So you're thinking about getting a dog. The first thing that I would recommend is that you first consider adopting a puppy (or an adult) from a shelter or rescue group before buying one. But if you are really intent on getting a purebred puppy you will need to find a breed who knows what they are doing. Unlike other breeders and pet stores a good breeder is careful to breed only healthy animals that have a good temperament. The basic job of these people is to make sure that the puppy you receive will turn out to be a good family pet and companion.
There are many breeders out there. Many of whom are unscrupulous. This is why it is important to take your time before choosing a breeder.
Where to Begin
As a first step in your search you should begin by talking with your veterinarian. If you are new to the game and don't have a veterinarian yet you should contact a local dog breed club. Both will give you recommendations on good local dog breeders. Both the Canadian and American Kennel Clubs can give you breeder referrals for all of the breeds that they recognize.
Questions You Should Ask A Breeder
When looking for a good breeder you should visit several breeders so that you can get a sense of the breeder. Also ask the breeder questions about their operations and about the pups. Some typical questions should include:
- Where do the puppies live? Great breeders keep the puppies in the house with the family. Puppies that are kept in a garage or basement will usually grow up to be shy or aggressive. So if the puppies are not in the house you need to look for another breeder.
- How often are the puppies handled? A good breeder will have the puppies handled daily by lots of different people. This allows the puppies to become accustomed to being handled so that they feel safe and comfortable around people. Really good breeders will have puppy parties with lots of guests to accomplish this task.
- Can I meet the parents? Most of the times you will only be able to meet the mother. By meeting the parents (at least the mother) you will get a better insight into the puppy's personality. If the mother is a friendly, well-behaved dog then this should also hold true of the puppy.
- How many litters do you raise a year? Breeders who raise one, two, or at the most three, litters a year will have time to give the pups the care that they need. Also, breeders should not breed the same female more than once a year.
- Can I get copies of the health clearances? Because most dogs are prone to genetic diseases and conditions it is the responsibility of the breeder to get health clearances for his breeding stock. A good breeder will not only have health clearances for the parent dogs but also for the grandparent dogs. Research the breed of dog that you are interested in to find out what particular health clearances they require. Also, since many genetic conditions don't show up for two or three years from birth, a responsible dog breeder will not breed any dogs under three years of age.
- Can I get references from people who have bought from you? Good breeders are more than happy to give you references. As a matter of fact, word of mouth advertising is the best form of advertising for them. And a really good breeder will also give you the names of other breeders who can vouch for him.
What Are the Signs of a Reputable Breeder?
When you go and visit various breeders there are some signs that you should look for. They are:
- All the dogs live inside. A breeder who raises dogs for sale will always have the dogs live in the house with him. With a good breeder you will never find the dogs in the backyard (in a pen), in the basement, or in a garage.
- All of the dogs are relaxed around people. Both the puppies and the parents should be comfortable around you and others when you visit the breeder. This shows that the dogs are properly cared for and socialized.
- The place is clean. The area where the dogs live and play should be clean and sanitary. You should see fresh water, a bedding area, plenty of toys, and a separate toilet area. The separate toilet area is an indication that the process of housetraining has begun.
- The dog breeder has awards from dog shows and competitions. If you see trophies and ribbons it is an indication that the breeder is very enthusiastic about the breed.
- You are asked to sign a spay/neuter contract. If you yourself are not a breeder the breeder should ask you to sign a spay/neuter contract to prevent unwanted pregnancies.
- The breeder stays within the parameters of the breed. The breeder should not be trying to breed for rare colors or extreme sizes. He should be interest only in perpetuating the breed as regulated by the various kennel clubs. If he does otherwise he is only interested in making money with a sales gimmick.
- The breeder is willing to discuss the pros and cons of the breed. The breeder should be totally frank about any inherent genetic health risks and personality of the particular breed you are looking for.
- The breeder recommends that you and your family come for several visits. The main job of the breeder is to find good families for their dogs. For this the breeder needs to meet everyone that lives in the house. For this the breeder will usually require you and your family to come and visit with the pups at least three times.
- The breeder will ask you lots of questions. A good breeder wants to know as much as possible about the family that the pup will go to. This will help the breeder to decide whether the people applying for the puppy is a good family for the puppy.
- The breeder will agree to take the dog back at any stage in its life. If for some reason you become unable to care for the dog the breeder will allow you to return the dog. This does not mean that you are entitled for a refund. Usually a breeder will offer a refund within 30 days. The commitment to take the dog back means that the breeder takes responsibility to guarantee that the dog ends up in a good home. In other words, the breeder does not sell the dog and then forget about it.
- The breeder won't release the pup until it is eight weeks old. The longer the pup stays with its littermates the better. This is a socialization process. Good breeders will refuse to hand over a pup under eight weeks of age. Some will wait until the pup is at least 12 weeks old.
As you can see, buying a puppy is an involved process. It is important that you ask the right questions as well as notice the signs of a responsible breeder. This article has touched on both aspects of finding a good dog breeder. Now, with all the new knowledge you have acquired, it is time for you to put it into play. It is time for you to find a good dog breeder.