Puppy shopping 101

Published 11:47 pm Saturday, August 7, 2010

Finding the right puppy starts with finding the right breeder. If you are in the market for a purebred pooch, take your time and find a quality breeder before taking the plunge.

Finding a good quality puppy will take research and definitely should not be an impulse buy.

After doing breed research and making sure the breed you like will fit into your family’s lifestyle, it is time to find a good breeder. A good place to start is the breed’s club.

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A breed’s club should be pretty easy to find just by typing it into a search engine on your computer. The club will be able to give you quality breeder referrals and breed details.

First email or call a potential breeder to get a feel for how they treat their puppies and just to see if you get a good vibe from them.

A good breeder will be interested in you- if you will give one of their puppies a good home and not so much on your wallet. They will ask you about your lifestyle and knowledge of the breed to see if you will be a good fit.

A good breeder will be open about any problems they have had in their breeding line. No breed is perfect, but a quality breeder will have their dogs tested for heritable problems to strengthen their line.

Also, they will be happy to give you a list of referrals of families who have bought puppies from them in the past. Breeders that have good reputations will love for you to hear praise about them.

Whether the breeder raises the puppy in the home or in a kennel, make sure they are giving the puppies plenty of care and social interaction. Balanced puppies will need exposure to people, sounds, and smells.

The breeder should also allow home visits and the opportunity to inspect their facility to make sure it is clean and healthy. Also, ask to see the parents and observe their health and behaviors.

Watch them closely, because behaviors such as aggression are not things you want bred into your potential pup.

Ask them how long they have been breeding puppies. The longer they have been breeding, the more experience and knowledge they have.

See if they show the breed in conformation events or participate in any other sanctioned events.

Ask why they picked the dogs that they use for breeding. A good breeder will choose parents who will create well-mannered, healthy puppies that conform to the breed standard.

For breed standards check out the American Kennel Club’s website at www.akc.org.

A sales contract should be standard when purchasing a purebred puppy. This is good for you and the breeder. A contract should provide that their puppies qualify for registration with the AKC. That way you know it is a purebred dog.

A healthy guarantee should also be included. Expect at least a two year health guarantee against genetic problems, such as hip dysplasia, luxated patellas, or heart problems.

They should also require that you have the pup spayed or neutered. Good breeders will also require you to contact them if you decide to get rid of the puppy, that way they can help you find an appropriate new home.

Taking the time to find a good breeder will pay off with a healthy, quality bred pup that will give you years of enjoyment. When you are buying a puppy, you are buying a family member.

Remember, every dog deserves to be treated like a show dog.

Tony Barker, The BARKer Shop