I have had a lot of new puppy owners in lately, and I am always concerned about how people find and buy puppies today. So here are some tips to try and help you (or someone you know) from potential problems in purchasing a puppy.
There’s the first thing, purchasing. There are a lot of passionate people who promote “Adopt, don’t shop”, and that’s a great thing. There are a lot of great animals out there looking for a furever home. Half of the dog’s I’ve been owned by were adopted. When you can find a pet that is a good fit for your family, there’s nothing better than rescuing one.
Be aware, though, most rescues are there for a reason. Most will have an issue that put them there, and as long as you are aware of what that issue is, and are able to cope with it, full speed ahead. Unfortunately, I see instances often where a new pet owner bit off more than they could chew in adopting a pet. People can decide on a pet because it is cheap, or it is a “purebred”, or because it is a cute puppy, and overlook the issues the pet may have or could develop.
Price should never be an issue, whether it is free or thousands of dollars, you are going to spend much more after the initial purchase on your pet, so making sure it is the right one for your family is more important that if it is the right one for your pocketbook.
“Purebred” is often a deciding factor for adoption, and most rescues see much higher interest in purebred dogs than mutts. Again, a purebred doesn’t usually end up in a rescue without issues, and purebred dogs can have a lot more issues than a mutt. Just because you can get a designer dog cheap is not a reason for adopting, make sure you are aware of what you are getting into.
Cute puppies are the easiest dogs to adopt out, because they are so cute. Many times, though, the lineage is not known, and something as simple as how big the dog will get will be unclear. I’ve seen a lot of people with 100 lb dogs that weren’t supposed to get “too big”. So when deciding on a rescue puppy, be ready for the unknown.
Not every family will be able to find a good fit though rescues. Or, you just might want a specific breed. Finding a perfect fit for breed and then finding a breeder of those dogs is research time well spent.
Identifying what breed is right for you can be done a number of ways, the web is a great resource for that. There are a lot of “Which breed is right for me” surveys out there, and can be worth a try. Once you get it down to one or two breeds, start asking questions about personality and health issues, to make sure you know what that breed is all about. Make sure that the pup will be at least 8 weeks before going home, 9 or 10 is better. They need mom and littermates for health and socialization. Getting rid of a pup at 7 weeks means the breeder just wants it gone.
Finding a reputable breeder can be another thing the web is helpful with. Please visit, interact with the parent dogs, and inspect the facility. Ask questions about the health issues your research revealed. If anything makes you uneasy, don’ be afraid to walk away. If they won’t let you visit and offer to deliver the dog, in general don’t do it. Move on to the next one.
Once you have purchased the pup, make sure you get at least a 24 hour money back guarantee, and arrange to visit your vet on the way home. Yes, even if they have documents from the breeder’s vet, go to yours on the way home, just to make sure. There may be issues that a vet checking 8 puppies in a litter might miss that your vet inspecting one might detect. Knees, hips, eyes, heart, all of these can have issues that one vet may be OK with, yet might be a concern to another. Best to know before you go home of any potential issues, and if they are bad enough, so that you can turn around and return the pup to the breeder, instead of being saddled with an issue for the next 15 years, or more. If your vet has any concerns, turn around, go back to the breeder with a note from your vet and invoke your guarantee.
There is nothing like sharing your life with a canine companion, but doing research to make sure you have a good start is never a waste of your time.