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Having chosen a breed that’s right for you, the question then arises: where to buy him?
There are easy options, such as pet shops and puppy farms,
where breeding can occur on a large scale and dogs are
frequently poorly bred and cared for; there are friends whose
dog has had a litter, and finally there are dedicated breeders. If
you are considering buying from a pet shop, and especially
from a puppy farm, make enquiries first. Careless breeders
often sell the runt of the litter – the weakest puppy – to a pet
shop where the puppy remains until someone buys him.
Typically, this is an animal kept in isolation with little to do and which has had no company or attention. This sets the stage for a problematic dog later on.
A puppy farm may sell you a dog for a low price, but don’t
be fooled. Puppy farms are about quantity, which means they
breed dogs which can be physically and or temperamentally
unsound, and closely related to one another – for example,
brother and sister or father and daughter. The result of careless breeding is often a puppy with such acute problems that putting him down is the only solution. Dogs from puppy farms also tend to be physically ill, malnourished, and infested with internal and external parasites. Also, they’re usually removed from their mothers and litter-mates too soon, and miss learning important communication and social skills.
Acquiring your puppy from a friend or neighbour can be a good move, or go terribly wrong. Usually it goes well because these dogs tend to be house dogs and, therefore, are not socially neglected. That goes for the young puppies, too.
Typically, in a home, the puppy is fed properly, kept clean, and exposed to all types of unknown objects, sounds and situations. Also he will be mentally stimulated playing games and having access to toys. Medical care should also be provided. Another bonus is that you can get to know the dog’s parents. However, if the owners of the parents are careless with them, they are likely to be just as careless with the puppies; they may be socially and physically neglected. If one or both parents are physically beautiful but temperamental, this trait may be passed on to the puppies.
The option I recommend is to buy from a reputable breeder. Check with the Kennel club where dog breeders are registered. Ask for a list of breeders, but be alert: just because they are on the list doesn’t guarantee they are reputable and recommended – it merely means they are registered. Visit a number of breeders before acquiring your puppy; ask to see both parents, and at least the mother, and pay attention to her demeanour.
This is important because she may not know how to raise the puppies if she’s temperamentally unsound. She may become too aggressive when irritated by one of the puppies, or she may act anxiously around them. Many things can go wrong with the puppy, both in the short and long term, if the mother is unsuitable.
Besides becoming acquainted with the mother, ask questions. For example, if your chosen breed is prone to hip dysplasia – an abnormal development of the bone structure of the hip – ask if both parents and grandparents have tested negative for this condition. Check that the place is clean and ask if the dogs are mainly indoor or outdoor dogs. Ideally, they should be mainly indoor dogs. Now check that the puppies have been well cared for.
The following are signs to look for:
Once you have identified, to the best of your ability, that the puppies are healthy, you’re ready to take your puppy home. A reputable breeder will appreciate your care and caution because that means his puppies are likely to have found responsible, caring owners.