to get a puppy, let them know what you want out of your puppy so they know what you're looking for and can give you a straight answer about what they have. Because good breeders hold such high regard for their chosen breed they are usually very honest about where their dogs fit in best. A breeder who regularly produces collies that are strong willed or on the dominant side may not be right for someone who wants a collie they don't have to spend tons of hours working with. Another breeder may produce More "Ghandi" types that you practically have to stand on your head to get them going. Not the ideal dog for the quiet stiffs in the world since that kind of person doesn't want to make a scene just to get their dog to sit in public. Fortunately for you good folks those are not typical traits of our breed. The two types I mentioned are just examples to illustrate my point. Of course there is the occasional divergent that just doesn't seem like everyone else. Remember, there is always variety within a breed and always a difference between each dog.
   As you go down the list of breeders, immediately cross off those that have told you they don't have what you're looking for or charge more than you can pay for a puppy. Those that have met your initial qualifications have the asking price put next to their name. Now its time to start asking questions. You'll want to ask what kind of guarantees come with a puppy from the each breeder and what (if any) training and socialization the pups have had. Will the pups have their first shots, be wormed and have their eyes examined? These should always have 'Yes' answers. Don't accept less. Good breeders care about the health of the puppies they are producing and want to make sure that any pup they release will be a fine example of both their kennel and the breed. Will there be a contract of any sort about neutering, registration, CO-ownership or limited showing? Many breeders require that pet quality puppies be neutered by their new owners in a certain amount of time to help prevent unwanted or poor quality litters that will only add to the already overpopulation of dogs in American shelters. It is also a wise idea to ask for references from them. Ask if there are any previous buyers in your area that would be willing to let you meet their collie or at least talk to you about what they thought of the breeder. Ask if you can contact the breeder's vet and get a little third party appraisal of the animals they see from that kennel. Like wise many good breeders will ask YOU for references usually including your vet if you have pets now or in the past. They want to make sure you are responsible and will keep their puppy healthy. Also make sure that the breeder doesn't have any specific requirements from future owners of their puppies. It would be heartbreaking to go pick up a puppy only to be refunded because you didn't have a fenced in backyard. Some breeders can be very picky about the environment their puppy will be moving into. But they have a right to be. They did, after all, set up the circumstances that brought the puppies into the world and they are responsible for them up to a point. Besides that, no breeder wants one of their perfectly good puppies to end up in a shelter for any reason, especially because of poor ownership.

MORE QUESTIONS TO ASK A BREEDER:
Have your lines ever had any appearances of health problems common in this breed?
Are your dogs routinely screened for hereditary diseases?
What health certificates can you show me for this puppy's parents and grandparents? (Look below for specific health certifications)
What are some of the breed's positive characteristics?
What are some of the breed's negative characteristics?
What general temperament can I expect from your lines?
How long have you been breeding dogs?
Can you name five other breeders you'd recommend?
What kind of person should not own this breed of dog?
Will you take a puppy back for any reason at any age
   While its not absolutely mandatory, you can also inquire as to whether or not the breeder is a member of any clubs for the breed. Most, if not all, collie clubs have a 'Breeders Code of Ethics' that must be signed and strictly adhered to in order to be a member and many clubs make it a mandatory policy that anyone who signs with them must also be a member of the "Collie Club of America" which also has a mandatory 'Code of Ethics' breeder members MUST sign. If any breeder you talk to has no idea about any of these things, refuses to give you a direct answer or gives you false information, than I would strongly advise against getting a puppy from that breeder.
   Most breeders don't mind answering questions so feel free to write them letters, call or e-mail as often as you think of questions to ask, within reason of course. Breeders can be very busy people so be patient for replies. Any breeder who asks you not to contact them at all until they tell you they have puppies or doesn't seem to want to be bothered talking to you at all should be crossed off your list. If they don't have time for you, a potential buyer, then you don't have time for one of their puppies.
