Welcoming a new, four-legged family member into your home can bring excitement and happiness into your life, especially if you take the time to do your research and learn all you can about puppies and their breeders. Not all dogs were created equal, so puppies can have different temperaments and energy levels depending on their breed type . Choosing a puppy who complements your household in terms of size, personality and breed makes for a great success story. The first chapter in this story is about selecting a reputable breeder who takes the health and overall wellbeing of his purebred dogs very seriously.
The Search Begins
Your journey towards finding a great dog breeder begins at dog shows where you will find the cream of the crop in terms of breeders who showcase their best dogs. The American Kennel Club is known for authorizing and organizing events for purebred dogs including the annual National Dog Show as well as many companion and performance events where different dog breeds are given the chance to showoff their unique skills. These shows are also a great opportunity for you to meet breeders and longtime dog owners who can answer any puppy related questions that you might have. Performance events such as field and sheepdog trials are two examples of places where you can watch breeds such as Australian Shepherds and Dachshunds showcase their athleticism and competitive nature. Seeing different dog breeds in action will help you determine the desirable traits you want in your potential puppy. If you have more than one breed in mind, you can use the American Kennel Club website to gather more information about them. The website has its very own breeder referral listing where you can find links to breeders who are required to follow the rules and regulations established by the Club.
The Devil Is in the Details
Online research will help you narrow down your list of potential breeders, but you need to pay attention to the information posted on their respective websites. The devil is in the details, so make sure that the breeder has all the necessary boxes ticked. This includes participating in dog shows and performance events and winning ribbons that showcase the quality of their purebred dogs. Being active within the canine community is a good sign and goes on to show you that this breeder is serious about training and socializing his dogs. Winning pedigree and performance awards is not the only thing that needs to be on your canine radar. Health certificates are also an indicator of just how invested these breeders are in the wellbeing of their dogs. For example, breeders need to get their dog parents certified for good hips by the Orthopedic Foundation for Animals. This OFA certificate needs to be listed on their website in addition to other screening tests that are linked to the type of breed you are interested in. Cerf exams also rule out any eye disorders that can be passed down from one generation to the next.
Breeders who receive the stamp of approval by the American Kennel Club are also classified according to merit. Those who belong to this particular category are bound by a set of rules and conditions. In addition, they are not allowed to become Breeders of Merit until they have registered all of their litters with the American Kennel Club. Their dogs must undergo all of the required health examinations associated with their breed type. They also have to enroll in dog shows and events organized by the AKC and win a minimum of four titles in order to qualify as Breeders of Merit.
Read the Signs
Health certificates and awards are just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to choosing a great breeder. Therefore, you need to do a little more digging in order to find out more about the people responsible for breeding your prospective puppy. Those who value the importance of socialization will not separate their puppies from their siblings at such a sensitive time in order to make money. Breeders who boast about neutering their puppies before the age of six months should also be avoided, especially if spaying and neutering occurs when the puppies are just two weeks old.
Beware of puppy mills who disguise themselves as puppy breeders. These mills are known for breeding females repeatedly and having a regular supply of puppies all year round. Irresponsible breeders are one of the reasons why so many puppies end up on the streets. In contrast, reputable breeders put a lot of planning and effort into their occupation and their breeding program reflects their professionalism.
Feedback also gives you an idea about breeders and their reputation, so take advantage of your search engine to find online reviews written by puppy buyers who have already been through this process. These reviews will help paint a clearer picture about the breeder you are interested in contacting.
The next step involves getting in touch with your list of prospective breeders and sharing information about your household as well as your history with animals, specifically dogs. Dog breeders usually ask if you can provide them with more details concerning your home environment and this includes other family members who are going to be in direct contact with the puppy. Some individuals want puppies so they can sign them up for dog shows while others might be interested in female pups for the sake of breeding them. Contacting more than one breeder allows you to draw comparisons between them and helps you figure out who was more accommodating and responsive so you can finally pay them a visit.
Dog Breeder Characteristics
The perks of choosing a great breeder are many and they include having someone who genuinely cares about the wellbeing and health of his puppies. Great breeders will not hesitate to give you their two cents regarding how to train and care for your new pooch. They will also answer your questions and ask for future updates regarding your puppy. First time dog owners can benefit greatly from establishing good lines of communication with their breeder. You can always tell the difference between good breeders and bad ones by their attitude towards questions and the way they treat old and new dog clients. Those who have a hard time answering your questions and appear standoffish during your visit must be crossed off from your list.
