Puppy Buying Tips
Please make sure you are NOT purchasing from a PUPPY MILL (PM) or BACK YARD BREEDER (BYB) who proclaims "we are only breeding pets." That is a sure indication this person doesn't know or care about the breed. And please don't buy from a pet store no matter how much you long to liberate that puppy out of the window display. Buying a PM or BYB animal to "save" it simply supports their business. It is the same with rescues, if they "rescue" puppy mill dogs they too are inadvertently supporting the puppy mill. Mills will keep up production as long people keep buying from them, rescue or not! In North America you can find a quality puppy by starting at the AMERICAN KENNEL CLUB (AKC) or CANADIAN KENNEL CLUB (CKC). ONLY buy from a National Shiba Club of America NSCA Code of Ethics signee who breeds AKC or CKC registered Shibas. Use of any other registry is a sure sign of a PM or BYB. Furthermore any puppy you consider should have OFA & CHIC health certified parents with no faults as listed in the AKC Shiba Inu breed standard. Ultimately YOU are responsible for finding and acquiring a healthy, quality puppy so please do your homework on the breed before you commit to buying one. Remember, you are strangers to each other and if they don't care enough to get to know you before they sell you a puppy they don't give a rip about you or the puppy after you get it home. TAKE YOUR TIME. Investigate. Google search and check references. The AKC says "up to 80 percent of websites advertising dogs for sale online are actually nothing more than puppy scams, according to a 2017 study by the Better Business Bureau (BBB)." Click here to read the full article.
The following information explains the process of purchasing your own
beautiful Kawako Shiba Inu and what we expect from our puppy buyers.
Buying a well-bred purebred dog is a special gift to yourself and your family and should be a happy and exciting event in all of your lives. We understand you have questions and concerns about the process and we hope you will find most of your questions answered here. But this should not be your first thought. This breed is extremely challenging and there is a LOT of specialized & careful care, training and maintenance involved in owning a Shiba. The Shiba should actually be considered an exotic and not a regular domestic pet as all. Therefore we have a LOT of requirements for our puppy buyers. We now require PROOF of purchase of puppy supplies, care and training videos, puppy & formal obedience classes, grooming equipment, spay and neutering to mention a few things.....if it sounds daunting it is. We want our buyers committed and well prepared for experience that can only be called a journey. One that will literally change their lives. There is no other way to explain it. It really is a spiritual journey chalked full of life lessons and some people just aren't ready for such a life changing experience. Especially if they are thinking their lives are now perfect and they will add a dog as a pet to cuddle and spoil and life will be complete. It is no where that easy to add a Shiba to your home.
Please understand that we take bringing new lives into the world very seriously. One of the most important jobs of any dog breeder is match-making puppies into perfect PERMANENT homes. This takes getting to know the interested party and assessing their capabilities for raising a dog as complex as a Shiba. Instead of using an impersonal questionnaire we would rather take the time to get to know potential puppy owners through emails, phone conversations and visits to our home and sometimes to their homes as well. We have learned over the years to go by our gut feelings. If we feel you cannot handle this journey we will simply tell you our concerns. We say no to many perfectly nice people. Believe me we are saving you a lot of grief by being honest we do not intend to insult you. Much to the contrary. We want people to be happy with their pets. Most people will be happier with a more simple dog they can spoil and it won't go all Cujo on them. Secondly, we support each puppy in every way we know possible to be the best puppy she can be by providing written directions and instructions in what we call our Puppy Care Package. A thumb drive is LOADED with Shiba specific training and health care information as well as grooming and health care articles and classes. We have always included positive socialization, introduced a willingness to learn, crate & house trained all our puppies before they ever go home but now puppy buyers can learn to train like a pro at home with the Puppy Culture program. Never before has dog training been presented in such a user friendly and sensible manner. I couldn't have done it better myself! So we now require the Puppy Culture system is purchased and during Covid will be considered as the pre-school puppy class. A formal obedience classes is still required before 1 year of age. We offer free Saturday classes at our location to our puppy buyers. Not only is this added value to your puppy purchase it is extremely important in creating an outstanding adult Shiba. Next we promote holistic health care through nutrition to all our puppy buyers. Eating scraps from the table was once the