Look after your dogPostsPuppies

QUESTION: What documentation should I expect to see when buying a Bolognese puppy from a reputable breeder?

ANSWER: Part of being a reputable breeder is carrying out certain health checks and providing documentation in relation to the puppy’s health and that of the parents. Some documentation is breed-specific and others would relate to any breed of puppy. We will explain each piece of paper you should see, or receive, and how it helps when choosing a healthy well bred puppy.

Although not Kennel Club required screening, reputable Bolognese breeders test the mother of the litter (prior to mating) for a couple of hereditary health conditions. These tests are part of being sure she is suitable for breeding. Tests are for conditions known to affect the breed in the UK and around The World.  A reputable stud dog owner would also check these test are done prior to agreeing to a mating.

Breeders planning a litter should only use a sire that has been tested in the same way. Mother and father should pass these tests to protect the breed both now and in the future. Bitches should be between the ages for 2 and 7 years at time of whelping and not have more than one litter a year.

  • Patella Test Result Certificate

This is a test carried out for each parent. The certificate contains identification information such as the name of the dog, date of birth, Kennel Club Registration number, Microchip number and details of the owner. The Vet carrying out the examination grades each leg and signed the certificate with a practice stamp. Dogs with Patella Luxation should not be used for breeding. You should see a copy of this certificate for both the dog and bitch. Patella Luxation testing & scoring schemes are organised by responsible breed associations or societies.  A blank certificate is available from the British Bolognese Club website.

More information
Patella Luxation in dogs is a condition where the patella or knee-cap can move from its normal central position at the front of the knee or stifle joint to one side or the other. This condition is more common in the smaller breeds. Patella problems are relatively rare in the Bolognese compared to other small dogs, but testing breeding stock will help to keep it that way. Dogs are usually tested at approximately 1 year of age.

  • Certificate of Eye Examination

This is a test for each parent in the way of an eye examination carried out by an ophthalmic vet. Both parents should undergo this test within a year of the mating. The eye examination should be repeated annually for breeding stock.

In the Bolognese, we are particularly concerned for signs of PRA (Progressive Retinal Atrophy). PRA is a degenerative eye condition which has the potential to cause premature blindness. Dogs can carry this disease, never show symptoms, but pass it on to its puppies. Eye testing for Bolognese is vital to prevent the condition being passed on and taking a hold in the breed. The certificate will show the parts of the eye examined and whether the dog is (at the time of testing) showing signs of eye disease. You should see a copy of this certificate for both the dog and bitch.

More information
The British Veterinary Association (BVA) screening programme for hereditary eye disease in dogs is run in conjunction with the Kennel Club and the International Sheep Dog Society. The BVA recommends that breeders submit dogs for annual eye tests as some diseases have late onset of clinical signs. This is a simple test.

  • Canine Genetic Testing Report

This is a certificate to say that DNA from the dog has been tested for prcd-PRA mutation, we are looking for a CLEAR result. The certificate will show the name of the person submitting the sample, the name of the dog, and the KC registration number of the dog. The test is done from either a swab from the dog’s mouth or a blood test.

The Certificate of Eye Examination as mentioned above looks for signs of eye disease by examining the eyes. However the DNA test shows whether the dog actually has the mutation in its genes or is carrying it (may never show signs). The DNA test for PRA only tests for one strain of PRA (there are other strains which do not have tests yet available).

This DNA test for prcd-PRA in Bolognese has only been available for the last few years and has become a valuable tool in preventing the condition being passed on to future generations. You should see a copy of this certificate for both the dog and bitch, or in some cases sets of grandparents. You may need to discuss this test with the breeder as not all matings are clear to clear.  Carriers will not develop the disease, but when mated to another carrier, there is a chance the progeny will become affected.

More information
The DNA screening tests can accurately identify clear, carrier and affected dogs, and can be used by breeders to effectively eliminate undesirable disease genes in their stock.

The Kennel Club, in conjunction with the breed clubs run schemes for a number of breeds which are known to carry specific hereditary conditions. Although the Bolognese is not required to be included in these schemes, Bolognese breeders should carry out the screening, along with visual eye examinations, so you come across discussions about


  • Vaccination Certificate

Your puppy should have a vaccination certificate covering Distemper, Hepatitis, Leptospirosis and Parvo Virus. Remember to take this vaccination certificate to your vet in order to plan an on-going programme of vaccinations. If your puppy has not completed its puppy vaccinations, its better to find a vet that uses a compatible vaccination, to avoid starting the course again. You may also be advised to have your puppy vaccinated against Kennel Cough.

NOTE – Your breeder should also give you notification of worming medication and when this was given. Worming history will also need to be relayed to your vet.

  • Health Certificate

Your puppy may be accompanied by a certificate of health from the breeder’s vet. This is a requirement for breeders who are registered with The Kennel Club as an Assured Breeder. A general health check will also be carried out by the vet at the time of administers vaccinations (but this could be a while before you pick up your puppy).

  • Breeders Contract

Also expect to see (usually in advance) a contract between you and the breeder. Read this contact carefully as both parties will need to sign and agree with the terms of sale.

  • Kennel Club Registration & Pedigree

Choosing to buy a KC registered puppy should be a safeguard that the puppy has been checked for generic health conditions (in those breeds where requirements are in place). It is also an assurance that the bitch has not been over bred. KC Assured Breeders are monitored to be sure that they provide new owners with the minimum required checks and certification.  KC Assured Breeders premises and documentation is regularly inspected by a representative of the Kennel Club.

A puppy registered by The Kennel Club will be accompanied by a registration document with a KC registration number. You will need to transfer the registration from the breeder’s name to your name.

The pedigree is a separate document to the KC Registration document.  The pedigree shows the puppy’s name its parents back generations. Some breeders purchase pedigrees issued by The Kennel Club and some breeders produce their own. Just because you have a pedigree for your puppy, it does not mean the puppy is KC registered, you need a KC Registration Document as well. Some breeders sell puppies who are not KC registered.

  • Micro Chip Certificate

By law puppies should be micro chipped before they leave the breeder’s home.  You will be provided with documentation and microchip number and be told how to transfer the puppy’s microchip into your name usually by way of a transfer number.

You should be given (usually in advance) notes on caring for the puppy, including routines around feeding, sleeping and generally how to take care of the puppy and prepare for its arrival at your home.

We strongly recommend that you discuss all the health certification we have discussed with the breeder of your potential puppy. Good communication of vital, the breeder will also need to be sure that you will be able to give the puppy a loving and long lasting. Expect to be asked about your home and family life. Lastly, if you are wondering how much you should expect to pay for your Bolognese Puppy, we would say that £1200 – £1500 to be about normal.

Further reading

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Melanie Thomas, Chairperson

Melanie Thomas, Chairperson

I live in St Leonards on Sea, East Sussex with 2 Bolognese and I show one of my dogs.