Buy A Pet, Not A Problem


Before you begin your search, take the time to answer the following questions. Your answers will help both you and the breeder determine the right puppy for you or possibly recommend a more appropriate breed.

    • Why do you want a dog? Companionship? Protection? Let the breeder know what you want - show or pet, working, hunting or breeding stock. Be honest. Don't buy a pet at a cheaper price if what you want is a show dog. Many breeders will work out terms for more expensive show quality animals. However, be careful of too many strings attached.
    • Will you have the time a pet demands? What returns are you prepared to make to your dog for the pleasure of his/her company? Free time that once was yours must now be shared. Are you prepared for that?
    • Are you ready for the demands of a puppy - or would an more mature dog suit your situation best? Know thyself! People who are willing to look at themselves and their lifestyles honestly, then who try to find a dog that blends with that lifestyle will be most happy.
    • Make sure you can really afford a pet. There is the initial cost of buying the dog, then food, shots, supplies, licenses, neutering, etc. Most people spend around $600 a year on their family pet just for these basic needs.
    • Why do you want a given breed? Talk to breeders and owners to determine if your chosen breed truly fits your personality and lifestyle. Make sure you know the positives - and negatives - of your chosen breed. Ask about genetic health issues - all breeds and all lines have them. Ask to see health certifications and what kind of health guarantees the breeder offers.
    • Expect to answer some questions about your home, family, children, last pet, etc. Breeders want their dogs to go to good homes where they will be loved and cared for properly, whether they are destined to be a show dog, child's companion or both!
    • This is an adoption! You are bringing home a new member of the family. Domesticated dogs CANNOT take care of themselves - they look to us for everything, including companionship. Dogs are social animals, as are people. Providing food, water and vet care is not enough. You must be your dog's pack leader and companion. Dogs who do not have this role filled in their lives end up with bad - often destructive - habits. If you are not willing to include your dog as a member of the family, you're not ready to have a dog in your life.

Other tips:

    • The dog or puppy should be lively, have bright eyes, a healthy look to it's frame and coat, should be clean and free of parasites. Don't fall for the sad-eyed puppy who sits off in a corner - he's probably ill and a good breeder would have him under professional care. Look for a dog that is friendly and who has obviously received loving, gentle handling. Be aware of an animal that is nervous, high-strung or very timid.
    • Puppies should be supplied with registration applications or certificates. Many breeders sell pet quality puppies or adults with the agreement that registration will be transferred after the animal is altered. Be sure you understand this agreement in advance and get it in writing. There is also a "limited registration" which allows you to register your dog and compete in obedience or other performance trials, but doesn't allow you to breed the animal or show in the conformation ring. This makes it especially important to let the breeder know what you really want.
    • Ask for a return period, during which you can have pup or dog checked by your own vet.
    • Many breeders occasionally have older puppies or adults for sale as pets, show prospects or breeding stock. Don't discount these animals as they are usually trained and you have none of the expenses involved with young pups. These animals can make excellent choices for someone whose time or family situation make a young puppy impractical.
    • Ask questions! Inform yourself of hereditary problems in your chosen breed. Learn what good points to look for. Ask about eye and hip clearances in breeds that are affected by those problems. Look at parents and grandparents, if possible. If there is anything you don't understand or are unsure about, ask before buying.
    • If a breeder doesn't have exactly what you want, ask for a referral or to be put on a wait list. Reputable breeders stay in touch with other fanciers in their breed and can often refer you to someone else in your area. If you must have something from a particular breeder, ask if you can put a deposit down on an un-born pup.
    • Some breeds may not be available in your area. Don't overlook buying from someone in another city or state. Write or call the breeder giving as much information on what you want as possible. Ask for pictures and pedigrees. Dogs and pups can be shipped via airlines with no ill effects. Make sure you have the right to return the animal (usually at your own expense) if it is not what you wanted.
    • Take your time buying a puppy or dog. Remember, this is the choice of a living creature who will hopefully be a member of your household for 10 years or more.

Where to buy

Choose your best place to buy. The cheapest place to acquire a dog is the humane society. Wonderful companions can be found there. The drawbacks: the unknown qualities of the animal, how it's temperament will suit your lifestyle. Another less expensive choice is purebred rescue.

However, if you are looking for a purebred of known qualities, then you want to contact a responsible breeder. Purebred pups are available from pet stores, but it is highly recommended by breeders, vets and those who have had the experience of buying pet store puppies that you DO NOT patronize a pet store to buy a puppy or kitten. There are several reasons:

    • Pet shop puppies come from "puppy mills" where dogs are bred under deplorable conditions and with no thought of genetics or improving the breed.
    • Because of their poor background, pet shop puppies generally have bad health problems. Their owners often spend small fortunes just keeping their pets alive from year to year.
    • Because of poor health and genetics, it is very rare for these pets to live long.

From a reputable breeder:

    • You will receive a pedigree and health guarantee, with parents having been screened for genetic diseases.
    • You will be able to see how the puppy was raised, under what conditions, and you should be able to see at least one parent. From a pet store, you receive none of this.
    • Pet pups from reputable breeders often cost less than pet store puppies - and when you leave the vet after the first visit, they definitely cost you less!
    • Puppies from a reputable breeder have been well-socialized in a variety of settings. Solid temperament is very important to the reputable breeder.
    • Last, but not least, you receive "service after the sale" from a reputable breeder. If your puppy is not suited to your lifestyle, if a complication arises, or if you simply have questions, most breeders are more than willing to help or work a situation out - try getting that from a pet store!

This is not to say all breeders are utopia. Where-ever you decide to patronize, check it out carefully. If you're not comfortable, take your business elsewhere. No matter where you buy, be sure to get, read and understand the guarantee. If the seller makes a verbal promise that isn't in the contract of sale, have them put it in writing. Don't be impressed by the offer of "AKC puppies" - this merely means that the parentage is known and offers no guarantee of quality.



Articles on Choosing A Breeder/Breeding

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