The Right Dog Breeder

There are many different avenues to explore once you've decided to buy a dog. Shelters and dog pounds have many great dogs and puppies available for adoption and you can find both mixed breeds and pure bred dogs. You can find purebred dogs with papers in shelters. You can also buy a dog at a pet shop and you will also find mixed breeds and purebreds in most pet shops. A third way to get a dog is to go to a breeder, but before doing so, it's advisable to research the subject so you can know what to look for in a reputable dog breeder.

If you decide to buy from a breeder, don't assume that all breeders are honest as they aren't. Just because someone decides to breed dogs for a living doesn't automatically make them a dog lover. Some unscrupulous breeders wouldn't think twice about breeding stock from inappropriate parents just to make a quick buck. Disreputable breeders don't screen their breeding stock for potentially tragic hereditary conditions that can manifest themselves in future litters and they don't take the time to properly care for their dogs or socialized them. They may not even vaccinate their pups which could result in unsuspecting customers taking home an adorable pup only to discover it is fatally ill.

Before buying a dog from a breeder you should take the time to ask a few questions. Ask around to see what the breeder's reputation is in the area and try to get a list of past customers to contact and enquire about their experience with the breeder. You shouldn't be embarrassed to interview the breeder to see if they are knowledgeable and honest. Here are a few things you should be aware of when considering buying from a breeder:

1. Have the puppies been socialized?

Puppies that aren't exposed to humans or that haven't been handled by the age of 16 weeks will remain fearful of humans throughout their lives. They will always shy from new situations and people and it will be very hard to bring them out of their proverbial shell so these pups are best avoided. Puppies that haven't been properly socialized will grow up to be very fearful dogs that may never adapt well to new situations. A car ride will scare them, they will be afraid of interacting with dogs as well as humans and they will always lack self confidence.

A reputable breeder will stress the importance of early socialization and he will describe how he socializes his pups and give you some advice about how to socialize your new puppy further. Many dog breeders make it a point to raise their young pups in a home environment to ensure they are housetrained and well behaved in a home environment.

2. Have the puppies been checked by a veterinarian?

An honest and reliable breeder should have no qualms providing you with proof of vaccination and medical records of his stock. Make sure puppies have been vaccinated before buying otherwise you may be setting yourself up for a lot of heartache.

3. Is the breeder reluctant to give you references?

An honest breeder shouldn't have any problem providing you with references of past customers who you can call to see if they were happy with the dogs they purchased from the breeder.

4. Does the breeder specialize in one breed of dog or several?

If the breeder breeds many breeds instead of specializing in one or two breeds, this should raise a red flag. It is best to buy from a breeder who specializes in one breed as this means they are knowledgeable about that particular breed and they should know how to breed for best qualities in the breed.

5. Are the breeder's facilities clean and open to inspection?

Be very wary of breeders that are reluctant to allow you to inspect their facilities. A well run kennel should be clean and orderly and the dogs should seem healthy and happy.

6. Does the place look like a puppy mill?

If the facility feels like a puppy mill leave immediately.

7. What is the condition of the puppies?

The puppies should be clean and active. They should be playful and inquisitive and not afraid of people.

8. Does the breeder have medical records of his stock?

A reputable breeder will have medical records of his dogs and won't have a problem showing them to you. There are many breed specific diseases that you should be aware of and you should check to see if a particular breed you're interested in has been screened for possible hereditary conditions in the breed. The breeder should also be able to provide you with prenatal care documentation which proves he cares about the well being of his dogs.

9. Does the breeder have health certificates?

If he doesn't, this should raise red flags and you should walk away.

10. Is the breeder prepared to give you a guarantee?

A reputable and honest breeder should have no problem providing you with a guarantee.

11. Are you allowed to inspect the dam (mother) of the litter?

Be wary of a breeder who is vague about showing you the puppy's parents, you should see the mother at least to get an idea about how the puppy will look when it reaches adulthood. If the sire (father) isn't on the premises, the breeder should be willing to give you references.

12. Avoid breeders who sell puppies to pet stores.

Reputable breeders care about where their pups go and a breeder who sells his dogs to pet shops obviously doesn't really care where they end up.

Here are a few questions to include in your interview with the breeder:

1. Are his breeding stock certified? Reputable dog breeders screen their breeding stock for breed specific diseases and hereditary conditions before breeding them to rule out possible problems in their offspring. An honest breeder will make sure his breeding stock is certified by a veterinarian. You should also read about the breed you're considering buying to educate yourself about potential genetic conditions you should be aware of.

2. Ask to see the breeder's breeding stock and the puppy's parents to see their size and temperament. This will give you a good idea about what to expect from the puppy as he grows into adulthood.

3. Ask to see medical records that confirm that the puppy has been dewormed, vaccinated and checked by a vet.

4. Inquire if any puppies in the litter were sick and if so what were the symptoms, diagnosis and treatment.

5. Check to see if the breeder offers a guarantee. How will the breeder compensate you if the puppy has a severe disease? Reputable breeders are used to discussing this subject and won't find it strange or offensive.

6. Request a list of references from previous customers who have purchased puppies from the breeder and call them to see what their experience with the breeder was like.

7. Find out if the breeder has a spay or neuter clause - some breeders require that you neuter or spay your dog.

8. Don't be shy about asking about the family history of a puppy. Ask if the puppy's parents are alive or if they died how old were they? Ask to see the medical history of the pup's parents as this provides you with important information about your future puppy.

9. Find out what he breeder is feeding his puppies. This can help you in making the pup's transition into your home easier and safer. Feeding the same diet the pup is used to reduces the risk of intestinal disturbances, and if you want to change the pup's diet,l you should do so gradually.

10. Ask if the breeder will supply a health certificate issued by a certified veterinarian. Many states also require a certificate of sale so be sure to inquire about that too.

Following these guidelines should help protect you from unscrupulous breeders and help you find the healthiest puppy to bring into your household. Before buying a dog you should check that the breed you're interested in suits your particular lifestyle and do your homework before buying from a breeder.

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