How to Choose a Healthy Pure-Bred Puppy

Question : There are ads for puppies in the newspaper, on the Internet, and, of course, there are those adorable puppies in the pet stores. Where’s the best place to buy my purebred puppy?

Answer : Breeders advertise in a variety of ways, including ads on the Internet, in newspapers, and their own web sites. Those are all good places to start, but they are also places you can run into a lot of trouble if you don’t do your research. You can go to our web site,, to look for the parent club of our breeds. We list breeder referrals for all these clubs and they can put you in touch with breeders across the country.

Question: Will someone who breeds dogs for show sell me a puppy even if I don’t want to show it?

Answer: Absolutely. The majority of puppies in a show litter actually go to pet homes. The breeder selects the best one or two out of a litter to keep for their line and sells the rest.

Question : What questions should I ask to determine if someone is a good breeder?

Answer: The first question should be, “Can I come visit your home or your kennel facility?” Responsible breeders are very proud of their kennel and their dogs.

Ask if they register with the American Kennel Club. Ask if they have the health certificates for testing prior to breeding. Then, I expect the breeder to ask the buyer a lot of questions about how they plan to care for the new puppy.

Question: Is it a good idea to meet both parents of the puppy I want?

Answer: It’s good to meet both parents, if possible. But the majority of breeders have only the mothers at their homes. Usually the stud dogs live somewhere else. But visiting the mother and other relatives that might be in the breeder’s home will give you a good idea of the size and the temperament of the line.

You can also ask for contact information for the stud dog. But in today’s world, you may live in New York, but the stud dog’s frozen semen was shipped from California.

Question: What’s the best age for bringing a puppy home?

Answer: The ideal time is 8 to 12 weeks, especially with small or toy puppies. Breeders usually want to keep those a little longer because they’re fragile when they’re young. So a 12-week-old Yorkshire terrier puppy is very acceptable, where a hardier breed, like a Labrador retriever, is ready to go at 8 weeks.

You also need to check with your state, because some states have a minimum age for selling puppies.

Question: How do I choose the puppy with the best personality?

Answer: The responsible breeder will more than likely select the best puppy for you from the litter. They’ve spent 8 to 12 weeks with the puppies and they know the personalities of each puppy. They know which ones are bold and outgoing and which are the shy ones. And the breeder knows the bold, outgoing puppy will do much better with that active family with three kids versus the shy puppy, which needs to go with the single owner who can spend more time with it so that puppy won’t feel overwhelmed.

With health guarantees, each breeder has his own health guarantee, whether it’s to replace the puppy or buy the puppy back or cover vet expenses for certain conditions. All that should be spelled out in the sales contract, which is between you and the breeder. All those expectations and responsibilities will be stated in writing and signed by both parties ahead of time. Some states also have so-called “lemon laws” that give buyers some protection, so check with state officials before buying your puppy to see if your state has laws governing the sale of puppies.

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