Casablanca Kuvasz
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Gail S. Dash & Neil Berger
P.O. Box 280322
Northridge, CA 91328
phone (818)77BWDOG
phone (818)772-9364
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Kennel is licensed in Phelan, San Bernardino County, CA


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About Us
My Advice on Shopping for a Kuvasz

Shopping for a Kuvasz puppy or adult? I'd like to offer some advice so that it's a great experience for all involved.

Usually you will be visiting someone's home. When you phone or email to make your appointment, be flexible with dates and times as managing a house full of puppies makes straightening up for visitors problematic. For the same reasons, if you have to cancel or are going to be late, phone and let the breeder know. She has better things to do than wait around for someone who has no intention of showing up.

Dress appropriately for getting down on the ground with puppies nibbling at your toes or excited adults jumping to greet you. Also wear freshly laundered clothes as the puppies might be too young to vaccinated. Don't wear a tank top, cut offs, and flip flop and then be upset if you are covered in scratches from dozens of sharp puppies nails climbing on you. If the weather is cool enough, wear black fleece and sneakers with long laces the puppies can pull on. You will find out exactly how much Kuvasz shed and how annoying kuvasz puppies can be once they figure out your feet have great tug toys attached to them!

Be sure to tell the breeder the ages of any children you intend to bring, and if anyone has mobility issues or is frightened of big dogs. If you have in mind to bring your entire family plus your kids' friends, please keep in mind you are not going to the zoo, ask the breeder how many people and children can safely be accommodated. You ARE going to visit a home full of guarding dogs. Children running and screaming will likely be perceived as threats and the Kuvasz will act appropriately. Your visit will take on an entirely different feel than if your children are able to sit quietly and pet a dog or puppy and ask permission before jumping out of their seat.

While you are visiting, the breeder will be asking you questions to determine if a Kuvasz is a good fit for your family. Whether or not children are willing to take instructions from adults and able to sit and be quiet is a very good indicator of who sets the rules in your home. At the same time the dogs will also be accessing your qualities as a potential Kuvasz owner. The better you pick up on the messages the dogs are sending, the more points they will give you!

Kuvasz breeders give up many, many weekends for visits from families who will never buy a dog from us or never get a Kuvasz at all. We accept that fact. We do appreciate it if you keep your visits as short as possible. You won't need much more than an hour the first time you visit a Kuvasz breeder. Most breeders won't charge you for their time, but it would be a nice gesture if you bring a few puppy toys or if your visit is just to "meet the breed", offer to make out a check to their favorite Kuvasz Rescue organization.

Don't make any decisions based on playing with those adorable white fluff balls! Make certain you have your hands on the mother of the puppies. If the father of the litter is there, meet him as well. THESE are the dogs those fluff balls become in about a year. If the breeder doesn't want you to meet either of the parents for behavior reasons ("he doesn't like men"), that's a HUGE red flag that the puppies might have that temperament as well. It wouldn't be unusual for the mother to refuse to allow strangers around her pups while she is nursing or cleaning them. If the mother DOES allow you to handle her puppies, she is very confident and she doesn't consider you a threat. Usually the breeder will take the mother out of the room the puppies are in to meet you. She can relax more and demonstrate her closer to normal temperament if she's not worrying about her puppies.

Other than a few high volume, commercial Kuvasz breeders, it would be unlikely for a kuvasz breeder to "make money". With the cost of the health testing of the parents and the proper food for the mother and her dozen or so puppies, plus the additional vet exams, shots, and wormings. A responsible kuvasz breeder feels extremely lucky if she breaks even on each litter. If there are unexpected vet costs such as a C-section, the litter will quickly cost more than the breeder is taking in from the sale of the puppies. This is based on actual expenses, there is no compensation for the sleepless nights with the puppies and life long tech support you should expect from your breeder.

So why would any sane person want to breed Kuvasz?

A breeder should be doing this because she loves the science and art of improving the dogs she has. Her goal is to get to that ideal dog in type that is written in the breed standard of her Club and the ideal dog in terms of health and ability to perform the work it was originally bred to do. It is a process of learning, mentoring, and welcoming new people to share the passion you have. Everything else is the breeder's ego and greed that does nothing for the buyer or the dog and especially nothing for the breed.

You want to make certain you are buying from a kuvasz breeder who believes in this ongoing process of art and science in hopes of getting closer to that perfect Kuvasz. Sadly, if you buy from a breeder whose priority is show wins or numbers of puppies sold, the needs of your puppy and returning your calls or emails are a very low priority.

