Six Signs of a Great Breeder

Look for these clues, and you'll go home with a healthy, happy puppy.

By | Posted: Wed Nov 10 00:00:00 PST 2004

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For example, Golden Retrievers need tests for hip dysplasia, a condition in which the leg bone doesn't fit properly into the hip joint; eye problems, such as cataracts and entropion (inward-turning eyelids that cause irritation); and SAS, the heart abnormality subaortic stenosis.

By contrast, Shetland Sheepdogs need certifications for hip dysplasia and eye problems, but not for SAS.

A good book on dog selection, such as Choosing a Dog For Dummies by Chris Walkowicz (Wiley, 2001), explains what tests your breed choice should have.

In addition to testing, proper healthcare includes preventive measures. For most breeders, such care includes immunizations and anti-parasite treatments. Vaccinations generally include a combination drug that prevents parvovirus, distemper, hepatitis and adenovirus-2. Depending on what a veterinarian finds in the puppies' stools, a breeder may also give medications to rid the puppies of roundworms, hookworms and other internal parasites.

Some breeders have begun to take a more conservative approach to shots and de-wormings, but your puppy still should have had at least one veterinary exam before you take her home.

Regardless of a breeder's practices, a good one will stand behind her puppies by offering a health guarantee. "I guarantee the health of [my puppies] for 60 days," Mercer says. During that time, if the puppy exhibits a health problem, the buyer can return the dog to Mer cer and receive a refund.

They Care About Their Dogs' Mental Health
A reputable breeder cares not only about her puppies' physical health, but also about their temperament.

Such care starts with keeping the puppies with their mother until they are ready to go to their permanent homes. Many puppies reach that stage at 7 or 8 weeks of age, but more than a few breeders hold on to their pups longer.

"I don't let my puppies go to new homes until about 10 to 12 weeks of age," says Dachshund Club of America breeder referral coordinator Judith Klimke-Williams of Maple Valley, Wash.

"They have so many lessons to learn from their siblings... that biting ears really hurts, pulling tails can hurt too," Klimke-Williams says.

Learning such lessons helps a puppy get along better with other dogs and people. 

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