Beyond a doubt, one of the best resources for learning about a variety of issues with regards to different breeds of dogs is to talk to a reputable breeder. There are a lot of places to locate a breeder, either through breed registries, through your kennel club, or even through internet advertisements and websites. Remember that breeders will naturally be very partial to the breed or breeds of dogs that they raise, but they should also be very open to discussing the more challenging aspects of the breed as well. All breeds of dogs have qualities that are considered more positive or more difficult to deal with, and it is important to hear and understand as much about the breed as possible before deciding if it is the right breed for you and your family.
In addition, asking questions about the breed will also help you in deciding if the breeder is someone you feel confident in. Breeders that inspire confidence and are knowledgeable are great resources for information, as well as a good contact for purchasing a puppy.
All About the Breed
One of the best ways to get a breeder talking about their breed or breeds of dogs is to ask general questions that require the breeder to provide lots of information. These can be questions such as:
What is the best aspect of owning the breed?
What makes the breed challenging to own?
How do you see the breed getting along with small children?
How does the breed get along with other pets?
What are the natural instincts of the breed?
Can this breed be used as a watchdog?
Is the breed naturally aggressive with other dogs?
Can this breed be a guard dog?
A good idea is to have a list of questions regarding the specific type of dog, especially if you do have children, other pets, or have a special living space such as an apartment with no yard or a house with a very large yard. You should also ask questions about the special requirements that the breed might have. For example, smaller dogs will typically need to be kept indoors, especially in cold climates. Some of the larger breeds, particularly those with double coats or heavy coats may be intolerant of hot weather and may prefer or do better kept in more moderate or colder living spaces or climates.
About The Sales Contract
Breeders will all have a bill of sale or sales contract with regards to a puppy. Most of the time the contracts will be relatively clear and easy to understand, but there are some specific issues you should address before purchasing a puppy. Many breeders will have very detailed information included in the sales contract, including a requirement for spaying or neutering, or an agreement to breed only with consultation. This clause is designed to protect the puppy from being bred when it matures without proper consideration as to lineage or health concerns. In addition, the spaying and neutering agreement will prevent the puppies from being used in puppy mills.
A sales contract will also include paperwork on the vaccination record, vet checks, a health guarantee as well as information about returning the puppy should the arrangement be unacceptable or you are unable to keep the puppy for some reason. Some breeders will take the dog back no matter how old he or she may be, regardless of the reason.
Ask the breeder to see the health information on both the male and female dogs. Although the female's health is particularly important, it is also important to know that the father has a clean bill of health, and is free from all genetic conditions that may be problematic for the breed. Remember that the health of the mother and father will have a direct impact on the health, growth and development of the puppy, both now and in the future. Most breeders will provide this information without needing to be specifically asked.
Only purebred dogs will have a pedigree. A pedigree is a written record of the lineage for both the mother and father dog. For many breeds these records can be accessed online, whereas others may be in handwritten records provided by the breeder. It is possible to ask for the pedigree of the parents, and spend some time researching the various ancestors to determine their heritage and championship dogs in their lines. Many of the breeds can trace back to the original dogs that were registered in the breed, and some still carry the names of those ancestors or kennels in their names.
Temperament and Personality
One of the best indicators of the temperament that your puppy will have when it matures is to look at the temperament of both the mother and father dog. Ask the breeder to describe the personality of the male and female dog, plus see if you can observe the dogs or even interact with them. Remember that if you are looking for a calm, relaxed and playful dog, the parents should have the same qualities. A highly-strung or excitable mother or father dog will usually produce highly strung and high energy puppies, not the opposite.
Medical Issues With The Puppy
Always ask the breeder if there have been any health concerns with the puppy you are considering. Reputable breeders will always provide this information, but checking to verify there are no concerns is an important question to ask. Often puppies may have had worms, had a digestive problem or had difficulty in transitioning to solid food. This does not mean that there are any health concerns, but it may be important to be able to tell your own vet. Be sure to get copies of the health records for the puppy, as well as the vaccination certificates.
Spending some time in talking with breeders is critical, especially if you have never owned the breed before. Ask about maturity rates, training styles and potential health concerns that you should be aware of for the breed. You can also talk to several breeders, to get a complete picture of the breed and avoid any bias that one breeder may have.