“How do I find a good breeder and the right dog for me?”
When looking for a reputable puppy breeder, make sure the breeder performs health testing, has their litters examined by a veterinarian, and is committed to finding the right home for their puppies.
As people are spending more time at home due to COVID-19, many are considering bringing a new dog into their family. Before you go pick up the “purebred” puppy you found on Craigslist, there are several factors you should consider.
What to Look for in a Puppy Breeder
The first thing to look for when deciding on a puppy breeder is if they have done all the health testing that is appropriate for the breed you’re interested in. For example, Labradors are prone to hip and elbow problems, so you want to make sure that they have been x-rayed for those conditions prior to breeding. For other breeds such as Dobermans and Boxers that are susceptible to heart conditions, you want to make sure that they have been examined by a cardiologist. There are also some great genetic tests that can be done to check for things like heart conditions in those breeds.
If you’re not sure what kind of testing should be done for the breed you’re interested in, you can always start with the AKC website. Additionally, the Orthopedic Foundation for Animals has a great list of the recommended health tests for specific breeds.
Look for a breeder who has all of their puppies examined by a veterinarian. The vet will look for any sort of congenital disorder, such as a heart murmur or a hernia that might come up down the road. Make sure that all of the puppies in the litter are healthy and vaccinated.
Finding the Right Fit
Talk to the breeder about their breeds. Make sure they know what kind of situation you have at home. Are you looking for a really active dog or a couch potato? There can be a large difference even within breeds. For instance, some labs bred for hunting exude endless energy. On the other hand, some labs prefer lounging on the couch all day.
The right breeder will be interested in helping you find the right fit, not just selling you any puppy that you’re willing to buy. For example, a reputable Belgian Malinois breeder would not sell one of their puppies to a family who is gone for 8 hours a day and lives in a 500-square foot apartment. A Belgian Malinois would be miserable in that environment. However, a Shih Tzu would probably be fine in that same situation. Trustworthy breeders will be selective in the placement of their puppies.
The Cost of a Purebred Puppy
Doing all the health testing and vaccines can add up. If you’re looking for a top-of-the-line breeder, you should be aware that their puppies are probably going to cost more. Breeders determine a puppy’s price based on a number of factors, including the breed, the litter’s pedigree, the stud fee, health testing, and more.
In addition to the cost of purchasing a puppy, there are also a number of ongoing costs that must be considered.
- Food – Depending on the type of dog you select, they may eat a lot of food. Your pup’s nutrition is not somewhere to cut corners, so select a high-quality food that is appropriate for your dog’s stage of life.
- Vaccines & Monthly Preventatives – Additionally, you must keep your dog up to date on vaccines and monthly heartworm, flea, and tick preventative.
- Boarding – If you travel often and don’t plan on bringing your furry family member with you, also account for boarding or in-home pet sitter costs.
- Grooming – Some types of dogs’ fur require regular grooming, which can add up quickly.
- Toys & Treats – Regardless of whether your dog prefers balls and frisbees or plush toys with squeakers, you’ll want to make sure they have toys to keep them occupied. Having treats on-hand to reward good behavior is also important.
- Training – For the happiness of everyone involved, consider investing in professional training, especially if you haven’t trained a dog before. Some families are happy with a dog who has learned to not jump on people and who walks on a loose leash, while other families want a dog trained to retrieve waterfowl on command. The desired level of training may vary along with training costs, but some degree of training is not optional if you want a happy relationship with your dog.
- Emergencies – Inevitably, emergencies and unexpected medical costs will arise when you have a dog. Whether they eat something they shouldn’t or develop an allergy, an emergency fund is essential.
Adopting a Shelter Dog
If cost is an issue, we highly recommend looking into a rescue dog. There are so many amazing adoptable animals at the shelter — and they’re affordable! Additionally, they will likely suffer from fewer health problems than a poorly bred dog if you can’t make the investment for a well-bred dog.
There are few things more rewarding than giving a shelter dog a home. Most rescue dog parents agree animals they’ve adopted from shelters rescued them in return. Depending on where you live, a breed-specific rescue may provide a good option if you have a certain breed in mind.
Shelters dogs still require the same ongoing costs as a puppy from a breeder, but the initial investment is not as high.
Things to Consider Before Bringing Home a Puppy
Sadly, impulsively purchasing a puppy with this newfound time on your hands can lead to that puppy ending up in a shelter once their novelty and cuteness wears off and life returns to normal. All family members must be on-board with welcoming a new dog into your home, and there must be a shared understanding of the responsibilities that come with a pet. Remember, depending on the age of the dog you bring home, they could be around for the next 14+ years. Just make sure that you’re ready to be their fur-ever family!
Tier 1 Veterinary Medical Center in Palmer is Alaska’s only comprehensive animal hospital. We are available for emergencies, walk-ins, and by appointment. With CT, MRI, and Ultrasound available on-site, our facility provides advanced treatment options for your pet. Contact us today to schedule an appointment.