Friday, May 29, 2009

Finding A Good Breeder

You want a puppy so bad. You miss puppy breath, clumsy paws and snuggling up with a warm puppy. So, you've decided to get a dog. You're prepared to feed, exercise, train, clean up after, work through problems with, and love a dog every day for the next 12 to 15 years.

With the ease of the Internet, many people shop around for puppies from different breeders. While we hope you will consider one of our puppies, we realize there are other quality breeders whose litters you might also be considering. Take the time now to find the right breeder and you'll thank yourself for the rest of your dog's life. Here are a few recommendations when selecting where to get your puppy.

How do you go about finding a good, ethical breeder?

Good breeders don't sell their puppies to the first person who shows up with cash in hand. Too often, unsuspecting people buy puppies from breeders (or neighbors) who breed their dog to make a little money or simply because they have a dog "with papers". The result of such practices includes puppies with poor health or temperament problems that may not be discovered until years later. Unfortunately, these new pet families often end up heartbroken, with dogs who have genetic health problems or who develop significant behavior issues and result in grief and heartache as well.

Remember, a reputable breeder will never sell her dogs in any way that does not allow her to thoroughly meet with and interview you to ensure that the puppy is a good match for your family and that you will provide a responsible lifelong home.

So to avoid these pitfalls and choose a good breeder, look for one who at a minimum:
  • Keeps dogs in the home as part of the family---not outside in kennel runs
  • Has dogs who appear happy and healthy, are excited to meet new people, and don’t shy away from visitors
  • Shows you where the dogs spend most of their time---in a clean, well maintained area
  • Encourages you to spend time with the puppy’s parents---at a minimum, the pup’s mother---when you visit
  • Is knowledgeable about what are called “breed standards” (the desired characteristics of the breed, such as size, proportion, coat, color, and temperament)
  • Has a strong relationship with a local veterinarian and shows you records of veterinary visits for the puppies and explains the puppies’ medical history and what vaccinations your new puppy will need
  • Explains in detail the potential genetic problems inherent in the breed (every breed has specific genetic predispositions) and provides documentation---through organizations such as the Orthopedic Foundation for Animals (OFA)---that the puppy’s parents and grandparents have been tested to ensure that they are free of these genetic problems
  • Offers guidance for caring for and training your puppy and is available for assistance after you take your puppy home Provides references from other families who have purchased puppiesDoesn’t always have puppies available but rather will keep a list of interested people for the next available litter. Minimal advertising for the litters available; they don’t advertise widely, because they don’t have to.
  • One breed of dog offered. If you see a number of different breeds in the same kennel, leave immediately.
  • Is actively involved with local, state, and national clubs that specialize in the specific breed; good breeders may also compete the dogs in conformation trials, obedience trials, or tracking and agility trials
  • Encourages visits and wants your entire family to meet the puppy. Provides answers to your questions readily and efficiently; addresses any concerns and offers to help you in the future.
  • Provides you with a written contract and health guarantee and allows plenty of time for you to read it thoroughly.
In addition to those criteria, you’ll want a breeder who requires some things of you, too. The breeder should require you to:
  • Explain why you want a dog
  • Explain who in your family will be responsible for the pup’s daily care, who will attend training classes, where the dog will spend most of his or her time, and what “rules” have been decided upon for the puppy---for example, whether or not the dog will be allowed on furniture
  • Sign a contract that you will spay or neuter the dog unless you will be actively involved in showing him or her (which applies to show-quality dogs only). The contract will also state that you will return the dog to the breeder should you be unable to keep the dog at any point in the dog’s life
If the breeder you’re working with doesn’t meet all of these minimum criteria, walk away. Remember, your dog will likely live 12 to 15 years, so it’s well worth investing some time now to be sure you’re working with a reputable breeder who breeds healthy, happy dogs. Take the time now to find the right breeder and you’ll be thanking yourself for the rest of your dog’s life.

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