Shopping for a new puppy is
like shopping for a car. A lot of research should be done before a
purchase is made.
The first step is to know what
breed is best for your lifestyle. A large, high energy dog would not
be a good choice for an apartment unless a lots of exercise was
provided. Decide if a male or a female is best. Females tend
to be smaller than males, to wander less, and be less dominant.
Decide if you want a purebred
dog or a mixed breed. Many mixed breed dogs make wonderful pets.
When you decide on a suitable
breed, avoid pet shops, puppy mills, and "backyard"
breeders. Many of the above sell or produce inferior animals and
have no interest on preventing diseases common to the breed. They do
not test their breeding stock for undesirable characteristics. Puppy
Mills breed for quantity and not quality. They often sell their pups
to brokers at five weeks of age, which does not allow the puppies to
adequately build up their immune system. Puppies weaned at this age
do not receive the amount of natural antibodies from their mother, as
needed to help protect them against common viruses, such as the Parvovirus.
If a pup is weaned at five or
six weeks, he has not had time to develop his personality under the
guidance of a firm mother or understanding breeder. A critical time
in the puppy's life for socialization with it's littermates is at eight
weeks. Pups lacking in interaction with littermates or human contact
and taken from their mother at less than six to seven weeks of age,
have a good chance of becoming fearful or aggressive.
Most pet shop puppies are
packed into crates by the broker and shipped via air or truck to pet
stores all over the United States.
Often puppy mills will
advertise their pups in the local newspaper and offer to meet a buyer
half-way. The price may be less than a reputable breeder is asking,
but the quality may be as well. Most of these puppy mill breeders do not
want you to come to their home. You might be in for a rude surprise
if you actually saw the environment these pups were raised in.
AKC papers mean nothing other
than the sire and dam of the litter was registered with the American
Kennel Club. It does not mean you have a quality pet or one of sound
body and temperament. Be aware that many puppy mills and backyard
breeders are no longer registering their litters with the American Kennel
Club (AKC) now that they demand DNA testing on litters from kennels
breeding a large amount of dogs. DNA tests would prove that the
puppies came from the parent dogs that the litter was registered
under. This would cost the puppy mills more money and it would also
stop the practice of keeping two males in with a female in heat or
combining litters and registering them as all from one female to save the
cost of a litter registration per litter.
Many now are registering their
litters with the American Canine Association (ACA) since this association
has no restrictions. Beware that the registration certificate looks
very much like that of the American Kennel Club (AKC). If you want a
puppy registered with the American Kennel Club, ask first before looking
at the litter, study the papers closely and do not buy a pup if the
breeder hasn't received the puppy registration papers and promises to mail
them to you when they arrive. A breeder should have registered the
litter soon after they were born. This gives them six to nine weeks
to receive the individual registration form for each pup in the litter.
If you decide to purchase from
a pet store, you might want to ask these questions:
1) Where did these
puppies come from?
2) Was the seller a
licensed USDA dealer? (usually meaning they came from a puppy mill).
3) Does the kennel or
broker insist on genetic clearances for breeding stock?
4) Can I get a copy of
the eye and hip certifications of the puppies parents?
5) What health problems
are common in this breed?
6) How much socialization
do they need?
7) How much do they shed?
8) How much exercise do
9) How often should this
breed be groomed?
10) What happens to the puppies
you don't sell? Are they sent to rescue groups, euthanized or
retuned to the breeder?
Responsible, reliable puppy
producers have the answers to these questions. If the pet store
clerk or manager can't or won't answer these question, you would be wise
to look elsewhere.
The best bet for finding a
healthy purebred dog is to go to a breeder that specializes in the breed
you desire. Many of these breeders show their dogs and are
interested in breeding sound, quality animals. These breeders will
usually be careful to screen prospective buyers of their pups and, in most
cases, will provide a buyer with a written guarantee stating the puppy is