   So you've finally narrowed your list down to two or three breeders you feel very comfortable with and that has the type of collies you're looking for. Now what? Now you have to decide when would be the best time for you to get a puppy. If your desire is to get a puppy as soon as you can than go with whoever has the next litter of possible candidates. If you're looking for something a little in the future ask the breeders if they have any females who are consistent with their time between heats and when they are due to come into season so you can begin to make a rough estimation of when a puppy will be ready for you. Say you want a puppy sometime in September (when the kids are back in school!). You will be looking at breeders who know they have a female due to come into heat sometime in May. This is because it takes an average of 64 days (just over two months) for the puppies to come to term, that's assuming that the breeding took successfully. (Breeders will often have the female x-rayed by a vet to see if there are any puppies a week or two after the mating.) Once the puppies are born, it will be about 8 weeks before they are ready to go  to their new homes barring any personal shipping preferences and arrangements. Some breeders refuse to ship a puppy by air until they 10-12 weeks and some breeders will let a puppy go at 7 weeks if the buyer is close by and very responsible. This last is becoming more the exception rather than the rule now a days since there has been a lot of evidence to support how completing the seventh week being with mom and siblings increases the puppy's chances of being a well rounded and socialized puppy better equipped to handle the changes that will occur when they do leave for their new homes.
   Assuming a breeder has a litter ready at the same time you are ready for a puppy you can then decide if you want to let the breeder pick out a puppy for you based upon what you're looking for or, if you prefer, you can view the litter and choose for yourself. Breeders who have been in the game for some time will more than likely be very able to pick out the right puppy for you as they do know their lines better than anyone else but if you have the option to pick the one you want than there are a few things for you to know and consider when faced with 8 or 9 fluffy balls of fur biting at your shoe laces.
   First, you need to look at the area they are kept in. If it is dirty with their bodily wastes and they don't mind running in it or even play with it, consider that these puppies may be a little tougher to house train because they may not care if they are dirty or not. Since most breeders want to make a good impression on you they will probably have cleaned the puppy area thoroughly. If this is the case or the breeder is just a very clean person, I like to recommend going to see the puppies right about the time that they are feed a meal. This has several purposes. The first is to see if they relieve themselves by the food or if they go off a little ways to go potty. A puppy who moves away from food to go potty usually has a strong desire to be clean and can sometimes be easier to house train. Any puppy who relieves himself right next to the food doesn't care so much about being clean and possibly doesn't pay attention to where its doing what it's doing. A puppy like this can be a handful to an owner who doesn't keep an eye on him.
   Next you need to carefully check the puppies for signs of general physical good health. Things to look for include (but are certainly not limited to) :

Clean, clear, bright eyes - Eyes that appear hazy, clouded, watery or have mucous in them could well be a sign of serious or chronic issues.
A smooth, cool, moist (or slightly dry) nose - The nose of a puppy should never be hot, overly dry, cracked, peeling or runny. A little water dripping out of the nose is no big deal as many collies drip when they are excited, nervous or as a means of helping them keep cool. But avoid any puppy that has a foul smell or strange sound coming from their nose when they breath.
A clean mouth - Any puppy mouth that is unaccountably missing teeth, has a foul odor or red raw and inflamed gums should be passed over.
A shiny, clean coat - Dusty from playing outside is one thing but if the pups that you are looking at have dull, dry, brittle fur or dry, flakey, scaling skin there could be underlying health issues that a simple change in diet won't fix.
A happy easy gait - The puppies you look at should have free range of movement when they walk and run. If the pups limp, 'bunny hop' constantly, seem stiff legged or stilted or seem to tire unusually quick than avoid these puppies. The health issues associated with constant displays of these signs can end with expensive and often heartbreaking results.
Trim and evenly proportioned bodies - Puppies whose ribs and bones seem to stick out may not be eating well for underlying health reasons and puppies who appear fat or unusually round in the belly when viewed from above have some problems that can lead to other even more serious problems later in life. Fat puppies are NOT healthy puppies! And puppies that have rock hard, distended bellies even though they haven't eaten in several hours should be passed over. This can be a sign of a serious case of worms. Even if the puppies have been given medicine for the worms, buyers with children may want to reconsider that litter since it is entirely possible to become sick from handling dogs and puppies with worms.      

   So, the pups all appear happy and healthy. That's a good thing. Now you can start to evaluate their temperament. There has been a great deal of controversy the last ten years or so over whether or not Puppy Temperament Testing is actually a good predictor of the future temperament of a dog. I don't look at it so much as a predictor of the future since it must also be remembered that his life experiences will also help to shape his future personality. I think people should look at puppy testing as a means of deciding which puppy is the one they will be most capable and willing to work with, live with and train. In the right hands any puppy has the potential to become a good, happy, stable family pet, but you must understand what you're looking at in order to know which one is for you. The following tests are only a guide to help you better understand what different puppies will require. Try making a chart with "Dominant", "Confident", "Submissive" and "Fearful" across the top and list the puppies down the left side. If the puppies don't have very obvious distinguishing marks you can have the breeder put different colored pieces of ribbon loosely around their necks. As you progress through each test put the test number in the appropriate box in the corresponding puppy's row. So if the puppy with the red ribbon gave you a strong fearful reaction to test #1 then write 1 in the "Fearful" column in the "Red Puppy" row. Make sure to leave room for notes to better describe what you see.

Remember feeding time? Here's another plus to viewing their eating. Make note of how each pup behaves. Is there one pup that seems to bully all the other pups away from the food bowl until she is done eating? Puppies who guard food bowls from the others may guard other things like toys and may tend towards a more dominant personality. The puppies who accept this bullying and stand back to wait to eat anxiously may lean more towards a more submissive nature and may even feel the need to protect the food bowl from you if he fears you are going to take it from him in your own home. All puppies should learn how to accept your hand near their food and toys, just remember though that the motivations to guard food and toys will vary from puppy to puppy. Guarding in fear and guarding in dominance are two very different things.
Next, look at how they react to you, a stranger. Avoid the puppies that show little interest in you. A collie should be sociable, not contentious. Puppies that show chronic fear will need excessive amounts of help and gentle guidance to develop confidence in both itself and in you. Puppies that show a lot of aggression at your presence will require tons of careful work to get it to relax and respond to you.
Have the breeder walk by and observe how the puppies react to someone they know. The pups that are drawn to his/her companionship and follow are people pups. Don't worry if they bounce off after a leaf after a little bit. Puppies will be puppies after all. The puppy that runs and tries to find a place to hide has confidence and possibly fear issues you may not have time to work with. Collie puppies that aren't already occupied and look as if they could care less about the breeders presence, first off, are not normal collie puppies plus they may tend to be loners who want to do things their own way. They can prove stubborn and often quite a handful.
Try rolling a ball or large toy in among the puppies gently. Collie puppies should be inquisitive and even a little "nosey" especially about anything new so if you see a puppy who runs away from it or refuses to investigate from any closer than five or more feet away may have some confidence and fear issues. If it takes a few seconds for the puppies to decide to go check it out don't worry. Collies can be a little cautious and learn well to discern what is safe and friendly. If your normally friendly and stable collie chum acts standoffish or obviously unsure of someone or something than take his cue and stay back. A mentally stable and secure collie is an amazingly good judge of character and intent.
If the breeder has an adult dog (other than the mother) that the puppies haven't met and can be relied upon not to hurt the puppies, have the breeder bring him in and watch what the pups do. Rowdy or reserved behavior around the adult dog are both okay. Just watch out for the extremes. As usual, puppies that run and hide will need lots of careful socialization and confidence building. Puppies that act aggressively towards the new dog (ie. Standing and barking nonstop at the adult or trying to bite it in a non-playful manner) could either be extremely dominant or protective or fearful. Fear is most often the case. It should be understood that many fearful animals may have a stronger desire to chase or push away what they are afraid of rather than hide or let the thing get them first. This kind of behavior can often end with a bite if the offending thing doesn't get the hint and leave. Lots of work will be needed to get this puppy to understand that it isn't his decision to make, its the owners but in order for that to happen the puppy will need a lot of training and work to get the puppy to trust you. Fearful dogs can have a difficult time learning to trust, especially when they have already learned that their way works. Confident puppies should have no problem standing nose to nose with the new dog and saying hello.
