Looking for a puppy? Here is some information to assist you along the way...
If you've decided on a pedigree pup, you won't regret the homework and legwork involved in deciding on the right breeder. You can contact breeders directly, or perhaps start by visiting a few dog shows, and talking to as many breeders as possible. The Canine Council in your state or territory will be able to direct you to registered breeders, and will also have details about dog shows in your area.
A good breeder wants to see their pups go to the finest homes. If the breeder is asking questions to assess your situation, like how much time you have to spend with your pet, take it as a positive sign.
A reputable breeder will show no reluctance in allowing you to view their kennels, and they should also be honest about the benefits, drawbacks and potential hereditary diseases their breed is prone to.
Good breeders will breed for quality not quantity, so avoid ones with pups available at all times. They will also breed their dogs for sound temperaments, and will have already begun socialising the pups. You will be able to glean quite a bit about a pup's temperament by visiting the sire (father) and dam (mother). Ask yourself how friendly and confident the sire and dam are - observe if they show any fear or nervousness.
The breeder you're after will have clean premises, with healthy pets and plenty of space. Overcrowded, dirty kennels will more than likely have unhealthy (and unhappy) dogs. Keep an eye on the general condition of the dogs: Are their eyes clear and bright? Are their coats glossy? Are their ears clean?
Another mark of a committed breeder is one that offers a guarantee (these will rarely cover the life of the dog). A reputable breeder should also be able to furnish you with written information about the health status of their dogs, and, depending on the breed, whether they've had their dogs screened for hereditary problems. Genetic problems crop up in many breeds, so this one important area for you to be aware of - consider chatting to your vet about the breed before speaking to the breeders themselves.
Pups need to stay with their mothers and littermates until at least 8 weeks of age, so avoid taking a pup home under 8 weeks even if it is such a cutey..
Cost is always a consideration, so call around to the various breeders to get an idea how much your chosen breed is usually priced.
Finally, ask the breeder for references and whether you can get in touch with any of their previous clients. Its kind of nice to know who your puppy's brothers and sisters are and to compare notes with their new families.
A breeder should be a virtual encyclopaedia on their chosen breed. Every dog is an individual, yet each breed has its own characteristics and needs, so be sure to have a good understanding of these needs before heading home with your pup.
Perhaps the most important questions for a breeder involve health and genetics. By now, you would have done your homework and be aware of possible genetic problems in your chosen breed. You should ask the breeder what steps have been made to eradicate these problems in their line, and what health tests have been performed on the pup and the pup's parents. The breeder should be able to produce written documentation regarding the health tests. Ask the breeder if any of their dogs has had problems with these genetic diseases.
Some other questions to ask include: What sort of socialisation has the pup had? Has the pup been exposed to children, cats and other dogs? What type of food has the puppy been fed on? Can you see the pup's parents and their pedigrees? Has the puppy been immunized? What has the breeder observed about this particular puppy or litter? Also ask if there's a guarantee with the pup, and what responsibility your breeder is willing to accept if you take a pup home and there's a problem (either behavioural or health-wise). You may not want to return your pup, but if the breeder is willing to accept a problem puppy back (and willing to back it up in writing), it shows their commitment.
Also ensure that the breeder you're dealing with is registered. Registration may not necessarily mean the breeder is one of quality, but at least you can be sure that the breed is indeed what it is claimed to be (also see: 'How do you check if the breeder is reputable?').
If your planning to show your dog, your criteria will be a little different than if you were looking for one that is exclusively a pet. You will need to research the finer points of the breed, explore the world of dog shows and have a grasp of the breed standards.
You may have other questions for your breeder, so be sure to write them down. You may forget to ask amid all the excitement of finding your perfect puppy companion.
Reputable breeders will encourage you to visit the premises and meet the parents if possible. Look for friendly, healthy animals and clean tidy facilities. Choose a puppy with bright clear eyes, clean ears and a clean rear end. You will want to select the pup who approaches you with confidence and interest. Resist feeling sorry for the smallest, saddest looking puppy as this one may not make the best pet.
Most breeders will want to ask you several questions to determine if you have the sort of home suitable for their puppies. You can also ask questions of the breeder such as what diet the puppy is used to and when was the pup last vaccinated and wormed.
Be wary of breeders who have many litters and lots of puppies available all year round. Careful breeders only breed from their best animals and so may not have puppies available all the time. You may even need to go on a waiting list for the next litter. You will often be asked to pay a deposit and come back to pick up the pup once he or she is ready to be homed at around 8-10 weeks of age. Copied with permission from the Pedigree web site.......
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