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Puppy Buying Information

Choosing a breeder

1. Don't buy a puppy because he's less expensive than another puppy of the same breed. You may be sacrificing quality. Usually, you get what you pay for. It may be worth spending that extra $200 now rather than paying $2,000 when health or behaviour problems arise.

2. Avoid buying a puppy from a pet store. Too often these puppies come from "puppy mills". If you don't know what a puppy mill is, look up the term "puppy mill" on the Internet or call your local animal shelter. The only way to stop puppy mills is to stop buying puppies from pet stores. This does not include those pet stores that have shelter puppies available for adoption.

3. Good pedigrees will contain such abbreviations as the following by dog's names: Ch. (Show champion), CD (obedience-companion dog), UD (obedience-utility dog). These titles prove the dog, by whose name they appear, has good body structure and/or does well in obedience work. There are numerous other titles so check which titles mean what and why they may be important for your breed.

4. A good breeder should be able to tell you about dogs on your puppy's pedigree. Have them explain the often cryptic letters and titles awarded, and get a good feel that they know the lines they are breeding from. At the very least, they should be able to provide you with a 4 generation pedigree and be able to tell you about the dogs. You might see the same dogs listed a few times on the pedigree - the breeder should be able to point out any linebreeding and inbreeding and explain the benefits and dangers of both.

5. The breeder should know what their breed was meant to do, general history of the breed, health problems that may affect their breed, and what homes their pups would do best in. Be wary of the breeder that makes their breed out to be perfect. They usually are just interested in money since no breed is perfect for everyone.

6. The breeder should ask you questions before they agree to sell you a puppy. Such as: Do you have time to care for a puppy properly? Can you afford feeding/grooming costs? Where will the puppy live (indoors/outdoors)? Why do you want a puppy? Do you have children?

7. Ask the breeder;
How many litters do you have a year?
Breeders producing more than 1 or 2 litters a year are probably not paying enough attention to the genetics and health of the puppies.

8. Ask the breeder;
Where were the puppies raised?
How have you socialized them?
What you're looking for here is an indication of what kind of socialization the puppies have had. Socialization is so important to getting a well-adjusted, well-mannered dog. Puppies should have been exposed to people, other dogs, new situations, normal household sounds and activities in order to learn. A puppy raised without this important social interaction can be shy, fearful, aggressive, or have other problems as they get older. Dogs need to know how to play, how to handle new situations, how to relate to people.

9. Ask the breeder;
When can I take the puppy home?
Puppies usually go home between 8 and 12 weeks. Avoid anyone sending tiny puppies home.

10. A health guarantee should be given with every purebred puppy sold. The breeder is responsible for bringing your puppy into the world and therefore should be responsible for it until it no longer graces the earth. Breeders offer varying guarantees so check out what hereditary health problems may affect your breed and be sure your health guarantee covers it to some extent. Don't expect the guarantee to cover such things as accidents, parasites, nonhereditary diseases, etc. You should also have at least 48 hours after picking the puppy up from the breeder to take your new pup to your vet. If your vet should find a health problem your breeder should allow you to return the puppy and choose another one, wait until the next litter arrives to choose one, or return your money.

11. Trust your instincts! If you feel uncomfortable with a breeder, leave. Don't be afraid to tell the breeder you'll just keep looking. A reputable breeder will understand.

12. Ask to see the parents of the puppy. Sometimes the sire is not owned by the same person as the bitch, so the sire may not be on the premises when you come to visit. However, you should always see at least the mother. Ask to see other offspring from the same parents, if any are on the premises. Seeing the dogs of previous litters will give you a good picture of what your puppy will become.

13. Ask if mother's been bred every season. A breeder who cares about their dogs will breed every other season. Some breeders will breed back-to-back once. This occurs when the breeder wants puppies in a specific season, if there was a small litter, or the female comes into heat once per year. All puppies should be "expected" and well planned. If they're not, it's a lucky dip as to whether you're going to get a good puppy or a nightmare.

14. If you're buying a large breed puppy be sure the health guarantee covers hip dysplasia. Most breeders will either reimburse a portion, or all, of the cost of the pup or give you another puppy from another litter should your puppy be diagnosed with hip dysplasia at two years of age.

15. Never buy a puppy from some one who breeds more than two-three different breeds of dogs. People who breed more than that are usually out for money and don't care about the quality of their puppies. Hobby breeders are usually the best source of good, purebred dogs, but they are also the most difficult to locate. Hobby breeders do not often advertise to find homes for their puppies, because they usually make such arrangements before the actual breeding occurs. Nor will the hobby breeders dogs be found pet stores, because such breeders often personally screen each potential buyer to ensure that the puppies end up in the best possible homes.

16. When deciding on a breeder, ask to see the breeders grounds. A responsible breeder takes extremely good care of his or her animals and grounds, and should not hesitate to show both to a visitor. The grounds should appear clean and the animals should look active and healthy.

17. If you want a purebred dog but don't plan on entering any competition, look into your local breed rescue club. They often have adult dogs looking for new homes and sometimes puppies.

18. Ask your local vet if they know anyone with puppies the breed you're looking for. The vet can tell you if the parents are healthy and if the breeder is some one you'd care to buy a puppy from.

19. Get references from your breeder of others that own puppies from them. Call these people and ask them to tell you about their experience with their breeder and if they would recommend getting a puppy from the breeder. There's no better way to find out about how ethical a breeder is and check the quality of their pups than talking to people who have dealt with them in the past.

20. Recognizing an unethical breeder
When you talk to people about their puppies, there are a few warning signs that you are dealing with a disreputable, unethical, or irresponsible breeder:
The "breeder" lacks knowledge about the breed
The "breeder" shows ignorance or denial of genetic defects in the breed
The "breeder" has no involvement in dog sports
The "breeder" doesn't let you observe the puppies or adults, or let you see the kennels
The "breeder" has no documentation and cannot provide a pedigree
The puppies are not socialized

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