Gail Fisher's Dog Tracks: Friend's search for new puppy starts with finding the right breeder
This process reminded me of a column I wrote about five years ago when I was helping a friend find a breeder and a puppy. This is such an important topic for anyone thinking of getting a puppy — or rescuing a dog — that it's worth a reprise. Here's what I wrote:
Through the Internet, my friend found puppies within driving distance, and she called me for advice. Each find brought up something new. As we discussed what questions to ask and what to look for, a pattern emerged about some common misconceptions.
My friend wants a friendly, outgoing, trainable dog appropriate for pet therapy. The top of the list of requirements, not just for my friend, but for any pet owner is temperament. Next is temperament, followed by temperament. If a dog is congenitally shy or aggressive, it doesn't matter what it looks like, how healthy it is or anything else. Temperament is genetic, so you can assess a puppy's likely adult temperament by meeting the parents — or at least the dam, the mom.
Here's a brief rundown of what occurred over the course of two days: The first litter my friend found will be available in a few weeks. The “breeder” owns both the male and female. Here are the red flags I brought to my friend's attention:
Ÿ The breeder did not perform any health screenings on either of her dogs, nor would she provide any health assurances or guarantees to anyone buying one of her puppies. It made me wonder if she had given any thought to genetics, inherited characteristics, or anything else a reputable breeder considers before mating two dogs.
Ÿ When asked for a pedigree, she refused to provide one. She claimed that a buyer had once used a pedigree for one pup to register another. This is nonsense. The breeder confused pedigree with registration papers. A pedigree is simply a listing of the dog's ancestors — a family tree. Not everyone knows the difference, but a dog breeder certainly should.
Ÿ The price she was asking is approximately half the “going rate.” I'm not saying you have to pay an arm and a leg for a dog, but for what reason would her pups be so inexpensive?
Ÿ Despite the low price tag, she insisted on a $200 nonrefundable deposit. What? You can't change your mind a month before the pups are old enough to be placed and get your money back?
Ÿ The kicker was when she warned my friend that the mother was “protective of her pups,” so she wouldn't be able to pet her. I've never had a dog be protective of a litter when they were in another room. Plus, once the pups are a few weeks old, most dams are fine. Clearly this was an excuse to cover her bitch's poor temperament. Beyond a red flag, this information was sufficient for me to tell my friend to cross this “breeder” off her list.
More on this next week.
Gail Fisher, author of “The Thinking Dog,” runs All Dogs Gym & Inn in Manchester. To suggest a column topic, email email@example.com or write c/o All Dogs Gym & Inn, 505 Sheffield Road, Manchester, NH 03103. You'll find past columns on her website.
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