Petting is a good way to help tell which puppies are amenable to touch and sometimes help tell which puppies are more dominant. When petting, begin with long strokes from head to tail. Puppies that have a more dominant personality will not be overly thrilled with excessive amounts of prolonged physical contact. They may not mind lying in your lap even when you place them there but will often get very mouthy even to the point of firmly or aggressively biting if they don't approve of what you are doing. When you pull your hand away from these pups they will often try to go after it. It can almost look playful but if they get up to follow that hand, it isn't.  Fearful puppies may not let you get close enough to pet them or if they allow it they often freeze and stand perfectly still. They will usually keep a wary eye on you and not look pleased at all. Some fearful puppies can only take so much of this before their nerve gives out and they either slink away with a nervous look back or bite. Puppies that lie quietly relaxed in your lap are good ones. They may show you their bellies, they may not. It isn't mandatory. If the puppy seems a little feisty when you first place them there that's okay to, as long as he eventually gets the idea that it isn't playtime and settles for just a little bit. Any puppy that struggles to get away from you from start to finish isn't the best choice.
To go along with the petting each puppy you can pick up each puppy in turn and see how they react. Gently cradle them with both hands and lift only a few inches off the ground in case they struggle. One hand should support under the rear and the other should support the front under the chest and between the front legs. Hold them steady for a good few seconds. They should show confidence in people by relaxing and accepting the lifting with little or no fuss. Any major struggling, screeching, biting or shaking is not good. Also, puppies that freeze and seem stiff throughout the entire ordeal might need to be reconsidered. Freezing can often be a sign of fear.
If you want to really test a litter's present stability level you can try dropping a sealed coffee can with a couple of pennies or stones in just when the puppies aren't paying attention. Just hold the can casually at your side and let it drop beside you. There's no need to throw it or shake it. You don't want to overwhelm or traumatize all the puppies. Just find out which ones can't handle a quick sudden sound. Try to do it when all of the puppies are grouped together and no puppy should be more than 7-8 feet away to get a somewhat even test from the entire group. Puppies that hi-tail it out of there or try to attack the can need help. Once again look for the inquisitive investigators.

   So how does knowing each puppy's present temperament help you pick a puppy if it doesn't really predict their future behavior? Let me explain. Knowing how a puppy reacts to different stimulus at this points helps tell you what that puppy is going to need to be his very best and if you can humanely and responsibly provide that for him.
   All puppies need consistent boundaries so they can learn what is acceptable and what is not, but while dominant puppies are certainly not bad, they will require an extra measure of firm guidance and an emotionally strong, even tempered owner to teach him through persistence and perseverance that the owner is indeed the leader and should be accorded respect. A person with a short fuse may well find a dog's teeth buried in his arm if he tries to bully a very dominant dog into submission. The soft sort who don't like to correct a dog or are afraid to take control will likely find themselves bullied around and even harassed by the dog. If this sort of person tries to take control without the proper methods or guidance they may well find themselves getting stitches and getting rid of the dog. In either case, a very dominant dog or dominantly aggressive dog left unsupervised can be a danger to anyone who does something the dog does not approve of or if they try to take control of it. In the right hands a dominant dog will often have the confidence to do any number of jobs that require a fearless attitude or strong leadership abilities. Most of the best dogs used for K-9 work are dominant but have excellent self-control and are very respectful of their handler and respond to their commands accordingly. If you don't want a dominant puppy avoid the puppy the scores most of the time in this category or you'll have a lot of obedience and leadership exercises to work on.
   Submissive dogs are dogs that are willing to let you lead with often times the least amount of effort. They still will need boundaries and fairly clear rules but with many average submissives they just need some basic obedience training and regular practice or utilizing of learned commands. Submissive dogs like to feel needed and will often go to great lengths to get your attention and approval. Many people will complain about the dog that grabs everything and parades it around in front of them or the dog that just can't seem to stay out of trouble. These are usually submissive dogs that are bored and in need of some good one-on-one training time to make them think that you have something for them to do and they are a valued member of the family. Dogs like this usually are in a household that does not clearly define who is the leader and who is not. The dogs know someone has to be in charge so if the humans aren't they will. Submissive dogs in leadership positions are not happy dogs. They may appear to be troublemakers but really are just in need of a stable hierarchy. A puppy that scores most often in this category may be unusually sensitive and may need some exercises aimed at making her a little more confident in general and confident in your leadership skills.
