What to consider before you buy a puppy!
There are so much more to think of - more than just how cute the puppy is. Here are som things to consider before you buy a puppy:
- Find a breed that suits your lifestyle and living situation. Speak with a dog instructor who knows the different breeds and who can recommend a breed that will suit your life and wishes. I know how poorly it can go if you don’t choose a breed that fits into your life – not only for you, but also for the dog.
- Learn what diseases and ailments often affect the breed you’ve chosen. There are hardly any breeds that aren’t susceptible to a certain disease, so make sure you know what they are. Seek to understand what examinations the breeder should have done before they bred the parent animals, and what you should be on the lookout for to minimize the chances of ending up with a sick dog. A good breeder may have the occasional puppy with a physical divergence, and this doesn’t make them a bad breeder, but they should have taken all the necessary precautions to minimize the risks.
- Find out which physical traits and weaknesses the breed may have, and which traits you don’t want in your puppy. You have no guarantee how your puppy will turn out, but by studying the parent animals closely, you may get an impression of what could appear.
- Find breeders of the specific breed you want. When I was looking for a puppy, I was recommended several breeders. I called a number of them, and asked the questions I wanted answered. When someone told me that some of the puppies had been diagnosed with OCD or hip dysplasia (more on that later), that ruled them out for me. I spoke with my last breeder on the phone and via Facebook, and I went to visit her and the parent animals. I wanted to meet both of them, and she owned them both. Unfortunately, you can’t insure yourself against everything, but you should be wary of breeders who tell you to keep the puppy calm and not let it be physically active.Look closely at the body, the movements and, importantly, the dog’s behavior. Speak to the breeder to make sure they made the proper checks and examinations before letting the dogs breed. Check the contract closely and make sure the breeder takes responsibility if something should turn out to be seriously wrong with the puppy. Find out if the dogs have been allowed to be part of the family, if they spend a lot of time in cages (a bad sign), and so on.
- Get references from other dog owners who’ve bought puppies from the same breeder. Check that the process went smoothly and the puppies are healthy, and maybe whether they’ve done well in their sports if you’re buying a working dog.
- Get used to using the national registries to find the parent animals’ EBV (estimated breeding values) where these are available. Different nations have different systems, but your national kennel club should be able to guide you in the right direction. You should also check the health status of the parents. When it comes to hip dysplasia, for example, it’s not enough for both animals to have been assessed by X-ray. You have to look at the history of the lineage as a whole. (You can read more about hip dysplasia in the chapter about diseases and ailments in the musculoskeletal system.) Make sure the EBV is within the recommended guidelines of your national kennel club and that the health status is positive. This is where we get to a dilemma when it comes to mixed-breed dogs. Let me start by saying that I’m not exactly against mixed breeds, but as of now, there is no register to control that the breeding of these dogs happens in a good way. These days, mixed-breed puppies can be almost as expensive as purebred ones, yet their health is much less predictable. That’s why I always recommend buying a purebred puppy.
- Visit the puppy multiple times if you can, and prepare for a puppy to join your household. Ifyou can, take a class in reading your dog’s body language, and sign up for a puppy course so you and the puppy get a good start to your relationship. Make sure you have enough time for the puppy while it’s young, and make a plan for how and for what purpose the dog should be trained. A puppy is like a child, and you can’t expect to quickly return to being at work all day, for example. Make plans and be thorough. We won’t get on top of diseases and cynical breeders until those of us buying puppies start taking responsibility, making demands and making the right choices. I’m overjoyed when dog buyers help ensure that the puppies being brought to life will have a good home and be healthy. For the sake of clarity, I have to add that not everything that can happen to a puppy has to do with the breeder or the breeder’s routines. When you breed dogs, there’s always the possibility that individuals will be born with diseases or weaknesses, no matter how well the breeder has prepared. Even with an impeccable lineage and a perfect EBV score, there may be individuals with, for example, hip dysplasia. As long as you know the breeders have done their job, don’t start accusing or blaming – there are no guarantees in breeding.
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