My husband and I want to get a Westie and have been doing lots of research. I had read somewhere on the forum that any breeder worth their salt won't release a pup until it is 12 weeks old. We've looked at almost eighty sites and found only two that fit that description. Is this correct information? Also, how can I be sure that a breeder is reputable and not a puppy mill? We live in a remote area and are prepared to travel anywhere from two to five hours to pick up the puppy. We don't want to have it shipped. Thanks.
No, a puppy does not have to be 12 weeks old, the norm is 8 -10 weeks. To find a decent breeder, contact the Westie breed Club, and get a list of breeders off there. Then contact the ones who have puppies and go from there. You're looking for an application, access to the kennel, or wherever the pups and parents are, proper registration, like American Kennel Club, Canadian Kennel Club are 2 good ones.The breeder should be more interested in you than the money you're paying for the dog, expect loads of questions, and if you don't get any, beware. Ask to see pedigrees, ask to see proof of health testing, and hopefully show results on the parents . When you go to the breeder's place, take note of any dirty quarters, old water, any signs of dirt...and on the other side cleanliness. Look closely at the dogs, are they running all over, excited to see you, or are they cowering under a chair somewhere. The pups bedding and quarters should be clean, pick up the pups and inspect the ears, eyes, mouth, belly button, feel him all over. Look for mucky ears, goopy eyes, and pot bellies. All of these are bad signs, of ear mites or infection, and worms. On the other hand they should be bright eyed, clean and feisty little guys. Look at the breeders health guarantee, what does it contain? If the breeder doesn't stipulate spay or neuter, or tries to get you to consider breeding the dog, and giving them a puppy back, forget them. I believe there is a sticky on the front page, which will give you some more guidance. Good luck finding your puppy.
I think the 12 week rule applies mostly to toy breeds, like Maltese, Yorkies and Chihuahuas. Pen is right there is nothing wrong with getting a westie at 8-10 weeks. I think the best way to ensure you aren't dealing with a mill is to visit the breeders home. If possible you should do this before the puppies are born or available, that way you won't make an impulse decision. Many people buy puppies from mills and backyard breeders, because the "couldn't leave the puppy behind." If you have a chance to see the operation before the pups are ready to go home, you can think things over. Good luck with your search and good for you for doing your homework!
I just got a Westie puppy two months ago. I think all the advice above is great, and very helpful. I got my puppy at 8 wks old. I'll share some of my experiences: after corresponding with a few breeders over email for a month or so I finally zeroed in on one I felt more comfortable with, and travelled to see her, and her dogs. This was before I actually committed to her at all. As far as handling the puppies and seeing the whole operation, I was not able to do this 100% because the breeder had new moms with their new pups in her living room, and she was very concerned about bringing new "outside" people that could bring in germs. Instead, she brought the dogs out to meet us in her front den. They all looked clean, healthy, feisty for sure, friendly and rumbunctious. She insisted that we take off our shoes at the door (which is common in Canada anyway), and made us clean our hands with sanitizer before meeting the dogs, and when she brought in two 3 and 4 week old pups, we were not allowed to touch them, for the same reasons. I was fine with this, and we did get to play and pick up two other puppies. This made me feel that she was very responsible and that she took care of their health for sure. She went into a lot of detail about Westies, their personalities, their health, etc. What was very good also is that she talked about her warranty, which is for 1 year for genetic diseases that Westies are prone to (I forget them all, but there's COM, luxated platella, hernia, and one other I can't remember). I felt comfortable with her openness about her past puppies, and she did tell us that she had only had one puppy with luxated patella, and one other with another minor problem. Molly was born with a hernia, which apparently is common and not serious, and the breeder will cover the cost for the operation when she's old enough to have it. She also gave me a 6-week insurance voucher which we actually got some use of, due to a mild ear infection around 10 wks old. One thing that the breeder stressed to me was that, if for any reason I felt I had to give Molly up at any point, to please take her back to her, and she would take her back, no questions asked. She said that she did not want her to ever end up at the local shelter, humane society or SPCA. I found that kind of surprising at first, but I think it's just that she couldn't bare the thought of her pups ending up in an unwanted home, or in an unfortunate situation. During the months that I waited for a puppy, we correspoded, and when Molly was born, she emailed me photos every 3 or 4 weeks, which made me feel somewhat connected to her even before I picked her up. The only thing I was not so thrilled about is that Molly was born through c-section, and the other pup did not make it due to the anesthetic. This meant Molly was an "only child", which I didn't know until the day I got her, at which time the breeder told me that she was very dominant, since she didn't have siblings to share Mom with. I was later told by a trainer that a puppy like that usually would only be given to an experienced dog owner, which I can't say I am (she's my first dog to raise by myself as an adult). So we had a few rough times at first- during which I called the breeder to ask for advice, and she gave it- but now we are more settled and very happy. A westie will be a fun (and funny) puppy; they are FULL of energy, and definitely will keep you busy! I think I'm just starting to get past my sleep deprivation! LOL! Good luck with your new baby!
I don't have a small or toy breed, but did hold my pups until 12 weeks to give them more time for socialization, manner training from mom, dad & siblings. The couple of extra weeks also allowed me the extra time for the next round of shots and wormings before they went to their new homes.
I think it really depends not only on the breed, but the breeder as well. The opinions vary from the 8-12 week span. So I'd say, 8 weeks at the very earliest.
"Some days you're the dog; some days you're the hydrant". author unknown