Puppy FAQs


If you email and don’t hear from me please try again

My pet peeve is when I email or call someone and they don’t respond – how RUDE!  But sometimes that is me which is worse.  I work full time and my personal email box gets flooded with so much spam that I locked down my spam filters and now most of my emails on dogs end up in spam (spam itself many times does end up in my inbox grrr).  I do try to look for them but I do miss them sometimes.  My personal email is jodie.strait at yahoo.com – feel free to email me there instead if you don’t here.  Same with my phone, if you call I may be working or left the phone somewhere.  I do try to get back to everyone as soon as possible.

It may take a couple of days but I will respond.  I try to catch up on weekends but I agree it is annoying when people don’t respond.  And I apologize in advance if I do it to you 🙂

What is the difference between a companion puppy and a show puppy?

Honestly not much of a difference.  A pet puppy may have a cosmetic issue that disqualifies them for the show ring but in no way causes an issue in the day to day life.  It could simply be an ear with too much white or white splash beyond the withers or it could be I just do not have any show homes in mind for that particular litter.  All puppies are healthy and happy and are bred to the Australian Shepherd standard.  Most of my puppies will be sold as companions simply because I want them to be in a family situation. I rarely sell a show puppy.

How are the puppies raised?

Our puppies live in our dining room adjacent to the kitchen and family room.  This allow us to monitor them as well as acclimate them to the sights and sounds of a house and family.  I work from home so someone is usually with the puppies at all times.  We have “Uncle Deuce” who is in charge of the puppies and three cats (aka The Cat Mafia) who are dog friendly.  My son also spends time with the puppies so they are used to an active household.  Every dog in our home MUST get along with the pack.  I do not have the time or inclination to deal with any dog or human aggression.  They have no place here so everyone gets along and puppies learn that from the pack.

Tell me about your litter deposits

I will take a few deposits for a litter only and only after the litter is born.  Deposits are $500 and non-refundable   Deposit holders have priority over companion puppies that are available (show prospects have first priority) and once they have made their selections then we will go through the list of potential owners.  I will take more deposits as I will know the available number of puppies.  No selections will be finalized until show prospects have been determined at eight weeks.  The only exceptions would be in a puppy has a disqualifying feature for showing.  I will do my best to match a puppy to your requirements, if I do not have one then I will help you find one.

I have started to sell many puppies into working homes – primarily as Service and Therapy dogs.  With this will be a change in priority.  Show and working dogs will have equal priority.  A search and rescue dog needs specific traits and because these dogs are helping the community they will be a higher priority.  We are so proud of our dogs out in the community making a difference!

Note:  If you send in a deposit and then decide to keep shopping other litters there is NO refund.  I have wasted considerable amount of time dealing with these situations and will no longer be giving back your deposit.  If you are not ready to commit that is perfectly fine, but I will no longer refund deposits for someone changing their mind.

Socialization – and the fine Print

I do a bit of rescue on the side and I can tell you their are two type of Aussie’s in the rescue pipeline.  The socialized good with kids/dogs/cats last 10 seconds before they are adopted.  I can get them a home with no problems.  The other ones that have an issue finding homes all have socialization issues.  Because of this in ALL contracts it is mandatory to do an AKC Puppy STAR (or equivalent) and an obedience class (such as a Canine Good Citizen class).  If you cannot commit this amount of time/effort to a puppy then an Aussie is not for you. 

I am strengthening this requirement in my contract and require a puppy class be started prior to the puppy being 6 months old and if there is no proof of a class I will nullify all guarantees.  Yes this is extremely punitive, but I need to do right by my dogs and I need to make sure they are socialized properly.  The few times I have heard back from puppy owner with an issue I find out that they have not started classes.  Immediately after puppy classes are started the issue disappears.  Interestingly new Aussie owners tend to take puppy education more serious then long time Aussie owners who tend to forget the time they put in their past dogs.  Because of this I am becoming more strict and will enforce this.  If you cannot commit to a one hour class once a week for six to eight weeks, please look elsewhere.

Tell me about testing.

