You see him clearly in your dreams; a roly-poly puppy with adoring eyes and a perpetually wagging tail. But where to get him? As we explored on the 11th, adopting a puppy is one option. Another method is to buy a puppy. This is a good choice as well.

When you buy a puppy from a good breeder, you have a sound idea of what to expect from your pup as he matures, in physical appearance, size, temperament and trainability. Another advantage is that you can insure the parent dogs have appropriate health clearances. A good breeder will also provide you with a lifetime of support in your dog owning adventure.

How can you tell the difference between a good breeder and one that’s not ideal?
There are guidelines that can help you find the right place to buy your pup.
Pet stores are never a good option when it comes to buying a puppy. Most pet store pups come from commercial breeding facilities and are typically not

well socialized or well cared for as babies. They are shipped at the earliest legal age and thrown into a confusing and frightening environment.
Puppies purchased from pet stores often have health issues, and some have been mentally scarred as well. Training in things like housebreaking and basic

skills can be much more difficult, and some develop other issues as they grow older.
Easy payment plans and pleading eyes aside, you’re often buying trouble when you bring home such a pup.
There are many types of private breeders, some who take great care of their puppies and others interested only in profit. It can be confusing, but there are

guidelines you can measure.
A good breeder should, first of all, take good care of his breeding stock. Parent dogs should be kept in sanitary conditions, receive proper nutrition,

adequate exercise and lots of time and attention from their owner. A well-socialized mother dog will raise people-friendly puppies.
Parent dogs should be screened for genetic health problems. Most breeds have health issues that are prevalent; things such as hip, elbow and knee problems,

cataracts and other eye disorders, skin problems, cancers and more impact various breeds.
Some of these things can be evaluated by genetic testing, while others can only be avoided by careful study of the dogs in the pedigree. Buyers should

research and understand what health issues may impact the breed they want to purchase, and know what type of screening is available.
With this information in hand, question the breeder. Make sure he knows what problems plague his breed. Ask for health clearances. If it is an issue where

testing can be done, ask to see the results. If the breeder becomes defensive or evasive, buy your puppy somewhere else.
Questions should be a big part of the puppy buying process. Ask the breeder lots of them, and be prepared to answer questions yourself. Good breeders pour

themselves into the puppies they produce, and want to ensure they go to good homes. Common things breeders ask include questions about your living arrangements, who will be home to care for the puppy, where the puppy will sleep, what activities you plan to do with your pup and other pets you currently have or have had in the past and what happened to them. They might even request vet references.

Rather than be insulted when this happens, be excited! The breeder is showing you they care about their pups.

Don’t be swayed by the words, “parents on premises” when you’re looking for puppies. Many breeders, trying to breed a better pup, don’t have the father. With the ease of artificial breeding, the dog that best compliments the mother in pedigree, type, temperament and genetic background may be located in another state, or another country. If they can show you pictures and health clearances, don’t be disturbed by the absence of dad.

Price should never be the defining factor when choosing a puppy. The old saw, “You get what you pay for” is valid when it comes to purchasing a pup. It takes time and money to breed carefully and raise puppies well.

The difference between a $300 and a $1,000 dog may not be easy for you to see at first glance, but over time, the carefully bred dog is usually worth it. Next week we’ll look at what to expect when you pick out a puppy, and why the breeder may choose the dog for you.
In the meantime, keep researching.