Sunday, March 1, 2009

Its all about the breeder

Yesterday I went with my sister and her boyfriend to look at a litter of bulldog puppies. Those who have been followers of the blog may remember she lost her last one back in May. (Here is his story for those interested: )

The breeder we found that met our criteria (health testing being number 1) had requirements of her own. Yesterday was their two hour scheduled meeting to see if they met her expectations. (of course I tagged along to help) I am happy to report that the meeting went well and my sister will be getting her bulldog puppy. (It's a boy!)

Alot has happened to get to this point. Finding the breeder was only one step. The biggest one was educating my sisters boyfriend on the process. He had almost fallen prey to the website puppy shopping syndrome. I have to admit there were times I totally understood the urge. Finding a breeder of healthy bulldogs was a huge challenge. And where there are people out there selling them online, like inanimate objects, it can be tough to resist the urge to take the easy road. (Click this button to Buy Now!!! Credit cards accepted.)

Here is why you need to resist that urge however: Reputable breeders do health testing. The puppy you buy online is being produced simply as a product to make someone money. Health testing cuts into their bottom line so they don't bother. They also don't care about good temperment. Many times they will even ship a puppy out to young because it is still cute even though this can mean serious behavior problems for the puppy down the road. (8 weeks is minimum for good behavioral health) In the long run, while the reputable breeders puppy may cost more initially, you are saving money in vet bills down the road. Can't afford it? Would rather be able to use the credit card? Save your pennies one at a time in a special account. It might take time but so will finding a good breeder.

By buying a puppy off the Internet you are adding to the supply and demand of puppies as a product and helping to keep puppymills and their ilk in operation. By purchasing that puppy you have added another nail in the coffin of the dogs that helped produce him. Most of those parents have horrible lives kept in cages and are bred like livestock to continue churning out puppies as product. Do NOT become part of an industry that continues thinking of puppies as a product!!!

Getting a puppy from a reputable breeder gives you a support system. If you have any trouble with your new puppy they will help by answering questions you have for the lifetime of the puppy. If a worst case scenario happens they will even take the puppy (or by then adult dog) back. This ensures that your puppy will never end up in a shelter situation.

Some of those Internet sellers are scams. They can use the bait and switch and send you a different puppy than the one who's photo you saw. Many times because the photo you saw was one they stole off a good breeders website because their puppies don't look as good. Breeders looking to produce a product don't care if their dogs meet the standard for their breed after all. Sometimes the puppy you get is sick. Good luck trying to enforce any health guarantees long distance. (And a health guarantee in most cases is written in such a way no one would ever use it. Who is going to send a puppy back they have already bonded to for another one from a clearly inferior breeder?) Another scam can be that they take your money and you never get a puppy at all. Good luck trying to find them to pursue legal action. Websites can be hosted from anywhere, including other countries. These breeders are taking advantage of the ignorance of first time puppy buyers. I don't know ANYONE who bought from a pet store or off the Internet that repeated that mistake.

The Internet can be a helpful tool when looking for a puppy. But as with any tool there is a right and wrong way to use it. Educate yourself before jumping in with both feet. TAKE YOUR TIME!! To many people succumb to the "I want it now" syndrome and settle for less than what they really want. In many cases that turns out to be a healthy pet.

Expect to travel. It is unreasonable to expect to find an excellent breeder in your back yard that has what you are looking for. I had to fly to Ohio to pick up our frenchie and 2 of my akitas were shipped to me. (from a breeder I knew personally very well)

A good breeder is going to ask you questions. They want to make sure you are the right home for one of their puppies. I know some people are put off by that but consider why they are asking. The ones asking care about their dogs. The ones that don't ask are simply selling you a product. How sad that a puppy is only a product to some people. In some cases you might not be allowed to pick out your puppy either. This is also normal practice for a reputable breeder. Because the breeders know the puppies very well they might prefer to match what they believe is the best puppy for your situation. Some may also let you chose out of a few they think might work for you. And of course they will have kept the pick of the litter for themselves and their breeding program. Of the 3 akita puppies I have had in my life I never actually chose any of them out of a litter. And in all cases they were the best match for me at that time.

**Sidenote: Reputable breeders breed a litter so THEY can have a puppy to continue their lines to show or for them to have a new performance dog. The rest of the puppies are extras because dogs rarely have just one puppy litters. This is why you may need to get on a waiting list. They aren't breeding continually to have puppies for sale to the general public.

A good way to find a reputable breeder is to ask the rescue group for that breed for a breeder list. Many reputable breeders are also involved in rescue for their breed as well. Rescues WANT people to go to reputable breeders because their dogs don't end up as a drain on rescues resources.

We are all very excited to be adding a puppy to the family. Yesterday was incredible and I am very impressed with the breeder we found. We got incredibly lucky to find her only 4 hours away from us. The momma dog was super sweet and happy and we look forward to seeing that in this little guy. He won't be coming home until he is old enough to leave him mom and siblings. (ten weeks for optimal behavioral health) I'm sure I will have many more pics in the future to share. For now here is a photo of my sister with her new boy. It isn't a great photo of the pup because I didn't want it stolen by the above mentioned B*%&#%*'s to be used on a crappy website somewhere.

Here it is, the beginning of the next journey.


just in luv said...

Wow, I can just tell by those spots and wrinkles that he is going to be a cutie patootie! Does she have any names picked out?

Like you mentioned, internet scam artists prey on softhearted people that would never send a puppy back. When you get to the airport and pick up your puppy only to find it not as pictured, sick, and scared, they know you will most likely keep it because you already have your heart invested in this tiny little bundle of fur. It's not like returning a toaster.

(And you know what really gets me? One pet store in southern Maine has a website and actually has a Paypal DONATION button! It says something like "provide toys and treats for our puppies!" They are a for-profit BUSINESS, so what the heck are they doing asking for donations like they are rescuing these puppies? Grrr, it really got my blood boiling!)

Fabulous post!

Lauren said...

You are so right! When I started my business the one service that I started to offer was helping people find these breeders. Most people that buy a puppy want to do the right thing, but they don't know how (and as you suggested, often aren't realistic about how much time it takes). I make a point to go and visit any place that I suggest people buy from. I added it on as a side note, and I've gotten more business that I ever would have thought.

That pup looks darling. Can't wait to hear about his progress!

Katie said...

Great post! I see so many sad stories at work play out after people buy puppies from petstores or from online retailers. All they want is a cute, happy puppy. So often what they get is a medical disaster. It's not fair, not to the puppy or the puppy-buyer, and it's so hard to do anything about it.

Emailing Steve's breeder was one of the scariest things I've ever done. I wanted so much to get a pup from her and I was so scared that I wouldn't measure up! Thankfully all went well the day I went to meet her and her dogs, but even if it hadn't, it was certainly a learning experience.

I'm so excited for your sister and can't wait to see more pics as her little bulldog grows up.

Never Say Never Greyhounds said...

I've heard a number of times when folks have brought their internet purchase to my friend for training and they pat themselves on the back for going to a good breeder and not a pet store. They just don't know that their purchase was just as bad and supporting a puppy mill. Education is so important!

Interesting business, Lauren.


FrogDogz said...

I don't know ANYONE who bought from a pet store or off the Internet that repeated that mistake.

Two words:

Paris. Hilton.

'nuff said. Great post, btw!

Marie said...

OK I ammend that to people with any real brains. LOL

Kitty said...

LOL, I really liked the picture of the boy drawing on the dog's body, so peacefully sleeping, reminds me Levi, my childhood pet.