How to Buy a Purebred Puppy
Why should I buy a purebred puppy?
The best reason to buy a purebred is predictability. Purebreds are bred to meet a breed standard that lays out size, appearance, and temperament. You will know up front how big the mature adult will be, what type of coat he’ll have and its grooming requirements, how much space he’ll need and how much exercise. You’ll know what kind of personality traits he’s likely to have based on what the breed was bred to do.
Why should I buy from a breeder?
Many breeders have spent considerable time, energy, and money on showing their dogs, competing in obedience, agility, tracking, hunting, field trials, and other specialized events including search and rescue and therapy. They have done these things to produce the most well-rounded dogs with the soundest temperaments and the best training possible.
Breeders have spent literally years in researching their breeds to produce the best possible examples of their breed and to enhance their dogs’ temperament and physical structure. They work together with other breeders with the ultimate goal of eliminating hereditary diseases from their breed. In addition, they have a reputation to protect and are accountable to the Canadian Kennel Club for questionable breeding practices. Buying from a pet store encourages the inhumane practices of those operating puppy mills.
How will I know if he is really a purebred?
It is illegal in Canada to sell a dog as a purebred without supplying registration papers free. The seller must register and transfer the ownership of the dog to the buyer at no cost. This is protected by the ANIMAL PEDIGREE ACT. If a breeder is willing to sell you a purebred without papers for a lower cost, run…do not walk… away! This is not reputable behaviour and it is illegal. What else might the breeder be concealing from you?
How will I know what breed is best for me?
When choosing a breed, keep in mind that each breed of dog developed certain instinctive characteristics to enable them to do the job they were bred to do. Also keep in mind such factors as: how big will the adult dog get, the barking factor, digging, shedding and grooming, allergies, exercise requirements, common health problems, and the fit with your family (is it good with children, can it spend time alone). The better you honestly assess your lifestyle and needs, the better a potential pet will fit into your family and the happier people and dog will be!
How do I find a good breeder?
Once you have decided on the breed of dog you wish to have, you need to find several different breeders. Look up the national and/or provincial clubs for the breed you’re interested in. They generally list breeders by area. Check this site for breeders near you. Go to local dog shows. Ask at the vet. Ask anyone you see who has the particular breed you want. By this time, you should have done a lot of homework about your breed choice. Now you will do even more! Remember, if anything about the breeder, the facility, or the dogs makes you uncomfortable or uneasy, WALK AWAY.
Call the breeder. Are they a member of the Canadian Kennel Club? Are they members of their national and/or provincial breed organizations? How long have they been breeding? How many litters do they typically breed per year? Can they give you names of people who have purchased puppies from them? You should also have a list of questions to ask about their dogs. You can expect the breeder to ask you lots of questions about your family, your home, your lifestyle, and why you have chosen this particular breed of dog. A good breeder wants to ensure their dog is a good fit with your family, and that you will provide the best possible home for their puppy.
Visit the kennel and observe their dogs. What is the condition of the kennel? Does it appear to be clean? How do the dogs look? Clean? Well-cared for? Happy? You should meet the prospective parents of the puppies but if that is not possible, you should at least see the mother. If the father is from another kennel, he may only be brought in briefly for mating. A good breeder will only breed registered dogs, and will be able to tell you the pedigree of the puppies. They should have full information about the puppies’ parents, grandparents, and even great-grandparents.
Spend time with the mother and other dogs in the kennel. Beware of animals that seem aggressive or overly nervous or shy. Temperament problems are the number one reason people give up their dogs. If there are puppies already on the ground, ask to see where they are being raised. A good breeder will be proud and happy to show you their facilities.
Ask about the dogs’ socialization. The first 8 to 12 weeks of your new puppy’s life will be spent with the breeder. Find out how the breeder plans to socialize the new puppy and what early training is planned. After the puppies are born you should visit a couple more times to see their development. A good breeder will be able to tell you the personality traits of the individual dogs from their observations of them, even at this early stage.
Ask about the health issues for the breed you have chosen. Every breed of dog has certain health problems. A good breeder will be familiar with the breed standard and the health problems that may be present in your chosen breed. They should be willing to discuss health issues openly, and tell you what they have done to minimize hereditary problems in their line. Many genetic health defects can be tested for and a good breeder will be able to show you test results proving that the parents of their puppies have been tested clear of these defects.
Ask what vaccinations the puppy will receive before you pick it up and make sure you have a copy of them. Within 24-48 hours of picking up your puppy, you should see your veterinarian and have the animal thoroughly examined.
Ask about the sales contract. Everything should be in writing. The contract should have listed the breed of dog, confirmation that it is purebred, confirmation that it is eligible for registration by the Canadian Kennel Club (remember, registration is the job of the seller), and the tattoo number of the dog. The refund/return policy should be clearly laid out. Under what conditions would you be eligible for a refund?
