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How to choose a good dog breeder

June 10th, 2010 Posted in Uncategorized

From Dr. Langlais’ column in The Record “Ask a Vet” (appears evey 2nd Tuesday)

Q. How do I go about choosing a good dog breeder?

A. That is a good question and I wish more prospective dog owners would ask this one.

I will assume you have already decided what breed of dog you are interested in. If you have not, some things to consider are:

1/ Your lifestyle. How much time do you have to train a dog, give it the exercise it needs, and brush or groom it if needed?

2/ What size of dog do you prefer?

3/ Do you want a quiet companion to sit on your lap while you watch TV, or an energetic friend who will accompany you on your morning jogs?

4/ How much money do you have to devote to dog food, toys, supplies, and vet bills? For example, larger dogs consume more food, small dogs are more prone to dental disease and need more frequent dental cleanings, and certain breeds need regular professional grooming.. All dogs should have annual physical examinations, inoculations, and be on a Heartworm and Intestinal Worm preventative program.

For a good article on the costs of dog ownership, check out http://www.peteducation.com Type in “cost of owning a dog” in the window under Search, to the left of Fetch.

5/ Does the breed of dog you are interested in have any predispositions to medical problems? Large breed dogs are more prone to orthopedic problems such as hip dysplasia or cruciate ligament injuries, terrier breeds often get allergic skin disease, spaniels are prone to ear infections, etc etc. Are you prepared to deal with these if they arise?

Your veterinarian can help with recommendations for a breed of dog for you and your family.

Before I answer your question on how to choose a good breeder, have you considered adopting a dog from the local Humane Society? If you want a purebred dog, there are often purebred dogs available from animal shelters. However, mixed-breed dogs are good choices because they are less prone to genetic disorders. Dogs are usually surrendered to shelters because their previous owners had not found the dog to be a good fit, for lifestyle reasons, rather than because there is something wrong with the dog. Adopting a pet from the humane society is a win-win situation. You get a great companion and the animal gets a home.

If you prefer to deal with a breeder, some things you should look for include:

-a legitimate breeder, rather than someone who got a female and male dog together in order to sell puppies (the term for the latter is a “backyard breeder”)
-only breeds one or two kinds of dogs (puppy mills usually breed many kinds of dogs)
-doesn’t always have puppies in stock (sign of a puppy mill) but rather has a waiting list of prospective homes
-breeder asks you questions about your lifestyle and is picky about who buys the puppies
-houses the parents and puppies in their home rather than in dog runs or in a barn (the latter is a potential sign of a puppy mill)
-is willing to show you where the puppies and parents are kept (not foolproof since some puppy mills house hundreds of dogs in a barn, but bring the parents and puppies to the house during a viewing, to lead prospective buyers to believe they are house dogs)
-lets you meet the sire and dam of the puppies
-the dog’s environment is clean and the puppies look and smell reasonably clean
-breeder is knowledgeable about the breed, including genetic predispositions to disease and breed standards
-breeder screens for diseases such as Hip Dysplasia, Elbow Dysplasia, Cardiomyopathy, Retinal Atrophy, and has certification from the Orthopedic Foundation of America (OFA) or from a veterinary university screening program, if applicable
-breeder has a good relationship with a veterinarian and shows proof that the parents and puppies have received regular veterinary care, de-worming, and vaccinations
-provides a reference list of families who have recently purchased puppies
-breeder asks you to sign a non-breeding contract and requires you spay or neuter, unless the puppy is of show quality
-wants the puppy back if things don’t work out
-gives you a health guarantee
-asks you to take the puppy to a veterinarian of your choice for a post-purchase exam

How do you find these good breeders? Try asking your veterinarian, local breed associations, or groomers for recommendations. You can also attend dog shows in order to meet with some breeders, and to get an idea of some potential breeds you might like.

Take your time researching the breed of dog that you want and selecting a good breeder and hopefully you will be rewarded with a healthy, well-adjusted pet.

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