If you’re thinking of introducing a new puppy to your family, it’s really important you choose him or her from a good, honest breeder and the family history can be traced. Otherwise you could inadvertently end up supporting an unscrupulous breeder, or worse, a dog with serious health or behavioural problems.
The first thing is to find a breeder who is really in the know, as a well-informed one tends to take the time to only breed healthy dogs with excellent temperaments. This would mean that any pup you get from them is much more likely to be fit and healthy and a good match. They also understand the importance of raising their puppies to that they fit well into family life.
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Where To Find A Breeder
Ask around to see if any friends, relatives or your vet know of any good reputable breeders you could approach. It’s worth popping along to dog shows or contacting local trainers to get recommendations too.
What To Ask?
Once you’ve found a couple of breeders you’re interested in, ask them some relevant questions to find out more about them.
1. Meet the parents
Start off by asking if you can meet the pup’s parents. Any good breeder should ideally have both mum and dad ready to meet, but if meeting dad isn’t possible then you should definitely meet the mother. How the parents behave is a good indication of how your pup may also behave as they’re growing up, so it’s well worth doing.
2. Number of litters
Find out how many litters a breeder raises in 12 months. Be wary of any who say they have more than one or two litters a year. A breeder with just a couple of litters a year will have the time to offer them the start in life that they need, and to rehome them well.
3. Copies of health documents
The breeder should be able to offer proof from a vet, Kennel Club or other reliable source that both parents and grandparents are free of any genetic conditions. It’s a good idea to do your research beforehand, especially if you’re choosing a breed that is known for certain hereditary problems.
Ask the breeder for details of previous people who have bought pups from them. Any good breeder will be happy to supply references.
Are they upfront about the breed you’ve chosen?
The breeder should be open and honest with you about any drawbacks the breed might have in terms of things like possibly health problems and size the dog will grow to. After all, a good breeder wants to make sure you’re well prepared and equipped with all the facts before you take a pup on.
Have both the breeder and the puppy met your family?
Your immediate family – husband/wife/partner/children and anyone else who lives with you – should have the chance to meet the puppy whilst he or she is still with the breeder. The breeder should be fine with this, even if it means making several trips. There should be no pushiness or time pressure – if there is, then walk away.
Is the breeder asking you lots of questions and taking interest?
Any decent breeder will care deeply about where their puppies end up living, so should ask you lots of questions to get to know you and your situation better. Questions should be things like asking if you work, if you have a garden, do you regularly go on holiday and whether you’ve owned a dog before. Try to be honest, and don’t take it as nosiness – it’s a sign the breeder truly cares about her dogs.
Are the puppies too young?
A proper breeder won’t let you take a puppy home before they’re eight weeks old. This is because it’s important to spend these early weeks being socialised with his or her siblings, as well as having the chance to be properly weaned. A puppy who’s taken away from their mother and littermates too soon is more likely to lack canine social skills and have other health and behavioural problems.
What to look out for during your visit to a breeder
When you arrive at the breeder’s it’s easy to get carried away with all the gorgeous little furry faces, but keep your wits about you at all times and look around:
Do the dogs live inside?
Puppies who are destined to make good family pets should be raised inside the house with the family, not in a garden, yard or garage.
Is there a generally relaxed atmosphere?
Both adult dogs and puppies will probably be excited to see you and that’s great! But make sure the parent dogs are comfortable around humans, and there’s no sign of any excessively anxious behaviour.
Is the place clean?
Ok so with all those dogs and pups it’s not likely to be a show home. But the area where the dogs have spent most of their time should be sanitary, with plenty of beds, toys and fresh water. There also should be access to the outside for the adult dogs to go to the toilet, and puppy pads for the little ones.
Can the dog ever be returned?
A dog is a big commitment and you owe it to him or her to give them the best possible life you can. This means occasionally weathering some storms and not giving up at the first sign of difficulty. But life can sometimes throw a curveball, which sadly may necessitate the rehoming of your pup.
A good breeder should always take the dog back, at any stage of the pup’s life, if you’re unable to continue caring for him or her. In fact, they will insist on it. Again, a caring breeder will want to make sure the puppies she brought into the world will always be happy, healthy and cared for.
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