only way dogs ate and dogs were actually much more healthy then they are today. Of course the food was made from scratch back then too. Dogs kept by common folks were always working partners and lived outside, getting lots of fresh air and sunlight. Only the very wealthy could keep dogs as a luxury. It wasn't until the industrial revolution that scrapped food products (ie. meat "meals" or meat by-products") and other waste products were created. Instead of wasting the scrap or unfit food by-products someone got the great idea to make kibble for dogs and other animals known as "feed." Now everything imaginable goes into the vat. Be it grocery store meats complete with Styrofoam and plastic wrap, road kill, euthanized animals, feathers, horns, hide, etc. The catch all name for it is 4-D Meat. Dead, Dying, Diseased or Disabled. To find out what's in pet food go to www.PetsumerReport.com and check our resources page for more information. There is a lot of controversy right now about packaged feeds and prepared human grade pet foods versus a raw home made diet. To put it in perspective feeding highly processed kibble for the ENTIRE LIFE OF A PET is akin to eating nothing but PROCESSED JUNK FOOD (think corn chips...yum) your entire life and expecting to be healthy. Now if that isn't ridiculous I don't know what is. Most people think feeding dogs a species specific raw food diet is hard and expensive but it doesn't have to be. If you eat a healthy diet your dog can eat what you do, only raw. There are many places to find raw dog food recipes on the Internet. Here is a great article that gives a price comparison of raw, premium organic kibble and common commercial kibbles. Please remember the benefits of feeding a raw diet are less vet visits because of vibrant health, no yearly teeth cleaning and added longevity. We also ask all our puppy buyers to adhere to Dr. Dodds' minimal vaccination protocol. Ends up over-vaccination (vaccinosis) is a major player in common diseases of companion animals and also ends up that Shibas are extremely sensitive to vaccines. Vaccines need to be spaced apart and only given to health pets in non-stressful situations. This means not at the same time as being sterilized, boarded, groomed etc. We encourage the use of homeopathy to curtail problems associated with vaccines & stresses like sterilization. Without committing to Puppy Culture, eating healthy & holistic health care and an appropriate vaccination protocol we cannot foresee any puppy being happy, well adjusted and healthy enough to meet Kawako Shiba's high standards. Only when our puppy buyers truly understanding the importance of our Puppy Care Program do we feel we have done everything within our power to assure that each of our puppies finds the best home possible and lives her life to the fullest when she leaves our care. Still.....there are problems as people continually over estimate their abilities to raise this special breed. We are THRILLED to be able to offer you puppies in red, sesame AND black & tan. Unfortunately, sometimes you must be patient to get the color, gender and the personality you prefer. If the puppy available is a spitfire and you really need a laid back couch potato it is best to wait for a different puppy. Neither you nor the puppy would be happy and there is probably a young active couple or a person who has raised a Shiba before on the waiting list that could handle a more complex or active puppy. For this reason placing puppies should never be done on a first come, first served basis. We do our best to follow our list but a mismatched placement is the number one reason a dog ends up in rescue. Placing dogs correctly the first time makes everyone happy!
Quality Shiba puppies are hard to come by because litters consist of only 1-4 puppies with 3 being average. Most hobby breeders only have one to three litters a year making only 2-8 puppies available in a year. This is why it can be so difficult to find a good quality puppy. Most breeders, ourselves included, keep the best female puppy in the litter for our breeding program. This means your chance for a superior male puppy is totally awesome! In general, both Marcel and Cheri feel that neutered males make the best pets. If you prefer females, you may have to wait longer for a puppy or we occasionally have a trained teenage female for sale.
We prefer to sell our puppies to people who have met our dogs and KNOW how awesome their personalities are and who want a KAWAKO puppy NOT just ANY Shiba puppy. We suggest you visit our beautiful Shiba females and choose which one you would like a puppy from. Then you can leave a deposit for a puppy from her next litter. It takes 4 months from the time a female is bred until her puppies can go to their new homes. It sounds like a long time to wait but time goes really quickly and there are lots of pre-puppy arrival things to do like shopping for crates, bedding & bowls to fencing off the roses, putting baby locks on the lower kitchen cabinets and researching dog trainers and local holistic veterinarians for their Shiba knowledge and experience. This would also be a good time to start studying Puppy Culture so you are prepared to take over where we left off in your puppy's education.
