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When looking to purchase a puppy, you should choose the breeder carefully. There are a few main distinctions (and probably many other subtle differences) between a “good breeder” and a “less than reputable breeder” that a first time puppy buyer might not understand. “Puppy mills” and “pet stores” are not mentioned here because it is generally well understood that puppies should not be purchased from these places.
Many breeders are well intended people who are breeding properly registered AKC dogs. The problem is that many puppy buyers assume that because the litter is properly registered with the AKC that the litter is of good quality. This may or may not be the case. Here is why…..
An experienced, reputable breeder knows the pedigree (family tree) of his/her dogs and understands what genetic problems may be hidden back there. It is important to know what recessive genetic traits could come to the surface when making informed judgments as to what male may work best for a particular female. Less knowledgeable breeders may choose any registered stud that is owned by someone they might know and who is convenient or inexpensive to breed to. Neither parent may have ever been evaluated by anyone with the expertise to properly do so.
The best breeders are very careful as to what families that the pups are allowed to be adopted into. There is a big demand for well bred pups so these breeders can make sure that their puppies only go to the best homes. Reputable breeders are available for the lifetime of the pup to provide advice, to stand by written guarantees, and to provide a home for the pup at any time during its life if need be. Good breeders really care about the pups and what their lives will be like. However, some breeders are only in it for the money, may have a hard time selling the pups, and therefore can be more “hard sell” and not really take the time to investigate the potential puppy owners.
Experienced, reputable breeders can provide references and will provide written health guarantees. A key component of a proper guarantee is that the new pet owner will not have to return the original puppy in order to get a replacement or refund. Some breeders may not have the resources to back-up a guarantee and/or may intentionally guarantee an exchange knowing that most families do not want to part with a sick dog after it has become a member of their family.
Experienced, reputable breeders do things with their dogs other than just breed them. Well bred dogs should have many ancestors with conformation and/or performance titles. This is not about saying you own a snooty pup with a famous pedigree. It is about knowing that the dogs are capable of doing what the breed was designed to do and are smart, healthy, stable, sound, flexible, and therefore well capable of holding up to the demands of being a loved family pet.
Finally, good breeders make sure their pups are well socialized before they go home. Good breeders know how to evaluate temperament and nurture it. Unfortunately, some pups are raised in the backyard or in the basement without having much human interaction and general socialization. Pups must experience many different people and be exposed to a variety of situations at critical ages in order to grow up to be dogs with sound temperaments. Good breeders know their pups well and can match families with the pup having the desired personality traits.
Having just written all of that, it should also be on record that some of the best pets in the world come from backyard breeders and humane societies. In fact, it is highly encouraged that you consider humane societies and rescue organizations. However, many poor quality breeders charge the same money for pups as the reputable breeders do. (Pet stores often charge more!) It must also be stated that no breeder is so good that all pups will always be problem free. The questions to ask yourself are: Which situation provides the better odds of a healthy and happy pup and where is it more likely that if a problem occurs that the situation will be resolved professionally and ethically?
Well bred pups are very expensive to produce. Think of the food and vet bills a breeder with 6 or 8 dogs pays if they are doing this all the right way. This is not to mention all of the training and showing expenses that also are incurred or the price of a top stud dog. A back yard breeder does not have even close to these same expenses and may be charging a similar price for a pup.
Please research breeders thoroughly and expect them to do the same of you. Please feel free to visit many breeders as you make your decisions. If a breeder is using “hard sell” tactics, he/she may be having trouble selling the pups. Good breeders are proud of his/her dogs and the conditions in which they live and are glad to show them off. Good breeders will enjoy talking about dogs even if a sale will not be forthcoming (but please remember we have jobs and families and we are not department stores). Please make a wise decision because the main goal is for puppies and families to have happy and fulfilling lives together.
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