By Monica Callahan BS KPA-CTP
You read that right! All breeder’s are not created equal, and finding a good one takes a lot of research and time. Buying a puppy should never be done on impulse, and a good breeder would never let you buy on an impulse. I feel this is a really important subject near and dear to my heart because there used to be so many problems with the dalmatian breed, and it’s because of breeder’s who are doing it for the wrong reason or just generally don’t do the research before they decide to breed. Below I have listed a few things you should look for in a breeder before deciding to buy one of their puppies.
1. Health testing on the parents: I cannot stress enough how important this is. A lot of your puppy is genetic, and for your puppy to start off on the right foot, the parents need to be healthy also. There are different tests for each breed. If your puppy’s parents have their CHIC number, that’s awesome because you know they have taken the time to test their dog’s for the breed’s most common problems. Here is the example for the dalmatian and what they need for their CHIC number. Once the dog’s tests have been done, the results are sent to CHIC and they get a number specific to that dog. This makes it easy for potential buyers to look up that parent’s information.
With health testing, should come a knowledge about the breed this breeder has picked. They should know the ups and downs of the breed, and common breed problems. Knowing the problems can help the breeder to breed away from those problems, or know there is a chance it may show up in their lines. They should have knowledge on genetics so they know, when you bring a and b, you’ll get c. They should be able to tell you why they chose the sire for the dam and what they hope each parent brings to the puppies. (I.E. Mom has a gorgeous head but doesn’t have an AMAZING rear head, however dad has an AMAZING rear end so the breeder hopes the father can bring the rear end into their line.)
2. Titles on the parents:Be it conformation or performance. This shows me that the breeders are active with their dogs and really care about how they perform and their body structure. Sure, you say, “But I don’t want a show dog, just a family dog.” But you know what, you want a family dog that’s going to last, right? A dog that titles in conformation tells me that it meets breed standard and should have a body that is ready to work and should carry that dog through the rest of it’s long life. Performance titles show me that it CAN work and has a good enough body structure that should carry the dog through the rest of it’s long life.
Particularly, obedience titles/rally titles show me that the dog has a good head on its shoulders and is willing to put in the effort to have good teamwork with it’s owner. Other sports such as agility, schutzhund, flyball, tracking, lure coursing, etc. shows me the dogs are good at what they are bred for and have the structure to excel at it. So while you may never aspire to do any of these things with your dogs, it really is good to see in the parents because you know they can work and they are of sound body and mind.
Oh, and to add, you really want to see these titles on the PARENTS. Anything past grandma and grandpa really doesn’t directly connect to how your puppy may end up. Saying you have champion blood lines doesn’t mean a thing to me unless the parents are also champions. A lot can happen in one generation to a dog’s conformation. And not always for the best.
3. Health Guarantee: A three year health guarantee on a puppy does me no good. I want to see a lifetime health guarantee on genetic problems. If this problem is from the parent’s lineage, I want that breeder to take responsibility. A puppy will hardly ever show genetic problems before age three.
4. Taking the Puppy Back:A reputable breeder will always take the puppy back if you can no longer care for it. It hurts them just as much as the rescuers to see all of the dogs in rescue that are of their breed. A reputable breeder never wants to add to that problem. Now don’t expect your money back if you need to get rid of the dog, but at least you know they will have a good home and a good chance at being rehomed.
5. Visiting the Home: When you go to visit your puppy, they should always allow you to see all of the puppies and the mother. Sometimes the semen is shipped in or the sire is owned by someone else so he may not always be there. But they should always be willing to share the sire’s information.
6. You Pay for What you Get: Sure, this breeder’s pups may be way more expensive than the breeder down the street, but you pay for what you get. If the breeder is reputable, you know at least most, if not all, the money you are paying was put into raising this litter. Reputable breeders hardly make any money off their litters, and sometimes they even lose it. This is where research comes in. Research many different breeders (reputable) and see where the price range usually lies. You’ll find out what the average is for your breed so you can know what you are expected to pay for a good puppy.
7. The Interview:Yes, a good breeder will interview you. Yes, they expect you to know something of the breed you are about to buy. They will tell you both the good and the bad about the dog you are about to bring home. You wouldn’t let just anyone come watch your children, and they won’t let just anyone take their puppies away from them. Those puppies will always be a representation of that breeder.
8. Spay/Neuter Contract:I would expect all puppies to be sold on a spay/neuter contract unless you show true eagerness to show, in which case they will take you under their wing and help you become a great representation of them and their line of dogs. At which age the spay/neuter should happen is up to the breeder, and I have my own opinions as to when it should be… but at least it is there so they know no unwanted pregnancies can occur in their line. These puppies are their line, and not all dogs are good enough to breed. This should be left up to a professional (breeder) and should not be your average pet owner’s decision.
9. Care of the Puppies:Obviously the breeder should be willing to tell you what they do with the puppies, what they feed, etc. You should generally agree with everything they do with the puppies. This is where I can add in, research the food they are feeding!!! And find a good food for you to feed your puppy at the same time. Not all foods are equal, and generally, grocery store bought foods equals BAD BAD BAD. Read the ingredients!
Generally puppies are not able to leave mother until at least 8 weeks, many people don’t release until 9 or 10 weeks. This is not selfish, and while it may be hard to wait, PLEASE DO!!!! These weeks are so vital for the puppies to still be together. It will help them in the long run with bite inhibition and how to play appropriately with other dogs. These weeks are sooo important. Just because they are on solid foods does not mean they are ready to leave. Quite the contrary!
10. Little Bits and Pieces:Here are some other random things I felt don’t need their own bullet point, but are still very important. They NEVER sell to pet stores… they keep their puppies until they are gone. Doc’s breeder held onto his brother until he was 9 months old. Will hopefully want to start a relationship with you. Breeders love to hear how their puppies are doing after they are gone. They want to stay connected with you. They can give you references from vets and previous puppy buyers.
Yes, buying a puppy is a lot of work. AS IT SHOULD BE! If you take the time to find a good breeder and a healthy puppy, you will be so happy in the long run. There is less chance that you will have health problems in the long run, including behavioral problems (of course this also deals with socialization of the puppy before 16 weeks and training). You will always have a friend in your breeder because they love to hear about their puppies.
Monica Callahan BS KPA-CTP is the owner of Anything's Possible LLC in North Olmsted, OH. She graduated from The University of Findlay in 2011, double majoring in Pre-Veterinary Medicine and Biology. She also has a minor in Chemistry. Monica went on to attend Karen Pryor Academy for Animal Training & Behavior, and graduated with distinction in January 2012. That is when she decided to open Anything's Possible LLC.
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