Looking for a breeder is one of the biggest responsibilities that a prospective dog owner embraces. Owning a dog is a long-term commitment, and you would want your dog to come from a breeder who would be there for the countless questions, worries, and concerns that all pet parents like you face. Although I realize that Filipino dog buyers don’t expect to hear from their breeders once they have brought home their puppies, this should not stop you from looking for a breeder who will be there for you and your dog as the years go by.
I am writing this from the point of view of a prospective dog owner. These are the same questions I ask whenever I buy a dog, and this exchange with the breeder allows me to better prepare for the arrival of the new family member.
- How old is the dog? This is the first question you should ask. Ideally, you should not get a dog younger than 8 weeks old, since the first weeks of life are when the puppy learns critical socialization skills from its mom and siblings. Ethical breeders would not be in a rush to let go of young puppies, and are willing to own up the challenges that come with puppy-raising.
- Are the vaccinations up to date? No ethical breeder will release a dog without up-to-date vaccines. Note that before the first shots are administered, deworming should have been done. You would also want to know what your breeder has done to prevent flea and tick infestation, taking into consideration the age of the puppy. Not all Filipino breeders give anti-flea and tick treatments because these are usually not prescribed until puppies are at least 8 weeks old. For older pups, some form of preventive would be ideal. Note that flea and tick treatments are costly, but a reputable breeder does not hesitate to invest in these.
- Describe the temperament of the dog’s parents. No matter how cute a dog is, it can’t make up for poor temperament. Genetics can both contribute to poor temperament, so you would want a puppy with good genetics. This is why you would want to see that its parents, particularly the mom, is a happy, relaxed dog who exhibits no signs of aggressiveness, anxiety, and undue shyness. Observe the dam and the pup. Do they like people and other dogs? This can give you an idea of your puppy’s behavior.
- Where was the dog raised and by whom? The environment is another factor that can affect the temperament and health of a dog. Ideally, the dog should have been raised by its own mother up to at least six weeks of age, or even older. It would also be reassuring to know that there are people directly involved in the puppy’s care. If you can, check the place where the puppy was born and raised. Observe closely. Was your puppy raised in a cramped, dirty cage by a puppy miller? Was it born in a quiet farm, or in a busy house in the city? Were there people taking care of the puppy or was the dam left to its devices?All these will affect your pup’s behavior.
- What does the dog eat and how is his appetite? You should be ready with your pup’s food from day one, and you’d like to know his eating habits as well. Note that you cannot abruptly change your pup’s diet, so you would need the kibble he was previously fed as you gradually introduce a new diet.
There is no limit to the questions you should ask a prospective breeder. A good one will patiently and honestly answer all questions.