Is a PWD for me?!
THIS IS THE MOST IMPORTANT PAGE ON OUR WEBSITE! PWDS ARE NOT THE BREED FOR EVERYONE! Educate yourself and your family so that you and your dog can have a long, enjoyable life together.
In an effort to help prospective owners in their endeavor to purchase a healthy, quality PWD, below are some questions you should ask a breeder before a dog joins your family, as well as some answers to questions that your family may have before you decide to purchase a PWD. Finally, there are several resources that you could read through for more breed insight (both health-wise as well as breed specifics) listed at the end of this section.
Average Cost: The cost of a PWD averages about $3500-$4500. The cost of a PWD is high because there are many expensive health tests that PWDs undergo before they should be used in any breeding program, as well as the costs of showing, breeding expenses, etc. The availability of these tests, however, help assure that you are getting a puppy that will not have severe health issues in the future. Beware--certifications come with these tests. Ask for copies from breeders BEFORE you get your puppy. 'Vet checked' is a far cry from what a real breeder has done.
Picking Out The Right Puppy: Most responsible breeders will NOT allow you to randomly pick a puppy in a litter. They should ask you what your "wish list" is and try to fill it as best they can, but you need to decide how flexible your family is willing to be. (e.g., If you want a male puppy and a female puppy is more suitable for your family in the breeder’s opinion, will your family accept a female puppy? Will your family accept a curly-coated puppy if you prefer a wavy coat? etc.)
Grooming: This is a breed which must be combed and brushed weekly to avoid tangles. Haircuts should occur every 6-8 weeks. Average professional grooming costs vary by city. I estimate that a trim and bath for an adult PWD would average around $100-125 per visit. Toenails should be trimmed every two weeks. Here are PWD grooming guides. Providing these guides to your groomer will help ensure your PWD walks out of a spa day looking like a PWD, not a doodle.
Can I see your dogs within your home? If no, why not? Can I review your contract at least two weeks before I would pick up my puppy? Are deposits fully refunded if I choose not to get a puppy and/or if you do not have a puppy suitable for my family? If no, why not? Can I have copies of both the sire and dam’s OFA clear certifications for hips and eyes (or be provided with the online link where the breed health database is maintained)? (Note: Eye certifications are good for only 12 months and then expire. Check the exam date on all eye certificates to make sure that they were done less than 12 months ago. If they are expired, ask the breeder when the sire/dam will be re-tested and request that it be done prior to you receiving your puppy.) Can I have a copy of the sire and/or dam’s PRA analysis certifications as well as heart analysis and GM1 reports? (Note: Only the sire OR dam needs to test "normal" or "non-carrier" as no afflicted pups can result as long as one parent tests non-carrier.) Never hesitate to ask any additional questions. (e.g. When do you get to visit the pups? What age will the pups be ready to leave for their new homes?) Visit this page for questions to ask any potential breeder.
NOTE: Addison's Disease is much more prevalent in PWDs than any other breed. There is NO test to prevent a PWD developing Addison's Disease. It is treatable with medicine if your dog would ever develop it during its lifetime, however. Odds are that 1 out of every 150 PWDs, or more, will likely develop the affliction. (It is a condition where the adrenal glands cease to work so a dog's potassium and other levels go out of balance. The medicine keeps the balances in check and a dog generally lives a full life unless the medicine is stopped, at which point the dog will pass away.) To learn more about PWD health concerns, check out this page.
Reality Check: No breeder can guarantee that your puppy would never develop hip dysplasia, Addison's Disease, any kind of cancer, other strains of PRA or other eye disease for which there is no gene test, and other unknown health issues that may arise, etc. (this is true in any breed of dog). Unfortunately, afflictions happen and they bring sadness and heartbreak and, often, great medical expenses. Be aware of this before you become a pet owner and acknowledge that you can handle the expenses that might arise from a future health issue, or possibly even losing your pet (even if its from old age) and the emotional upheaval your family will undergo, before committing to adding a pet to your family. Consider buying pet insurance!
Housing: Outside, a fenced yard (preferably above ground) is the safest way to go. Never leave your dog unattended outdoors nor run errands while your dog is loose outside even if left in a fenced area. Inside, a crate should be used--especially when your pup is small. PWDs are easily bored and will get themselves into trouble if left loose and unsupervised in a home. (Most underground fencing cannot be used on a pup under four to six months of age, and under 30 pounds.) Do not leave collars on dogs in crates! Collars can get caught on ends of crate wiring or fencing, which will panic your dog and choke it.
Food: An adult PWD eats an average of 2-2.5 cups of quality food per day. They do best when their meals are split into two meals daily. Fresh water at all times is a must. Free feeding doesn't work well with PWDs unless they're an only dog. Stay away from "fad" diets, such as grain-free. Researched-based food is important for a long, healthy life. We send all of our puppies home with a small bag of quality puppy food. Keeping your dog lean will help their joints remain healthy. You should be able to feel their ribs and hip bones, but they shouldn't be protruding.
Quirks and Traits: A PWD is a jumper--meaning they have a hard time keeping all their feet firmly on the ground. Small children and elderly adults can easily be knocked down since PWDs often launch themselves at people in their exuberance. Families with children under three years of age should probably consider another breed unless the family has had prior PWD ownership experience. PWDs can also be rather vocal: when they want your attention, they want it NOW! They’ll do whatever means they need to do to make you pay attention to them...whether it’s just for a quick pet or for a romp outside. PWDs also tend to want to be with their "pet humans" at all times. If you simply go outdoors to get the mail and then return, it’s usually reason enough to your dog for them to make a huge production as they welcome your return.
Exercise Needs: Your PWD needs lots of exercise, whether it’s just running around the yard or going for long walks. It also needs lots of stimulation, so a variety of dog toys to choose from is also necessary. Enrolling your dog in obedience and/or agility classes are not only fun activities for you and your dog to do together, but they also help your dog learn to be more manageable and thus be accepted as a visitor at other places. Also, remember that these dogs are predominately black, so shade must always be accessible to your dog. The AKC offers a S.T.A.R. puppy certification, which is often available to test for at the end of puppy kindergarten classes.
The above comments and suggestions are solely our opinions and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of other dog breeders.
Last piece of advice: Use common sense--if you don’t feel comfortable with a particular breeder (or vet), don’t buy a puppy from them (and find a different vet). Purchasing a PWD is an approximate 12-year commitment--wait for the puppy that best fits your family, and look for the breeder and vet that are there to support, encourage, as well as cheer you on or be a shoulder to cry on if needed.