After you find out WHY the breeder you are shopping is breeding kuvasz, the next topic to ask about is their commitment to health testing and releasing the results to OFA's open database.

The first Kuvasz in breeding programs with hip tests in the OFA database were tested in late 1975. Responsible Kuvasz breeders added tests once health issues were identified and tests were available. A decade after this first pair was tested for hip dysplasia, it was standard practice to test not only hips, but to have the eyes examined by a Board Certified Veterinary Ophthalmologist. Some young adults were going blind for a reason unknown at that time.

By 1994 kuvasz breeders were testing elbows and patellas (knees) and by 1997 a thyroid test was developed that would help diagnose both genetic and acquired thyroid disease which is still a big problem in our breed. In 2006 a DNA test for one form of PRA, Progressive Retinal Atrophy became available. This is most likely what was causing the blindness breeders first became aware of in the mid-1980s. Affected dogs become blind as young adults. The latest DNA test available is for Degenerative Myelopathy. The only way to prevent genetic diseases is for breeders to have the genetic tests done on the dogs in their breeding programs and make the choice to not breed dogs with specific tests results to each other.

Of course all kuvasz used as breeding stock should have hip tests available for you to see as the testing has been common practice among responsible Kuvasz breeders for 20 years! In fact on Rory's side of the pedigree, you are able to find many ancestors going back to the very early days of hip testing in the 1970s, both in the US and Europe. We can't trace Boris' ancestor's hip tests very far because that branch goes back to Canada and Hungary. Neither country has a searchable database available to the public.

So why should puppy shoppers care about the history of health testing in kuvasz?

Unlike other "consumer products" you shop for, there are no Amazon reviews for the "Company" (Kennel) you plan to visit or the "Manufacturer" (sire and dam) of the specific puppies you are given a choice of. How are you to judge what is "quality" or even "important" when shopping for you puppy? Are show ribbons important? Glossy magazine spreads? Offices held in various dog Clubs? Numbers of puppies sold to others? How long they've been in business? Conditions of their kennel? Health clearances on the sire and dam as well as aunts and uncles of your puppy?

Knowing what I know now, as a result of not only breeding since 1998 but Club activities and doing Kuvasz rescue since 1986, having seen Kuvasz breeders at their best and worst, and having corresponded with puppy buyers who are more than reasonable and puppy buyers completely unreasonable, this is what other information the buyer must ask for. The breeder's willingness or reluctance to answer you questions will be the major indication of how easy or difficult they will be to work with if you decide to buy from them.

First, ask about health testing on the sire, dam, and aunts and uncles of the litter that your puppy belongs to. Assume anything not in the public database is either a test result other than "normal" or a test the breeder didn't have performed. Excuses for not testing like, "I've never seen that in my lines" assumes you are an idiot. OF COURSE if the breeder didn't test for it see wouldn't see it! RUN from that breeder.

Sometimes instead of showing you the certified OFA results a breeder will offer to lend you the films so you can have your own vet look at them. That's a ridiculous offer because you vet will have less knowledge of hips than the panel of OFA radiologists who look at films and rate them all day long.

Sometimes in answer to a simple question such as "where are the sire and dam's OFA results?" breeders will give you the "they don't know what causes hip dysplasia" lecture. To some extent that's true, they have not narrowed down which of the many genes point to hip dysplasia. And many well respected experts will admit until a DNA test is developed, breeders are not going to be able to make much progress in ending hip dysplasia.

But that doesn't make the "industry standard" tests optional. It means we all do the same testing until we have a better test. Since 1974, 1481 Kuvasz have had results of hip tests released to the public in the OFA database. We don't know how many additional "not normal" test results are in the closed database. What special knowledge does the breeder you are working with have that none of the rest of us have? And why isn't she sharing it?

In the same time period, 88.885 German Shepherd Dog results have been posted in the OFA public database. Are that many GSD breeders wasting their money rather than following the recommendations of a few Kuvasz breeders?

If the breeder starts off with wacko positions on well accepted practices, what other information is she giving you that's based on little more than her own excuses for not doing what the typical responsible breeder would do?

