I have had a lot of people ask me what they should look for when buying a puppy, apart from the puppy itself.  I advise that they take their time first and foremost, and thoroughly research their intended breed.  The next step should be to get to know the breeders.

The Internet is a wonderful invention and it should be used to your advantage.  Yes, by all means, call breeders and have a chat to them about the breed, about what they have to offer, and the availability of puppies, but please keep in mind, in the main, breeders are very busy people and time is precious.  Not all breeders are willing to give up their time by being tied to the phone answering a lot of questions.  They do not intend to be rude or off-putting, they genuinely do not have enough hours in a day to do all that is expected of them; hence, why the Internet is such a wonderful invention because it allows you to communicate via email.

Emails are good, they give you the time to think about your questions and they give the breeder the opportunity to answer your questions with just as much thought and at a time suitable to them.  Through emails, you can tell a lot about how educated, informed, and knowledgeable a breeder is…just as the breeder can tell so much about the buyer.

In this day and age, there is seldom a business or hobby without a website and dog breeders are no different.  A website speaks volumes about the breeder you may be choosing.  Take your time and take a look around, read all the breeder is offering in terms of puppy sales.  Remember, a genuinely good breeder will also want to get to know you just as much as you want to get to know him/her, prior to the sale of the puppy.  It is a two way thing, you want to be sure you are buying from a reputable breeder, and in turn, that breeder wants to know they are selling to the right person too!

If a breeders is selling puppies/dogs with a sales contract, read the contract thoroughly and know, this is the first sign of the breeder being a caring person also interested in ensuring not only what is best for the puppy, but also the best for the buyer and breeder.  All terms and conditions should be clearly outlined.  By signing this contract and having your signature witnessed, you are entering into a legally binding contract.

A reputable breeder will offer a Health Policy with the sale of the puppy.  This is as much for your own peace of mind, as well as that of the breeder.  Once again, take your time to read through the Health Policy thoroughly and familiarize yourself with what is covered and what is not covered.  Caring breeders will always give buyers the option to return the dog to them, should at any given time the need arises and the buyer can no longer keep the dog.  Under those given circumstances, in the case of an older dog, there will not be any monetary sum reimbursed to the buyer, and the breeder will cover the costs of re-homing the dog. 

In the case of a younger dog, providing none of the terms of sale or Health Policy have been breached, the breeder may offer help to re-sell the dog on behalf of the owner, minus any expenses incurred by the breeder per the sale.  What any reputable breeder clearly DOES NOT want, is one of their dogs being abandoned, or given to an animal shelter, on any account and under NO circumstances.  If you find you can't keep the dog; then please….PLEASE…consider allowing the breeder to help you re-home the dog FIRST, not last.  Of course, it is your right to sell the dog if you so choose to someone else, as long as you do it in exactly the same manner and with the same consideration the breeder gave you when you purchased the dog.  After all, the dog's welfare is the most important thing above all else.

These days, for security reasons, a lot of breeders will not allow potential buyers to come into their home to view puppies.  Please take this into consideration and do not misinterpret this as the breeder having something to hide.  The breeder has something to protect and amongst the most treasured of all possessions, are his/her dogs.  Long gone are the days of trust and opening ones private residence to complete strangers for them to view the puppies, parents, and environment where they were bought up.  Way too many breeders, worldwide, have suffered dramatic consequences and loss due to their trust being abused. 

Some have had dogs stolen never to be found, others have had their homes robbed, and the worse of all…lost their lives!  Sounds too dramatic?  Who can forget the case of the pregnant breeder in the U.S. whom opened her home to a potential puppy buyer, even after taking the time to get to know this person via email for the longest time, only to be murdered in cold blood and having her unborn child ripped from within her?  The killer obviously used the proposed sale of a puppy to gain access into the victim's home under false pretences.  Don't take my word for it, do a Google search and I am sure you will find the case history there with all the details.  Remember, breeder's homes are their private place of residence…everyone is entitled to privacy and to feel secure in their own homes, after all, don't you too?

If you wish to see the parents of the puppies, tell the breeder to bring them along at the place of meeting to buy the puppy.  In most cases, and in my experiences, reasonable people see the parents on the web site, see the puppy pictures sent to them via email, and do trust in the breeder's integrity and honesty.  Think about this for a moment, if you bought your new pup from a pet shop, you would not see the parents, meet the breeder, and certainly not see the place where the puppies were bred.   And the majority of pet shop puppies come from puppy farms!  In my experience, Puppy Farmers do not have web site sales, contrary to popular belief!  They are not interested in what becomes of the puppy, they are just interested in how much money they can make in as quick a time as possible!

Breeding dogs properly with right conditions etc. is costly and a lot of hard work.  Puppy Farmers sell cheap, because they sell lots, and do not give the parents or puppies the proper care and attention they deserve, so there is little or any monetary outlay on their part.  They are NOT dedicated, caring, breeders!

At the meeting, hold the puppy, go over the puppy if you wish, a reputable breeder will not have any objections to you doing this.  Check that the puppy is firm and round, well fed and solid.  A puppy should be clean and free of parasites such as fleas.  A thin bony body with a pot belly distended abdomen could be indicative of a worm infestation.  In any case, if you are buying a contracted puppy with a Health Policy, I very much doubt a genuine breeder will sell a puppy to anyone which is not healthy and in optimum condition.

If you are to have your puppy freighted to you, once again, look around the breeder's web site and get the feel if the breeder is professional and has shipped puppies before.  If so, then rest assured every careful arrangement will be made to ensure your puppy arrives safe and well.  It is just as important to the caring breeder as it is to the buyer.

A reputable breeder puts a lot of time, effort, and work into raising a litter correctly.  The average person doesn't realize just how much is involved with the rearing of a litter.  There is financial outlay as well as a lot of hard work.  REPUTABLE breeders, do not just churn out puppies, litter after litter, they are not PUPPY FARMERS!  Each litter is vigilantly planned, raised with the utmost care, generally the breeder will keep a puppy from the resulting litter for herself/himself, and they are particular about who buys their other puppies.  This is the sort of breeder you want to be buying your next puppy from.  Don't settle for anything but the best to get the best. 

Written By
Anne Roditis/Muscat
© copyright 2008