Before You Buy That Puppy

Is a puppy right for you?

Puppies can be a lot of work and not everyone is cut out for the training commitment involved. Not only do puppies need housebreaking, which can take weeks or even months, but they also need structure and socializing to become well-mannered dogs. Without appropriate training puppies can turn into dogs that don’t come when called, jump on guests and try to dominate your family. Unsocialized puppies may also turn into dogs that will growl and even bite.

Have you considered rescue?

Whether you want to get a puppy or adult dog consider rescuing a homeless dog from a shelter or dog rescue. Rescues often have mixed breed puppies and sometimes they even get purebred puppies. Dogs from rescues are already spayed/neutered, vaccinated, heartworm tested and dewormed. Dogs from rescues are usually housebroken and are often trained while in foster care. There are rescues for every breed and many all-breed rescues pretty much everywhere.

If you’ve determined that a puppy is right for you, where will it come from?

Why you don’t want that puppy in the window

Pet store puppies often come from puppy mills. Dogs in puppy mills are kept in small cages and bred until they die or worse when they can no longer produce puppies. The resulting puppies are often diseased with both contagious and genetic ailments. Most of these genetic diseases can not be spotted until later in life when the dog you brought home from the pet store goes blind, lame or suddently drops dead of heart disease. To find out more about puppy mills and why you should never support them by buying a puppy from a pet store, visit

Newspapers are another place where people often find “purebred” puppies. These puppies are either being sold directly from a puppy mill or by a backyard breeder.

What is a backyard breeder? That is a term used for people who (usually unknowingly) breed a purebred dog that is not of a quality that should be bred and not health tested. These backyard breeders often charge less for puppies, but like most things in life you get what you pay for. Would you still buy a less expensive puppy if you knew that it might go blind from a genetic disease before it reaches two years of age or would you prefer to know that the parents of your new puppy have been tested clear of that disease?

Responsible serious hobby breeders typically do charge more for puppies than you will find in the newspaper. You should expect to pay anywhere from $700-$2000 or more depending on the breed and what region of the country you are in.

Not all puppies are created equal.

Just because your friend or neighbor’s dog is AKC registered doesn’t mean the dog is worth tons of money and should be bred and you should pay them hundreds of dollars for a puppy. Chances are that if the person trying to sell you a puppy got the dog they are breeding from a puppy mill or backyard breeder, the puppies will grow up to barely resemble their breed. What’s the point in buying a purebred dog if it doesn’t even look like the breed that’s listed on the AKC papers?

What is a responsible, reputible dog breeder?

A serious hobby breeder, as they are often called, dedicates their life to the breed. They have done many years of research before breeding and research each breeding carefully. A responsible breeder is breeding to improve their breed and to preserve the integrity of the breed as it was originally intended. They usually don’t make a dime on the litters they produce because not only do they insure that their dogs have the best food and veterinary care, they make sure all the necessary genetic health tests are done, which costs hundreds of dollars per dog. Responsible breeders also put thousands of dollars into showing each of their dogs and often spend money on caesarean sections, artifical inseminations and often transport semen across the country to breed to the dog that is genetically the best choice for their dog. All this may sound silly, but reputible breeders have thought out their breeding plans and have a reason besides money for all of the choices they make. They do what they believe is in the best interest of their dogs.

Here are the other factors you should look for in a reputible breeder:

  1. They show their dogs in AKC conformation events to have them judged by an expert against their written breed standard. Visit AKC’s Breeds Website to see the standard for each AKC breed.
    • The point of dog shows is not to prove your dogs are the prettiest or best groomed. Instead, dog shows prove the quality of breeding stock by proving the dog looks like the standard of the breed and has the correct structure necessary to perform the job it was breed for. Correct structure is important for dogs to move efficiently and work all day in the field doing jobs such as retrieving birds or herding sheep.
  2. Many breeders also compete in sports such as obedience, agility, rally, field trials, herding trials, etc. to prove their dogs also have the intelligence and natural instinct to actually do the jobs for which they were bred.
  3. They do all of the genetic health tests that are required for their breed on all breeding prospects and make that information available to potential puppy buyers.
  4. They will give puppy buyers at least a 72 hour health guarantee, so the new owner will have sufficient time to take their new puppy to the vet.
  5. They will require by contract that if the new owner can not keep the puppy for any reason it will be returned to them for the life of the dog. Reputible breeders will take back any dog they breed at any time for any reason.
  6. Most responsible breeders will not sell you a pet puppy without a clause in the contract requiring you to spay or neuter your new puppy. They will also send your puppy home with AKC limited registration. That means that your puppy is AKC registered and can compete in all events except dog shows and no offspring from your puppy can ever be registered.
  7. Reputible breeders know the genetic history of their puppies’ parents, grandparents and probably even great grandparents.
  8. Responsible breeders only have a few litters a year.
  9. Reputible breeders will have questions for you as a potential puppy buyer. They don’t sell their puppies to just anyone. With only a few litters a year, they can afford to be picky.
  10. Responsible breeders typically have only one breed (maybe two in rare cases).
  11. A responsible breeder will check up on you and see how the puppy is doing. You can usually expect Christmas cards from them and more importantly, they want you to call them if you have any issues or questions about your new puppy. They will be your support system for the life of the puppy.
  12. Of course, a reputible breeder will also make sure your puppy is at least seven weeks of age when it goes home, has its first set of vaccinations and is de-wormed at least once.
  13. Any good breeder will also make sure that your puppy has already started being socialized and has been exposed to a variety of sounds, environments, floors, people, crates and started housebreaking.

Your new dog or puppy will be your companion for the rest of its life, which in the case of a young dog or puppy could easily be 15 years or more. If you get your new companion with that in mind, it’s easy to see why you should consider where your puppy comes from very carefully and be willing to pay a little more for a healthy companion.

Responsible serious hobby breeders typically do charge more for puppies than you will find in the newspaper. You should expect to pay anywhere from $700-$2000 or more depending on the breed and what region of the country you are in.

If you’d like more assistance researching a breed or finding a rescue or breeder, please email me and I will try to point you in the right direction.

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1 Comment

  1. paul brandom

    im an old man now i suppose 72 i found myself on my owen now and realise how much i miss not having a dog in my life.

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