Part 2 : You have done your research .. Now what?

March 2nd, 2007 by Loren

You are positive that a new puppy or adult dog is the right choice for you/your family… you have narrowed yourself down to a specific breed, or are comfortable with a mixed breed… you know where you want to go for your new puppy… Now what do you need to do to be sure you come home with your puppy/dog of choice?

Photo used with permission of McKensieDiamond/Altrincham. Copyright Reserved.

1. The Responsible Hobby Breeder:

The serious breeder knows the faults and virtues of his/her dogs. The perfect dog has not yet been born. The challenge is breeding two animals and producing something that is better than either of its parents. This is the goal of the serious hobby breeder. He should want to breed only the best. Conscientious breeders for the love of the breed do socialization and health certifications. Breeders do X-rays for hip dysplasia, regular vet exams, check for sound patella’s, do eye exams to screen for hereditary eye disease, thyroid testing, screening for heart defects in some breeds, and many other things. Proof of the quality and the natural ability of a dog can be in the form of an AKC Championship in conformation, or titles in performance events or in the performance of an excellent hunting dog and companion. I bet if you go out and ask the folks at any pet shop selling pups to supply you with proof of health tests on the parents they won’t have a clue what you mean. It is not acceptable to be told that “the parents are just fine and we’ve never had a moments sickness out of them”. You need to see proof from the registries that certify the various health tests that the dogs were tested and certified as free of these health problems.

There are some diseases that can be DNA tested for now. Many diseases do not show up in the dog until 1 year of age and as late as 5-8 years of age. This is well past the age of this dog having produced pups that are now at risks of having these problems also. This is why reputable breeders test their breeding stock, and do not breed a dog unless it has all the health clearances. There’s just so much more involved in a quality puppy then having sent in the $20 or so to register each parent and/or puppy. So when you are choosing a breeder:

Ask for Health Clearances.

Ask about what things they do with their dogs.. (ie. Conformation, Obedience, Hunting, Therapy Work, etc.)

Ask to See the Pedigree and to see the Parents. (Most breeders do not have the sire at their premises. They usually will breed outside of their line to maintain its integrity and strength.)

Ask about the breeder’s history… how long have they been in the breed?.. Are they members of regional Specialty Breed Clubs? … The National Club for their Breed?

Don’t trust their word alone. Check and Re-check. Go to local shows to see if others know them, call the clubs they say they are members of, go to the Health Clearance Websites (ie. and check the database.

Understand that most breeders do not let Dogs pick owners! A breeder who has been breeding for almost 10, 20 or 30 years can tell you that the way to place dogs with the owners is to allow the breeder to choose for you. This is the best guarantee that you can get the dog you are looking for. Be honest and straight forward about what you are looking for and why, this assures the breeder that you have put time, energy and thought into the puppy process. The more the breeder understands your lifestyle the easier it is for them to place the right puppy with you. Understand that the breeder knows their personalities, which you cannot see in 15 minutes of looking at them. The breeder knows the breeding behind them, as the often have 7-10-18 generations of their own dogs behind these puppies. The Breeder knows the faults, abilities and the quality of the parents, which is one of the most important things. They also see the puppies all day every day for 7-12 weeks, and know what they are all about and their individual traits. You would not be able to know that, nor could the dog himself show you that when you walk up to it. The puppy you think or see as quiet might be the worst terror in the litter, it’s just that he has ran and wore himself out by the time you see him. The biggest is not the best hunter necessarily, nor is the runt of the litter the quietest! Most people are not qualified enough on breed structure to be able to find the best dog for show and breeding. Many people pick the wrong dog, based on what they see in 15 minutes to an hour. So ask the breeder to pick the puppy for you, for your safety and the dog’s. If a breeder refuses or says they can’t make that decision.. consider it a red flag.

2. Rescue Organization/Pure-Breed Rescue Puppies/Dogs:

Dogs in this category can come from any number of places… They might have been rescued from a puppy Mill.. abandoned by owners who can no longer keep them.. been pets of seniors whose family could not keep them after the senior passed away,…etc. Just because a dog is from a rescue however, does not mean that they were automatically bred by a puppy mill, though most dogs in this category will be, as most responsible breeders generally offer/require that dogs that can not be kept be brought back to them for placement.

Often dogs in rescue are adults that have been retired from breeding, rescued by the humane society, or voluntarily turned over by puppy mill owners for one reason or another. These dogs often need special medical care when they enter rescue, may have ongoing health concerns, and usually need to be spayed or neutered. These things may force the rescue to increase the price of adoption to cover veterinary care that will be administered before you bring the puppy/dog home.

Ask for a complete life history (as known) from the Rescue Group.

Ask for copies of all medical records available, and all known medical history.

Check whether or not the dog is microchipped, spayed/neutered.

Ask about adoption fees and policies. (Some organizations require you live within a certain radius, or return the dog to them if you can not keep it in the future.)

Ask whether or not the puppy/dog has been temperment tested around other dogs,.. children,.. food/toys, etc.

3. Shelter Dogs:

Most dogs in this category will not have a known history or a reliable history. Dogs/puppies in this category can come from the streets, as strays,.. been surrendered by owners… or retrieved by local animal control officers. This is the category you are most likely to find mixed breed dogs. (not to be confused with so called “designer breed” dogs, which are purposely bred to be mixed breed dogs).

Before adopting from a Shelter it is recommended that you:

Tour the facility for cleanliness.

Ask about operating procedures.

Be wary of facilities that are not forth coming with their day to day practices in detail, or that will not allow you to tour most of their facility.

Ask about Veterinary care in depth.

3 Responses to “Part 2 : You have done your research .. Now what?”

  1. What goes into finding that New Puppy,..Responsibly? Part 1 | Dog Reflections Says:

    [...] In part 2 of this article we will go into more detail about the various things you need to consider when you go to pick up [...]

  2. Morgan Says:

    Hey what kind of dogs are those dogs in the pic?? because I LOVE them!!!


  3. Loren Says:

    Actually the breed is West Highland White Terriers, and they are of Scottish decent… :)
    Scottish terriers are either black, brindle (red or silver) or tan/champange (Wheaten) color Scotties are never white.

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