In today's world, consumers are getting smarter and
smarter. Below are things you should know as a prospective buyer:
BEFORE you buy that cute puppy - to prevent a lot of heartache and vet bills, insist on the following:
1. Find out what health tests the sire and dam have had and what the results were. For instance, Italian Greyhounds should have at least the following tests: PRA, Thyroid, and Patellas checked. Responsible breeders will be happy to show you the test results. A responsible breeder will know if their particular bloodline is prone to seizures, teeth problems and/or hair loss.
Izat Simply Scandalous - photo by pet action shots
2. Go to the AKC web site and read the standard for
the breed. Find out what you should be looking for in a healthy specimen. Too many people
have paid big money for purebred dogs which display only a passing resemblance to the
ideal for that breed. For example, I have seen 30 pound dogs purporting to be Italian
Greyhounds! AKC registration slips only guarantee that the dog is purebred - not that it
is a quality specimen.
3. Whatever you do, DON"T BUY FROM A PET STORE - It is a fact that 95 percent of all petshop puppies come from puppy mills. No matter what the pet shop owner claims about only dealing with "local breeders" - don't believe it. (The local breeder may be a puppy mill!) If you buy that puppy in order to give it a good life, you are condemning its parents to years of endless overbreeding in horrible conditions.
photo by Pet Action Shot
4. Ask the breeder how often the parents have been bred. A female should not be bred until it is two years of age. Run from anyone who is breeding a year old dog. Ask about temperaments of the puppy's parents. Insist upon seeing the puppy's mother (at least) so that you can judge for yourself. Does the breeder participate in dog shows, obedience or field trials, agility, etc? Most good breeders do more with their dogs than simply use them to propogate puppies. Have the puppies been socialized with people? Are they living in the breeder's home or have they been stuck outside with little human contact? You will have a much harder time training a puppy that has had little contact with people.
5. Most responsible breeders will not let puppies go until they are between 8 and 12 weeks of age (12 weeks is better). Puppies at this age have passed the "fear imprinting" time period and learned socialization from their littermates. RUN if a breeder wants you to take home a 5 or 6 week old puppy!
4. Ask what health guarantees are given - and insist on a vet visit within the first week to have the puppy checked over. Ask for shot records, worming schedules, etc. Most responsible breeders will ask YOU to sign a contract - promising to give the pup regular vet care, have it spayed/neutered, and call them first if you ever decide to give it away. Any breeder who is not willing to take back one of his/her dogs IS NOT A GOOD BREEDER!
The above will save you heartache - and ensure you get the healthiest, happiest puppy to be a member of your family for the next 15 years!
What is a responsible owner?
1. Researches the breed in which they are interested (books, websites, magazines -breed and all breed-, etc).
2. Contacts the breed club for listings of breeder members (contacts AKC for this information).
3. Begins correspondence and/or telephone/email discussions with other owners/breeders. This provides an insight into the breed that is not usually listed in books.
4. Has PATIENCE
5. Finds a breeder with whom it is possible to deal comfortably. Also makes sure that the breeder comes with high recomendations from other people.
6. Prepares the home environment and adjusts lifestyle to meet the needs of dog ownership. For example, buys in advance the things that are needed - such as crate, leashes, etc.).
7. Finds a vet and personally interviews that vet beforehand. (Makes a listing of emergency vets and telephone numbers).
8. Finds out about local obedience and/or puppy classes in advance.
9. Researches local laws and/or apartment rules. Nothing is worse than getting a dog only to find out that there is a breed ban and/or no dogs allowed!
10. Doesn't try to reform a dog in order to fit a particular lifestyle. Instead, finds a dog that will compliment a lifestyle (If you like the Miniature Pinscher look but hate barking, don't get a MinPin expecting to make the dog NOT bark).
11. DON'T BUY THE FIRST PUPPY YOU SEE! Puppies are cute and always wonderful. Curb the impulse and keep looking if you have any doubts about the situation.
