The first step in buying a puppy is to decide whether you wan’t a purebred or a mixed breed puppy. You can understand the differences between a purebred and a mixed breed here. Once you have decided on which breed of puppy you want to bring home, the next big step is identifying the breeder from whom you will buy your puppy. Whether she’s a Labrador Retriever or a German Shepherd, there are certain things we need to keep in mind while making this decision. In this day and age when most prospective puppy owners search for a puppy online, a number of malpractices have crept into the pet breeder eco-system. So, read on and equip yourself with the necessary information required to select a good breeder and getting your purebred puppy home.
Visit the breeder’s premises
Buying a puppy online is very convenient. You can browse a site, select the desired puppy and then the breeder will ship the puppy to you. If you plan on doing this, better to take a step back and re-evaluate. Remember, you are going to buy a living being. So, the conditions in which the puppy has been kept before you bring her home often determines how the puppy’s remaining life is going to be. Make it a point to visit the place where the puppy stays, eats and sleeps i.e. the actual breeding center (and not just the office where the breeder sits). Check out how the puppy interacts with her dog family and the people around. The breeding center should be clean and all dogs should be well-cared for.
Sometimes, a breeder may ask you to meet the puppy at an off-site location, such as her shop or office, which will be different from breeding center. This is a big red-flag for buying a purebred puppy. A good breeder will usually be happy to show you around the breeding facility and the puppy’s resting area.
“Puppy Mill” is a term used for breeding centers where the sole objective is to produce puppies, even at the cost of dog’s health. Such centers usually have a lot of dogs cramped into small unhygienic spaces and they are rarely let out to play or socialize. They often stay in their own filth. The unhygienic environment leads to prevalence of several diseases. This is the reason why several dog breeders will not allow you to visit their premises.
Puppies born in such places may suffer from diseases such as Distemper and Parvo, both often deadly. If the puppy exhibits symptoms such as runny nose, sneezing or runny eyes, it may point to a bigger problem. Do consult your vet if the puppy if you intend to bring home exhibits such signs. In some cases, the medical issues may reveal themselves much later in life. So, it is best to avoid such mills when choosing a furry friend for yourself.
Poor breeding practices
Purebred may not be the same as well-bred. Inbreeding is one of the most common poor breeding practice. Inbreeding refers to the practice of breeding two closely-related (genetically) dogs. The resultant off-spring often has exaggerated breed attributes which are liked by some prospective owners. However, the off-spring is also likely to inherit genetic disorders. Some of these disorders include heart murmurs, hip dysplasia, increased risk of tumors and cancers, bone and joint disorders, weak immune system and blindness. Most of these problems cannot be diagnosed until the dog matures.
The best away to choose a well-bred dog is to buy from a reputed breeder. These can be found by references or can be identified by their involvement in dog shows.
Behavioral problems in puppies
Many puppies have behavioral problems such as being aggressive or shy. More often than not, these are the result of poor breeding practices, e.g. – if a puppy is an off-spring of an aggressive dog then the puppy is more likely to be aggressive too.
The best way to resolve this issue to visit the dog parents of the puppy you are planning to bring home. If the dog parents are too aggressive, too shy or have other strong behavioral traits, you may want to give the puppy a miss.
Another way you can use is by studying about the breed of the puppy. One great benefit of a purebred puppy is that it is likely to inherit most traits of its breed. So, you are planning to get a Labrador Retriever, you can rest assured that the dog will be good at retrieving. This trait can be used to train and handle them. So, if you prefer a dog with low energy levels, exclude all breeds known to be highly active and energetic.
Avoid Fly-by-night breeders
When getting a puppy, choose those breeders who are reliable and respected. Ask your friends or neighbors for references. Visit the shop/office of the breeder and the breeding facility. Ask several questions to the breeder about the behavior, food, vaccinations and diseases related to the dog breed. The feeling you get after the visit should be that the breeder is in this business on a full-time basis and will be there to help you later.
The Final Step
Now that you have finalized the breeder and the puppy you want to bring home, a few more things need to be done. Ask for medical records of the puppy and get them verified from the vet of the breeder. This should include a list of all vaccinations, if any, that have been administered to the puppy. Collect a certificate from the breeder mentioning critical details of the puppy such as breed, color and age. Get the puppy checked by your own vet immediately after leaving the breeder premises. Most breeders allow a window of 24 hours or more to return the puppy, in case a medical issue is found in the puppy.
It is advised to pickup the puppy from the breeder’s premises when she is 8-9 weeks old. A puppy needs that time to stay close to her mother and build her immune system against diseases. Avoid taking a puppy that is less than 8 weeks old, at all costs.
Armed with this information, we hope you will be able to choose the right breeder and bring home a lovely, healthy pet companion!