How to find the perfect puppy
Adding a puppy to your family is a long-term commitment. Depending upon the breed you select, the life span of a dog can be 10 to 20 years or more. Having a clear idea of your expectations of your puppy and finding the best breed for you can ensure that your puppy will be a perfect fit.
The chances of getting a healthy, happy puppy with a great temperament improve as you go from a free classified ad, to a hobby breeder to a knowledgeable purebred breeder. Understanding the quality of an experienced pure-bred breeder will help you make better decisions on where you want to balance cost with quality.
What to look for in a dog breeder
- Must be a member of a National and/or Local Breed Club
- Shows their dogs in conformation or competes in field trials
- Is knowledgeable about the breed’s history, health and genetics
- Dam (and possibly Sire) of the litter are on-site
- Breeding pair is health tested
- Ask about the health tests required by the Breed Club
- Has a well-defined puppy socialization program
- Has a reasonable number of litters per year
- Welcomes visits
- If the breed is AKC registered, ask for the name of the dam and sire and look up their health tests results on the Orthopedic Foundation For Animals website
Questions to ask a breeder
A good breeder has an application process. Be prepared to answer questions about your interest in the breed and why you think it will be a good fit for you and your family. They will also ask about family members, your home set-up, your experience with dogs and personal references.
It is also important to interview the breeder. A good breeder will provide a lifetime of support, so it is important to find someone with whom you are comfortable. A good general rule is find the breed that you want, find the look that you like, find the breeders whose lines match what you are looking for and get to know them. Then talk puppies. The process doesn’t have to be long but it does make it more likely that you and the puppy will be a good match. Here are some things you should ask the breeder:
- How long have you been involved with this breed?
- Do you show your dogs?
- What breed clubs do you belong to?
- What is the goal of your breeding program?
- Do you health test? Which tests do you routine perform?
- How old are the puppy’s parents?
- Do you provide a health guarantee?
- Will you take the puppy back and if so, under what conditions?
Raising a puppy
The goal of a good purebred dog breeder is to improve on the breed. Health testing and an understanding of the dam and sire’s pedigrees help the breeder to make wise breeding choices. Planning a litter starts well before the puppies are born.
Any good breeder knows that raising a puppy litter is a full time job for the first few weeks of life. Long before your puppy comes home, the breeder will be handling the puppies, exposing them to different sounds and environments, observing them and doing some testing to get an idea of the puppy’s structure, aptitude and temperament.
There are many places where you can find a puppy and likely as many different prices. If ever the adage “You get what you pay for” were true, it’s with puppies. Raising a puppy that is healthy, happy and well adjusted starts with a quality breeder and ends with a perfect life long companion for you and your family.