Selling gundog puppies to the best homes is easier when you are well prepared, employ the right strategy and are aware of potential dangers.
For the one-bitch owner, the decision to breed a litter is often simply about wanting to keep a pup for themselves. But faced with a puppy pen full of fast-growing whelps, all too often what seemed like a good idea can suddenly turn into a puppy marketing panic.
Rearing gundog puppies is time-consuming, so some income for your labours will be welcome recompense. But the question is: how do you ensure you don’t find yourself with gundog puppies you can’t sell? And how do you reduce the risk of being forced to sell at rock-bottom prices to less-than-suitable bargain hunters?
Plan well ahead when selling gundog puppies
It pays to give some thought to how you plan to sell your impending litter well in advance of even mating your bitch. Responsible buyers will undoubtedly be up to speed with the recorded health checks of any litter’s parents – and they do this as much to protect their investment as for the welfare of the pup. So make sure your bitch has the necessary tests relevant to your breed and select a sire that has also had all the appropriate health checks. If you do this you are at least assured of not losing sales simply because there are uncertainties over the pups’ future susceptibility to inherent problems. If possible, choose a stud dog whose gundog puppies are proving to be popular and have the attributes you want. If your bitch is sensitive or of a nervous disposition, don’t choose a dog that is hesitant in any way or your gundog puppies may end up inheriting the traits of both.
Give plenty of thought to the gundog you use and remember it’s unlikely that all your gundog puppies will go to shooting homes. A dog that isn’t intense in his outlook and has a sound and solidly good temperament will hopefully produce gundog puppies that will be happy to live in non-shooting family homes.
Get your strategy right when selling gundog puppies
Let’s assume your litter has now been born and it’s a couple of weeks old and thriving. You’ve used a reputable stud dog and are enjoying the whole experience. You’re confident you can pop an advert in a magazine or the local paper in six weeks’ time and the phone will start ringing.
If you think that will happen then you’ve just made your first mistake. No doubt the owner of the sire will have been informed of the birth, so make sure you provide details of the litter – colours and sexes – in case they receive enquiries for progeny sired by their dog.
The Kennel Club has a website facility on which the gundog puppies from Kennel Club-registered parents can be listed. Many people find this a worthwhile method of announcing they have a litter but details should be made available as soon as the litter is born and settled. Don’t leave it until the gundog gundog puppies are six weeks old or you could have lost buyers. Most responsible puppy buyers don’t expect gundog puppies to be available off the shelf and will gladly wait several weeks – and it means you can start taking orders without delay.
With any litter of gundog puppies, time is of the essence so it’s also essential to make an early start by putting the word out that you have a litter. Shooting magazines and specialist websites should also be in your sights sooner rather than later.
Prepare your adverts well in advance – in other words soon after the gundog puppies are born. You will need to plan ahead for adverts to appear in weekly or monthly publications that often run advert copy dates well in advance. Remember your gundog puppies will soon start to lose their puppy appeal – and this does have a bearing on sales – after they reach nine weeks. In an ideal situation you need to start making potential buyers aware of the litter before they are about three weeks old.
Most gundog puppies are ready to go at eight weeks but if you leave it until then before you advertise, and then have to wait for potential buyers to start drifting in a few days later, it’s not uncommon for that eight-week-old litter to rapidly be heading towards 10 weeks by the time you’ve dealt with all the time-wasters. Joe Public is a past master at messing about when it comes to buying gundog puppies.
Choose words carefully when selling gundog puppies
So what about the content of those advertisements? Many ads seem more determined to put buyers off rather than entice them. Let’s look at the essential information you need to provide. Details must include the breed, the name of the sire, and details of the dam and her breeding.
It’s useful to state the name of the dam’s sire (it helps potential buyers who have an understanding of pedigrees) and, in the case of breeds like labradors, to include any relevant health-check details such as hip scores and confirmation the parents have current eye test certificates. It’s also important to include the colours and sexes of the gundog puppies you have for sale.
What you do not need to say are things like: “Golden labradors” (suggests a real amateur – there’s no such thing); “only one dog pup left” (would you buy the runt of the litter?); “can be seen with dam” (if that wasn’t the case she either died or you are a puppy dealer); “can be seen with sire and dam” (suggests you used your own dog as it saved a stud fee or that the litter was a mistake!); and “have been wormed” (doesn’t need stating – anyone who doesn’t worm gundog puppies three times before they leave the breeder isn’t worth buying from). Make sure you write out the advertisement clearly and spend some time working on the wording. Be adamant about what you want in the advertisement and don’t be encouraged to include irrelevant information.
Beware of some buyers’ dishonest motives when selling gundog puppies
Be ever mindful of the risks of theft that can often result from spurious enquiries. Be very circumspect about giving out your address to anyone you have doubts about and always try to get hold of a landline number to call them back. And if you give a mobile number in any advertising and receive a call when you are away from the gundog puppies, don’t give your address until you are back at base. I know of a case when the owner of a litter received a phone call while in the supermarket and said he would be home in 30 minutes and would meet the enquirer then. When the owner arrived home, the gundog puppies in the garden kennel had gone.
Use every opportunity to sell puppies to the best possible homes where their working abilities will be fully appreciated. But it pays to be aware that not every enquiry, no matter how genuine it may sound, has an honest motive.