dr. clinton talking about how to find a good puppy breeder

How to Find a Reputable Puppy Breeder

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“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

Health Testing

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.

Veterinarian Examination

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.

Ongoing Costs

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.

Dr. Sean McPeck

A 2010 Graduate of Colorado State College of Veterinary Medicine and Biomedical Sciences, Dr. Sean McPeck developed his leadership as a Sniper Team Leader and Veterinarian with the US Army Special Operations, 75th Ranger Regiment.

Dr. McPeck has multiple combat deployments, totaling almost 2 years in combat theaters of operation.

He is the recipient of the Combat Action Badge, and is Ranger, Sniper, and Airborne qualified. While serving as an officer in Special Operations, Dr. McPeck was repeatedly recognized for his Honor, Integrity, Courage and Selfless Service in the name of the United States. He was recognized with not one, but two, Meritorious Service Medals.

Under his leadership, Dr. McPeck worked with Working Dog handlers, and canine units, to detain and seize enemy combatants. The canines that Dr. McPeck worked with are credited with savings thousands of United States soldiers deployed in combat areas.

Dr. McPeck authored The RCAP, Ranger Canine Athletic Program, which was the 1st comprehensive Military canine conditioning program.

His specific training and certification classes for Dog handlers to be proficient in Canine Tactical- Combat Casualty Care, and knowledge of current medical equipment and procedures, which led to the successful life saving interventions by handlers in real world operations.

Dr. SaraRose McPeck graduated from Mississippi State College of Veterinary Medicine in 2010. A Massachusetts native who attended Becker College for her undergrad, Dr. McPeck has lived and worked around the country and even the world. She served four years in the United States Army as a Veterinary Officer, during which she was stationed in Fort Benning, Georgia, and completed a 12-month tour in Afghanistan.

Her time serving in the Army provided her the experience as the primary veterinarian for over 350 Military Working Dogs, in which she provided all emergency, trauma, surgical, critical, and primary care. In addition to caring for animals, she trained, mentored, and led six Non-Commissioned Officers and twelve junior enlisted Soldiers, giving her not only impressive veterinary experience but also exceptional interpersonal and leadership skills.

As a Veterinary Corp Officer, she received a variety of awards, including a Bronze Star, a NATO Medal, a GWOT Medal, two Army Accommodation Medals, among many others. She gained experiences in which she exemplified impressive leadership skills and the ability to adapt to both clinical and combat support situations. Her years of experience serving our country and in veterinary medicine have equipped her with the knowledge and skills to provide exceptional care to our patients.