When those big brown puppy eyes stare into yours, it is hard not to wrap him in your arms and bring him home immediately no matter where he came from.
But if you purchase that adorable puppy from the wrong dog breeders, the decision could turn into a disaster. From costly health conditions to dangerous temperament issues, cute puppies who come from bad dog breeders are more likely to grow into big problems.
That's why before you start browsing the newspaper for ads from local dog breeders, there are a few steps you should take to make sure the puppy you bring home is going to have a happy future with your family.
First, you have to do your homework. You need to know as much about the breed as possible before beginning your search. For example, some dog breeders advertise “teacup” breeds. These puppies are much smaller than their normal breed standard, and people will pay more just to get their hands on these tiny puppies. However, some breeds of this size have more fragile bones, mouth problems (their mouths are too small for all of their teeth), greater joint problems, and can be more susceptible to overall poor health. Doing some breed research on the Internet would save those buyers money and help them buy a healthier puppy.
Second, you need to know the common health problems for that breed. A good example is the Great Dane which has a tendency to develop hip dysplasia, a painful disorder that is expensive to correct. Reputable dog breeders often have their dogs and puppies certified to show that the line is free from incidents of hip dysplasia, so when you buy that puppy you'll feel confident you are still going to have a healthy dog a few years down the road.
Third, don't limit your search to local dog breeders. In many cases, local dog breeders who advertise in the newspaper are the type of dog breeders you want to avoid. The best dog breeders don't have to advertise because people give them deposits on puppies before they are even conceived. A good way to find reputable dog breeders is by checking with people who know, including veterinarians and your local American Kennel Club chapter. If you do choose local dog breeders, you can't afford to leave out the fourth step.
Fourth, visit the location where the puppy has lived and get a look at both parents (at least one). You want to make sure that those puppies were living in healthy conditions and that they had a chance to be socialized with other animals and people. Another reason to see the parents is because poor health and bad temperament can be passed down genetically. A red flag that something is wrong with dog breeders is when they avoid letting you near their location. This could mean the puppies are not being well cared for or that these local dog breeders are running a puppy mill.
Fifth, ask questions. Good dog breeders want you to feel comfortable with the puppy before you leave, so they want you to ask them questions, such as “Has the puppy been to the vet yet? If so, which vet and can I have a copy of those records?” They also don't mind answering questions about themselves, including “How many litters has the mother given birth to?” and “How long have you been breeding this particular breed?”
Sixth, expect good dog breeders to be cautious about who takes their puppies home. The best dog breeders put the needs of those puppies first, and they try to ensure that each of them gets a good home. These breeders may ask you lots of questions about your home, such as where the dog will sleep, do you have a backyard, and how many other pets do you have. Some local dog breeders may even want to inspect your home first. Remember, they're not doing these things to make it hard for you to take home that puppy you've fallen in love with - they just don't want to see that puppy end up in poor living conditions or abandoned at a shelter a few months later.
While these steps are far from being an exhaustive list, by keeping them in mind you will stand a better chance of finding good dog breeders from which to choose your newest family member.