If you’re getting a purebred puppy, do me a big favour—find a reputable dog breeder. How? Ask your veterinarian. Call the American Kennel Club and ask them for the parent club. They’ll recommend good breeders in your area.
Use good sense when visiting a kennel. Is it clean? How about the smell? What about the dogs; are they perky and friendly? A good breeder will have as many questions for you as you will for him. Don’t be offended. The concern is a good sign.
If the breeder is sloppy, the kennels are a mess, and the dogs are listless and poorly kept, you won’t be able to trust anything he might tell you—from the pups’ pedigree to their immunizations. Be sure to question the breeder’s knowledge of genetic health conditions for your specific breed.
A common example is hip dysplasia, affecting dogs ranging from 15 to 200 pounds, which affects the proper development of the hip joint. Dogs prone to this condition should be OFA certified before they’re bred. Insist that your breeder provides you with certification slips before you consider buying a puppy.
OFA, the Orthopedic Foundation for Animals, rates dogs’ hips as excellent, good, fair, borderline, or dysplastic (mild to severe) when they’re two years of age. Make sure your puppy’s parents have been certified and are over two years of age. You can get a list of breeders in your area by contacting the AKC and asking for the parent club of a specific breed. This information is available from the AKC’s North Carolina office. Contact them at 5580 Centerview Dr., Raleigh, NC 27606, (919) 233-3600.
Here Are Some Questions You Can Ask a Breeder from Whom You’re Considering Buying a Pup:
How long have you been breeding dogs?
Are the puppies socialized to unfamiliar sounds and people?
Can I meet both parents?
Is the purchase of the puppy guaranteed against health or behavioral defects?
Have the parents been certified clear of genetic defects inherent to the breed? (You can ask your veterinarian what to look for.)
Do you temperament test the litter? If not, do you mind if I do so before selecting my puppy?
The ideal situation would be to find a breeder who is dedicated to the good temperament of the breed as well as the dog’s conformation (the dog’s physical characteristics compared to the ideals for the breed), who guarantees the puppy’s health, and who is willing to let you temperament test the puppies (if he or she hasn’t done it) to ensure that you’re ending up with a healthy puppy whose personality matches your lifestyle.
Temperament is the keyword while you’re out there searching for your puppy. Purebred puppies cost money. How much will depend on the breed and your location? Ask a breeder if she stresses conformation or temperament in her breeding lines. Does she socialize with the puppies? A well-bred and socialized pup will be more relaxed, less of a chewer, and more acceptable of everyday occurrences. Cost can range from $300 to 1,000.
When you visit the breeder, insist on meeting the mother dog and, if possible, the father dog. Their personalities leave their mark.