As the Silken Windhound breed becomes more popular, identifying a reputable breeder may seem daunting. We’ve compiled a list of some things you should consider when talking to a breeder to evaluate their kennel and breeding practices.
Eyes, Thyroid, and Heart are recommended screening to be performed by the Silken Windhound parent club. These tests should not be viewed as “once and done,” but rather periodically retested over the life of each individual animal.
Because there is a history of cardiac issues in closely related breeds such as Borzoi and Whippets, it is strongly advised that a cardiologist, not a general practitioner, perform heart screening and it is preferable to see an echocardiogram in addition to auscultations. Some breeders are starting to add holter monitoring to their routine testing, which may detect the sort of fatal arrhythmias that are being discovered in Borzoi and if identified early are mitigated through medication.
MDR1 and CEA are both present in the breed and easily tested for – Embark happens to test for both in addition to providing other useful data. A breeder should be able to tell you the status of each of their dogs.
Once a dog has been tested for eyes, thyroid, heart, mdr1, and cea and the results published on the OFA website, they are eligible for a CHIC number.
Testing should be recorded on OFA’s database:
Repetition of dogs within the first few generations of ancestors may indicate a lack of genetic diversity, which can have a negative impact on health. The Silken Windhound parent club used to have a guideline for breeders that restricted breeding dams before 18 months of age, only removing it because they felt it was unenforceable. Still, it is worth noting if a sire or dam is used young, old, or often.
Note the age of dogs in relation to their parents and grandparents – short intervals between generations means less time for dogs to achieve titles and complete health testing before being bred. The worst case scenario is that a dog could develop inherited diseases, cancer, heart disease, or autoimmune diseases after several generations of offspring are already born and being bred. It is far better to take steps to avoid this heartbreak by extending the time between litters.
Are both parents registered with both ISWS and UKC? Are they DNA tested? Will your dog be registered or come with paperwork to let you register with both ISWS and UKC?
You can search the ISWS pedigree database here:
Silken Windhounds are recognized in many venues for conformation and performance. However availability of activities is highly variable by region. Some parts of the country have lots of straight racing, some parts of the country have lots of well attended dog shows, and some areas seem to be devoid of competition. We’ve also just lived through a pandemic.
Sighthound specific racing and lure coursing venues that Silken Windhounds can compete in are LGRA, NOTRA, and ASFA in the United States. The major national all-breed organization providing conformation titles is UKC. The parent club, ISWS, also awards titles. In addition, some people compete in AKC FastCAT or pursue trick dog titles and even more unconventional sports such as dock diving and weight pull.
What titles have the parents achieved? Are pairings chosen to improve success in one venue or another? What objective measures are available to determine that a breeder is working towards a functional dog that adheres to the breed standard?
How long has a breeder been involved with Silken Windhounds? What have they accomplished in the breed? Are they a member of the parent club, american club, or regional clubs? What have people with dogs they bred accomplished? What are their goals and how do they measure success in achieving these goals? This is not to say that a newer breeder is to be avoided, but rather that the experiences one has before deciding to breed matter. Being able to articulate why one has chosen to breed is important, and it should be grounded in experiences that help advance their knowledge of how to breed better examples of Silken Windhounds.
Did they come to the breed from another breed? If so, what did they accomplish in their previous breed and are they adhering to standards that are at least as stringent now that they’re in this breed? Silken Windhounds shouldn’t be a “retirement” breed or easy alternative to their prior experience. Decades in another breed doesn’t make someone reputable if they aren’t putting the work in with this breed.
A list of breeders can be found here:
Does the breeder follow a specific program for raising puppies, such as Avidog or Puppy Culture? If so, what can they tell you about the benefits of that program and how well does the breeder document that they are actively participating in that program versus using buzzwords as marketing hype? If they don’t participate in one of these programs, but emphasize that they have their own protocols for socialization and exposure of their litters, can they explain what they do and provide documentation of such?
How many people have their puppies met? What plans do they have to meet more people? Have the puppies left the breeder’s property? Will the puppies be exposed to children, to city sounds, to farm equipment? What about cats and other animals? Are there opportunities for the puppies to gain exposure to strange dogs, particularly breeds of dog that don’t look and behave similarly? What about people from different backgrounds than that of the breeder? Do puppies get taken on car rides? Will the puppies be seen in a vet’s office prior to going to new homes? What else is the breeder doing to expose their litters to novel sounds, sights, and smells? Are the puppies gaining experiences in an environment that is similar to one that you are involved with or hope to participate in later on?
Interactions between Breeders and Buyers
Puppies should stay with their littermates at least until 8 weeks of age. Most Silken Windhound breeders keep puppies until 10-12 weeks of age, some longer. Many Silken Windhound breeders will have both detailed questionnaires and sales contracts. A breeder should be interested in the welfare of their puppies. They should be actively engaged in vetting potential homes before the sale to ensure an environment that is safe for the puppy and suitable for the developmental needs of that puppy. Breeders should be able to tell you what vaccines the puppy has received, what diet they are currently feeding, if the puppy is litter box trained or housebroken, etc. Any questions a breeder is unwilling to answer in a satisfactory manner should be a concern. Lastly, a breeder should have some mechanism in place for protecting the best interests of the puppy after it leaves their home – this means that puppies will be sold on a contract that covers health and welfare of the dog as well as any guarantees they provide and any support they give in response to various situations that could develop over the life of the dog. A breeder should signal that they stand behind the dogs they produce, both in actions and words.
The ISWS Code of Ethics can be found here:
Remember that even pet homes deserve the best examples of a breed, so a breeder should be able to explain how the litters they produce are demonstrating a mindfulness towards producing quality examples of the breed. Buyers deserve healthy dogs that look and act like the breed they’re interested in. They deserve dogs with temperaments that allow them to thrive in their new home.
The Silken Windhound breed standard can be found here:
Information about Silken Windhouds may be found here:
Some general guidelines from ISWS about selecting a breeder is located here: