You’ve done your research, you’ve decided size, temperament and specifically the types of breed or breed crosses you are looking for. You’ve considered the pros and cons of puppy vs mature rescue for your family and you have decided on a puppy.
The build up to a new arrival in the family is a very exciting time. First bit of advice we have to give everybody is research as much as you can about a particular puppy before you go visit it in person. I’ll illustrate just what I mean with the following anecdote:
2007 – Our family had finally reached the point in our grieving process to look at having another dog join our family. Our research and experience led us to believe a Great Dane was a good fit. For a number of reasons we’ll talk about later, we were looking at a puppy from a breeder. We had short listed 3 breeders. Two had recent litters for us to look at but the third was awaiting the birth of their new arrivals. My husband specifically wanted a Harlequin Great Dane (White with black spots – think Dalmation coloring). The first two breeders had a limited number of harlequins in their current litters and the third breeder was known to produce high numbers of them. We arranged to visit the first two breeders to look at their spotted Danes. Upon arrival at the first breeder she offered her apologies but she mixed up her appointments and had actually just allowed someone else to visit and reserve her last unspoken for harlequin…..but she had 9 boston mantles (black) we could look at. I cautioned my husband that if he looked, he wasn’t getting his spotted dog, because they’re puppies and you’re going to fall in love, especially with the 3 and 5 year old daughters in tow. He scoffed at that, he could look without melting. He always wanted the biggest harlequin he could find.
2013 – We never met breeder number two or three. We left the breeder that day having committed to return in a few weeks when our puppy was ready to come home with us. 6 years later we wouldn’t change Maggie for the world. We lovingly refer to her as our tea-cup Great Dane because she is the smallest Adult Boston Mantle we’ve met. She is the exact opposite of what we went looking for in a Great Dane. My husband still says he will have a Harlequin one day.
Did it matter what she looked like ? For us, absolutely not, but remember that story when you are walking through the shelter. It was impossible for my family to walk away from puppies who were in a loving home and only going to go to another loving family if we didn’t take them.
Puppies advertised in Newspaper and Online Marketplace
I’ll admit we found our breeder on Kijiji. Once we knew of them we researched them through the local Veterinarian and Kennel club. But we did find them initially on the Internet. But we still need to ask you to excercise caution. We all know about pet stores and puppy mills. A loving breeder is never going to surrender the puppies they could not sell to a pet store. Therefore we know they come from a puppy mill. But what is the definition of a puppy mill. The grey surrounding that definition is exactly what makes it difficult to stop them all together. An alarming practice south of the border are puppy auctions. A number of local charities and rescues have found themselves at these auctions where puppy mill dogs are auctioned off at “cut rate” prices. Of course when the charities buy the puppies, it is to save them from the euthanasia that would occur if no one else buys them. The individuals who buy them, do so to make a quick buck. A large number of these auction litters are then sold here in Ontario as a “home raised” litter. They will usually be “pure bred” but unregistered.
The issue with getting a puppy from these sources is that we are supporting the continued practice and you are taking the risk of a dog who could have serious genetic problems and illnesses because of poor animal husbandry, and non existent prenatal and postnatal nutrition and care.
Puppies should not be leaving their mums and siblings before at least 8-10 weeks of age. They should of had at least 2 visits from a veterinarian, one of which would of been for initial vaccinations. You should be able to take the name and contact details of the examining Vet. Antibiotics and/or tummy meds are not prescribed for preventative purposes, so if your puppy is already on medication beware and speak to the Prescribing Vet before committing.
You can always meet the mother. If you can’t, alarm bells should go off. Puppies will be at the home of Mum so why can’t you see her. Check mum over for temperament and to verify she is the mum – it takes a number of weeks after weening before the signs of nursing begin to disappear.
I won’t go into temperament testing and analyzing the play roles amongst siblings. Once you are satisfied about origin, background, health and care. Follow your heart.
I strongly believ that when choosing a puppy you “stack the deck” and then let your new family member choose you.
Jenn Dahinten has been involved in health and pet care for over 20 years and is currently a part of the caring team at The Royal Pets Hotel & Spa, a 5 star Pet Hotel just north of Toronto in Barrie, Ontario.