There should be a health guarantee against genetic health problems. A good breeder will not hesitate to provide such a guarantee. The contract should be a non-breeding agreement and indicate a date by which you must spay or neuter the dog (if it is not intended for showing). Should the dog develop into an animal suitable for breeding, this condition can always be lifted but only with the agreement of the original breeder.
The Canadian Kennel Club by-laws state that the seller shall provide the buyer with the registration certificate or papers no later than six months after the full purchase price has been paid. So be aware that you may have to wait a while for the papers to come in.
Repeat all of the above. You should always visit several kennels before making a choice. This should not be an impulse buy or a whim. This animal expects to be part of your family for the duration of its life – usually more than 10 years. You owe it to this little soul to do all your homework to ensure that you have made the right choice in a thoughtful, clear-headed manner. You would not choose to adopt a child lightly. You should not choose to adopt a dog lightly either.
What are the characteristics of an ethical breeder?
An ethical breeder:
…breeds only registered dogs and only allows his dogs to be bred to registered dogs.
…is concerned with hereditary diseases within the breed and is working towards elimination of these diseases.
…tests all breeding stock to ensure the individual dogs are healthy.
…provides a written health guarantee against hereditary defects.
…takes all his puppies to his veterinarian for examination and vaccinations prior to their sale.
…sells all pet quality dogs on spay/neuter contracts so that only the best specimens are kept for breeding.
…never sells puppies less than 7 weeks old.
…never knowingly sells a sick puppy.
…never sells to pet stores, animal wholesalers, brokers, or other people buying in quantity to sell or breed.
…screens prospective purchasers
…happily answers any and all questions you have about his breed and his dogs.
…will always try to take back any unwanted dog he bred at any time in its life.
…stays with you for the life of your dog, providing guidance and support when needed.
How do I know I’m not buying from a puppy mill or puppy farm?
This can be difficult. Some legitimate breeders are understandably concerned about letting members of the public tromp all over their facilities especially when puppies are brand new. Until they have had all their shots, they are still vulnerable to bacteria and diseases easily brought in by visitors. In addition, some of these puppy farms are very sleek. Here is some general advice:
Puppy farms always offer variety. There are often multiple unrelated breeds, all kinds of colour choices or coat types, or many different sizes (standard, miniature, toy, teacup, etc.) especially in dog breeds that don’t have these sizes. For example, offering miniature Labrador Retrievers or teacup Chinese Shar-peis should put up a red flag. A puppy mill wants to cover all the bases.
Puppy farms don’t do health testing. They never waste money on genetic screening, DNA testing, etc. Remember, they’re not in it to better the breed. They just want to make a sale. Usually they don’t know what testing is (however they are becoming wiser in this regard and ready, willing, and able to lie) or they’ll tell you they just sell to “pet homes” and it’s not necessary. Red flag! These people will not be paying your veterinarian bills nor will they care that you’ve had to put down a beloved family pet, except that it makes you a potential repeat customer.
Puppy farms never, never go to dog shows. Their dogs have had no show careers. They have no titles of any kind – conformation, obedience, field, etc. Even if this is not important to you, remember that in conformation shows dogs are judged against others of their breed and a breed standard. The winners are the best possible examples of their breed and are therefore the most logical choice for breeding.
If these characteristics describe the kennel you are considering for a puppy – Beware! Another general rule of thumb – if ANYTHING makes you uncomfortable about dealing with the breeder, DON’T.
What should I have on hand for my new puppy?
As a minimum, you need to have a crate, dog blankets, dish for food, dish for water, collar, leash, dog beds for each room where you will be spending time with your dog (unless you want him up on the furniture and on your bed with you!).
You need to track down a veterinarian as that will be almost your first stop when you finally get your puppy. You need chewing toys – puppies teethe like babies. While it might be sweet to let him chew on your finger when he’s a pup, you’re teaching him very bad habits! After all, those teeth are going to get a lot bigger!
You will need grooming supplies: shampoo, brushes, combs, mat splitters, scissors, nail clippers, and yes, a toothbrush. You may want to install a dog door so your dog will not need to wake you in the middle of the night once he’s house trained.
You may also want to keep certain areas of the house dog-free – baby gates can be useful depending on the size of your dog. Your backyard should be fenced so it provides a safe environment for romping and playing. Once you have decided on a breeder, you should also have on hand the same food that the breeder feeds the puppies.
Why does my new puppy have a tattoo?
Under Canadian Kennel Club regulations, all new puppies must have a unique identifier in the form of either a microchip or a tattoo. A microchip is placed just under the skin of the dog between its shoulder blades.
The tattoo is a series of letters and numbers which identify the year of birth of the dog and the litter it belonged to. The tattoo may be located on the dog’s belly, either flank, or on the underside of the ear. The codes from the microchip and tattoos are kept in the CKC’s database and are used for identifying dogs should they become lost or require assistance. Tattooing and microchipping are the responsibility of the breeder and must be done prior to you taking ownership of your puppy.