Puppy buyer beware

I look at a lot of litters online.  I run several large FB groups where people post pictures of their puppies all the time.  I am sent links to breeder pages regularly; one click leads to others and I am looking at many puppies.  When I land on a new website; there are several thing that I immediately look for.   Adorable little bundles of fluff are nice to look at; but that's not what I am looking for.  I am looking for proof of health testing, where the puppies are raised, the food that the adult dogs and puppies are given and the above and beyond that the breeder does.  There is a whole lot more that goes into a cute batch of puppies; or at least there should be.  So buyer beware.

I am constantly researching dogs; not all poodles, I like to see who is doing what.  I get a lot of emails from people looking at puppies that ask "Sherri, what do you think?"  So when someone sends me a link to a breeder that they are looking at to get a puppy, I'm on it.  There are a few things that send up red flags immediately.  Back to back litters.  If you visit their "available puppies" page and see litters listed that were born June 1, June 10, June 12, July 4th, think twice.  What does this tell you?  It says that these breeders are pumping out dogs for money.  It also lets you know that the puppies will not have had as much time spent on them as they should have. 

Proof of health testing.  I ask or look for this always.  Many websites state "health tested" on their site.  But that can mean many different things to different people.  Health testing means that the sire and dam of the litter have been health tested for breed specific diseases.  They have tested clear and the breeder can and will show proof of it.  Going to the Vet for a health check is not health tested.

If a breeder does not health test, red flag.  There are several reasons for this.  1.  They are amateur and do not know about health testing. Those people who think it would be great to have a litter.  2.  They are cutting corners and saving their money.  3.  They do not put any importance on health testing.  I just read on a website the other day that a breeder does not follow the popular "trend" of health testing.  Hmmmmm, interesting way of getting around it.  No matter what the reason; you need to know if a breeder has health tested the sire and dam of your prospective puppy. 

Socializing.  What does this mean?  Again it can mean many different things to different people.  Do the puppies receive regular human interaction? Have they met many different types of people; both large and small?  Do they have stimulating toys to play with that are of different textures, sounds, sizes and shapes?  Are the puppies introduced to the great outdoors?  Do they live inside a home where all the action is?  Do they get to interact with adult dogs other than their Mother?  All very important questions.

What kind of food are the puppies fed?  What is the opinion of the breeder as far as nutrition?  What about vaccine protocol? 

Do they temperament test their puppies and match to appropriate family.  This is a big one for me; and sadly very few breeders put emphasis on matching puppies.  Many let people pic as soon as they are born.  Others wait a couple of weeks but very, VERY few actually match puppy to home.    As a long time dog trainer and behavior specialist who does temperament testing; I know that each dog is an individual.  Picking a puppy like picking the nicest looking apple in the bunch is not the way it should be done.  A breeder needs to know their puppies; you cannot know them when they come out right away.  It takes time for puppy personalities to develop.  As far as I am concerned they should NEVER be chosen by color, sex or without knowing the dog inside.  Nor should they be picked as a first come first served.  The general public does not know how to pic a puppy for temperament. 

Official temperament testing is done when puppies are 7 weeks of age.  Whether a breeder does this or not is up to them.  But if they do not choose to temperament test they should at least know each puppy on a very personal level before placing them into the appropriate home.   

Deposits can be taken for "a puppy" in a litter.  Knowing what puppy you get should only come after temperament testing or at least at the age of 7 weeks so that the breeder can place appropriately.  Doing temperament testing and then letting people chose who they want is futile.  The general public will go with their first visual impulse.   

These are just a very few things that I look for.  If you are looking for a new puppy; educate yourself before looking.  If you are going to a breeder; learn about your breed and what tests you should expect the breeder to have done.  Even if you are getting a mixed breed; make sure that the person in charge of the puppies knows those puppies and can best match a temperament to your home situation.  

Knowledge is power.