We follow the ASCA and USASA guidelines for health screenings and genetic testing.  CHIC was recently changed to include OFA elbow screening, this was added after Bumble Bee was x-rayed so she was not screened.  After talking to my vets they did not feel it was worth the risk to put her under anesthesia when she is sound.  For that reason only her elbows have not been done.  She was completely sound when she passed at 12 years old.

All of my dogs have Hips and Elbow screenings done and have their CHIC certifications, assuming they are at the appropriate age for testing (some tests must be done at 2 years of age).  Everyone is examined by an Ophthalmologist yearly.  All clearances can be found on offa.org website and my website.  Whatever breeder you decide on PLEASE make sure they do health and genetic screenings!  This is not just for show dogs it is a must for ALL DOGS.  I also do Hereditary Cataracts and MDR1 and OFA dentition and a few new ones that just popped up.  All of my dogs are microchipped and that is verified when tested (you will see VPI notated) so you can be assured the test results are for the correct dog.

What do you feed your dogs?

I feed the puppies Royal Canin puppy mousse (it’s like puppy crack) until they are ready for dry.  I have not had a litter at my house since I switched foods but my assumption is that they will be eating Fromm dry and Grandma Lucy’s Artisan raw.  I made the plunge after one of my friends kept telling me how good her dogs looked.  Let me tell you, I have great coats and skin on all the dogs and my retirees no longer require supplements.  It made a believer ouf of me.

What I love about Grandma Lucy’s is it is dehydrated so I don’t have to touch anything disgusting and the dogs LOVE it.  I am really happy with it..  What I love about both Grandma Lucy’s and Fromm is they are not part of a big company – when I call I talk to people literally making decisions.  In today’s world I like being able to pick up the phone and getting answers. 

Taurine Issue / Dilated Cardiomyopathy (DCM)

None of the foods I am feeding meet the warning signs of this issue but I am monitoring things closely.  This is a serious issue in dogs and I have found it hard sometimes to follow the facts vs the generalizations.  This is not a grain free issue, it is an issue that has come up because of the grain free diets becoming popular.  Fromm Gold was mentioned as showing reading of low Taurine.  I researched and called the company and then spoke with Canine Nutritionists and after digging in, realized Fromm Gold was being fed as part of a diet on some dogs but they had other foods as well so I am continuing to feed it but am monitoring.  I highly suggest http://vetnutrition.tufts.edu/tag/dcm/ for information.  This is Tuft’s University and they actually are experts on nutrition and I have found their information extremely valuable.

 Why do your puppies cost more than the ones in the local paper, I just want a family pet?

They cost more because the cost to raise them is more.  It costs money to train and trial the parents.  Involvement in local all breed and National Specialty clubs help continue breeder education.  I use vets who continue their education as well and work with them – basically I do not cut corners.  There is no money to be made in breeding dogs and if you do make money at it than you probably are doing it wrong!  Our puppies are hand raised with their mom in our kitchen.  They are handled daily, weighed, given probiotics to ensure a healthy digestive system and optimal growth.  Even without any issues it will cost me at least $3-4,000 in costs alone to make a litter.  It is not cheap to breed responsibly, but is the only correct way! 

My biggest pet peeve is when someone says the puppy they want is *just a pet* because in my mind a companion puppy is the most important puppy in the litter.  It is an ambassador to not only the breed but to my dogs.  It will meet many people through its life and a long and happy life is important.  This is why I moved my office into the adjacent room – we are with them almost 24/7 – not because we are worried, but simply because we LOVE THEM.  EVERY puppy is cherished and loved!!! 

Please read my articles Why A Good Puppy Costs So Much and Finding A Responsible Breeder for more information.

Do you raise Mini Aussies?

No.  Actually if you read the Australian Shepherd breed standard you will see that there is no height variety in the breed.  Simply put an Aussie is an Aussie!  Yes there are people who actively breed for smaller sizes.  Most of these dogs are crossbreds marketed as Mini or Toy but in essence a mutt.  It is a way to market them and use the Aussie good name and increase the value of the puppy.

