You have taken a look at where your life is right now, and you think you have the right resources and the right home, and you are ready to enhance your life by adopting a puppy. That is just awesome!
I couldn’t be happier for you. Now, though, you have to make sure that you get the right dog, from the right breeder. I am a big fan of shelter dogs, and I really believe that sometimes, the best dog can be a “Heinz 57.” However, if your heart is set on a purebred dog, that’s fine too. You just have to make sure that you get the right dog from the right breeder. So, let’s talk about how to make that happen. You probably have a lot of questions, and I’ll do my best to answer them.
How Much Is That Doggie in the Window?
Okay, we need to stop right here. That adorable little puppy that you see in the pet shop window is not right for you, or for anyone else for that matter. Why is that? Because you can be almost certain that he came from a puppy mill.
Here is the ugly secret that pet stores would rather you didn’t know – they don’t really care about the pets they are selling. Puppies, to pet stores, are nothing more than merchandise that is to be purchased from a supplier for precious little money and then sold at a ridiculous markup. They will not offer you any kind of guarantee with your purchase, and you could very well end up with a puppy that has a serious defect.
Most of the time, too, you will be conned into buying a so-called “Yorkie-Poo” or “Peke-a-Poo” or “Doxie” or some other cross-breed with a cutesy name that means nothing more than that you are not getting a purebred puppy. You are getting a puppy from a disreputable breeder who has several dogs of different breeds, and breeds them indiscriminately to get puppies as soon as possible, that can then be dumped in a pet store and represented as something desirable.
In short, don’t even think about a pet store puppy, and don’t be suckered into the idea that a cross-breed is actually a recognized breed. It isn’t.
Do I Have to Buy a Purebred?
No, that’s not what I’m saying. But deliberate breeding of two different breeds is an attempt to sell you something that isn’t “real.” It’s like I just said – a Yorkshire/poodle cross is not a “Yorkie-Poo.” It is a crossbreed. It is not valuable. It is not worth thousands of dollars. And anyone who tries to tell you that it is, is scamming you. You can get a mix from anyone – you don’t have to pay big bucks.
Is There an Advantage to Purebreds?
Well, the advantage to a purebred is that you are getting exactly what you pay for. You know about the breed, you know about any health problems that it might be prone to, and you know exactly what it is going to look like.
Do I Have to Buy a Registered Dog?
This is a difficult area. You have probably heard a lot about “backyard breeders,” and wondered why buying from one is not a good idea. The AKC will tell you not to buy from a backyard breeder, but you have to keep that in the context that their members are breeding show dogs with verifiable bloodlines. There are actually some advantages to buying from a so-called “backyard breeder.” Let’s talk about it a bit more.
The first thing you need to know about backyard breeders is that you will not be able to register your puppy. Does this mean that you are not getting a purebred puppy? Not necessarily. If you are looking to buy a specific breed of dog, and you don’t care about papers, a backyard breeder can actually be a good bet. You want to find someone who loves the breed, and genuinely cares about where their puppies end up. Many backyard breeders don’t care about making money – they just want to promote the breed they love. So, what should you look for?
Good Backyard Breeders
A good backyard breeder will have a nice, clean kennel, well-socialized dogs, a lot of knowledge about the breed they are promoting, and will allow you to see both parents. They will also offer you the name of their veterinarian to use as a reference.
Bad Backyard Breeders
Bad backyard breeders have dirty kennels, more than one breed type, and dogs that look dirty or unhealthy. A good breeder should also always let you visit the kennel – if the breeder offers to meet you somewhere to hand over the puppy, just say “No thanks.” You should also be able to view both parents.
You should also make sure that the puppies have been vet-checked. This is your protection against health problems like hip dysplasia down the road.
You should also expect to be interrogated – a good breeder is going to ask you a lot of questions, like whether you have other animals in your household, if you have children that will be in contact with the animal, if you will be sure to have the dog get all its shots, if you will spay or neuter, if you have had any experience with dogs in the past, if your home life is stable, if you will read your puppy a story before putting him to bed… Okay, I’m joking about that last one. But the point I’m getting at is, if the breeder doesn’t seem all that interested in what happens to the puppy after you take it, maybe he or she wasn’t all that concerned about it in the first place, and there could be issues.
Never a Puppy Mill?
Generally speaking, never. But now, if you are like me and have a soft heart, you may be thinking of rescuing a puppy mill dog, don’t ever think of rescuing a puppy. You’re not rescuing. You’re taking a puppy from an already over-bred dog, and she will just be bred again to meet the demand for even more puppies. If a puppy mill has been closed down, though, it would be a kindness to take one of the adult dogs. Before you do that, though, you have to know that there will be issues, and you want to know what you’re getting into.
There is a really good book, called Beyond Flight or Fight: A Compassionate Guide for Working with Fearful Dogs by Sunny Weber. If you subscribe to Kindle Unlimited, you can have it for free. If you are not a subscriber, it is still a bargain at $6.91. Or, you can own it in paperback for $15.00. It will give you all the information you need to work with an adult dog that has been rescued from a puppy mill
Pet store? No. AKC breeder? Usually yes, but keep in mind that any dog with the proper paperwork can be registered. Backyard breeder? Sometimes, but tread carefully.