How To Buy A Dog
by Jamesa Maulden, Syntari Sibertians

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.

  1. Ask yourself "Why do you want a dog?"
    1. Pet/companion
    2. Showing
    3. Breeding
    4. All of the above

  2. Learn how to choose the right breed for you
    1. Read about the breeds that interest you
    2. Attend a few dog shows and observe the characteristics of the breed you have chosen
    3. Find out what type of grooming or special care this breed requires
    4. 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??
    5. 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.
    6. 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.

  3. Questions to ask the breeder
    1. About the parents & grandparents
      1. Temperament of the ancestors
        1. shyness
        2. viciousness
        3. hyperactive
        4. what are they like??
        5. how are they to live with on a daily basis?
      2. Known hereditary problems (ask for certification that the parents are clear)
        1. Hip displaysia
        2. Eye problems
        3. Thyroid problems
        4. Bleeding disorders
        5. others specific to your breed of choice
      3. Results of prior breedings (if any)
        1. What type of puppies (mentally and physically) has this dog produced in the past?
        2. Mental and physical soundness of aunts, uncles, etc.
    2. About the puppies
      1. Health record
        1. What shots have they had
        2. What shots do they still need
        3. Have they been wormed
        4. 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?

  4. Questions the breeder should ask you
    1. Why do you want this dog?
    2. Have you researched this breed and what do you know about its character traits?
    3. Do you have other pets?
    4. Have you ever owned a dog? One of this breed?
    5. Were will the dog be kept? Indoors or outdoors most of the time?
    6. What hours do you work? Your spouse?
    7. Do you have children? What ages?
    8. Describe a typical week at your house now.
    9. Describe a typical weekend day at your house now.
    10. Project a typical week at your house after you get the puppy.
    11. Project a typical weekend at your house after you get the puppy.
    12. Project a typical day once he is an adult.
    13. Where will the dog go when you go on vacation
    14. What would you do if you could no longer keep this dog
    15. To sign a contract stating specific terms and agreements of the sale of this puppy.
    16. Will this dog be spayed or neutered?
    17. 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.

  5. If you do breed this dog, outline the process you will follow -- from choosing the stud to whelping the litter.
    1. Check for hereditary defects
    2. Attend shows and ask breeders' recommendations for stud choice.
    3. Shots current before breeding
    4. Prenatal care, diet of mother, vet care while in whelp, etc.
    5. 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)
    6. Where will the pups be kept (and until what age)
    7. 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)
    8. How will you sell the puppies
    9. How will you screen the potential buyers
    10. What type of follow up will you do once the pups have been sold
    11. Will you offer any guarantees
    12. How will you arrive at a sales price for the pups
    13. 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)

  6. How to evaluate the breeder (not the dogs)
    1. If the breeder does not ask you most of the above questions, maybe you should choose another breeder.
    2. Do they seem truly interested in your home environment?
    3. Have they evaluated the litter into show, pet, or breeding stock?
    4. Have they priced the litter based upon their expenses for the litter or upon their honest evaluation of the quality of the puppies?
    5. Are the puppies in a healthy environment?
    6. How are the adults kept? Do they receive adequate attention, socialization, nutrition?
    7. 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.
    8. 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?

  7. How to choose your puppy once you have chosen the breeder you wish to work with.
    1. Male vs. Female
    2. What type of adult do you want
      1. Active vs docile
      2. Show vs. pet
      3. Will the dog live primarily indoors or outdoors
    3. Ask the breeder to project what a puppy's temperament will be like as an adult
    4. 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.
    5. 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.
    6. 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!
    7. 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.
    8. 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.
    9. 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!!!