Buying a Puppy



There are many questions to be answered before you get a dog. Different breeds of dogs have different personalities. Some are more laid-back, others are more active. There are130 different breeds recognized by the American Kennel Club. One is right for you. One of the things to keep in mind in your personal activity level. You should look for a breed which fits your life-style. If you are an avid jogger or runner, you may want a dog who can enjoy this activity with you. If you are a quiet person who reads books by a fire, a more sedate dog may make you happy. Do you have children? If so, you may want a dog who can play with the kids but is calm enough not to drive you crazy. Take into account the size of your home and its backyard. Large dogs need lots of room and will not do well in an apartment. A small or medium sized dog may do better. What about the climate you live in. Is it a warm place with lots of fleas? A long-coated dog might suffer more in a hot, humid climate than one who is short-coated. A short-coated dog, on the other hand, will suffer if left outside in the cold weather.

  Where To Begin Searching One of the best places to begin your search for a potential purebred pet is a large dog show. Here you'll be able to see what hundreds of different breeds look like, their sizes as adults, their temperament and the amount of grooming work their coats require. (To find out where the dog shows are in your area, write: Show Plans Dept., American Kennel Club, 51 Madison Avenue, New York, NY 10010. In Canada, contact: The Canadian Kennel Club, 2150 Bloor St. West, Toronto, Ontario M6S4V7. In Germany, contact: Verband Deutsche Hundewesen (VDH) e.V., Westfalendamm 174, 44141 Dortmund. )

At the show, look for breeds of dogs which interest you. If their owners or handlers are not busy getting ready to go into the show ring, talk to them about their dogs. If they don't have time to talk, don't be offended. You can visit with them after they exhibit their dog, or take their business card and call them. After deciding on the breed or breeds you like, make appointments to visit the kennels. If you are interested in a longhaired dog, go into the show's grooming area and watch while the dogs are being brushed. While you won't need to lavish such attention on your own dog, you must be willing to brush your long-haired dog every day or two. You also must be willing to pay monthly to have your dog clipped, bathed and brushed - unless you want to do it yourself.

 Choosing the Breeder

The breeder can tell you important information. Are the dogs strong-willed? Are there any known health problems in this breed? What are the specific care requirements? You should be checking out the breeder as well as the breed. The breeder will probably also check you out to see if you will be a responsible dog owner. Your evaluation of the breeder should begin as you start down the driveway of the breeder's home. Are things clean and pleasant here? As you walk into the home or kennel, see if the area is clean, with no or very little odor. Would you, as an individual, want to live here? Is the breeder nice, polite and helpful? You will have questions about your puppy's upbringing, those first-time owner jitters and"emergencies." Is the breeder willing to answer your questions and help you later? Is this a person you will want to turn to for advice over the life of your dog? Also, ask the breeder why she chose this breed. Her face should light up as she  begins telling you wonderful dog stories. She may tell you about some terrific breeders who started her on her way with this exceptional breed of dog. You'll be able to sense that this woman is knowledgeable, caring and involved in the betterment of her breed. What does she honestly like or dislike about the breed? Why is she breeding dogs? Does she belong to her national breed club? Does she subscribe to their code of ethics? Does she exhibit her dogs at dog shows? These are all good questions to ask.Never buy a dog from someone who says they wanted to make some money on the side.If you hear this, run, don't walk to the nearest door.

  Now for the nitty gritty details. Ask her why she bred the litter. What physical problems might these dogs haveand will that cause big vet bills? Be sure to inquire about the health care the breeder's dogs receive. Are they vaccinated and wormed regularly? Her answers to your questions should reflect that she cares about the health and well-being of her dogs. Also, ask about the paper work which comes with these puppies. Does the breeder have the AKC registration forms (known as"puppy blue slips"). If not, your dog may not be eligible for registration with the AKC.

Warning Signs

There are some breeders you'll want to avoid. Ask the breeder at what age she likes putting her puppies into their new homes. Do not buy from a breeder who lets puppies go before seven weeks of age. The more time a pup spends with its litter mates and Mom, the better adjusted it will be as an adult dog. Ask the breeder if she refunds money or will replace the puppy if it turns out to have a physical problem such as a heart defect or crippling disease. Will she take a puppy or dog back if for some reason it doesn't work out? A good, reputable breeder will always take the dog back. A person who does not take the dog back may be a "backyard breeder." This is a person who is breeding dogs, but really has no idea what he or she is doing.

  The puppies may have been an accident, or have been produced to show the children the"miracle of birth," or the owner wanted the dog to have the experience of having puppies before being spayed. These are all inappropriate reasons to have puppies. Often, the backyard breeder runs ads in the local paper. A few gentle questions should quickly help you determine whether or not you have found a knowledgeable breeder. Never buy a dog from someone who says they wanted to make some money on the side. If you hear this, run, don't walk to the nearest door. If you have any doubt about the quality of the breeder's dogs, ask for names of owners of her other puppies - and call them! If this is the person's first litter, ask to speak with the breeder's vet.

  Your Turn

A good, reputable breeder will ask you questions, and plenty of them. The breeder will discuss with you what she is looking for in an ideal home for her dogs. She will also discuss with you the special qualifications for puppies who are going to be shown. Her questions should reflect that she cares where the puppy goes and the

care you will give. This article should help you get started in your search for that special puppy who fits your personality and life style. Getting a puppy is an important decision. Make the effort, and take the time to do it right.

If you have any more questions or comment that you would like to make, please fill free to send a e-mail. I will do my best to answer your questions.


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