We encourage future Shiba owners to meet many breeders and choose a breeder they would like to work with. If after visiting us, you are really serious about buying a puppy from KAWAKO you will choose a litter and commit with a deposit. I will not take your deposit until we have talked on the phone and met face to face at least once. Other breeders do things differently. Our system has developed over the years and we've found it finds the most devoted owners for our puppies so we are pleased with how it works.
Teens & Young Adult Shibas
We sometime have a "tween" or young adult from a previous litter for sale. These youngsters are perfect for someone who is unsure how to raise a puppy themselves. Raising and training a baby puppy into a well adjusted, well mannered 6 month old is time consuming and we charge accordingly for these services. Expect to pay $1500-2000 more than the price of an 8 week old puppy. This youngster will have been raised here on the farm, be well socialized with both people and other animals (yes that includes cats), well started in basic obedience and schooled on household manners, proof of which will be on their personal thumb drive of instructions. They are house trained and will sleep in a crate through the night. They will also have age appropriate vaccinations, are de-wormed, will have a microchip and may even be spayed or neutered already. As part of the sales agreement we require all new owners of teens or adults to enroll in a formal dog obedience class with their Shiba ASAP to learn a means of communication that both are clear with. This seems to really help in the Shiba's transition into his/her new home.
Retired Show dogs
Occasionally we will part with one of our adult Shibas. We feel they deserve to enjoy life as an ONLY dog in what we breeders call the dog's "retirement" home but I prefer "career change". They have been trained, shown & traveled extensively so they have good habits & manners and they are wonderful house dogs. These Shibas are the true gems of Kawako and definitely worth considering. We know their personality so well we are able to match them to their perfect home. Because of their priceless contribution to the breeding program we lovingly place them in new homes for a reasonable amount, usually equal to the price of one of their puppies or less depending on their age. Do not consider this a "used" dog but a trained dog, ready for anything you want to do. Perfect and ready to go for Junior Handlers, agility, obedience, tracking, or as a perfect pet to do activities with like hiking, jogging or even therapy dog work. Remember Kawako Shibas may be country farm dogs but they are still used to being pampered, having an exercise routine, spa & grooming (including nail clipping) treatments and traveling on weekends. They enjoy activity and will bring you many years of companionship and joy. We do not give these dogs away. They are professionally trained and the best dog you will probably ever own making them priceless. References are available for these type of placements from many satisfied owners.
All our youngsters & adult dogs are raised in a rural setting we generally only place them in homes with generous fenced yards. It isn't fair to expect them to adjust to apartment living after having the freedom of the farm, hunting and enjoying the outdoors in all kinds of weather. Of course there are exceptions as we have some dogs that just want to hang out inside but apartment & condo dwellers do best to start with a puppy that adjusts easily to the city way of life with elevators, traffic and city noise.
The average SHOW/BREEDING price for puppies is $3500 to $4500. Usually these sales take place between experienced Shiba breeders. Kawako DOES NOT sell puppies with full registration to people who say they "might" want to show or breed a litter "later." Those statements alone prove the dedication needed to produce quality puppies is not there. Occasionally we will sell a show puppy to someone who can prove their dedication to the breed. Every breeder needs to support and encourage new owners to become interested in breed competition and performance events as every breed needs new fanciers to replace those who retire from showing and breeding quality dogs. The average life span of a newbie show person is only 5 years because the reality of making tough decisions about animals you are attached to is just too difficult for them. Only a very few will stick with it long enough to be considered "breeders" by their peers.
In 25+ years in Shibas we have had many generations of certified health tested champion females bred to equally qualified males. We can guarantee the health of our puppies. Our females get all the best care, feeding and supplements in preparation for pregnancy. There is upkeep, health screening, show entry fees and advertising. Then we have champion stud fees to pay. Veterinary care during and after delivery of the pups. The list goes on and on for our expenses. Most breeders try to keep their prices to you at a minimum but there is absolutely no reason why we should not be paid well for the incredible work we do raising quality Shibas that produce beautiful puppies for your pet needs. Being a GOOD breeder is not a bad thing.