   Confident dogs are dogs that seem to be able to handle anything. They have little trouble getting up the nerve to explore and check out someone or something new. Confident dogs will sometimes appear to give you a look like "and the point of that is?" when you give them a command. They can even be a little belligerent when there is something else they would rather do. Some just act like they are still clueless puppies while others just pretend they are Ghandi and try passive resistance. Confident dogs usually do not have a problem with whatever station they are appointed within a group of dogs. They prefer to have fun and enjoy themselves rather than argue. They will please just about anyone if there is enough incentive from that person but they will also please just for the sake of pleasing. They will respond to a strong person because they recognize leadership abilities but they will often please unsure people just to appear more friendly and likable. Just about any kind of personality can manage a confident dog provided they don't go into extremes. A firm owner should never resort to physical punishment because it can cow the confident dog's spirit and a nervous person should never just let a confident dog do as it pleases because this can make them to cocky and sure of themselves and they can end up in serious trouble. Confident, dominant dogs will often see little reason to reply to threats from an unsure dominant dog so its easy to make the mistake thinking that a dog who doesn't reply to threats has no fighting spirit. The confident dominant dog's attitude may well be, "He's not a threat to me so why bother getting hurt just to prove I'm boss anyway." Confident dogs can often be relied upon to perform any task they are trained for. Assistance dogs, seeing eye, search and rescue dogs... All these and more need dogs that are confident in themselves to handle these rigorous jobs effectively. Puppies that that score predominantly in this category can be fine dogs... with the right incentive. Make sure he has a submissive or two mixed in or he'll be a tough nut to crack.
   Fearful dogs can have a single fear or multiple fears. Without a lot of positive socialization and counter conditioning a fearful puppy can be a bigger liability than any dominant dog. This is because a dominant dog has a fairly reliable set of reactions to various situations, but the fearful dog is almost completely unpredictable and can react in any given way it sees fit. You really never know what he's going to do next. He might just shrink back from you in fear every time and just when you think that's all it will ever do it suddenly bites you. Some will be brave enough to bark at your eye contact and then later refuse to look at you and perhaps even nip at you after you pass. Fearful dogs do not make good pets for insecure people because the owners insecurity will increase the dog's anxiety and the likelihood of something or someone getting bit is very high. Fearful dogs should also not be given to people who are excessively rough or loud with their dogs. This kind of behavior does not build confidence in a fearful dog but increases the risk of it biting. Fearful dogs will need a very gentle, loving and understanding person to spend many hours of sometimes tedious training with full knowledge and acceptance that there just may be some things a dog like this may never be able to do or handle. Puppies that score most of the time or exclusively in this category are going to need some serious help and socialization. The owners of puppies like this may want to attend some classes on canine behavior, positive motivation training and in the worst cases even enlist the services of a canine behaviorist with a doctorate in Veterinary Medicine.
  Please remember that there are varying degrees of the above and in each dog there can be a little of everything and in some it seems like none. Some dogs are perfectly confident with everything they meet except one and others can be afraid of everything except something we would assume they would be afraid of. (Personally, I have a thing about storm drains. They don't totally freak me out or anything but I don't trust them one little bit!) Some dogs love people and hate dogs while others love dogs and hate people. In some groups your dog may be king of the hill and in others he's low man on the totem. Some dogs will let you take a food bowl right out from under his nose with hardly a blink but you might as well be sticking your hand down the throat of a shark if you try to touch their toys. Some dogs will try to eat you every time they see you on the street but in their home they give you a second bath with all the kisses he gives you. Can you see now why these tests on puppies aren't true predictors of the future?
   Most people looking for a good collie will want to look for the puppy that is very confident but just cautious enough to know when it's time to leave and just dominant enough to want to make sure all is well with his pack yet he should be submissive enough for any member of the family to handle without undue harshness or firmness.