Knowing More About the Breeding Process
Knowing how your breeder operates and what his or her process entails can help you make the right choice as well. Great breeders do a ton of work behind the scenes and take pride in refining their lines. They are also responsible for paying high stud fees that may or may not result in a successful breeding. Some of them travel far and wide to find the right stud dog and sometimes they use artificial insemination and other procedures to impregnate their female.
Breeders are also in charge of caring for the litter and their mom after birth. This includes maintaining the cleanliness of the nesting box and keeping the mother well fed. A good breeder will raise the puppies in a safe environment where they will be exposed to different situations and experiences that will help shape their character and influence their behavior once they grow up. Well-adjusted puppies are the goal here, and good breeders should be able to recommend a puppy with a temperament that matches your household needs.
Just because a dog breeder looks good on paper does not mean that his or her kennel is clean and tidy. Seeing the inside of the kennel with your own eyes is ten times better than simply judging a breeder by his website and email responses. Healthy puppies are a reflection of their environment, so you need to pay your breeder a visit and use all of your senses to inspect his kennel. Dirty kennels will tell you a different story than the perfect photos you once saw on their website. Growing up in an untidy and unsanitary place will eventually takes its toll on the puppies who live inside these kennels. Moreover, these unhealthy conditions can open the doors to a flood of diseases and viruses. Breeders who fail to teach their puppies how to be clean can give future owners a hard time during crate training and will have no problem sleeping where they poop. You may also like our article on the best dog crates.
Just because you are surrounded by a litter of adorable puppies does not mean that you are automatically allowed to touch them. Some breeders have a no-touching rule established in their kennel to avoid the risk of disease transmission, especially if some of those puppies are days away from being vaccinated. Others will allow you to pet their puppies, but in both cases, make sure that you thoroughly inspect their eyes and other physical features. Their overall behavior and energy levels can tell you a lot about the way they were handled and socialized by their breeder.
Contracts and Return Policies
Before you seal the deal and take your new puppy home, you need to read the sales contract. Expect to find certain guarantees and restrictions within the pages of your contract. If you purchase a puppy who is months away from celebrating his first birthday and he turns out to have a genetic defect, then a reputable breeder will offer to replace the puppy with a healthy one from a new litter. Naturally, you will need to provide him with a letter from the vet saying that this health defect does indeed exist. Most breeders will request that you return the sick dog before they can give you a replacement puppy.
Breeder contracts also have restrictions set in place in order to protect their puppies. One of these restrictions revolves around obstacle jumping. Puppies should not be exposed to strenuous exercises such as jumping over six inch obstacles due to the negative impact they have on their bones and joints. Contracts also dictate the first vet visit which needs to take place within a period of three days after taking the puppy home. This allows the vet to rule out any serious health issues that usually entitle the buyer to a full refund or a replacement puppy depending on the contract. Issues such as ear mites, fleas, diarrhea caused by feeding the puppy non-recommended foods and post-sale injuries do not fall under the umbrella of serious health problems.
According to the contract, buyers are entitled to a parasite free puppy who is accompanied by a list of all of the deworming medications he was given while growing up. This includes the dates of said medications that were first administered to the puppy two weeks after he was weaned. Generally speaking, puppies have to be dewormed at 2, 4,6,8 and 12 weeks of age. Breeders are also required to give your puppy one last vaccination before you take him home with you.
Breeders also demand that their puppies receive proper nutrition while living with their new owners. They usually include what type of high quality food they need to be fed and demand that their owners raise them in a healthy environment. Some breeders go one step further by demanding that their puppies receive obedience training to help cement their socialization skills. Puppies have to attend a number of classes in order to fulfill this agreement. For more options, check out our detailed review of the best dewormer for dogs.
Moreover, great breeders will ask buyers to return their puppy if they can no longer keep him. These breeders will usually find a new home for their puppies after vetting the prospective buyers. Spaying and neutering are also included in the contract. Some breeders give owners the green light to remove reproductive organs after the age of six months. The future of your puppy is also tied to his contract and breeders usually place certain restrictions on breeding age and progeny. For example, buyers who are interested in breeding their female puppy once she becomes an adult are not allowed to sell her litter to pet shops or to countries that have zero animal rights. Great breeders are also against selling puppies to animal testing facilities.
Your extensive research and hard work will eventually lead you to a responsible dog breeder who cares about his puppies and uses his experience and knowledge to help them find their forever home. Great breeders will use the information you provide them to steer you in the right direction when it comes to choosing a puppy who meets your family needs and lifestyle.