Some new research which looks at differences in the behavioral characteristics of dogs obtained as puppies from pet stores compared to those obtained from noncommercial breeders has produced some disturbing results. The research appears in the Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Associationand was conducted by Utah veterinarian Frank McMillan from the Best Friends Animal Society and a team of researchers at the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia.
Apologies for the shameless self promotion but I started a photo and training blog for my German Shepherd puppy. You should check it out because he’s cute as hell!
“I like the routine having a dog instills in your life and I can’t wait to walk or run with Rosemary for long distances. I love the idea of having an excuse to explore new areas and places with her.”
by Phil Hearing
(I’m going to use German Shepherds as an example throughout the this post because they’re the breed I know best)
There are a lot of things to look at when choosing a breeder, it can be really overwhelming! The first thing to keep in mind is that a breeder’s dogs being registered with the AKC, UKC, or CKC is not any indication of quality dogs. The major things to look for are breeders who health test and title their dogs.
Which health tests a breeder does depends on the breed of dog. Keep in mind, I’m not talking about having a vet check out a puppy before it leaves or a one-year health warranty. You need to look at the genetic testing done on the parents and hopefully the grandparents as well. Look up the common health problems in your breed of choice and then look for a breeder who tests for them. For example, if I was looking for a German Shepherd breeder I would expect them to test for hip dysplasia, elbow dysplasia, and degenerative myelopathy at a minimum. Many breeders post their health tests results on OFFA.com and web.vmdb.org
This again is going to depend on the breed you’re looking at, but you want a breeder who does something with their dogs. Ideally, their dogs should be working in the arenas their breed was developed for and received awards in that area. The dogs should be shown and earned a conformation championship (“finished”) in most cases. In German Shepherds I would look for a breeder who’s dogs had earned their Schutzhund III titles, French Ring titles, and Obedience titles. The idea here is that the breeder’s dogs not only do the job they’re meant to do, but excel at them as well.
In addition there are a load of questions to ask a breeder.
The following are red flags:
The italicized points should be considered deal breakers. Do not buy a dog from any breeder who does these things as they are not responsible breeders.
Finally I’d like to give an example of a fantastic breeder to give you a more concrete idea of what you should be looking for. Wildhaus Kennels is a fantastic German Shepherd breeder and their website is very comprehensive and informative. Particularly look over the How Our Pups Are Raised, About Us, and Females sections, they’re a very good example of what responsible breeding looks like.
Socializing your puppy is one of the most important aspects of new dog ownership but it can be hard to know how much is too much (or too little!). Emily Larlham of KikoPup and Dogmantics Training has some excellent tips on the matter.
The world can be a scary place for a young puppy. This is especially the case if the breeder or previous caregiver did not take the litter of puppies out-and-about in the company of their own mother and littermates in order to socialize them to everything they will see and hear in their grown up lives.