Ahh, the presence of a new puppy, there's nothing like the sweet milky breath, the unbridled joy of discovering the world around them and the promise of a bright future.
But unfortunately for some, that promise never materializes, and unsuspecting new dog owners are left holding a bag of major issues whether it's a physical or a mental one, all avoidable to some extent with careful planning and research. So we decided to not only publish a guide on how to choose a great breeder, but also offer a free phone consult to anyone looking to purchase a puppy in the future, because we at Canis Majors would like to help prevent the potential heartbreak of panicked owners who now have a pup that is compromised and don't have either the bank account or the skill set needed to repair their new family member.
(Disclaimer: We support rescuing dogs as often as possible, but also understand that people are going to purchase dogs regardless of the potential risks, we're just trying to minimize the damage)
Despite the derp face, Cody is actually a very well bred show dog 😂.
What To Ask A Potential Breeder:
1. Match The Breed To The Lifestyle, Not the Lifestyle To The Breed.
First things first, decide what breed you'd like to own, but more importantly, ask yourself "Will this breed of dog fit my family, lifestyle, house?" Not every breed is a good match for every person, if your idea of fun consists of entertaining family, or you enjoy a lot of "downtime", then a Siberian or a German Shepherd is probably not right for you. Dogs are classified into many groups (working, herding, companion, etc), and if your idea of a good weekend consists of sitting on the couch and binging Netflix, you're probably not going to want a breed that needs a job or a ton of exercise, so do your homework! If your idea of a good time is hiking or jogging, then by all means, go get a companion that can keep up with you, if you like a clean house DON'T go for a breed that sheds mountains of fur and like to dig for fun.
2. Research Your Chosen Breed's Health Issues.
The American Kennel Club in the US has 202 recognized breeds, and almost ALL of them can have genetic health issues, anything from specific cancers to hip dysplasia. Good breeders genetically test for breed specific health problems, and when they discover them, they immediately take that line out of their breeding program.
A short list of things that quality breeders check for are:
1. Hip and elbow dysplasia, luxating patellas (Penn Hip and the Orthopedic Foundation for Animals are two of the organizations that rate joints in potential breeding dogs)
2. Cardiac (heart)
3. Eyes (CIKS, iris coloboma, "cherry eye")
4. Cancer (sarcomas, lymphomas, skin)
5. Endocrine (thyroid, Cushing's, Graves Disease)
Not all medical or physical issues can be weeded out but good breeders do everything they can to ensure a healthy puppy!
3. Can You Meet The Parents Of Your New Puppy? Can You See Where They Are Raised?
Every breeder worth buying from welcomes potential new owners to meet and greet the sire and or dam of their litters, if you are told that you cannot see the parents or see where the litters are raised, don't walk but RUN. Not being able to meet the parents of a litter can be a red flag, indicating a temperament issue with one of them, and it's not always a physical problem, sometimes it's a temperament problem, and that, just like physical traits, gets passed on to their offspring. 4. What Socialization Do They Do Once The Litter Is Born?
This might be one of the most important questions to ask, socialization is a period in a pup's life that can be crucial to having a stable, even tempered adult. Developmental socialization periods in a puppy's life can be as quick as 48 hours and ends at seventeen weeks of age, so a top notch breeder will make sure to expose your new pup to as many sights, smells, sounds, obstacles, and PEOPLE prior to sending it home with you.
And sending a puppy to it's new home before eight to ten weeks of age is not only detrimental to a dog's development, it is ILLEGAL in many states, so check accordingly!
5. What Vaccines Are Given And What Should You NOT Give?
Breeders should make sure their puppies go home free of parasites and with at least one puppy vaccine. But some breeds cannot have certain vaccinations, such as herding breeds can carry genetic mutations that don't accept some immunizations. For example, Australian Shepherds can carry the MDR1 (Multi-Drug Resistance) gene, which causes sensitivity to Ivermectin and other drugs or vaccines such as Leptospirosis, failure to identify that gene can result in the premature death of your dog. Always ask your breeder if your pups parents were tested!
6. How Do I Pick My Puppy?
Short answer, you don't.
Great breeders test the litters at specific weeks to determine a pups temperament, and will match a puppy to you. That hyper little nugget that comes rushing up to you may be better suited for someone who will work that dog, and the quieter, calmer pup may be the right fit for someone who only wants a companion dog. Either way, your breeder knows their litters better than you do, so please let them do their job!
7. What Happens If There's a Problem?
The best breeders stand by their dogs, period. If for any reason you cannot keep your dog or an issue should arise, reputable breeders will help you AND take their dogs back if you cannot keep it. They put a lot of effort into producing their litters and love them long before you take them, so always utilize their expertise and guidance if ever needed.
This is just a few of the things to look for, should you find yourself looking for a well bred dog please contact us so we can help get you the dog of your dreams, not one who will be a nightmare!