Buying A Puppy?

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Questions to Trap an Unscrupulous Breeder

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Your best strategy for making a good puppy buying decision is to ask a lot of questions. I am not a very good question asker. My wife is a master. She drives me up the wall by asking question after question that does not seem to have a purpose. Then occasionally I see the purpose, something will slip out and we will realize that the breeder is lying. If you are not a natural "question asker," take someone along with you who is. Taking someone along who is not emotionally attached to this decision is actually an excellent strategy and is discussed in the next section. You must see yourself as a detective digging for the truth. Ask the following questions and others you come up.

Can we visit your kennel?

Visiting their kennel is essential to making sure everything is on the up and up. If they come up with reasons why you can't visit the kennel, take a pass. Either the conditions are horrible or something you see will contradict what you have been told. You need to know the real size and standards of the operation before you buy a puppy from a breeder. You must visit where the dogs live to determine this.

Pay close attention to sanitary conditions. Notice whether other females have puppies (or milk.) Notice whether the dogs are friendly. A great deal can be learned from a visit to the kennels. My preference is to buy a puppy from someone who has only one male and no more that four or five females. In this situation, the dogs can live together, they can live as family members, they get can care and affection, and can be treated as individuals.

Can we see the Registration Papers for all of your dogs?

This one becomes very difficult if you are dealing with a puppy farm with 25 dogs or more. It becomes impossible if the 50 or 100 or more dogs. There is no need to deal with an operation of that size. If they have unregistered dogs around their operation, you should be very wary. Dishonest breeders can substitute unregistered dogs for registered dogs. They can add puppies from unregistered dogs to the litters of registered dogs. They can substitute unregistered dogs for sterile registered dogs. There are many scams they can pull. The bigger the operation, the more opportunities for swapping dogs around they have.

You are buying a bloodline. You are buying champions in the bloodline because that is an indication of conformance to breed standards. If you have questions about the legitimacy of the bloodline, go elsewhere. There are plenty of good places to go. Keep searching, you will find one.

Do you have any other puppies?

I don't fully understand the breeder mindset on this one, but it is a pattern I have noticed over the years. Breeders only talk about the litter of puppies that they are ready to sell. They probably feel that telling you that they have more litters of puppies will make them look like a Puppy Mill or will give you the opportunity to pass up buying a puppy now to buy one from another litter. Puppies are the most valuable to a breeder in the 8-10 week old period and fall in value after that. Why? Most people don't want to buy an older puppy. Buyers want to raise the dog from the point it is weaned. Cuteness starts falling off quickly after a couple of months. Cuteness sells! Puppies are cute with little care or attention. Dogs require more attention to remain nice looking and clean smelling. They must be bathed, brushed and groomed after they start getting a little older. Breeders hate to keep puppies as their value drops and as they begin requiring more work to keep salable. This is not really true for breeders of "show dogs." The breeder usually keeps these for a much longer period of time, normally until their features become apparent. The dogs whose features conform highly to standards are sold for thousands of dollars; the lesser ones are usually spayed or neutered and sold for less.

What kind of health problems does this breed have?

This is a question that is difficult to handle for breeders who are not serious about the quality of their puppies. By the time you visit a breeder to look at his puppies, you should already have an idea of the types of health problems common in his breed. You will have found them in the research you have done about the breed. Your question is posed to the breeder in order to find out whether he knows enough about his breed to avoid health problems or if he is honest enough to tell you about the problems of the breed.

If he doesn't tell you about any of the health problems common to the breed, he either doesn't know or is not being honest with you. You should avoid dealing with him if he refuses to discuss health issues and his warranty concerning these "known" problems. If he does tell you about the "known" health problems within the breed, you should ask a follow-up question concerning his personal experience with these problems. You can usually get a very good sense of a breeder's commitment to his breed during a discussion of health issues. Many good breeders become passionate about health issues and how they resent "puppy mills" and their lack of interest in health concerns..

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