Tuesday, May 9, 2017

Vetting Out Livestock Guardian Dog Customers

Nazi Major Heinrich Strasser:     Which side you are on? 
French Captain Louis Renault:      I have no conviction, if that's what you mean. 
            I blow with the wind, and the prevailing wind happens to be from Vichy... 

There's plenty of potentially good LGD customers out there but how do you find them amongst the bad ones?   Unfortunately there are too many "Captain Renault" type LGD customers these days: loyalty to their LGD breeder often evaporates the second they leave the breeder's place with a puppy.  Here are some vetting out tips on how responsible, serious LGD breeders can cut back on bad customer choices and help decrease their number of failed puppy placements.  

© 2017 by Brenda M. Negri

Early on in the classic 1942  film Casablanca, actor Claude Raines' opportunistic, mercenary and self-promoting character French Captain Louis Renault gives the audience no doubt about the level of his loyalty to anyone in his famous line, quoted above, when asked for his commitment and stance from Nazi Major Heinrich Strasser.  Renault bends like a willow in the wind in the direction that will give him the most perks, the most social status, and his loyalty to his own country France is debatable, at best.  Convictions?  What convictions?  Fidelity?  What's that?  Loyalty?  Not in war torn Vichy, which was infamous for cooperating with Nazi Germany's racial policies. 

To some of us, the fallout from the current obsession with social media based culture has become a cancer that is taking over agriculture in the form of bad breeders and fickle, "blow with the wind", uneducated LGD customers who balk at any expectations from their good LGD breeder.  Like Renault, they are opportunists.  They run with the crowd; they go for immediate gratification instead of any commitment to quality, patience and long term anything. Irresolute.  Fickle.  


Customers keeping in touch with an LGD breeder used to be a given because they leaned on you for support - there were darned few sources out there to lean on.  The dozens and dozens of dubious Facebook LGD-this-and LGD-that groups did not exist yet, and only a handful of us seriously bred and produced these dogs.  

Not anymore.  LGDs sadly have become a fad.  If  you are an LGD breeder today, once your pup leaves your ranch, too often all promised communications from your customer cease as they flake out and jump on a Facebook LGD group of their choice where arm chair experts, fake ID accounts, cackling speculators and pseudo "experts" pontificiate ad nauseam. 

In other words, they bail on you, the breeder.  

The past few years I have seen this phenomenon worsen as many hobby farmers practically live online on forums and on Facebook, spending hours getting bad advice from fake people and nobodies rather than keeping in touch with their breeder who bred the dog(s) they own.  

It's international in scope.  Noted French LGD breeder and published author Mathieu Mauries has had a customer drop off the radar for years then suddenly contact him with a complaint about the dog they bought from him - I've had this happen too.  As if we are to blame for the customer's bad choices, lack of communication for months if not years, and God knows what else has happened in the time it took them to screw up our dog or pup, by relying on bad sources for help, and not leaning on us. 

Read the lament of a well known Spanish Mastiff breeder in Italy below:

Can I steal a second of your time? You can read my post? Thank you to everyone: the "occupation" of the farmer is not easy, it really takes a lot of passion, dedication, love and strength and physical and psychological if he really wants to do it properly and complete. The most difficult but it's not work in the rain or under 2 Feet of snow, it's not load every day 40 kg of turds and even preserve and properly guard the dogs with 30-36 degrees Heat... I will tell you it's not even the dogs on a daily basis to assist the elderly and disabled people or bring them urgently even at night to the vet for a twist... the most difficult, as far as we are concerned is the having to give away the puppies. Many are the questions what are we doing about the people who will be future owners but, despite gets a "screening" and check carefully asylum seekers, at times, you may be wrong in trusting people just balanced a puppy. These people for the ignorance that distinguishes, is capable of throwing mud and hate on a life's work, to unleash their psychic vortices, iracondi and greatly altered and to judge not only the dogs (of which they have had an experience on inconsistent To a maximum of 4 months) but the people who breed them. People whose actual attendance with us has not passed a maximum of 2 hours. Fortunately, the puppy is back home and we were shocked to see with how much joy and happiness overwhelming said hello, and she is back in the kennel... that's weird... for good luck is the prescription of drugs which they wanted to give you the owners. Despite the cub is back home and the ladies have been fully reimbursed, activities continue to slander, to discredit and to sow reviews and comments very unpleasant on us, on our way of life and our dogs. It can happen that you don't understand and you don't know how to handle an animal but we must also ask ourselves: the imbalance is of the dog or the owner? It seems clear that once we clean things up if it continues for months to persecute and insult someone, "maybe" the imbalance is the owner...
Thank you for your time. I would add that for reasons of privacy I see myself forced to remove the friendship from fb to people that they have in common the friendship with me and with these ladies that I have nothing against and I don't think ill of anyone who would want to stay in touch with them.