Once you've established which ones are most like what you want, you will want to see each of the final candidates on their own. Some puppies will seem to change personality dramatically when there is no other puppy around. Sometimes they become almost as clingy as plastic wrap and others become nervous and edgy. Still others become excessively fearful when there is no one else to back them up. Some pups know there is safety in numbers. Try to look for the puppy that notices no one else is there but doesn't seem to mind. A confident puppy will seem to say, "Okay. No one to play with so I'll just play with this toy or explore instead." Now is the time to also see how well you two will get along. Try to play with him a little to see if he is willing to spend his time with you. Go ahead and walk away a little to see if he follows. If he is a few feet away, call to him happily and see if comes running to you or not. If all goes well you will have found your special  puppy in half an hour or less. Sometimes you'll find several puppies (and occasionally whole litters!) that are everything you're looking for. If spending time alone with each one doesn't help narrow the choice, then this is the only time I would suggest just picking whichever one you think is the absolutely cutest puppy you've ever seen. Now go home happy and enjoy that new four-footed baby!


   You'll notice that I didn't mention making the choice between male or female. I leave that up to you. Some people may prefer one over the other but in my opinion it doesn't make a bit of difference. A good family pet is not defined by its sex but rather by the people who love, care, respect and cherish it. I have known many male dogs to be as tolerant with kids as a good mother dog is of her puppies and I have known many female dogs who would stand up in defense of her family as readily and as fiercely as any well trained police K-9. Who the dog will ultimately become is up to you. Please don't make the mistake of assuming that genetics will make that decision for you.
   And one final note... Please remember that these tests are all just gauges of present puppy attitudes. They cannot be completely relied upon to tell one exactly how a puppy will behave as an adult. I should mention, however, that there is VERY strong evidence to support the theory that an extremely fearful puppy will usually grow up to be a fearful dog. To what degree depends on the experiences and training you give such a puppy.
   These tests are also subjective to your point of view. What one person will consider hyperactive one may merely consider as a bit exuberant. One person may not want a puppy that seems dominant to them but another will relish the chance to have a challenge to work with.
   In the end it all comes down to you.



HEALTH CERTIFICATIONS

   Purebred dogs can suffer from various inheritable diseases that aren't easily recognized by puppy buyers or even experienced breeders.
   Conditions such as hip dysplasia, elbow dysplasia, eye problems, cardiac disorders, epilepsy, skin disorders and deafness plague many purebreds. A 12-week-old pup can appear healthy but suffer serious eye problems later in life. But thanks to veterinary medical technology advances and awareness of inheritable diseases, breeders can screen for some diseases and conditions. While such tests and the resulting health certificates don't guarantee the pup's health, they are the best assurance available. Only do business with breeders who routinely screen for disease.
    The most common tests screen for orthopedic disorders or eye diseases. X- rays of the dog's joints can reveal orthopedic disorders. The Orthopedic Foundation for Animals (OFA), a nonprofit foundation in Columbia, Mo., provides a standardized method of evaluating and registering the X-rays and is the most common certification. The Wind-Morgan Program of the Institute for Genetic Disease Control in Animals at the University of California, Davis, School of Veterinary Medicine, is another nonprofit program offering registry and screening of orthopedic disorders. Studies have shown breeding radio-graphically normal dogs produces less joint disease than breeding affected dogs or dogs of unknown status. Reputable breeders usually provide proof of certification from one of these organizations, but don't be shy about asking for it. If the dog is less than 2 years old, it can't be certified. If the breeder presents certification validation for a dog less than 2 years old, it's probably for the grandparents.
   The Canine Eye Registration Foundation (CERF), which works in conjunction with the American College of Veterinary Ophthalmologists, screens dogs for eye diseases, those present at birth and those that develop later. Puppy buyers should also ask to see each parent's CERF number, which is evidence the parents have been found free of inheritable eye disease. CERF registration is good only for one year from the examination date; thereafter the dog must be reexamined annually by an ACVO diplomat and reregistered to maintain an up-to-date CERF number. These eye exams are particularly important for us collies as eye problems are our biggest foe. All collie puppies should get their first CERF exam when they are between 4-6 weeks of age. Any later and an eye problem may not be noticable until much later as there is at least one eye disease that is noticable when they are tiny but beyound 6 weeks it can no longer be seen and the pups may be mistaken for being a normal or even clear eyed dog..
   And don't forget to ask the breeder for the pup's health record; including vaccinations, examination and de-worming dates. Once you complete the purchase, take the pup to a veterinarian within 48 hours for a complete physical examination.