Whether it’s a show – quality Shar – Pei or a Heinz – 57 with a personality and look that just catches your eye, you want this to be happily – ever – after affair. There are many ways to acquire the dog of your dreams, but if you want to maximize the chances of it being a perfect match, some ways are better than others.
Breeders know just about everything there is to know about the breed of dog they raise, and they work to improve the quality of that breed with every litter. The money they spend on breeding a litter of puppies far exceeds the money they make from selling the pups. They are doing it for love, not money.
Breeders will screen potential puppy buyers very carefully; turning down those whom they feel will not provide the pups with the right lifestyle or environment. “Someone purchasing a puppy must make me feel that they are willing to commit to the lifetime of the dog and that they are going to be responsible dog owners,” says Whippet breeder Dr. Janet Lalonde.
Don’t take offense if a breeder suggests that you think about another breed. She has both the dog’s best interests, and yours, in mind, because a bad match will leave everyone unhappy. In fact, responsible breeders will almost always take a puppy back if for some reason it doesn’t work out, or your circumstances change. And a responsible breeder will happily answer your questions and give you tips and advice, even long after you’ve taken your new friend home.
A good breeder will offer a contract that explains the pup’s health and neutering requirements. For instance, if you don’t plan to show the dog, the breeder may ask you to sign a contract stating that you will have the dog neutered at a certain age. This is because the breeders feels responsible for the dog for the dog’s entire life, and wants to make sure that dog doesn’t end up in the hands of someone who will breed him without the benefit of knowledge or experience.
Breeders to Avoid:
Backyard breeders breed their dogs and sell the puppies as a way of making money. They are unlikely to be involved with a local or national club dedicated to studying and advancing the breed, so their dogs aren’t to the breed standard. Without a knowledge of the breed and the standard, they may not understand how to prevent unfortunate genetic traits from occurring in their pups. They may still, however, charge prices as high as a reputable breeder.
Many classified ads are placed by backyard breeders. Be wary if someone agrees to sell you a puppy with no questions asked. Chances are, he won’t want you asking him any questions either, because he doesn’t want to tell you about the health and temperament of the pup’s parents.
Finding a good Breeder:
For advice on how to find a reputable breeder, contact the American Kennel Club customer service department for a list of national breed clubs. Or try their Breeder Referral Representative Service.
If you have access to the internet, there are several websites where you can start, including Breeder Link home page, Dog Breeders online directory and A-1 Dog breeder’s showcase.
“Don’t buy a pup until you’ve visited at least three good breeders,’’ advises Bauman. “Then you’ll have plenty of comparison points.”
When you walk by a pet show and see all those sad little eyes, keep on walking. Pet shops are often supplied by puppy mills, which breed large numbers of purebred dogs of questionable lineage for profit, says veterinarian Dr. Christine Wilford. Puppy mill conditions may be poor, with female dogs being bred every time they come into season. Puppies are often taken from their mothers at four to six weeks, too young for them to have received the socialization the need before leaving home. “Purchasing a pup from a pet store may seem like a humane act,” says Dr. Wilford. “But in the long run, it just provides revenue to puppy mills and encourages them to continue to breed indiscriminately.”
Pet shops sometimes also take litters from backyard breeders. You might see a tag next to a puppy’s cage with a breeder’s name on it, but this isn’t guarantee of anything. Many experts feel that it’s best to avoid puppies in pet shop windows, even though they look to be in need of good home. “You should buy a purebred puppy only from the person who actually bred the dog,” advises Dr. Wilford.
An animal shelter is a first choice for many would – be dog owners. You may feel the dogs to be found there deserve a second chance. Or since there are already so many dogs in the world, you’d prefer to get a dog that really needs a good home. Or may be you simply want a unique, one – of – a – kind, mixed breed dog, and shelters have plenty to choose from.
The majority of dogs in shelters are adults. Some are young adults that outgrew the cute puppy stage and become a handful for their owners, who may have been unaware of the time needed of care for a dog. With love and proper training, many of these make happy, reliable family pets.
“Many of the dogs in shelters have stable temperaments, but are untrained any maybe a bit wild. If you teach them a vocabulary and the ability to love learning and training, they can be well – trained,” says Sternberg. “A shelter dog can be regarded as special,” she adds. “Because with a little training to scrub away some dirt and silt, he can emerge as a pearl.”
Shelters are operated by various organizations, either local humane societies or the local chapter of a national group such as the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals. They usually charge an adoption fee of $10 to $50.
Shelters are committed to encouraging the neutering of dogs. They may, therefore, arrange through a local veterinary clinic for free or reduced – cost neutering, so check their policy.
You can visit a local pet shelter, or you could try the website of the Humane Society of the United States, with profiles of dogs for adoption from across the nation. The local shelter might not have what you’re looking for, but one only 50 miles away may have.
Purebred dogs have been showing up at shelters in increasing numbers in recent years. Alarmed that their beloved breeds are ending up there, purebred fanciers have formed breed rescue clubs to give these dogs a second chance. Volunteers who raise a particularly breed open their homes and kennels to individual dogs that have ended up in a shelter or been abandoned. They also take in dogs from people who realize it isn’t working out but who want to make sure their dog goes to a good home.
Once in their foster home, these dogs are evaluated for basic obedience, health, temperament and house – training. If a dog isn’t quite up to speed, volunteers will often work with him until he meets the requirements to make a good pet. The last thing these groups want is for the dog to go through the cycle of abandonment all over again.
Rescue leagues are wonderful places to find a young adult purebred dog. If you find the purchase price of a purebred puppy prohibitive but have your heart set on, say, a Norwegian Elkhound or Papillion, breed rescue may be just the answer for you.
Local breeders will be able to refer you to rescue clubs, or you can access some terrific clearinghouses on the internet. Try the canine connections breed rescue information website or the pro dog breed rescue network. Both of these sites will link you to hundreds of individual breed rescue clubs, categorized by breed.
Looking for a Good Home:
Despite the efforts of owners to make sure their unneutered females don’t come in contact with males when they’re in season, the dogs still sometimes manage to get pregnant. The result is often a box of adorable puppies and a sign saying, “Puppies. Eight- week – old Lab mix. Looking for a good home.”
If you’ve been thinking about including a dog in your life, have your heart set on a puppy, and prefer the pauper to the prince, this will probably be your chance to make a match. But whatever you do, don’t make it an impulse decision. You both deserve more than that, because this friendship is for life.
He deserves your honest and thoughtful consideration of all the implications f having a dog, and your absolute certainty that this is the right thing to do. You need to find out as best you can if this is the right pup for you. If it’s neighbor’s litter, you will know the mother and you might even guess who’s the father – which gives you some idea of the family background. And you will also have the first eight weeks of their lives to get to know the puppies and decide on the one to suit you.
If your heart’s been stolen away outside the local supermarket, take a deep breath. Question the person who’s giving away the puppies to get as much background information as possible. Watch how the puppies interact with each other. Pick up the one that you like and check that he looks healthy and reacts well to you. Take your time to make your choice.