A Life with Dogs

Chapter 3. Tips for buying a puppy

Chapter 3. Tips for buying a puppy

Chapter Three

So, you’ve worked out that you can be a responsible owner of a dog.

You can provide a stable, loving home, and you believe your kids when they say they’ll walk, wash and clean up. The neighbours are reliable, and the grandparents are happy to puppy-sit, and you think you know what type of dog you’re after... Four legs, a waggily tail and one that comes with 100K+ Instagram followers, yes?’

Please read on…tips for buying a dog

"If you are interested in purchasing a purebred puppy, there are several considerations you should make before running to the pet store and choosing the first pup that piddles on your shoe. Where you purchase your puppy from is one of the most important aspects of owning a pedigreed pet."

Top 10 Tips for Buying a Dog

Research, Research, Research
The first step before you choose a breeder is to perform lots of research. While playing with puppies and reading descriptions about devotion to the perfectly shaped snout online is interesting, hard research is of utmost importance. 

  • Which breeding kennels are nearby that produce dogs with the specifications you are looking for?
  • What do other dog owners have to say about the kennel?
  • Are the breeders willing to give you a tour of their facilities?
  • Find out the good – and bad – about each kennel and the puppies they produce. 

Ask for Recommendations
Seek recommendations from reputable sources, such as national breed associations. The American Kennel Club and Australian National Kennel Club can provide directories of breeders that adhere to a strict set of regulations and Codes of Ethics including:

"Promoting excellence in breeding, showing, trialling, obedience and other canine related activities and the ownership of temperamentally and physically sound pure bred dogs by responsible individuals."

3. Know the Difference Between Ethical and Unethical Breeding
Finding an ethical breeder is important, as this can be the difference between a long and happy life with your pet versus years of unnecessary vet bills and anxiety. Unethical breeding has many forms. In some instances, animals may be in-bred in order to strengthen a particular trait, such as fur colouring, but at the risk of serious congenital defects. 

Another form of unethical breeding is forcing a dog to produce as many litters as possible for the sake of profit. This commonly occurs in puppy mill or backyard breeding operations and results in deplorable living conditions. An ethical breeder, on the other hand, is concerned with bettering the breed, and painstakingly chooses the best lines to produce quality dogs. These breeders are less concerned with profit and more concerned with the future of the breed (and those perfectly shaped snouts).  

4. Ask Questions
Once you have found a few breeders that pique your interest, email or call and ask for an appointment to talk shop.

  • What inspired them to begin breeding?
  • What are the most important traits they look for in their breeding stock?
  • Which health issues are most prevalent, and what is being done to correct these issues?

5. Expect to Meet the Parents
When you speak with the breeder, inquire about meeting the parents of your future pup. Not only will this help you better understand the personality of your potential dog but will also help ensure your puppy is not coming from a puppy mill or backyard breeding situation. 

6. Ask to See Health Certification
Any breeder that denies the incidence of genetic disease among purebred dogs should raise an immediate red flag. The truth is that every breed suffers from disease to some extent, but there are a number of precautions that can be taken to decrease this risk. One way to mitigate the risk is to perform genetic, joint, and eye screenings. Ask to see health certifications on the parent dogs from the Orthopaedic Foundation for Animals and the Canine Eye Registry Foundation. 

7. Don’t Plan to Bring Home a Dog the Same Day
When purchasing a dog, do not expect to be able to bring home a pet the same day; at least not from a reputable breeder! An ethical kennel will vet (pun intended) a potential owner thoroughly, typically through an application process that asks personal questions such as income, activity level, and work hours. Same day sales should be avoided for numerous reasons. Most commonly, these operations are the product of backyard breeding, puppy mills, or “dog flipping” (i.e. stealing a dog and selling it for profit).  

8. Expect a Health Guarantee
Since health is a major concern among purebreds it is common for breeders to offer a health guarantee. This will entail a guarantee that the dog will be free from congenital defect for the first 1 – 2 years of life. In addition, breeders will often require that a dog be returned to them should an issue arise that prevents the owners from keeping the pet. Without a health guarantee, the chances of receiving a dog with poor genetic soundness are high.

9. Avoid Online Ads
People often find good deals on puppies online, through ads such as Craigslist, Gumtree or similar services. Often, sellers claim the dog is AKC or ANKC registered but the papers have been lost; or that the last puppy of the litter is for sale at a reduced price. In reality there is no way to guarantee the dog is not being flipped. For this reason, (and others listed above), you should also avoid purchasing puppies from flea markets, parking lots, or online.

10. Understand You Get What You Pay For
One explanation that backyard breeders and puppy mills are still in business is that they can offer puppies at a cheaper price than the ethical kennels. A puppy from a reputable breeder will cost more due to the charges incurred to find a suitable mate that is not a relative (think doggy dowry), health and genetic testing, veterinary visits, premium food, and standard care. An unethical breeder skips many of these steps in order to cut costs.  While paying double or triple the price of a puppy may not seem economical, it more than makes up for itself in the future when the dog has a longer lifespan and fewer medical problems.

One explanation that backyard breeders and puppy mills are still in business is that they can offer puppies at a cheaper price than the ethical kennels.

Overall, there are many good reasons to purchase a purebred pup.
For instance, you may be looking for predictability in the dog’s personality or a certain characteristic, such as hypoallergenic fur. But there are also downsides to shopping for a pet, especially when not adequately researched. For more information on what to look out for with Puppy Farms, check out this link to the RSPCA Knowledgebase.

In Australia, up to 250,000 happy and healthy pets are getting put down every year, mass breeding being a major contributor to the large number of pets ending up on death row. Pound Paws, an Australian based Charity is designed to help re-home abandoned pets across Australia. An online search engine which fast tracks the overall adoption process allowing users to search by age, by breed, size or lifestyle match.

So you'd like to consider adopting a dog instead? More on Adopting a dog in our next issue.
Chapter Four - Coming Soon

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