The second thing is to notice how the dogs are kept. Kuvasz puppies need to be handled by a variety of people, have a variety of safe experiences climbing on and over and into different things and surfaces, and interacting with not only their mother but with gentle adults in their pack. If it's a kennel situation and it seems like the puppies have not been given the opportunity to get out of a kennel run and explore the little world around them, that is all work you are going to have to do once you get the puppy home. Litters raised in a home where they are part of the pack and under foot of the human family will most likely adapt to your house rules within a few days. You won't have to do weeks of confidence building exercises just to get them to the point they would have been when you picked up your puppy that was familiar with a home environment. The difference between a home raised puppy that knows how to ask to go out to pee on the second day and the kennel raised puppy that will takes several weeks to house train will most likely save you several hundred dollars in cleaning products and hours of enjoying your little kuvasz that you can never get back.

Third thing is the written contract the breeder wants you to sign. The contract should be a meeting of the minds in the best interests of both parties for the health and well being for the life of the dog. If the contract reads like only the breeder is protected, don't sign it. That is not "a meeting of the minds". If you sign a contract like that the courts won't help you and no dog club will help you because it's assumed that no one held a gun to your head to sign it!

If you get to the point of working out a business deal, make sure everything that is discussed gets noted and initialed on the contract. This is especially important when two or more people own the kennel. You won't believe how fast they point fingers at each other in denial when you try to bring up something agreed to by one when the other wasn't around.

Also look out for contract language that makes no sense or seems impossible to comply with. I have seen an actual signed contract where the breeder agreed to give the owner the dog's papers once she had two stud services from the dog. Problem is the breeder would never use an unregistered dog for stud service so the owner will NEVER be able to meet the conditions of the sales contract. He got no help from the kennel club because he clearly signed the contract. The kennel club will sometimes get involved when you try to enforce a contract, but they have no reason to get involved in a contract the owner was foolish enough to sign.

Do not be afraid to say, "I am not comfortable with this". In some cases, if you haven't done your research, it may mean losing your deposit. But believe me, that is much less expensive than years and years of trying to love your dog that only brings up memories of a bad experience with a breeder.

Most breeders are fair and deserve to be treated as you wish to be treated. Don't put deposits down with several different breeders and then back out on all except one. Those other breeders counted your deposit as a firm sale and most likely stopped taking additional deposits.

And one more point on fairness and expectations... unless your State has specific laws that allow you to recover vet costs on top of the price of the puppy, if you need to exercise the guarantee part of your contract, don't expect that to cover shipping costs or anything over the original cost of the puppy. I have seen situations where the owners didn't want the dog but they were basically holding it hostage expecting the breeder to pay them more to ship it back than what they had paid for to begin with. They wanted to be compensated for all the training and toys and equipment and of course food they had to buy for the puppy for the year they had him! They had no concept that a puppy now a year older coming from an unhappy situation was now going to be LESS valuable to the breeder due to all the work she now would need to do to get him back to a confidence level where she could place him in another home.

In another case the dog had a genetic problem that would need to be corrected. The breeders complied with their State law and refunded the purchase price of the puppy and allowed the buyer to keep the puppy. The owner was upset because she didn't get the shipping cost back and she wouldn't get any help with future vet bills.

Buyers need to look at this transaction for what it is, buying a thing like a TV or a pair of shoes. You wouldn't expect to get your original shipping costs back if you got a refund on your shoes (unless the store was running some special deal). And you wouldn't expect the store to say, "Sure, go ahead and take the shoes to your local shoe repair and send us the bill".

Above all else, keep the lines of communications open. Be patient for your breeder to get back to you, especially between Friday afternoon and Sunday evenings if she goes to lots of dog shows. I understand if you need to reach her starting Friday by Sunday you probably think she isn't returning your calls on purpose. It's more likely she's on the road to or from a show and hasn't picked up her messages.

Another way to look at it as breeders and buyers should not only treat each other as they hope to be treated themselves, but as they would treat their young Kuvasz. Be fair, and kind, and loving, and hopefully you will get a kiss in return. But keep in mind if you piss each other off, you just might find the remote control chewed to pieces in your back yard.

"Always A Classic"
The goal of Casablanca Kuvasz is to pay tribute to this magnificent breed and honor the breeders
who struggled to keep this breed alive by offering you healthy and authentic type Kuvasz.

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Chanukah 97 and head studies on light blue backgrounds by
Lori Davidson, Pawsitive Expressions (818)992-1686
Photos used for Holiday 2001 and head studies on dark backgrounds by
Betty Hogan, FTI/DartDog
© 2015 Gail S. Dash
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