THE PURCHASING PROCESS
If you are interested in purchasing one of our Shibas I invite you to call and tell me about your Shiba research, what you learned and why you feel you can provide an appropriate home for a Shiba. Love is NOT enough to be an appropriate home for a Shiba as they are such a unique breed of dog. Each of our Shibas also has a unique personality so we need to honestly assess your families needs, capabilities and expectations for your new Shiba. My goal is to match you with a Shiba that will enhance your family's lives for the next 12-15 years so the importance of the assessment process cannot be stressed enough. I cannot make this assessment without several telephone conversations and a personal visit. If you live too far to come visit us then I will have someone I know come visit you at your home.
Once we are in agreement that a Shiba is right for your family I will invite your family out for a visit. Because we are so busy on the farm taking care of our animals we choose one Saturday or Sunday every few months to have a couple of families out to visit at the same time. This is a very casual gathering where you will get to meet our Shiba girls and learn about special Shiba care and training. We will go over Kawako's policies and our Sales Agreement at this time. Please dress casual, prepare to get hairy (remember black attracts hair), AND bring your own chair. If you would like to move forward with purchasing a puppy from us then we will check your references and do a home visit before we ask if you would like to leave a reservation/deposit.
IMPORTANT NOTICE: To keep our dogs safe and healthy we ask that you do not visit other breeder's home kennels, dog parks, dog shows or other doggie events on the same day that you visit our home. Even on the following days you should not be wearing any of the same clothing or shoes when you come to visit our property. This may sound extreme but we know of breeders who's dogs became ill from visitors who transported a virus between kennels. Also, for home security reasons we ask that you bring only your immediate family members with you to our home. If you have another dog you may bring him/her but be prepared to leave him/her in the car for the majority of your visit. Crate trained dogs are welcome in our house if the weather is too warm to leave him/her in your car.
The Deposit (we have currently changed our deposit policy for 2022)
We absolutely cannot reserve a puppy for you without a deposit. The non-refundable deposit is $500. So you want to make sure you really want a Kawako Shiba puppy. We will not accept a deposit until you have come for a visit to meet our Shiba girls, we have talked face to face and we have checked your references. The exception being previous Shiba owners with established references. We do not ship pet puppies to first time Shiba buyers under any circumstances. We will consider shipping to previous Shiba owners on a case by case basis. Of course it is best if they will fly in and fly home with the puppy.
After I receive your deposit I will email you a receipt and some of the puppy care instruction files so you can start getting ready for your puppy's arrival. Now is the time to start thinking about a name for the puppy! You'll be sent a list of most common Shiba names so you can be inspired to find a different unique and meaningful name. If no puppy of your chosen color or gender is born in the first litter your deposit will automatically transfer to the next litter. People who don't have a preference for color and gender will get a puppy faster then if you want a specific color, etc. It is best and easiest for people to pick the personality they would most like to live with after meeting each of our uniquely gifted Shiba females as often the pups take after their mothers or grandparents in many ways.
Please do not plan on leaving a deposit with us unless you are full committed to owning a Kawako puppy from one of our outstanding females. If you would be happy with just ANY Shiba puppy there are other places to find a puppy that would likely suit you. We spend a lot of time educating our buyers before they ever have their puppy in their home and our time, experience and written puppy training instructions are worth far more than the price of the deposit. We reserve the right to terminate the reservation for the sale by refunding you all or part of your deposit right up to the time you take possession of the puppy/dog if it becomes obvious the placement is not in the best interest of the puppy/dog.
Sales Agreement & Contractual Requirements
A written contract is not a way to control your dog ownership but an attempt to protect the individual Shiba as well as the breed as a whole. Kawako contracts include the standard requirements implemented by top breeders of purebred dogs across the US & Canada. This is for the dog's safety and keeps Shibas out of animal shelters and rescues. If your intentions for Shiba ownership are sincere you should have no problems following the requirements of either a PET or a SHOW/BREEDING contract.
