The watch word for every potential puppy buyer should always be, "caveat emptor", or "let the buyer beware." Here are some simple steps to assure that you will have the best chance of bringing home a puppy that will happily share your life for many years to come.
First, understand that there are no real guarantees, puppies are not widgets. They are living, breathing animals. As such, they are subject to a wide range of illnesses that can befall them throughout their lives, much like human children. That being said, we will first focus on things to look for whether you are buying a mixed breed puppy or a pure-bred puppy. We will then provide information and references you will need if you are purchasing a pure-bred dog.
What To Look For In A Puppy and A Litter
Puppies should be raised in a home, in a clean environment. Puppies that are not raised in close contact with humans, children, families and other pets may suffer from a lack of socialization. Look for a clean environment and happy, friendly, out going puppies. Coats should be shiny or fluffy and their eyes should be bright. Healthy puppies will not be coughing or have a discharge from their eyes or nose. They should be playful, unless they just had meal, which will make them sleepy. Stools should be firm and not runny. Puppies that are pot bellied and have dull coats may have worms. You should expect the breeder to supply you with a health record which will include the shots they have had and a record of their de-worming schedule or negative stool samples.
What To Look For If Purchasing A Purebred Dog
We plan more articles on this subject, however, here are some general guidelines.
Ask the breeder the following questions:
Q. How long have you been breeding this breed?
A. Hopefully they have some experience with the breed at least 5 years and 5 litters.
If not are they learning from an experienced breeder?
Q. What kind of health testing do they do before breeding the parents.
A. Good answers are: we test for those recommended by the breed club, like
OFA for hips, stifles, eyes, heart or whatever is necessary in that breed.
Poor answers are: we don't test because we have no problems, or there are
no health problems in this breed.
Q. Do you provide a health guarantee with this puppy?
A. Answer should be, yes, for hips, etc., and after your veterinarian examines the puppy
if things are not as they should be we will take the puppy back for a full cash refund.
Get this in writing, many breeders ask that your vet examine the puppy within the first
The Parents Of The Puppy
If you purchase your puppy from the breeder, you will be able to see the mother of the puppies. Some moms are possesive of their puppies and will act a little unsure around strangers. The mother should be in good weight and look generally healthy. If you are looking at a coated breed she will not be in good coat and you will have to forgive her raggedy looks. The breeders may have pictures of her in better condition.
If you are purchasing a puppy from a breed that will mature over 25 pounds both parents should be OFA certified as fair, good, or excellent.
If you are purchasing a puppy from a breed that will mature under 25 pounds both parents should be OFA certified for tight stifles.
In many breeds eye disease is a problem. Do your research and study the breeds you are considering and their health requirements. Places to do this research are www.offa.org and the parent or national breed club website. Many breed clubs have codes of ethics you should read and become familiar with: a) the breed standard b) the breed code of ethics for every breed you are considering.
We welcome your comments and suggestions regarding this topic.