An Education Designed To Help You Learn Before You Buy
The first decisions in buying a puppy.
The most important may be whether or not your household even needs a pet! A living creature, from gold fish to Golden Retriever, needs attention and care from its owner and that owner must have time to devote to those needs. We intended to help you understand the needs and requirements for the potential pet owner. It will also suggest questions the breeder/seller should be asking you and the questions you need to ask of the seller to insure a good fit between puppy and human.
Before you buy a pet, and especially a puppy,
Why do I want this puppy?
A puppy is not a status symbol, it is
not an educational tool to teach children the facts of life, it is not a stuffed animal
that can be tossed aside on those days the family is too busy.
How much time do I have for this puppy?
Puppies need lots of
training to make them responsible household members. Compare them to the two year old
child who does not know good manners, needs potty training, cannot prepare his own food
and water and may not always sleep through the night. Puppies should not be left alone for
long hours and then be expected to learn all these things in a timely fashion. If you work
all day, look for that gold fish and then be sure you remember to feed him.
How old are my children?
If you have a child younger than four,
you already have your hands full! It is difficult to potty train a puppy and a child at
the same time. Besides, little kids adore stuffed animals
and the puppy looks the same to them. So if they poke his eyes and pull his tail, they
cannot perceive his pain. However he WILL feel pain and may retaliate by biting. This is
not aggressive behavior, it is his defense mechanism to say "I did not like what you
Is my yard fenced?
A pet can be incredibly fast when he sees
a ball in the street, another animal to play with or when he is being chased by a child.
It is heartbreaking for a family to lose a pet to a speeding car. An
electric fence is not the answer for small breeds. The electric fence
cannot keep larger animals out because it only works for the dog wearing the collar.
Larger dogs that roam free often attack smaller dogs. There are also
"dognappers" that capture cute dogs for resale and other purposes. A yard does
not have to be completely fenced. A small area nearest the exit that will serve to take
the puppy outside to do his business works well. If you have a secure deck (meaning with a
gate and no large escape holes), this may work well for you. This is essential to
successful housetraining. It must be close and the puppy must be promptly carried to the
area as soon as he awakens and/or as soon as you return home from running errands. Having
an area nearby is definitely a human need on those rainy days when you prefer to put the
pup outside while you remain inside and dry! Tying a dog out with a stake is inhumane,
unsafe and may create an aggressive dog!
Am I committed to lifelong care?
Having a pet is a commitment to
his care for his entire life. For a pet, this can mean as long as 16-18 years! This
means through sickness, old age and any infirmities that may come with age. A living
creature cannot just be tossed aside when it is inconvenient to provide the care.
Veterinary treatment can be quite expensive and the annual exam, shots and teeth cleaning
has cost to it. If you are looking for a pet for your child, who will provide pet care
when your child grows up and leaves for college? Who will maintain the coat and feed him?
Who will soothe aches and take him to the vet on a regular schedule? These have to be
Questions the breeder/seller should ask you
before you buy a puppy:
A responsible breeder wants information from you before selling you
a puppy. Those questions will reflect the questions you should have already asked yourself
about your reasons for wanting a puppy. Other questions will concern the members of
your household, ages of children, who will be responsible for training and care, who is
home during the day. This breeder has put time, effort and money into this
breeding and will be unlikely to place a puppy in a home that is not prepared to provide
adequate time and attention to raising it. A breeder who asks NO questions and only is
interested in selling has probably not spent a lot of time in planning for a genetically
healthy litter, has no concern as to how the puppy will be cared for and may not even know
much about the breed except that a pet is cute and desirable and can bring in a large
sale price. By the way, price is never the best indicator of quality. A good breeder is
concerned with the home that will be provided
and prices pups only according to the investment in raising the litter. This means keeping
the pups until they are old enough to be separated from the
litter and never immediately after weaning at six weeks.
In addition to the topics mentioned, the breeder will ask?
Why do you want a puppy? Why a pet?
Have you owned pets before? What happened to those pets? Were they
healthy; did they live long lives?
Is your yard fenced? Are you in a house or an apartment?
How many other pets do you have? Are other dogs neutered/spayed? Their
ages, sex, health and temperaments?
If a local sale, the breeder may ask which veterinarian you plan to
Have you obedience trained a dog before?
Are you willing to sign a contract to spay/neuter this puppy
since it is not a show puppy and not a prospect for breeding?