If you are an unmarried couple you will want to have the uncomfortable discussion about who will have custody of the Shiba if.....you know....the relationship ends. We also recommend that puppy buyers provide for all their pets in their will or trust arrangement. Make sure your relatives know that Kawako will always take your Shiba back in the event of your demise should, no one in the family choose to keep your Shiba. In addition we will help find homes for any other pets you have. We would not want to separate your pets in a stressful time of need as they do best when they can stay together.
In a PET SALES AGREEMENT puppy buyers are required to provide veterinary certification that their puppy has been STERILIZED by tubal ligation or vasectomy OR what is commonly called spay or neuter between 8-16 months of age dependent on gender and individual dog's behavior. This does not mean you can't show your Shiba in AKC performance events. To meet dog training requirements owners will purchase the Puppy Culture Program and take puppies to one puppy class and one formal obedience class or equivalent in private training. This is not a burden and SHOULD be enjoyable for both Shiba and owner. We feel these are the very minimum requirements necessary for you to create a happy and well behaved adult Shiba you will be proud of. Buyers must also provide current phone numbers, e-mails & address at all times. If the Shiba is ever unwanted or in need of a home for ANY reason it is required to be returned to us, the breeders at Kawako. Penalties for breaches in the agreement are noted and are strictly enforced.
The SHOW/BREEDING AGREEMENT is reserved for those who want to show their Shiba to a championship and breed a litter. We do not charge extra for a show potential puppy but instead receive a puppy back or a stud service should the puppy turn out show/breeding quality. If the puppy doesn't turn out show/breeding quality, determined by Kawako either in person or by photos or by another qualified person between 6-12 months of age then the contract reverts to a pet contract and the puppy gets sterilized as usual. This way you do not pay extra for a pet. AKC registration will be held in a co-ownership between Kawako and buyers until the Shiba completes an AKC championship and passes all OFA tests for hips, patella's, cardiac, thyroid, standard OFA eye test with additional glaucoma test. Any mate chosen for the Shiba must meet the minimum of CHIC certification (hips, eyes, knees). This means only the BEST Shibas will be produced for future generations to come. The co-ownership will end on a female when a pick puppy is received from her first or second litter. The co-ownership will end on a male when he is used at stud and/or has semen collected and frozen 3 times. This is a very common agreement between dog breeders and again, if your intension's are sincere this agreement is very fair to both parties.
Kawako does not sell puppies with full registration to people who will not commit to training and showing their puppy. This mentorship is a 2-3 year commitment but we feel it is the least amount of time a person should take to learn what it really means to be a dedicated dog breeder of integrity. Alas, the average time spent by aspiring breeders is 5 years before they drop out of the scene. If you make it past the 5 year mark there is a chance of future commitment to the breed. We NEED devoted people to commit to the Shiba as many of our older breeders pass away and we have no one to fill their shoes. If you think you would like to be a Shiba breeder then find a mentor and do things right from the start.
*Kawako has signed the National Shiba Club Of America (NSCA) Code of Ethics (COE) which holds breeders accountable for the puppies they produce. The contracts we use are in compliance with this COE. In addition, AKC requires all dog breeders to keep detailed records of all puppies sold which is why it is important for you to keep your contact information current with your breeder and provide the required sterilization certification to them in a timely manner.
No one, no matter what they put in writing for you, can guarantee a puppy will not become afflicted with a disease at some point in the puppy's lifetime. Expecting the breeder to take full responsible for a dog's health is akin to you holding your parents accountable for the allergies you acquired via your maternal grandmother's genes. Once a healthy puppy leaves our care and custody the new owner makes all the choices in the puppy's health care and is therefore 90% responsible for the final outcome. If a puppy buyer does not follow the puppy's health & care protocol we have outlined for them we cannot guarantee the puppy.
As reputable breeders we can promise you we've done our very best planning your puppy's genetics and care during the critical growth periods. Kawako puppies are guaranteed healthy at the time of purchase and we prove and guarantee both parents are free from inherent and congenital diseases at the time of mating. Temperament is only guaranteed if obedience classes have been attended as mentioned above. It's not required that a pet puppy buyer do OFA certification on their puppy's hips, knees and eyes but not doing so between 24-26 months of age implies your satisfaction with the health and temperament of your puppy. We feel this agreement is sensible and is fair to the dog, the buyer and the breeder.
