The Beginners Guide to Finding Your Performance Dog

For those people who have been bitten by the performance bug for the various events in the dog world, it can seem like a challenge to find and develop their own performance dog, especially for beginners. While it may be difficult with a puppy to foresee its future potential, there are some indicators that one should look for when seeking their performance dog. These pointers may help to give them a stronger starting point.



One excellent way to locate your dream puppy is to attend the different events and become familiar with the dogs and the bloodlines that are consistently and successfully competing. You may consider approaching the owners of your favorite dogs and inquire if they ever have a litter available. Unfortunately, many of these dogs have been neutered or spayed as the owner concentrates on training and not breeding. If that is the case, ask them who they purchased their dog from. If they are willing to give you the breeder’s name and information, you could contact them. Most dog people are more than happy to help you if they know that you are impressed with their dog and are interested in becoming active in the dog world.

Keep in mind though, that if the breeder is in high demand, they may have a waiting list for their puppies, or they may be reluctant to sell a puppy to someone without a track record in the dog world. Those breeders who are consistently producing quality puppies want to make sure that their puppies are placed in homes where they know the dogs will live up to their full potential. They have worked hard at building a good reputation and will give preference to those puppy buyers who will continue to add to it.

If you are finding it difficult to purchase a dog from the lines that you are attracted to, there may be a way around it. Take note of the sires and dams of the dogs that you like. See if you can find a popular conformation sire from those lines and look at his offspring. If he has consistently produced good working offspring from different bitches, then he has the genetics for it, even though he has never been trained in that event himself. You may be lucky enough to have found a source for your new puppy that will be easier to obtain. Although there is no guarantee that this will provide you with a performance star, it is definitely a good option. Check the bitches that he is being bred to. If you like a few of them, contact the owners and talk to them about what you are looking for.


While a pedigree filled with titles does not necessarily guarantee a successful performance dog, it is an important step in locating the right dog. Learn the different titles that are in the events that you may train your dog to compete in. Be aware that most conformation champions are not bred for performance or working. They are bred mainly for a temperament that suits living on the road and in kennels. That being said, there are some dogs who have their championship titles in conformation and also in their breed performance events. This shows that the breeder/owner is interested in maintaining the breed standard as well as preserving the working heritage of their breed.

It is important to look for puppies whose lineage has titles in the events that you are interested in competing in. If you find that on the pedigree, you will know that the breeder has consistently bred for those particular attributes that help the dog to successfully perform in those activities. If there are some dogs that are titled on a lower level, for instance, are Herding Instinct Tested,  that will indicate that the line has potential in herding. While it is better if the lineage has numerous titled dogs, don’t automatically eliminate a potential puppy if you can test the instincts of the pup, especially in herding, hunting and schutzhund.

Keep in mind that a larger, more active kennel may not have the time or finances to achieve the higher level titles. If they have consistent conformation championships, obedience championships and other titles on their dogs, this shows that they are interested in maintaining quality dogs that are able to perform.


Another way to evaluate bloodlines is to look for any dogs in the first three generations of a pedigree who have also produced performance dogs, or whose offspring has produced performance dogs. This does require a lot of research to find. It can be found by studying pedigrees, reading articles on the breed, breed and performance magazines and attending a lot of performance events. If your breed has pedigree information on the internet, you may locate performance titles there also. You will become very familiar with that particular line of dogs which will help you decide if that is the line you want to pick a puppy from or not.


Talk to the people who are involved in your breed. Talk to as many breeders and owners as you can. Ask them about the different dogs of the bloodline you are most interested in. How is the temperament? Are there any known health concerns? Are they physically sound? What is their personality like? Are they suited for the performance event(s) that you are interested in: i.e. – do they have the drive necessary and are they trainable? Learn about other bloodlines. Become very familiar with the different bloodlines so that you can pick the best of the best, as each of the bloodlines will differ in various degrees from what you think is the ideal.

While you may do well with any puppy that you bring home, regardless of his background, if you do your research to make sure that the instinct is there and the health is sound, you will be at a much better starting point than with an unknown.

Photo credit: Paul Morrison Little Brownies Kennel



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