I have been lurking on this site for about 5 months, reading up and asking some questions and all of you have been quite helpful.. I tried to do the adoption route and had a not so great experience. I have decided to purchase a puppy from a breeder and have finally made a decision as to what breed. Shih Tzu.. Can I get some advice on what to look for in health guarantees.. What is the average one year , two years, Also what are some of the more important questions to ask, and do most breeders ask for a deposit?
Many breeders do ask for a deposit. Personally I will never accept a guarantee that is for less than 2 years. Longer is preferred. Make sure there's a clear understanding in who would be responsible and what would be done if in 5 years, the dog came down with crippling luxating patellas, for example. Find a breeder that also does health testing for the parents (beyond 'health checked'). OFAs and CERFs specifically. If you're familiar with the health problems of Shih tzus, be sure and ask about those health problems showing up in their lines and what they're doing to prevent problems.
***Edited By: Minniyar on 5/16/2005 2:39:30 PM*** Reason: add
I agree. You want at least a 2 year guarantee. One year guarantees seem to be the average lately, but unfortunately they aren't as "pretty" as they sound because most defects don't surface until after a year. Especially in the areas of hips and patellas.
You also want the breeder to offer something substantial if a puppy is found with a problem. Replacement puppies should not be out of the same parents (kind of pointless). Expect the breeder to require proof of a defect - and most breeders will ask to be able to provide some input on the care/treatment of a dog that develops a problem. And you do want to ask, as Minniyar said, what happens IF something pops up at 5 years? Does the breeder still stand behind their dogs. They may not be able to give a definite answer, but you should be able to at least get "we stand behind our puppies no matter what and will work with you" out of them.
You also want at least a 72 hour guarantee against things like Parvo, Distemper, ect... I also like to know what a breeder's policy on parasites is. Most breeders don't include parasites in their health guarantee and they don't run stool samples to check for worms or things like giardia, which are costly to treat. We require our families to take their puppy to the vet within 72 hours to have them thoroughly examined by their vet and also recommend they run a fecal sample so that they know they have a healthy puppy. I am not a fan of breeders that just say "we guarantee your puppy won't die in the first 2 weeks". That's fine and dandy - unless you have a puppy with parasites that is underweight and sick and requires lots of expensive medical attention. In my own guarantee we say that we guarentee that the puppy is healthy, period. Meaning worm free, at ideal weight, clean, and free from all infections (Years ago I adopted a puppy with a serious vaginal infection).
I also like to see a breeder that will somewhat guarantee temperament. My guarantee is contingent on socialization provided by the family, but we stand behind our puppies as being sound emotionally as well as physically.
At the same time, expect there to be conditions you have to follow when a good guarentee is involved. Meaning the breeder may specify that you must feed a high quality food, that vaccines must be maintained, that grooming must be maintained, and that the general well fare of the puppy is always considered. It's impossible for a breeder to offer an excellent guarantee if they care more about the puppy's well being than the owner does. Expect the conditions to be reasonable, and you should always see some benefit to the dog. A wordy guarantee is not a bad thing.
Most good breeders will ask for a deposit. This is basically just so we can determine who is a "window shopper" and who is really interested in one of our puppies. I offer so much for my families that requires a lot of time for me to give to them - including extensively answered questions and additional info for them - that it is a waste of my time to share all of this, unless I know it is for someone who will be joining our "extended family". I probably get 8-10 e-mails a day from people and most of them are from folks who don't intend to purchase a puppy from anyone just yet or haven't done ANY research about the breed or what is involved with adopting a puppy. I get e-mails from 12 year olds. I actually got a family on vacation that had found our name on the internet and thought it would be fun for the kids to visit a kennel - they had no intention of buying a puppy and looked at my home like it was a tourist attraction. I got tired of it. If I'm going to share my knowledge with folks and become friends with them I want to know they are as serious about the commitment as I am.
With that said - the breeder should either say the deposit is refundable and/or applicable to the cost of the puppy. It should be REASONABLE (not more than 1/4 of the price of the puppy).
You want to ask questions about where the puppies are raised, where the parents live, how much socialization and hands on the dogs get, what the level of their vet care is, what food they are fed, how much the breeder knows about their dog's line (even if they test, they still need to know the background of dogs they are breeding). Don't settle for a breeder who gives their dogs less care and respect than you plan to. It shouldn't seem like a "pet shop". It should be an adoption. You should be a special person and the puppy a special individual. You want to feel taken care of, and like your puppy matters. BE IMPRESSED with the breeder you use.
Cost is always important when you are on a budget, but usually the price tag is reflective of the care the puppy has received and the quality of the dog. Not always. Ask every question that comes to mind and be happy with the answer. Every breeder is different. You need to find the one that you want a relationship with - because with a good breeder you are adopting a piece of the breeder with the puppy.
Thank you Minniyar and abbylynne for your advice. I have contacted atleast four to five breeders in my area and am awaiting a reply. You are right abbylynne most of the guarantees I have read are for one year. I have yet to come across a two year guarantee. Most of the breeders want a deposit in the range of $200 and all so far use it as part of purchase. None said it was refundable if I change my mind. I will wait to hear from them and ask as many questions as I can. All of the breeders contacted were in my state (ny) because I wanted to be able to see where the puppy was coming from.
Thanks again will keep you posted.
***Edited By: kellie123 on 5/16/2005 6:04:18 PM*** Reason: sp
I went back and re read my post and realized something. :) I consider a "deposit" to be what is given when you get on a wait list for a puppy (which most good breeders have before they breed a litter). If you are actually looking at pictures and choosing a puppy I consider it a "downpayment" which is used to hold the puppy for you. This could be as much as 1/2 of the purchase price of the puppy and still be totally reasonable. This is a safety feature for breeders so that if someone backs out when the puppy is 8 weeks old that they will have something to cover the additional costs it takes to care for them until they find another home for the puppy. Usually "downpayments" are non refundable.