Choosing a puppy can be an exciting experience for the whole family. You are potentially adding a new member to your home for the next 10 years, so you’ll want to get this right.
Most breeders aim to add quality to the breed they know and love. They invest a considerable amount of their time and money to breed the best dogs they possibly can sometimes at the expense of profit. There are however some unscrupulous breeders who entire focus is based on profit over the welfare of the animal. A litter of cute puppies can mean big business for a breeder and they can earn several thousands per puppy.
Here are some warning signs to look out for:
1) Where are the puppies being kept?
Are they being kept inside the house in the warm? Are they kept in a shed, stable or garage? If so, how suitable is the place they are being kept in? Is it clean, draft free and dry? Ideally, they should be kept inside the breeder’s home, or within a reasonable area that they can be given considerable supervision at this vital stage of development.
2) Do the puppies look healthy?
You don’t need to be a vet to spot the warning signs of poor health in a puppy. A bloated abdomen on a puppy is not ‘puppy fat’ and could potentially be a sign of worms. Puppies need a lot of sleep, but a litter of lethargic puppies is not a good sign. Constant wet eyes is not a good sign either, instead you want a bright, alert, clean and enthusiastic puppy.
3) Use your best judgement on the breeder.
It sounds a little judgemental, but the best way to work out whether these puppies are the best they can be is to look at the breeder themselves. Assess your reasons as to why the breeder would want to breed these puppies. Do they love this particular breed? Do they seem money grabbing or keen to make the sale? Adult dogs are no good to a breeder and will be another mouth to feed should they not sell them from a puppy. Do they take care of their home or the environment they keep the puppies in?
4) Ask to see the mother and father of the puppies.
Behavioural characteristics and traits are often passed on from parent to pup. Meeting the parents of the puppies will give you a rough idea as to whether your puppies will be the friendliest they can be. The parent should greet you with a wagging tail, and not be timid or show signs of aggression. You do not want any parental traits of timid behaviour and aggression in your puppy. If they can’t provide you with a quick meeting with the parents, or if they seem resistant to show you, be a little wary. A breeder should be expecting this kind of question and should have at least one of the parents on stand-by to show a potential buyer.
5) Ask to see papers.
The ideal breeder would be registered to the Kennel Club or other well-known governing body of breeders. The papers should also document the lineage of the puppy (for at least 4 generations in pedigree breeds) and should give brief information on their D.O.B including their age at the season they were bred and their owners contact details. A true breeder with dogs of quality will be proud of their puppies linage and will have nothing to hide.
As always, if in doubt – walk out. Choosing the right puppy from the start will save you a lifetime of hassle and stress. If you find that a particular breeder isn’t for you, politely say that you have another meeting with another breeder lined up and that you will return. Ask to take a number out of politeness and keep looking for your perfect puppy. When you find the right one, you’ll be thankful that you did.