With the onset of Covid many families found themselves at home with more free time on their hands than ever before. In fact, 11 million households decided that a new pet was the perfect way to pass the time! Families who thought owning a pet was out of their reach due to time constraints found themselves researching 4-legged companions. But what does that research include? Will you adopt from a shelter or buy from a breeder? What about a high energy breed versus a low maintenance one? Would a big dog be a good fit for your apartment, or should you look for something smaller?

While all of these are valid questions, today we will focus on purchasing a dog or puppy and how to ensure you choose a well-bred dog. If you’re searching for the perfect pure-bred puppy, there are a few things to keep in mind; not all pure-bred dogs are well-bred dogs. A pure-bred dog is simply a dog in which both parents are AKC registered and have a pure bloodline. Factors such as genetic mutations, physical abnormalities, or poor personality traits tend to be put on the back burner while the financial aspect comes to the forefront; how many puppies can I sell as quickly as possible to make a buck? A reputable and ethical breeder will limit the amount of litters, time between litters and will select their breeding stock based on genetics, desirable personality traits and other factors.

Things to Consider When Buying a New PuppyThe first thing to consider when looking for a well-bred puppy is the quality of the veterinary care that the breeder’s dogs receive. If a breeding mother is not on regular heartworm, flea and tick prevention she can pass on parasites to her litter and they can be tricky to treat! A well vaccinated mother also passes on protective antibodies to her puppies during the first few weeks of life. If she has not been properly and regularly vaccinated you could be dealing with very sick puppies, costing you much more money than you may have planned for. The puppies should also see a veterinarian themselves in the first 6-8 weeks of their life to be checked again for intestinal parasites and to start their vaccine series. Choosing a breeder that is providing regular veterinary care to the parents and the puppies is your best chance of getting a healthy puppy who is less likely to have parasites or to contract deadly viruses such as parvo. These puppies are also screened for other hereditary conditions such as umbilical hernias and retained testicles at their first litter exam.

The second thing to consider is how long the puppies stay with mom. Ideally, puppies should stay with mom until at least 8 weeks of age, but some breeders don’t release their puppies until 12 weeks. This allows the mother to teach them important behavioral and social cues. A good breeder will also expose the puppies to new people, environments, and objects during this time because socialization is often overlooked in bad breeding situations. A well socialized puppy is more likely to grow into a confident and well-rounded adult dog.

Things to Consider When Buying a New Puppy We will touch a bit on the final thing to consider which is genetic testing. Poor genetics can mean the difference between a relatively healthy animal or an animal that you spend thousands of dollars on per year. Diseases such as hip dysplasia, elbow dysplasia as well as some heart and eye conditions are hereditary. By screening the parents for these diseases, the breeder is perpetuating good genetics and not passing on undesirable traits that may cause life-long, or even life-threatening complications. This also applies to behavioral issues as well. Some fearful and aggressive tendencies have a genetic basis. Check out the CHIC (The Canine Health Information Center) Program from the Orthopedic Foundation for Animals for more information on genetic testing that should be performed for each breed (https://www.ofa.org/about/chic-program).

If you are in the market for a new puppy in the Summerville, South Carolina area give us a call! Cane Bay Veterinary Clinic is happy to help you ask the right questions, find a reputable breeder and choose the perfect, four-legged fit for you and your family!