Realistically health problems can and do arise in even the best breeding programs, if only very occasionally. I would not believe anyone who said it hasn't. NSCA breeders know their dogs for many generations and strive to eliminate the offending genes from their Shibas.
Puppy mill and back yard bred puppies usually come with common and novel genetic and congenital health problems because they are bred from random pet stock with no regard of what's behind and without any health screening. These are the same people who will promise you the world if the puppy becomes afflicted with disease. Just RETURN the puppy, which pet owners will not do and you will receive another puppy. Other times they just won't return your call. One of the best ways to determine the honesty and quality of the breeder is how they deal with problems. Either way it must all be set forth in writing that also protects the buyer and puppy. You can learn more about dog breeder's contracts here.
Picking Up Your New Puppy
Puppies are ready to go between 7-8 weeks of age. You may have heard never get a puppy before 8 weeks of age and that is true for most breeds of dog but the Shiba weans from mom early and has accelerated learning goes through stages of life earlier too. Each puppy tells us when it is ready to go home by his new found interest in humans. This is the best time for a Shiba puppy to make the move. Most folks will want their puppy on a Friday so they have the weekend to adjust to each other. We want to keep puppy as happy and stress free as possible in his transition so the more quickly we can take care of business at pick up the faster you can get on the road home. You will have had the care and feeding instructions for several weeks, make sure you follow them and don't switch diets too quickly. Stressed puppies tend to have upset tummies already. You will have also received instructions on picking up your puppy and how to integrate him into your household. Most pups fit in unbelievably easily because we have already housebroken them and they are used to household ruckus. They will also sleep through the night in their crate only waking you if they need to go potty. PLEASE NOTE: Whether your are picking your puppy/dog up here at our home or at the airport he must be paid for in full, in cleared US funds, before leaving for his exciting new life with your family. We must also be provided with the emergency contact's information for the puppy's microchip, so know the full name, address and phone numbers of a friend, relative or neighbor that can collect your puppy at the pound, animal shelter or private home if you are not available.
If your Shiba is being shipped he/she must be 8 weeks old and will leave out of PDX Portland, OR. The cost of the crate, shipping and health certificate ($250-$400 in the US depending on weight) are your responsibility and will be added to the cost of your puppy/dog OR can be paid directly to pet store, vet & airline. We realize you may never have purchased a dog long distance before so you can research shipping at this great page. We are experienced at shipping and will take care of things on this end. It's usually more stressful for you thinking about the shipping than it is for your puppy who sleeps the whole flight. There is always the option of you flying in to Portland, OR to pick up your puppy in person :). NOTE: New USDA law for hobby breeders requires you meet your breeder AND puppy face to face before purchase.
Puppy Buyer's Responsibilities
FIRST AND MOST IMPORTANT: It is your responsibility to know what a back yard breeder (BYB) and what a Puppy Mill (PM) is BEFORE you purchase your puppy. Buyers also have a responsibility to thoroughly understand breed characteristics and health issues common to the breed of dog they intend to purchase. They should have realistic expectations of the breeder, the dog and most importantly what their family's part will be in creating a healthy, well behaved companion. It is fully the buyer's responsibility to choose a healthy puppy from an experienced breeder, study general dog behavior, make a commitment to puppy socialization and formal obedience training and to get their puppy sterilized in a timely manner to avoid unwanted behaviors. They should also keep contact with their breeder and make sure to ask for assistance when needed. That is the major advantage of buying from a knowledgeable breeder. Why not use the resource you paid for? Buyers must understand that all puppies begin as a blank slate and in the end, everyone gets the adult dog they deserve. A word about proper "puppy buyer etiquette". One line inquiries asking for puppy availability & price are definitely frowned upon by all experienced breeders and may simply go unanswered. While short texts are somewhat understandable, the general feeling is that you should have given this a lot of thought and be prepared to tell something about yourself and the situation in which the puppy would be living before you'd expect we would commit to selling you a puppy. Please do not be offended by the many questions breeders will ask you. You may be asked for references. Unfortunately it has become necessary for some breeders to go so far as doing background checks on potential placements. It would not be a bad idea for you to google breeders for buyer's complaints as well. It will spare a lot of heartache and ease your worries about making this important decision.