While it is commendable to adopt a rescued puppy or older dog and shelters have far too many unwanted canines, some people want a purebred pooch and are looking for very specific traits associated with that breed. 

As with any purchase, there are some breeders that take great pride in the puppies they breed and do everything they can to breed for desirable personality and health traits and not select for unwanted issues – medical or behavioral. Below is a list of questions and things you should look for when selecting a breeder for that puppy you’ve been looking for:

First take the time in an initial phone call to the breeder to ask the following questions. You may not find a breeder who fits 100 percent of these criteria, but don’t settle for anything less than one or two negative responses. At the end of the list are questions to ask yourself. You should be able to answer all of them affirmatively before you begin your search.

Remember you are adding a new member to your family for the next 10 to 15 years. NOW IS NOT THE TIME TO BARGAIN HUNT! Prepare to spend at least $1,500 to $2,500 or more for a well-bred puppy.

You or someone you know may have purchased a “backyard” bred dog or a pet store or puppy mill dog and had great success. However, the high number of serious problems seen in these poorly bred dogs today makes a positive experience less likely. Chief among these problems are temperament issues ranging from aggression to shyness to hyperactivity. Medical issues often include the following: hip dysplasia, patella luxation, eye problems, heart defects that can severely shorten life span, auto immune disorders and cancer.

Responsible breeders will do all they can to avoid these problems by researching pedigrees and screening parents for certain inherited problems before breeding.

Where did you find out about this breeder? Responsible breeders usually have a waiting list of puppy buyers. They usually don’t find it necessary to advertise in newspapers or with a sign out in the front yard.

Keep this checklist by the phone when you make your calls and good luck!

Do you feel comfortable with this person? After all, you are entering into a decade-long relationship. Are you feeling intimidated or pressured? If so, keep looking! Don’t be offended by breeders who indicate that they will pick the puppy for you. Everyone wants “pick of the litter.” A good breeder has spent a lot of time with the puppies, and although you may want that quiet resting one you really think would be mellow, the breeder knows that’s the puppy with not much of an off switch and he’s only mellow right now because he’s been rampaging with his litter mates for the last four hours, and will be up and at it again before you are down the driveway in your car.

Questions to Ask Yourself

Are you prepared to:

If you answered yes to ALL of the above, you are ready to start contacting breeders. Start early because most reputable breeders have a waiting list ranging from a few months to a couple of years. Remember, the right puppy or adult dog IS worth waiting for!

A word about rescue dogs pure bred or mixed breed: they may or may not be responsibly bred. However, since they are adults, they can be evaluated for any signs of a problem before you fall in love, something that can’t be done with a puppy. This is one of the one of the many advantages to adopting an older dog of any breed!

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