You will find this to be a hot button issue in the Australian Shepherd world.  The good news is that AKC has approved a breed called the Miniature American Shepherd.  This breed will make a separate and distinct registration for dogs currently being marketed as Miniature Australian Shepherds.  The MAS dogs and bitches were transferred to the new registry and no longer be associated with the USASA Australian Shepherd.

The hope is that this will alleviate the confusion by the public.  Calabrone Australian Shepherds only breeds and represents the AKC and ASCA Australian Shepherd.  We make no claims to the Miniature American Shepherd – we are proud of our Australian Shepherds!  I am happy to refer anyone to a good MAS breeder!  We enthusiasticall recommend Dynasty Miniature American Shepherds – they have outstanding Mini’s and we are proud to call them friends!

Will you leave a tail on a puppy

The short answer is no.  The Australian Shepherd breed standard indicates that an Australian Shepherd is a docked breed and as a member of the USASA parent club I have the obligation of adhering to the breed standard and Code of Ethics.  The longer answer is that my dogs also have the Natural Bob Tail gene and so most of my puppies will be born without tails.  In my last litter only one puppy had a full tail.

I am unable to leave a tail on even if the buyer requests it as puppies are docked at a day old and there is no way to know what puppy will work for someone at that age.  I highly recommend that anyone interested in a tailed dog look at our tailed cousin – the Border Collie or the Nova Scotia Duck Toller.

NOTE:  I will leave a tail on for buyers who live in a county where docking is illegal.  You must pay in full for the puppy prior to birth and we will make an educated guess on a puppy that will work for you. 

What is a Companion Puppy

A companion puppy is a puppy sold with limited registration, meaning there is no ability to register offspring.  This does not mean they are not a quality dog – it means that breeding should only be done to better the breed and not be taken lightly.  Because there are so many unwanted dogs it is important that breeding be done with the utmost of care.  These dogs can compete in everything that a full registry dog can (the exception being conformation and should the owner be interested in showing arrangements can be made to allow this by converting the dog to a co-own).

Puppies are annyoing

I tell people all the time, puppies are cute because if not no one would want one.  They chew, they bounce, they bark, they do things you don’t want.  They are annoyng – but they are also extremely kissable.  The thing is you need to show them the rules.  You need to maintain the rules – not oh isn’t it cute when they do xxxxx.  Think if  you want xxxxx when they are 50 pounds.  If you don’t then don’t allow it at 10 pounds. 

They need to go to class but they also need consistency at home.  You need to have them follow the rules at home too.  Good rules make great dogs.  But puppies can be exhausting and annoying and way more work then you imagined this is why I keep saying DOGS ARE NOT TOASTERS – you may love that little blue ball of fluff but if you want a laid back dog and that puppy that you just instantly fell in love with is a higher drive alpha type it is not the dog for you.  If you just have to have that blue merle with two blue eyes and a black patch then you have to be ready to wait for the right one to show up.

Want to know how many times that occurs?  I know of ONE.  That is right of all the people who say they will wait I know of one who waited 2 years for the right dog.  All the rest professed they would wait but as soon as they found what they wanted (usually at 1-2 weeks old) they got that dog.  And many of them regretted it (if I had a dollar for all of those who reached out to me after doing this I could buy a big bag of dog food).

I prefer people coming to meet them around 6 weeks and sitting in the pen and just learning about them as individuals.  Every person who has done this has ended up with the perfect pup for them.  Because they met them and they saw personality and traits and it is a much better fit.

What is the cost of a Puppy

Puppies with limited regustration are sold on a Companion Contract at the price of $1,800.  This is right in line with other reputable breeders in the area and helps offset the cost of breeding a litter.  Prices tend to vary geographically in the North Carolina area you will generally find puppies in the $1,500-$2,000 range.  The amount of time and money it costs to raise a healthy socialized litter is enormous.  While no litter is bred for a profit (ha ha what is that) please understand there are no discounts. (Note:  we do give a discount to active duty or recently retired military members as thanks for serving our country!). Add first responders to that list too!

Every puppy is sold with a contract outlining guarantees – feel free to ask for a copy.