Let's say you are an honest, serious (emphasis on the latter), committed LGD breeder  putting out reliable working dogs and you want to sell to only the best.  So where do you find them?  Blind luck?  Craigslist ads?  Depend on Facebook groups to find customers?  NO.  

You start by looking for customers off of the Internet - networking with real, live agriculture groups, your local extension agent, beef, lamb and/or goat groups and associations with "real" people, and you don't stop there.  You have expectations.  Those expectations should include expecting that your customers will have done their homework and research, be fairly intelligent, serious about commitment, and are able to discern good from bad.  And, you find them with an application process that helps you the breeder, find these things out. 


Hell yes, I have expectations of my customers.  I expect them to keep in touch and lean on me for support.  If the customer has an issue with that, I want to know that up front…and I won't sell to them.  The hallmark of a good breeder is that they expect a customer to lean on them and keep them posted about their pup.  Bad breeders are the ones who don't answer the phone or E mails, and fall off the map once a customer's check clears.  Plenty of them out there.

Sadly, in terms of customers, there's no way of predicting people going south on you and turning into the customer from hell.  It has happened to me, and it's happened to many.  At least having standards and a detailed application process cuts out most of the bottom feeders, flakes and bad homes.  Your typical dog fighter, scumbag, trailer trash person is not going to ever fill out an application like mine, nor will their references pan out.  

Below is my extensive Cinco Deseos Ranch Puppy Application.  Feel free to copy it, and/or use it as a base for your own application.  If more LGD breeders had higher expectations of customers, and did application processes like this one, there would be a fewer bad puppy placements with customers.  AND it'd eventually put many backyard junk breeders out of business because people would start seeing them for what and who they really are: junk producing, mercenary, cash cowing puppy mills who not worth the piss to pee on, as we say out West.

Raise the bar for customer applicants, and stop settling for "just" anyone who shows you the money.  By being an honest, transparent, "open book" breeder, it's only fair you expect transparency and honesty from your customers, too.  


2017 Cinco Deseos Ranch Application for Dog or Puppy/Puppies Purchase
Please answer questions in detail.  There is room at the end to add any other information you think would be pertinent.  Please send to: lgdnevada@gmail.com  Thank you, Brenda M. Negri

Email Address:
Home Phone:
Cellular Phone:
Best time to call:
  • Day
  • Evening

Social Media – answer all that are applicable.  If none, state so.

Copy and paste your Facebook page/pages url/urls here:
Copy and paste your Pinterest page/pages here:
Copy and paste your website/websites url here:

Please state how you heard about Cinco Deseos Ranch:

Have you contacted other LGD breeders?  Yes_______  No _________ 
If so, when and who? _________________________________________________________

Have you ever owned a Livestock Guardian Dog breed? If so, name breed/crosses:
  • Yes
  • No

Livestock Guardian Dogs have specific traits and temperament to match.  Please describe to me what that means to you, and what breeds or crosses interest you, and why you are contacting me for the breed you are (Spanish Mastiff or Pyrenean Mastiff), i.e., why do you want this breed/breeds?:

Please list your current pets and dogs, their age, breed and indicate whether they are indoor or outdoor pets, spayed or neutered and at what age they were spayed or neutered:

What brand of food do you feed your current dog(s) or plan to feed your new dog?  Be specific.  If raw fed, state so.

Have you ever given up a pet?  If yes, please explain:
  • Yes
  • No

How long have you been looking for a new dog/puppy?

Do you prefer a male or female and why?
  • Male
  • Female

Are you looking for a Livestock Guardian or Family Companion/Guardian?

This dog will be a companion for:

Do children live in or visit your home? If so please list the number of children and their ages:

Does everyone in the household want a dog?
  • Yes
  • No

Does anyone in the household have allergies to dog dander or hair?
  • Yes
  • No

Do you own or rent your home?
  • Own
  • Rent

If you rent, have you received approval from your Landlord for a large breed dog?
  • Yes
  • No

Landlord’s name, address and phone number:

Do you have a fenced yard, if so what is the size of the yard and the type of fence, please include enough photos that will show me the height and the type of your fencing.
  • Yes
  • No

Have you ever raised a puppy of any breed?
  • Yes
  • No

Do you have time to daily or weekly to groom, check ears, eyes, feet etc. of the dog?
  • Yes
  • No

Are you willing to puppy proof the area that the puppy will be in with escape proof fencing?
  • Yes
  • No

Who will be responsible for the care of your new dog?

