Are you thinking of getting a puppy?  Perhaps, at this point, you have taken the time to  research the breed of dog that is right for you and your family since this is the first step I would recommend to anyone.  You have searched the net and read a ton of information. Now, you need to find a breeder. When you are interviewing breeders, what should you look for?

First of all, you should never feel uncomfortable speaking to a breeder — you ask questions, the breeder asks questions, and it should feel comfortable. The first conversation should be to get to know each other. The breeder is, of course, concerned with where their babies are being placed. And a good breeder can tell if you are the right home without being short or harsh. You may be asked questions like:  “Tell me a little about your home.” “Do you have children or grandchildren?” “Do you have other pets?” You may even have a discussion of what you envision having a dog in your life to be like. In this, and in future discussions you should find that a good breeder does not mind sharing their knowledge, and enjoys guiding people to ensure that they are happy — which means making sure you understand the needs of their breed of dog, and the abilities of you and your family to meet these needs.  This is to ensure happiness for both your family and your new puppy.

Your breeder should keep you involved throughout any conversations. You’ll think of questions as you go along, and you should not be afraid to ask. Even if you think it is a dumb question, you should feel comfortable enough with your breeder to know that they will not get annoyed or mad because you do not know something. If you are treated poorly for lack of knowledge about dogs or dog behaviour and needs, this may be a sign for you to look for a new breeder.

So — what should you ask? Good breeders will tell you about their breeding programs, and they will tell you about how the babies are raised, and when they let them go to their new homes. But, if they miss something, here are a few questions you can ask:

1. Do you require that the puppy be spayed or neutered? You want them to say yes and your registration papers should be marked for limited registration. This simply means that the puppy can never be bred and have registered offspring.

2. Do you vaccinate your puppies, and when do you do it? Also, ask what diseases and viruses they vaccinate for. Handling the vaccinations is very important. Many breeders will do this through their Vet, but you can ask for where the puppies are being vaccinated.  Certain vaccinations are needed prior to joining any puppy-training classes, required by law (e.g., rabies), or necessary for traveling outside of the country with your dog.

3. When do you wean your puppies?

4. What kind of food do you feed the puppies after weaning? (so you know what to feed your puppy at home — less challenging to their digestive systems if you can stay on the same food for a while — you don’t want too many changes in the puppy’s life too soon!).

Now that you have decided to adopt the puppy from a particular breeder, the work of choosing your puppy begins. You and your breeder will work together to pick the puppy whether it be through a visit to the breeder, through pictures, possibly video, or talking on the phone or via the Internet. A good breeder will make sure you are fully informed and has your best interest—and the puppy’s—in mind and will do everything possible to make a good match.

When you do get your puppy home, good breeders are often happy to hear from you and if you need help, well, a good breeder will be happy to help you.  Of course, loving breeders also enjoy hearing about how well their babies are doing in your home (or seeing them if you send pictures/videos)!  We know that ours does.

Finally, but perhaps most important to me: find a breeder that the raises the puppies and adults in a clean, roomy home environment. The puppy should not be raised in a cage. After all, he/she is going to live with the family, not in a cage. You want to choose a breeder that is raising a puppy that is being socialized properly to go into a someone’s home, your home. You want a breeder that breeds for the whole dog: health, temperament, longevity, conformation, good skin, good eyes, etc.

Good luck. Follow your instincts and you will find the puppy that is right for you and your family from a breeder you know is working for you and has you and your puppy’s best interests in mind.

I know that we loved our breeder from her website, the regular and easy communication we had with her on the phone, her honest answering about any questions we had, and finally, the cleanliness of her home 🙂

Wishing you a successful search for the right breeder for you!

“Acquiring a dog may be the only opportunity a human has to choose a relative.” –Mordecai Siegal

Dr. Menen

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