HOW TO BUY A DOG

By: Jamesa Maulden

I have organized the following into specific categories for
easier reading.  However, the order in which this is presented
does not necessarily mean that this is the order in which these
questions should be asked nor does it signify the importance of
one question over another.  This is not meant to be a complete
list of questions or considerations, just a starting point to get
you thinking before making this long term commitment.
I.   Ask yourself "Why do you want a dog?"
     A.   Pet/companion
     B.   Showing 
     C.   Breeding
     D.   All of the above
II.  Learn how to choose the right breed for you
     A.   Read about the breeds that interest you
     B.   Attend a few dog shows and observe the characteristics
          of the breed you have chosen
     C.   Find out what type of grooming or special care this
          breed requires
     D.   Talk to and visit several breeders
          1.   Ask about specific characteristics
          2.   Ask about inherited problems
          3.   Look at adults
          4.   Look at puppies
          5.   Remember: This puppy will be an adult longer than
               it will be a puppy--do you like the adults of this
               breed??
     E.   Always look at more than one litter before deciding on
          a specific puppy (by this I mean visit more than one
          breeder to view two separate litters) this way you have
          some basis for comparison.
     F.   Have you considered rescuing an older dog rather than 
          purchasing a puppy?  Sometimes, an older dog is more 
          appropriate for your household and you work schedule.
III. Questions to ask the breeder
     A.   About the parents & grandparents
          1.   Temperament of the ancestors
               a.   shyness
               b.   viciousness
               c.   hyperactive
               d.   what are they like??
               e.   how are they to live with on a daily basis?
          2.   Known hereditary problems (ask for certification
               that the parents are clear)
               a.   Hip displaysia
               b.   Eye problems
               c.   Thyroid problems
               d.   Bleeding disorders
               e.   others specific to your breed of choice
          3.   Results of prior breedings (if any)
               a.   What type of puppies (mentally and physically)
                    has this dog produced in the past?
               b.   Mental and physical soundness of aunts,
                    uncles, etc.
     B.   About the puppies
          1.   Health record
               a.   What shots have they had
               b.   What shots do they still need
               c.   Have they been wormed
               d.   What type of food are they eating
          2.   Environment they were raised in (home vs. kennel)
          3.   Describe an average day in the puppy's life at age
               6 or 7 weeks. 
          4.   Anticipated temperament of each puppy in this
               litter (it is important to know as much as
               possible about the siblings of your puppy)
          5.   If you are buying a show or breeding quality
               puppy, it is even more important to find out about
               the siblings.
          6.   If you are buying a show or breeding quality be
               certain that the littermates are free of
               hereditary defects (this includes all males having
               both testicles--even if you are buying a bitch
               puppy).
          7.   Which puppy is breeding quality, show quality or
               pet quality (you don't want to get your heart set
               on one puppy then be told that that is a show
               puppy and is not for sale)
          8.   What type of health guarantee does the breeder
               give for a show puppy? a pet puppy?
          9.   Will the breeder take the dog back or assist you
               in placing the dog should you ever decide that you
               cannot keep it?
IV.  Questions the breeder should ask you 
     A.   Why do you want this dog?
     B.   Have you researched this breed and what do you know
          about its character traits?
     C.   Do you have other pets?
     D.   Have you ever owned a dog? One of this breed?
     E.   Were will the dog be kept?  Indoors or outdoors most of
          the time?
     F.   What hours do you work?  Your spouse?
     G.   Do you have children?  What ages?
     H.   Describe a typical week at your house now.
     I.   Describe a typical weekend day at your house now.
     J.   Project a typical week at your house after you get the
          puppy.
     K.   Project a typical weekend at your house after you get
          the puppy.
     L.   Project a typical day once he is an adult.
     M.   Where will the dog go when you go on vacation
     N.   What would you do if you could no longer keep this dog
     O.   To sign a contract stating specific terms and
          agreements of the sale of this puppy.
     P.   Will this dog be spayed or neutered?
     Q.   If you intent to breed this dog, why?
          1.   To show the children the facts of life
          2.   To recuperate the money you are spending to buy a
               purebred dog