12. Don't buy from a Pet Store. You do not "save" an animal - you condem many more.
13. Addtional information can be obtained at this website: Dog Owner's Guide: Topic List
While I'd like to say that there is NEVER a reason to give up a dog - this is really not true. If circumstances change (i.e. lost job, forced move, death of a loved one etc.) and it is no longer possible to care for a dog physically or emotionally, it is far better to let the dog go than for both to suffer. If this situation ever arises the first person to contact should be the breeder. Responsible breeders are very understanding and would rather take the dog back. Many times the original contract states that the breeder expects the dog to be returned if for ANY reason you decide not to keep it. If, for some reason, your breeder will NOT take the dog back, contacting the Italian Greyhound Rescue group is far preferrable to taking the dog to the pound and/or humane society. This group will provide quality care for the animal and take responsibility for finding a good home.
What are breeder responsibilities?
Certainly breeders should take every step possible to ensure that their puppies are placed in good homes. Requiring the return of unwanted dogs, spay/neuter requirements, screening homes and doing rescue are also part of the breeder"s responsibility. But it goes beyond this. There should also be a committment to produce the best quality dogs possible. This implies a further committment to the new owners. Making follow-up calls, keeping in touch, finding out how the pet is doing (i.e. any temperment problems, health problems, housebreaking problems, etc.) should be part of the deal. If a breeder doesn't do this he really has no way of knowing whether or not a quality pet has indeed been produced. Problems cannot be corrected when a breeder hasn't taken the time or trouble to find out if any exist. Furthermore, breeders must ensure that tests are administered to breeding animals in order to make sure that genetic defects are not passed on. If the stud dog has luxated patellas and is bred anyway, the condition is perpetuated. Heartache and pain results for both the animal and the owner. If there are heart defects, again, the pet owner and dog are the ones to suffer, not the breeder (and as far as I'm concerned the breeder should suffer). Seizures are another issue that is of major concern. People who breed dogs that are known to seize, in my book, really should be made to feel the heartache that they are perpetuating. Form follows function, so structure should be just as important as health related issues. Breeding a dog who has extremely crooked front legs (which is a deformity) is only allowing this feature to continue... which means that in the dog's older years, he will have extreme difficulty walking. This, alone, can shorten his lifespan. I've only just touched on the surface of what the responsibilities of breeders really are and should be!
Bargain Basement Prices - Buying "cheap dogs" from the newspaper:
As a breeder, I have heard this statement many times before:
"I went to breeder "X" down the road and got one of them dawgs for $100.00!" or "Why should I pay that much when I can get the same type of dog from the newspaper for less?"
Well here is a true story to answer these questions!
A woman called me to tell me that she got her Italian Greyhound from a breeder for $200.00. I guess this call was because previously I had told her my price and qualifications for a home. She got her wonderful puppy without all the "strings" (as she put it - I require spay/neuter of pets). I won't forget her words to me the first time she called - "I didn't want a show dog or nothing..."
Well about 6 months after this call, I spent an entire night on the phone listening to one heartbroken lady. Her bargain basement IG has now cost her over $1,000.00 in health problems - and the costs keep mounting. Where is the breeder in all this mess? I suppose sipping his mint julep on his front porch, enjoying the $200.00 he got from her because he didn't guarantee anything. Oh he said he had healthy dogs, but didn't guarantee her anything.
My point in this story is that not only did this poor woman end up spending more money than she could have imagined, the breeder got his money and will probably continue to breed these unhealthy dogs . The tragedy is that the Dogs are the ones to suffer the most.
So before you decide that the bargain you may get in the paper is "worth" it... shop around, find out just how much a bargain you'll really be getting when the vet bills roll in. Don't discount breeders who show because their prices are never that much higher (and sometimes equal to what a backyard breeder prices)... and certainly cheaper than a pet store! In the long run, you may find that the money you spent is worth it!