How to Choose a Healthy Pure-Bred Puppy
WebMD veterinary expert answers commonly asked questions about how to choose a healthy, friendly pure-bred puppy as your new family pet.
Q: Will someone who breeds dogs for show sell me a puppy even if I don’t want to show it?
A: Absolutely. The majority of puppies in a show litter actually go to pet homes. The breeder selects the best one or two out of a litter to keep for their line and sells the rest.
Q: What questions should I ask to determine if someone is a good breeder?
A: The first question should be, “Can I come visit your home or your kennel facility?” Responsible breeders are very proud of their kennel and their dogs.
Ask if they register with the American Kennel Club. Ask if they have the health certificates for testing prior to breeding. Then, I expect the breeder to ask the buyer a lot of questions about how they plan to care for the new puppy.
Q: Is it a good idea to meet both parents of the puppy I want?
A: It’s good to meet both parents, if possible. But the majority of breeders have only the mothers at their homes. Usually the stud dogs live somewhere else. But visiting the mother and other relatives that might be in the breeder’s home will give you a good idea of the size and the temperament of the line.
You can also ask for contact information for the stud dog. But in today’s world, you may live in New York, but the stud dog’s frozen semen was shipped from California.
Q: What’s the best age for bringing a puppy home?
A: The ideal time is 8 to 12 weeks, especially with small or toy puppies. Breeders usually want to keep those a little longer because they’re fragile when they’re young. So a 12-week-old Yorkshire terrier puppy is very acceptable, where a hardier breed, like a Labrador retriever, is ready to go at 8 weeks.
You also need to check with your state, because some states have a minimum age for selling puppies.
Q: How important is it for puppies to be raised around people?
A: Socialization is paramount with any dog, especially in that 8- to 16-week time frame and after proper immunization, You need to get the dog out to see as many people as possible and expose it to as many situations as possible.
Q: I’ve found a litter of puppies I like. What signs should I look for to be sure they are healthy?
A: You want to look at the surroundings. Make sure it’s a nice, clean, well-run home or facility. The puppies should have bright eyes. They should be very curious. They should run right up to you. You shouldn’t see a nasal discharge or runny eyes. If you see them poop, they should have a firm stool and no diarrhea. You don’t want a lethargic, uninterested puppy.