Bellwether Dalmatian Puppy FAQs

Frequently Asked Questions about the Bellwether Dalmatian breeding program and what we do as an AKC Breeder of Merit

What is the process for getting a Bellwether Dalmatian puppy?

The process starts with our review of the information you provide on our questionnaire. If we have questions about the info or need to know more, we will contact you. We are looking for homes that would be a good fit for the breed in general and more specifically, one of our puppies. If we feel your home and lifestyle would be a good fit for one of our pups, we will add you to our list of waiting puppy homes. ALL good breeders carefully screen potential homes for their puppies. 

Once our litter has whelped, we will see what we have. Our pups are placed as companions and four legged family members first and foremost. Some pups may be destined for show homes (homes/owners who plan to pursue an AKC championship in the breed ring), some may be right for performance homes (homes/owners who plan to pursue performance competition in agility, tracking, scentwork or obedience to name a few venues). I welcome at least one in-person visit, the first when the pups are about 4 weeks old so we may meet and you may see the puppies and the environment in which they are being raised. No puppy placement decisions are ever made before pups are 6 or 7 weeks of age.

What do you consider when you match puppies to their homes? Do you match homes based on the individual personalities of the puppies?

Many things are considered when placing pups with homes including a home’s family makeup and lifestyle- how active you and/or your family are, what types of activities you enjoy and how you will include your Dalmatian in your activities, whether or not there is an interest in show or performance to name a few.

Individual puppy personalities do play a role in placement. It’s important to remember that while we know them as young pups, they have yet to grow and develop into their future selves. We have a general picture of each pup’s “personality”- who is more/less active, inquisitive, curious, adventurous, cuddly, bold, etc… and an understanding of their position in the litter (how each puppy relates to his littermates- who is bossy, who is quiet, who is the litter troublemaker, who starts the play, etc.) This helps to inform our placement decisions

Do you health test the dogs you breed? Do your dogs have a CHIC number?

Yes. All our dogs are health tested in accordance with the recommendations put forth by our parent club- The Dalmatian Club of America https://www.ofa.org/recommended-tests?breed=DM Health testing results are submitted to the Canine Health Information Center (CHIC) https://www.ofa.org/about/chic-program where the results are publicly available. We only breed bilateral hearing Dalmatians that have earned an AKC conformation championship and have healthy testing results.

I’ve heard that early stimulation and socialization is important for a very young puppy. Do you do this with your puppies?

Yes. Once our litter is on the ground, puppy care and socialization becomes our raison d’être. Our neonatal pups (1-14 days, under 21 day of age) receive early thermal, tactile and motor stimulation in addition to regular handling. Brief gentle stimulation in very early puppy life has been shown to benefit overall health, puppy wellbeing and tolerance of stress. More information on early stimulation here: https://breedingbetterdogs.com/article/early-neurological-stimulation

Almost since birth, puppy have been learning social skills from mother and littermates. At the age of about 3 weeks old a more formal socialization begins. Pups are moved from the privacy of the whelping box to a bigger puppy pen (with a specific place to potty) in a more active area of the house. Pups are exposed to household activities and the many sounds of general life (vacuum cleaner, television, radio, the coming and going of family, etc.). At 4 weeks old as they become quite steady on their feet, puppies are given more areas and things to explore- different areas of the house, new objects and obstacles. Puppies receive a steady stream of visitors- socializers in every shape and size both young and old from 4 to 8 weeks of age. 

Outdoor experiences start at 5-6 weeks of age. Pups get to know nature (new smells, wind, earth, grass, butterflies etc.) and the big busy world (the loud garbage truck, the UPS truck that beeps when it goes backwards, the school bus with blinking lights and loud little humans, etc.). There are new and different outdoor objects and obstacles to explore and climb on. At 8 weeks, puppies receive their first vaccinations and a complete physical. With a clean bill of health and early socialization well underway, puppies are ready to go home with their new family and continue to explore and learn.

Introducing your puppy to the world will be one of your most important responsibilities. Socializing the young 10-12 week old puppy with many different people, places and things is vital.

Do you BAER hearing test your puppies?

Yes. All Bellwether Dalmatian puppies have their hearing tested at 6 weeks of age. The Brainstem Auditory Evoked Response (BAER) is an electro-diagnostic test used to assess hearing. This test detects electrical activity in the cochlea and auditory pathways in the brain in much the same way that an antenna detects radio signals or an EKG detects electrical activity in the heart. The BAER test is used to evaluate components of the external ear canal, middle/inner ear cavities, cranial nerve and selected areas of the brainstem. It is a non-invasive procedure that takes about 5 minutes to perform. 

This test is not used to inform us if a puppy can hear, we already know that! It is used specifically to determine if a puppy hears with one or both ears- valuable information for us as breeders when we consider which dogs may be appropriate for our breeding program. We only breed bilateral hearing dogs as our goal is to avoid any possible risk factor for congenital deafness in future generations. Unilateral hearing puppies (perfect hearing in one ear, less or none in the other ear) are wonderful healthy puppies and excellent pets!

Do you provide a contract to be signed? If so, do you offer a health guarantee?

Yes. We do have a contract that must be signed before you assume ownership of one of our puppies. It spells out certain requirements that you, as the owner, agree to regarding care. It also affirms the health of the puppy. All puppies placed are completely healthy and we encourage you to bring your puppy to your veterinarian within the first few days to confirm this or if you have any concerns at all.

We are selective when choosing homes for our puppies and know a good fit when we see one. If we place a puppy with you, it is because we believe that you will be able to care, nurture and raise one of our puppies now and continue to love and care for him until his last day. As your breeder, we will be there as a safety net and always available for any and all questions or concerns.

What early puppy preventative health care steps (vaccines, deworming) are done before we pick up our puppy? What should we do as soon as our puppy comes home, what should we know?

Our pups are wormed at 2, 4, 6 and 8 weeks of age. As a precaution, we do worm the nursing mother too. Puppies receive their first vaccinations and a complete physical by our veterinarian before going to new homes. We encourage you to bring your puppy to your veterinarian to confirm health or if you have any concerns.

Instructions for care will be provided before and when you bring your puppy home. We are there for you and your new puppy as you settle in. We will send reminders and provide information for all the early milestones – 12 weeks, 16 weeks and 6 months. We will always be available for any and all questions and concerns.