Monday, December 12, 2011

Buying a Puppy or Dog from a Breeder: Some Considerations

This is my follow up to the adopting a dog post from November 14. As I mentioned in that post not all dogs need to come from adoption or rescue groups. I am not arguing that there isn't a need for homes but it's not the best choice for every family.

That being said getting a dog from a breeder does not guarantee health or temperment (or even the right personality fit). Here's some must have's that breeders should adhere to before you buy a puppy or adult dog from them.

- All breeding dogs should be health screened for common issues in the breed. Most commonly this means OFA xrays done of elbows and hips, yearly eye exams (often referred to as CERF test), hearing exams (BAER), drug sensitivites, and of course a history of cancer, diabetes, epilesy and other diseases in the lines. Health screening will vary from breed to breed so do your research and find out what tests are recommended.

- Breeding dogs should be over the age of 2 years old (both males and females) and not bred every heat cycle (females). 

- Breeders should practice socialization with their puppies from the first day. Puppies living in the home will generally be exposed to more stimuli but this does not guarantee anything. When asking questions about socialization please be considerate that the breeder is also balancing their life, keeping the puppies safe/healthy as well as exposing them to new things. This is however extremely important. 

- Parent dogs should have good temperments with no exceptions. If you are looking for a family pet then I highly recommend being able to meet both parent dogs. 

Sometimes breeders will have adult dogs looking for homes. This can happen for a variety of reasons but most commonly it is because the dog they kept isn't going to be a good addition to their breeding program (either the conformation is quite what they wanted or the dog doesn't have a certain attribute that they want). This can mean a well trained and well adjusted adult dog for a family. I highly recommend this for families with young children who want a mostly ready made dog (please still attend at least 1 obedience group class though... it's great for bonding).  

Don't be afraid to ask your breeder questions but also be polite. Remember many good breeders aren't making a living by breeding dogs. They are doing it because they love the breed and want to enhance it.

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