Many years ago, when I first began breeding Havanese, all my puppies were black (with bits of white) so the issue of color never came up when folks were trying to decide on which puppy they wanted to take home. It was easy? Do you like black, or black? Occasionally there was a parti and that always caught people’s eyes. You just can’t help but notice the splashy pattern that comes with more white as the eye is drawn to the flashy pup. But, the real issue came home to me the first time we had a cream/gold colored puppy. I had a number of people waiting for puppies in 1999 when Pixie had her litter and there was a cream puppy! When I sent out the first photos, three of the families waiting immediately responded with ‘I’ll take the cream colored pup!!”
Being the diplomatic person I am, my answer was ‘Don’t you think that’s just a little shallow??” and, ignoring impulse control, I actually sent that email to them. I did explain my thinking…the three families were each looking for a very different dog than the others. One wanted a dog for agility, one for show, and one as a pet for a retired couple. A dog that would suit one of these families would be all wrong for the others. The basis for successful, lifetime placement is matching the right puppy to the right home. If you don’t like what is inside your dog it’s not going to matter what the outside looks like, you are not going to be happy with the dog. As a tribute to the quality of folks who pass muster and are eligible to get an Elfin pup, all three readily understood, accepted, and agreed to this logic. The cream puppy ended up where she belonged…as the pet of the retired couple, where she was adored and spoiled for the rest of her life.
For a breeder who has had lifetime guarantees on her puppies, but who does not REALLY want to get dogs back, permanent placement is critical to success. It’d be different if, as with far too many breeders, guarantees are limited to a 2 year ‘serious genetic health issue’, or 7 days to pass a vet exam, or worst, the ‘end of the driveway’ as buyers of pups from these people are simply stuck with what they get. This gets even scarier when pups are purchased based on photos over the internet and the buyer doesn’t insist on the opportunity to visit the breeder, meet the parent(s) and puppies, see how and where the puppies are raised and, at least, try to end up with the puppy whose temperament/personality/activity level, etc is most suitable to their home/life style/personality/family dynamic. The lack of long term satisfaction guarantee combined with not properly matching the right puppy to the right home is a perfect formula for adding to the shelter population and a disaster for both puppy and owner. Unlike a sweater, which you may find pretty, but ultimately doesn’t fit right, a puppy cannot be hung in the back of the closet, ignored and forgotten, if you end up not liking it.
My recent past litters have 2 flashy black/white pups and, once again, several prospective owners immediately asked to claim one of them. Having become more diplomatic with age, I simply told them that we don’t make that type of decision on day 1 of a pup’s life and that, ultimately, while preferences for gender/color/pattern are considered, pups would be placed based on my best estimate of where they will be compatible with the new owner’s stated wishes in ‘what I want in a dog.’ A couple of buyers decided to go elsewhere and found puppies (not Silk Dogs) which had the color patterns they wanted and I hope, for the sake of the pups, that the inside of those pups turn out to be healthy, sound, and as attractive on the inside as they are on outside.
In life we all decide what level of risk we are willing to take when making decisions. I have never been a gambler and will continue to try to stack the odds in my favor and hope that decisions made in this manner will be good for me, my dogs, and the owners who depend on me to provide them with a puppy they will enjoy and love for many years to come.