No matter where you decide to get your puppy, the area where the puppies are kept should be clean with no foul smell.
The puppies should be clean and groomed as should be their mother. You should be able to pick up a puppy and cradle it in your arms without it squirming to get away. The puppies should appear happy and have bright eyes. They should be energetic and playful and not be either aggressive or shy and timid.
There are professional breeders who usually specialize in one or sometimes two, breeds of dogs. They are the most expensive dogs but you get to see the mother and sometimes the father. You will get a pedigree to show the puppy’s lineage with proof that the dog is a pure bred. Sometimes a breeder will have an older puppy with cosmetic imperfections making it ill-suited for showing and breeding that will cost less.
There are two kinds of backyard breeders. The kind that I recommend is where a pedigreed bitch (female dog) is intentionally bred to a pedigreed male, either of the same breed or a crossbreed. You should be able to see the mother and at least see the pedigree of the father. The puppies should be clean and look like they have been well cared for. The puppies will usually cost less than those from a professional breeder.
The kind of backyard breeder that I don’t recommend is where the bitch is accidentally impregnated by a dog from the neighborhood, and the owner is just trying to get rid of the puppies. In this case, you may not have any idea of the breed or ancestry of the father and so don’t know what the puppy will grow up to look like and how big it might get. The breeder also may not be giving the puppies the socialization they need and the care that a conscientious breeder would give them.
Pet Shops / Puppy Mills
A pet shop is not a good place to buy a puppy. I do not recommend purchasing a puppy from a pet shop for the reason that most pet shops get their puppies from puppy mills.
Puppy mills are places that indiscriminately breed and inbreed their dogs to get high quantity with no concern for quality. They usually rebreed the bitch as soon as she comes into heat after the birth of her last litter. This drains her strength and that affects succeeding litters.
The puppies are usually taken from their mothers too early and sold to pet shops. The pet shops keep the puppies in cages, either by themselves or with other puppies, until they’re sold. The puppies get little or no socialization and can develop behavior problems, especially if they are in a cage by themselves for extended periods of time.
Many of the puppies will have health issues or genetic conditions such as hip dysplasia that will go unrevealed. They may be less expensive than the professional breeder’s puppies, but they will be of poorer quality.
There are a number of different kinds of shelters and rescue organizations that have dogs available for adoption. These include:
Shelters run by or supported by the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA). The ASPCA is headquartered in New York, but supports shelters in every state in the United States. They have a time limit on how long they will keep an animal for adoption before it is euthanized.
No-Kill shelters are shelters that do not euthanize dogs. There are exceptions when the dog is either incorrigible or has a terminal illness and there is no quality of life for the dog.
Breed specific shelters are rescue organizations that cater to only one breed of dog. Dogs in these shelters are usually purebreds that have been saved from being euthanized or have been given to the shelter by owners who don’t want them anymore.
Getting a dog from a shelter will be a lot less expensive than from a breeder. However, you will not get to see the parents of the dog and you may not be able to get much information on how the dog was treated before coming to the shelter. You don’t know if the dog may have been abused or if a loving family may have had to give up the dog for financial reasons.
10 THINGS TO CONSIDER BEFORE BUYING A DOG
Questions To Ask before You Buy Your Puppy
How old are the puppies?
They should be at least eight weeks old before they’re sold.
Can I see the mother and the father of the puppies and their pedigrees?
You should be able to see the mother and at least see the father’s pedigree.
Are the puppies’ shots up to date?
There are a series of shots the puppies should have starting when they’re 6 to 8 weeks old, again at 11 to 12 weeks old and finally when they’re 15 to 16 weeks old. One shot is called a “five in one” or DHLPP, the other is called Corona.
These two shots, each given three times, help prevent six highly contagious and often fatal diseases: Canine Distemper, Canine Hepatitis, Leptospirosis, Parainfluenza, Parvo-virus, and Corona. They should also have a rabies shot after they’re 4 months old.
- Hepatitis is a liver disease.
- Distemper is a viral disease affecting the brain, lungs and intestines.
- Leptospirosis is a urinary tract bacterial disease.
- Parainfluenza is an infectious bronchitis.
- Parvo-virus is an intestinal viral disease.
- Corona is an intestinal viral disease.
- Rabies is a fatal viral disease.
Have the puppies been wormed?
Puppies should be wormed every two weeks beginning at four weeks of age and continuing until they are 12 weeks old. From 12 weeks to 6 months of age, puppies should be wormed once every month.
Does this breed have health problems?
You should do some research on the breed you want, to check on the honesty of the breeder for this question. Some breeds are prone to disorders such as hip dysplasia and eye disorders. A reputable, honest breeder will openly discuss these health issues with you. You’ll want to have the parents and both sets of grandparents certified free of any genetic disorders.
How long have you been raising this breed?
If the breeder has been in business for a more than a year or two, he should be intimately knowledgeable about the breed and how to raise puppies.
Have you raised other breeds?
If the breeder has raised a lot of different breeds, he may not be interested in the quality of dogs that he raises – or it just may be a puppy mill.
May I see your kennel?
If the puppies are raised in a kennel rather than inside the home, you should be able to look at the kennel to verify that it is clean and the puppies look like they’re well cared for.
Do you have any other puppies that I may I see?
The breeder may have some older puppies with cosmetic imperfections for sale that may be less expensive than the one’s he’s showing you. If all you want is a pet, and you don’t have any intention of showing or breeding your dog, getting a puppy or dog with some cosmetic imperfections may be a way to save some money on the purchase price.
Cosmetic imperfections are not genetic disorders. They are simply anomalies that prevent the dog from conforming to breed standards, such as an ear that flops or a patch of white hair on a single colored breed.
What brand of food is the puppy being fed?
It’s best to start with the same brand of puppy food and change it gradually, if you want to change it to another brand. Sometimes puppies and adult dogs will get diarrhea when their food is abruptly changed from one brand to another.
Is there a return policy?
There should be a return policy within some time limit, usually thirty to sixty days. You should know under what conditions you can get all or some of your money back.
Is there a return policy if my vet finds a problem with the puppy?
You should have your puppy examined by a vet as soon as possible, after bringing your puppy home. There should be a 100% money back return policy if your vet finds any medical or physical problem with your puppy and the vet gives you the information in writing.
If the breeder is conscientious and concerned about what kind of home their puppies go to, he/she should ask you some questions. These should include:
- Will the dog be an inside dog or an outside dog?
- Do you want a show quality dog or just a pet?
- Do you have any children and if so, what are their ages?
- How long will the puppy be alone during a weekday – during a weekend?
- Do you have any other dogs, cats or other animals?
- Have you owned dogs before and if so, what breed?
- Why do you want this breed of dog?
- What are you going to do with your dog?
10 Things I Wish I Knew Before Getting a Puppy
If you go to a breed rescue organization or an animal shelter to get your puppy or dog, there may be scant information that you can get so your questions may go unanswered.
You should still try to get as much information as you can, especially about the dog’s temperament or any undesirable habits that you may have to train out. If you’re looking for a puppy, try to find out as much as you can about the mother, father, and the circumstances that brought them to the shelter.
Most shelters, breed specific or otherwise, will have the dog vetted, with his/her shots brought up to date and have the dog neutered or spayed. Ask about it. You will want to know how long they’ve been in the shelter and if they’ve had any training, especially house training.