          3.   To attempt to produce puppies better than their
               parents
          Note: Answers 1 and 2 are not acceptable reasons for
          breeding.
V.   If you do breed this dog, outline the process you will
     follow--from choosing the stud to whelping the litter.
     A.   Check for hereditary defects
     B.   Attend shows and ask breeders' recommendations for stud
          choice.
     C.   Shots current before breeding
     D.   Prenatal care, diet of mother, vet care while in whelp,
          etc.
     E.   The whelping
          1.   Where will the litter be whelped (may depend on
               the time of year), indoors? outdoors? the garage?
          2.   Where will you be during this time?
          3.   Alert your vet when she goes into labor (have more
               than one vet available if possible)
     F.   Where will the pups be kept (and until what age)
     G.   What care will the pups receive prior to being sold (at
          what age will they be sent to their new homes)
          1.   Shots
          2.   Worming
          3.   What will they eat (and at what ages)
     H.   How will you sell the puppies
     I.   How will you screen the potential buyers
     J.   What type of follow up will you do once the pups have
          been sold
     K.   Will you offer any guarantees
     L.   How will you arrive at a sales price for the pups
     M.   Will you provide a home for the pups for their ENTIRE
          lifetime (yes, even if they are sold and then returned
          to you for some reason)
VI.  How to evaluate the breeder (not the dogs)
     A.   If the breeder does not ask you most of the above
          questions, maybe you should choose another breeder.
     B.   Do they seem truly interested in your home environment?
     C.   Have they evaluated the litter into show, pet, or
          breeding stock?
     D.   Have they priced the litter based upon their expenses
          for the litter or upon their honest evaluation of the
          quality of the puppies?
     E.   Are the puppies in a healthy environment?
     F.   How are the adults kept?  Do they receive adequate
          attention, socialization, nutrition?
     G.   Speak to several breeders, if most breeders are telling
          you one thing and one does not, either he is ignorant
          of the fact or he does not care.  Neither situation is
          good.  If they cannot give you a satisfactory answer
          when you directly ask them about this point, choose
          another breeder to buy your puppy from.
     H.   Do you get the feeling that once you walk out the door
          with the puppy, you are on your own?  or do you feel
          that you could call this breeder for help at any time
          in the puppy's life?
VII. How to choose your puppy once you have chosen the breeder
     you wish to work with.
     A.   Male vs. Female
     B.   What type of adult do you want
          1.   Active vs docile
          2.   Show vs. pet
          3.   Will the dog live primarily indoors or outdoors
     C.   Ask the breeder to project a what puppy's temperament
          will be like as an adult 
     D.   Evaluate temperament first as the dog will be your pet
          first and foremost.  He cannot be anything else unless
          he is a good pet.  If you cannot enjoy living with the
          dog, why have it?  We choose to have a dog--it should
          be a pleasure not a burden.
     E.   Coat color, markings and eye color should be the last
          consideration after you have decided on the type of
          temperament you can live with and which sex you prefer. 
          If you are adamant about specific color or markings,
          wait until they are on the puppy with the appropriate
          temperament for you.
     F.   If you are buying a show puppy, attend enough shows,
          read enough books to have a basic idea of what you want
          in a show dog then ask the breeder to help project what
          each puppy may turn out like as an adult.  REMEMBER: 
          No one knows for sure, it is just an educated guess at
          best!
     G.   If you have questions or concerns about your puppy
          (behavior, physical development, etc.) at any time
          after your purchase--call the breeder immediately. 
          Don't be afraid to ask for help!  It could save you a
          lot of heartache in the long run.
     H.   Remember, by purchasing this puppy, you are committing
          to its care for the rest of its life.  But, in the
          event that you cannot keep it as you had planned, call
          the breeder immediately.  A good breeder always wants
          to know where their pups are.  They will also help you
          place the dog or approve a new home if you have lined
          up.
     I.   It is very important that you maintain contact with the
          breeder of your puppy.  If you do not feel comfortable
          doing that, perhaps you chose the wrong breeder to
          purchase a puppy from.  You buy the breeder as well as
          the puppy so try to be sure you get a good one of each!!!

Feel free to e-mail me with further questions, additions to this 
article or improvements.

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