Do you sell Show Puppies

Show prospects are sold on a case by case basis, please contact me for details.  No puppy will leave without a co-own contract.  No it is not fair, but my puppy, my rules :-).  Be ready for a very frank discussion on showing dogs, the good, the bad, the ugly and the awesomeness.  I do not just sell a puppy for their reproductive rights, I do not sell a pet that you don’t have time to compete with but have time to breed (yes I hear that often).  My puppies have value over their reproductive organs!

Contracts – yes I have them

You will have to sign a contract, the contract is long and it is enforceable and I do enforce!  There are two reasons to have a contract on a dog in my opinion.  The first is to level set expectations on the care of your dog, the second is to explain what happens when you do not follow the first reason.  My contract is for the safety and well being of my dogs – not me, not you, not ribbons…the dog.  I can and will enforce, if you read Elsa’story I entrusted her (for free) to a person I thought was a good and trusted friend.  When I found out this person was not who I thought and the dogs were in danger I went and got them all including dogs from other breeders .  I then spent about $4,500 on vet care to get the dogs healthy and placed them all. 

I am happy to review the contract with any potential puppy owner and we can modify as needed but it is pretty basic, take care of the dog and if you cannot I take it back.  Even if I find out the day before I leave for vacation and I have to drive 2 hours each way in a van with one crate and multiple dogs.  I am always the safety net for my dogs.

Will you ship a puppy?

The short answer is yes to the right screened home.  We prefer to have new owners come to the house and meet our dogs but if they are unable to, then yes we can ship.  To ensure that we comply with USDA regulations the purchaser will need to have themselves or someone they delegate as their agent come to pick up the puppy.  While we do not qualify for USDA regulation, as a precaution we will follow basic guidelines. 

All shipping costs will be paid by the buyer.  Preferences are always to a local home but in the right situation we will ship.

I want a specific color/sex, can I put a deposit down?

The short answer is NO unless it is a show puppy and the person requires a certain color/sex combo and then it is a maybe.  For companion puppies we will not accept a reservation deposit for a specifix combination.  There are times when a specific sex is needed (you current dog is male and you want a female to balance your home etc) we will make every attempt to assist on these requests.  The problem with a certain color/sex combo is that our breed has so many color combinations.  Here is an example:

In a litter of puppies, statistically half will be boys and half girls right?  So in my ficticous litter of 8 I will have 4 boys and 4 girls.  I have a combination of four color options so lets say in my litter I get 2 Blue Merles (a boy and a girl), 2 Red Merles (a boy and a girl), 2 Red Tris (a boy and a girl) and 2 Black Tris (a boy and a girl).  So in this hypothetical only ONE puppy matches with a buyer and lets say that puppy is not the right temperament or I decide to keep it. 

I tell the buyer sorry this puppy will not work for you, we have spent hours on the phone, via email and are crushed.  So I have to scramble to find a buyer (after turning away people since my litters are usually reserved before being born and they are mad becasue they see *their puppy* and I won’t sell it to them. 

So if you are reading this and still want to ask for a Blue Merle girl with a full white collar – DO NOT ASK.  You can ask to be put on a reservation spot and if after all of the deposit holders have their puppies I can see if I have what you want.  I will not take a deposit.  Saying that, in my Bummy x Lance litter the puppy who went to a companion home was in fact a blue merle girl – go figure.  In my Gemma x Stinger litter one of the companion puppies?  Yep, Blue Merle girl.

We will not gaurantee eye color – this is a dog not a toaster.  The *trim package* is not important, the personality and temperament are crucial to a happy home.  If the trim is your main concern and you are not willing to wait (sometimes for months or years) for a certain combo then I suggest you look elsewhere.  Again if you HAVE to have that blue merle bitch with a full white collar and blue eyes and are willing to wait YEARS with a non refundable $1,500 deposit you may get a maybe. 

We think the most important part of a dog is under the fur – there is no bad color!

 I don’t see any upcoming litters but I want a dog

I work with MANY great breeders and also with reputable rescues and am happy to assist you in finding your next friend.  There is no commission involved just a hope that everyone pays forward.  Anyone that I recommend is someone that I would buy a dog from.  Please feel free to give me a call and discuss what you are looking for and I will be happy to refer you!


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