Where Should You Get Your Puppy?

Getting a Puppy Series

Time for a Puppy
How to Select a Breed
Grooming Needs
Exercise Needs
PWDs and Kids
Where to Get a Puppy
Responsible Breeders
Puppy Placement
Health Issues

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 will not have had the health testing recommended by any good breeder and breed clubs 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? The facts:

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 claims by pet store staff 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), which 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 are required to 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. In addition, 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, fancy dog magazines and through newspaper ads. They often sell several breeds of dogs, but may advertise each breed in a separate place 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. Recently, even the American Kennel Club web site has started a "Breeders Classified" page. Scrutinize these breeders just like you would any other. There are really NO criteria for being listed here, other than breeding dogs purported to be purebred. Responsible breeder may also advertise in some or all of these sources and it is up to you, the buyer to question and screen breeders.

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.

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."

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