Where You Buy Your Puppy Matters!
You've decided on the breed of dog for you. What's your next move? It's finding a puppy. This purchase should receive thoughtful consideration; after all, it's not a loaf of bread you're buying. This little bundle of energy will be a member of your family for a decade or more. Choosing a reputable source for your puppy is your primary objective. Because it's almost impossible for you, the buyer, to know what any of the puppies will grow into physically and emotionally, you must rely entirely upon your faith in the person from whom you are purchasing your pup.
If you want a dog in your life, please don't buy a puppy mill puppy. These pups are not properly socialized and their parents may not have had the health testing as recommended by breed clubs (and performed by responsible breeders) to increase the odds of you having a healthy, happy, well-adjusted pet. Pet store clerks and other sellers will never admit their dogs come from puppy mills. How do you separate fact from fiction?
Pet stores cater to impulsive buyers and consumers seeking convenient transactions.
These stores don't interview prospective buyers to ensure responsible, lifelong homes for the pets they sell, and the stores may be staffed by employees with limited knowledge about pets and pet care. Their puppies come, without exception, from puppy mills or irresponsible breeders.
- A "USDA-inspected" breeder does not mean a "good" breeder.
Be wary of pet store staff's claims that they sell animals only from breeders who are "USDA-inspected". The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) enforces the federal law called the Animal Welfare Act (AWA), wich regulates commercial breeding operations. But the act doesn't require all commercial breeders to be licensed, and the USDA establishes only minimum-care standards in enforcing this law. Breeders must provide food, water, and shelter-but not love, socialization, or freedom from confining cages. Many USDA-licensed and inspected puppy mills operate under squalid conditions with known violations of the AWA.
- Puppy mill puppies often have medical problems.
These problems can lead to veterinary bills in the thousands of dollars. But pet retailers count on the bond between families and their new puppies being so strong that the puppies won't be returned. Guarantees are often so difficult to comply with that they are virtually useless. Also, poor breeding and socialization practices at many puppy mills can lead to behavioral problems throughout the puppies' lives.
- Many disreputable "breeders" sell their dogs directly to the public over the Internet, glossy dog magazines, and through newspaper ads.
They often sell several breeds of dogs but may advertise each breed in a separately and not in one large advertisement or website. These breeders are not required to be inspected by any federal agency and, in many states, are not inspected at all. The AKC (American Kennel Club) has a "Breeders Classified" page on its website. There are really NO criteria for being listed here, other than breeding dogs purported to be purebred. AKC's "Bred with Heart" program has the potential to deceive buyers as well. The program's requirements are not verified by the AKC, is solely based on the honor system, does not remove breeders who have been proven to be untruthful in their statements, and does not include ALL the PWDCA's health testing recommendations. Scrutinize these breeders just like you would any other. Responsible breeders may also advertise in some or all of these sources and it is up to you, the buyer, to question and screen breeders.
- Puppy websites that display cute photos, but lack important information about the breeding should be avoided.
- Responsible breeders are proud to display their Sire and Dam information on their websites:
- Lineage or pedigree information
- Registered names and registry (e.g., AKC) numbers
- All health test results recommended by the PWDCA (not just some) -- GM-1, JDCM, PRA, EOPRA, IC and Micropthalmia AND proof that the pups' parents have had an eye exam within the last 12 months by a certified canine ophthalmologist and registered with CAER (formerly CERF) or ECR, and are clear of hereditary eye defects.
- Unethical, mass production breeders may use the following website features:
- Cute photos with "Buy" button leading to a deposit payment for a puppy or upcoming litter with no intereaction with breeder, meeting their dogs, etc.
- SKU numbers for dogs for "ease of purchase" suggests mass production of puppies
- "Free shipping to your home" helps breeder avoid ever having to even meet the buyer
- Purebred "papers" do not guarantee the quality of the breeder or the dog.
Even the American Kennel Club (AKC) readily admits that it "cannot guarantee the quality or health of dogs in its registry."
- Responsible breeders care where their puppies go and interview hopeful adopters.
They don't ever sell through pet stores or to families they haven't thoroughly checked out for this reason. They usually are found through National Breed Clubs and word of mouth. They may advertise on the internet or in print ads as well. Learn more about what constitutes a "responsible breeder" here.