If you go away on vacation who will care for your dog?

Where will your dog spend the majority of the time?

Where will the dog stay when you are not at home?

Where do you plan for the dog to sleep?

On average, how many hours a day will the dog be left alone?

Are you aware that I require you to maintain contact with me throughout the dog’s life by sending puppy updates with photos at least a few times a year and leaning on me for support when needed?  Failure to do so will result in revocation of all health and work guarantees AND breeder support.  Please…..keep in touch!
  • Yes
  • No

Are you aware that I will be here to assist you, offer training and guidance for the life of your dog?
  • Yes
  • No

Are you aware that I require you to contact me if you are no longer able to keep the dog so that I may assist you in finding a suitable home?
  • Yes
  • No

Are you aware that I ask to assist to rehome the dog and insist that a puppy of my creation NEVER be placed in a shelter, rescue or sold to the public without my assistance and involvement?
  • Yes
  • No

Would you consider a young (1- 3 years) dog rather than a puppy?
  • Yes
  • No

Unless otherwise stated and agreed upon, I require that you spay or neuter your puppy before the puppies 2nd birthday. Please articulate your understanding and agreement to do this below by printing  your full name and the words I WILL:

Your Veterinarian’s Name and Phone number:

Two references who have known you at least 5 years and are local, i.e. live near by you (cannot be relatives):

Phone number:

Phone number:

In addition to guarding livestock, do you plan to do any of the following with your dog:

·       Family Companion
·       Obedience
·       Therapy

I do not air ship but have used ground transports.  Do you plan to have the puppy transported by a third party?
  • Yes
  • No

If so, contact name and phone number and website if applicable:

If you have predators in your area, please describe the predator load and type, and if you have ever lost livestock to predation.  If you use predator deterrents other than LGDs please describe.  Please also describe the livestock you own and approximate numbers, if applicable. Feel free to include photos of your stock.

Have you given serious thought to your budget and the health care, food and miscellaneous cost requirements owning giant breeds such as the Spanish Mastiff and Pyrenean Mastiff entail?   

Do you realize food bills alone will go into the several hundreds of dollars per year?    Are you confident you are fiscally able to afford this?

Not all Spanish Mastiffs are created equal and I have over the years consistently produced some of the largest and healthiest in the country.  Both Spanish and Pyrenean Mastiffs are large, powerful dogs capable of easily knocking you over.  In particular my Spanish Mastiff males are some of if not the biggest in the country, sometimes reaching 36-38 inches in height and typically exceed 220 pounds in weight.  Do you feel you are physically capable of responsibly owning and handling such giant breeds?

Will you have an issue with the fact that both breeds can drool a lot and possibly splatter drool on your walls and furniture if inside?

Do you recognize that both breeds shed out their winter coats and take time to groom and comb?

Are you comfortable handling a giant dog to trim it’s nails, inspect it’s ears and body for any signs of sickness or any foreign matter that could be lodged in between toes, in their eyes or ears?

In terms of training on livestock, are you willing to take advice from me and be mentored in methods that have consistently worked for my customers?

REHOMING DOGS ONLY:  Life can always bring us surprises, tragedies and events that force us to make hard decisions.  Sometimes due to circumstances out of their control my customers must find a new home for the dog or dogs they bought from me.   As a responsible breeder I am always there to rehome the dogs for them.  The rehoming process can be extensive and stressful on the dog.  If the dog/dogs you are inquiring about are dogs that I bred, that a customer of mine must for one reason or another, re-home, please understand the importance of making sure your home will be the best one, and most importantly, the dog’s last and final “forever home”.  In order to lessen stress on the dog I go through even more extensive questioning to be sure this will be a good placement for the dogs, and the right choice for you.  Please do not be offended or think I am picking on you.  I do this for not just the dog’s sake, but for yours as well.  Taking on mature dogs with established habits, behaviors, quirks and more, can be both easier than a puppy, and in the same vein, be even more of a challenge for the owner, particularly when dealing with giant, independent breeds such as the ones I raise.  To that effect, please tell me in detail why you think you can be a good home for a dog or dogs that I am rehoming for a customer  - be as detailed as you need to be:

Please add any more comments or information you would like me to know to help me decide if you would be a good placement home for one of my pups or dogs.  This can include additional references besides the ones already requested in the above application.

Thank you in advance for taking the time to fill out this application to help me better decide if my dogs or pups are the right match for you.  I know it is a lot of work, but a Spanish or Pyrenean Mastiff is a huge commitment, not for everyone.  I strive to make sure you go into this with “eyes wide open”.  I appreciate your interest!  I look forward to hearing from you soon.  Thanks again.

                                                                                                                              Brenda M. Negri