June 27, 2016

Mostly sunny

Best of Breed

When you decide to make a dog a part of your family, don’t choose a breed based on what it looks like. Research before you buy, because some dogs require more exercise, training or grooming than others. Price may be a factor, but it’s just as important to know the pup is going to be healthy and have a good temperament.

Choosing a breeder is the most important decision you’ll make when picking a puppy. When looking for a reputable breeder, ask your veterinarian, call a kennel club, go to a dog show or search the Internet to find breeders who are registered with a breed club. Never buy a puppy unless you see where it was raised and meet its parents. It’s important to ask lots of questions and visit the kennel to see what standard of care the parents and offspring have been given and to avoid backyard breeders who simply bring two animals together for the purpose of making money.

Beware of breeders who have several breeds of dogs for sale at the same time, will not allow you to view their property or kennel or are USDA-licensed, allowing them to sell puppies to a mass market. This may be a red flag.

The best breeders will know the pedigree and health of many generations of their breeding stock, with the goal of producing puppies superior in conformation and health. Both purebred and mixed-breed dogs can have a wide variety of genetic defects.

Find out if the breed you’re interested in is susceptible to hereditary disorders that may not be seen immediately, such as hip dysphasia, deafness, skin conditions, glaucoma or liver and heart disease. Responsible breeders test their dogs for such defects before they breed them, thus a purebred dog from a responsible breeder is more likely to be healthy than one from a breeder that doesn’t test. Before you buy, ask if the parents were tested and if they offer a guarantee against genetic health problems.

The whelping pen should be clean, and the puppies should be raised indoors as members of the family. They should be well socialized from being handled often and familiar with other animals, a variety of people, different scents and sounds. Ask to meet the parents, or at least the mother. This doesn’t guarantee she’s genetically healthy, but you’ll see her temperament and personality. Ask how often she is bred. Responsible breeders don’t breed their females more than once a year to allow their bodies time to recuperate between litters. They also keep the puppies with their mother and littermates until they’re 8 weeks old, as this is important for their social and mental development.

By playing together, pups increase their physical coordination, develop social skills and learn to understand limits, such as when to stop biting. Puppies removed from their litter too early are frequently nervous, more prone to barking and biting and have a more difficult time with socialization and training. Ask for names of previous puppy buyers as references to inquire about health or temperament issues.

A good breeder will offer advice on grooming and training and discuss any special problems or requirements associated with the breed. They’ll have concerns about the placement of their puppies and will ask many questions to be sure their pups are going into a good home and will be a good match for your family. They’ll be available to offer advice and support for as long as you have the dog, and if it doesn’t work out, they’ll take it back or help find a suitable home for it.

The Humane Society of the United States advises caution in buying a pup from sources where the parents can’t be seen. There is risk knowing if their puppies will be of good temperament or health. Often little or no information is available about their background or breeding. Ask for the name and contact information of the breeder before making the purchase. Visit the breeder to be sure breeding conditions are what they should be.

American Kennel Club registration papers do not guarantee good health, proper breeding conditions, quality or claims to lineage. Before investing in a purebred puppy, ask yourself if the one you choose is the healthiest possible. If you make the wrong choice, you may pay a great deal more in vet bills and emotional turmoil in the long run if the dog becomes ill.

Go to: www.nopuppy
mills.com and click on “Genetics Directory” for a list of breeds and the genetic defects that commonly affect them.

Barnosky can be reached via e-mail at petlady@roadrunner.com or by writing The Gazette, 885 W. Liberty St., Medina, 44256.