Do not expect to
buy a pet quality puppy and then have the right to breed this puppy. Every show litter has
pups in it that are not good enough to be show pups. This may be for cosmetic reasons,
such as lighter pigment or teeth that are not properly aligned. The puppy may not be
outgoing enough to perform well in the show ring. His measurements may be less than
perfect (height, weight, length) but he will still be a wonderful pet. Understand that a
spayed or neutered animal is likely to live a longer and healthier life. Trust the breeder
to know which puppy should not be bred and sign those papers willingly when asked to do
so. This is the breeders way to insure good health for future generations of
Questions the buyer should ask the seller:
How old is the puppy you are selling?
Never buy a
puppy younger than 8 weeks and it is better for the puppy to remain with the litter until
about 10-12 weeks. Some show breeders will keep a puppy several months before selling it
because this is considered a good show prospect. This may be a particularly desirable
puppy so do not reject it because of age! However do ask why it is being sold later than
others in the litter.
Who are the parents and can they both be seen (especially the
mother of the puppies)?
Do you have a pedigree showing the ancestors?
champions behind the pup? Any in the previous three generations or are there only one or
two that are six or seven generations back? A champion years ago has no real meaning if
there has not been a champion within the last two or three generations.
Health of the parents, grandparents and great-grandparents?
A responsible breeder knows several generations and is aware of the health of the
ancestors. To test this information, ask about genetic screening of ancestors. This
screening is indicated by registration numbers that begin CERF or OFA. The CERF registry
indicates healthy eyes (renew annually) and the OFA registry (lifetime)
is for orthopedic soundness. A person who
does not know what you mean is probably breeding pets bought from a pet shop or puppy mill
environment and may have no information at all about earlier generations. These
registration numbers cannot be used unless the animals have been checked by the properly
trained veterinary specialists. IF THE ANSWER YOU RECEIVE IS "I DONT
TEST BECAUSE MY DOGS DONT HAVE THESE PROBLEMS, you must realize that if
testing isnt done, you do not know if your dogs have problems.
What shots has the puppy had and who gave them? Will I be given
a record of these shots? How many times has the puppy been checked by a veterinarian? Name
of the veterinarian who examined him?
A good breeder has a lifelong commitment to the welfare of pups being
sold. This means the breeder will always be available to answer questions, to give advice
on diet and training and to help place a dog that you can no longer keep (because of a
move, change in the health of the owner or whatever). The breeders responsibility does not lessen your obligations to lifelong care!
It is worth noting that you should NEVER buy a pup from someone who
"will meet you at the mall" or some location other than his home/kennel! And be
alert to "brokers" who buy pups from other breeders to sell.
- there is no such thing as a "toy" pet. They
should range in adult size from about 9 inches to 12 inches at the shoulder
and the outside range is not considered "show size". Any breeder who
advertises "toys" should be suspect and you should never pay extra for this
non-existent type of pet breed, which may well be a mixed breed puppy,
regardless of any papers that are offered with it.
Once you have asked your
questions about health, you should know that you can confirm some of the
information on line. To determine if a breeder listed on our directory (or
other breeders, for that matter) is actually certifying their breeding stock,
go to www.offa.org, which is the web site
for the Orthopedic Foundation for Animals, and click on "search OFA records".
If you enter the breeder's kennel name, you will find a list of all the
pets they have certified in the past, as well as whether the prospective
parents of their next litter are truly certified.
Now that you have the answers to questions asked and have given
answers that the seller has asked, do you still want to purchase a puppy at this time?
You may have concluded that this is not the right time for your family
to have a puppy. If you feel comfortable with the breeder who has discussed selling you a
puppy, indicate that you may want to come back later when the children are older and you
have more time. Let the breeder know you have made this decision. Do not be offended if
the breeder indicates that your household is not ready for a puppy. Breeders interview
many prospective buyers and have an instinct for which households need a puppy and which
do not. Unfortunately the "for profit" sellers only look for financial return
and will not give such advice. That is why there are so many dogs in pounds and roaming
the countryside. If you are attracted to the pet Frise, remember that you may be making
a contribution to the future of the breed when you opt not to take a puppy home with you!
You can always make a purchase when circumstances have changed and your lifestyle is more
suited to pet ownership. And if you do buy a puppy, regardless of the breed, please be a
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