Volume X   ,

Issue 2

Text Box: skeptical and preferably run in the opposite direction!
     Websites which have large numbers of puppies, especially from different breeds and particularly if they involve mixed breeds or “designer” dogs, are almost always an indicator of what most people would call a puppy mill.  These are Text Box: regard to quality or socialization.  Look for pedigrees shown with each litter (you’ll rarely see this with commercial breeders).  In those pedigrees, a large majority of dogs should have SOME sort of title.  Why is this important if you are only looking for a pet?  Because it tells you the breeder has some sort of objective evaluation of his breeding stock and has hopefully been selecting for temperament and physical traits.  If you don’t consistently select to maintain those traits, they start to disappear and that’s why we see puppies from these breeders that you would be hard pressed to tell if they are a poodle, a bichon, or a maltese.  There should Text Box:      I often see clients buy puppies from situations that leave me shaking my head.  With the proliferation of puppy producers selling puppies over the internet by slick websites, how do you know if you are buying a healthy, well socialized pet?
    First of all, if you are buying a purebred dog, go to the AKC website and read the breed standard for that dog.  If the breeder is selling dogs that do not fit that breed standard, this is almost always a good indicator of a high volume, low quality, profit motivated breeder.  Examples include “toy” or “micro” versions of a breed (not allowed for in the standard) and promoting disallowed colors as rare and desirable (when in most cases, you are paying more for something that is considered a fault-in some cases because certain color faults can be associated with health issues).  It is particularly concerning to see some of the websites promoting “micro” or super tiny versions of some of the toy breeds.  In many cases, these puppies are very small due to health issues.  Liver shunts and congenital kidney 	disease are two common problems that result in producing dogs that are smaller than normal.  Also, in looking at many of the pictures of these puppies I strongly suspect hydrocephalus, or buildup of fluid inside the skull.  This is a problem seen in some puppies particularly of dome headed breeds such as the Chihuahua that can results in seizures and other serious health issues. A good rule of thumb is if the website claims to have “rare” puppies for any reason, at least be very Text Box: STOP!  Warning signs that you should NOT buy that cute puppy!

appropriate for the breed, and not just one or two dogs in the pedigree, but most of them.  The parent club website for your breed is a good place to look for what testing is re-

commended.  For example, on my shelties we certify hips and eyes and often elbows, thyroid, tests for VonWillenbrand’s disease (a

 clotting disorder) and MDR-1 gene (a gene which makes them sensitive to certain medications).  A good breeder should be doing at least SOME testing. 

     Commercial breeders also typically fall short in socializing their puppies.  This is critical and the timing cannot be made up later.  Breeders who will place puppies at less than 7-8 wks are rarely responsible.  Buying a 5-6 week old puppy sets you up for behavioral issues later as they never learn the bite inhibition and interdog communication skills from their mother and littermates.  In addition, puppies should have at least one set of vaccines before leaving for their new homes, prefer-

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The picture at left is an actual puppy on one of these internet sites.  Just from this picture, I can tell you it is highly likely the puppy suffers from hydrocephalus and stenotic nares (nostrils too tiny to breath normally, which often needs surgical correction).  Please, don’t fall for the glitz and cute pictures!