While many people adopt their puppy at the local shelter, many others have their hearts set on a particular breed or "designer" cross-breed. With investigations into puppy mills and smuggled pups increasing, buyers must beware! Don’t go looking for love in all the wrong places!
1) Ask Yourself: Would you adopt a child from this person? You wouldn’t buy a child from a crowded cage in a store, from an Internet baby emporium, or from a flea market or street corner seller. Don’t buy a puppy from them either.
2) Support breeders who put dogs first. Good breeders ask about your suitability as a “parent” before asking for your credit card.
3) Meet The Parents! Many so-called “teacup” dogs wouldn’t fit in a steamer trunk when full-grown. Meeting the parents gives you a much better idea what size the adult pup will be, how sociable the parents are, and how all the dogs are treated.
4) Avoid backyard breeders. People “dabbling” in breeding have no idea what genetic problems they are passing along. Look for a breeder who has studied the breed and is active in a breed club.
5) USDA “inspected” means next to nothing. The USDA establishes only minimum-care standards, and is no guarantee of expertise, love or socialization.
6) Papers from the kennel club mean little. Papers are no guarantee of quality or health, or even of a particular lineage.
7) Get your pup vet checked! You must have your dog vet checked by an independent vet before finalizing the purchase. No exceptions! And make sure the vet represents you, not the breeder.
8) If possible, buy locally. If you buy based on photos, and a certificate from the breeder’s vet, you have to trust their honesty. Shipping dogs by air can permanently damage the dog psychologically.
9) Buy the happy, friendly dog, not the cute shy one. Temperament is everything, and is often indicative of health.
10) Consider mixed-breeds. Mixed breeds often benefit from “hybrid vigor.” That is, common breed genetic defects aren’t passed along from both sides of the pup’s family.
Please, select a dog with your brain, not just your heart. You're making a very expensive commitment that could last for as long as twenty years. Keep foremost in your mind that the dog's very life depends on your making a good match. Bad choices often end up dying in shelters. For everyone's sake, please choose wisely. Then enjoy your new pup!
Jan Rasmusen is the author of Scared Poopless: The Straight Scoop on Dog Care, 2006 Ben Franklin Award Winner for the “Best Health Book” of any kind—the first animal care book to ever win the Health category of this prestigious national award. All author royalties benefit animal causes. Sign up for her free newsletter at www.Dogs4Dogs.com.