The waiting list is hard. So rather than wait, because you don’t really care if your puppy can win a beauty contest and you don’t really care if his legs are too long or if he even flunks out of puppy school, you just want a fuzzy puppy to love, so you are considering other options. 25% of people who take on a pet get the pet from a friend or neighbor. Another 25% take in a stray and another 20% adopt from a rescue or shelter. That leaves you in the other group of about 20% of people who acquire a pet by buying one. (PetSmart Charities- survey included pets of all kinds, not just dogs).
We’ve already established no reputable breeder sells through any middle man nor does she find excellent puppy homes by advertising in the newspaper or on the internet. Period. End of Story. Never. That’s it. But she does have a waiting list. So what other choices do you have?
Pet Store: Pet Stores purchase puppies and resell them to you. The USDA inspects some breeders and some brokers but not all. Employees at th store may never see the kennels their puppies come from. Either way, the breeder, for whatever reason, is willing to give up control over where the puppies live out their lives. This is not going to be the carefully selected just-for-you puppy you can get from a show breeder. You will not be getting a mentor in the breed and you can’t be sure you are not contributing to a business you would not approve of if you saw it.
The pet store health guarantee is attractive but may not be what you think. If a VET says your puppy was sick when you got him-which can be hard to say unless he is sick when you get him in which case, why did you buy him?– the pet store will give you a new one. 100% guaranteed. What do you think happens to the sick puppy you return? Who knows? While puppy store puppies can make marvelous pets, you are taking a chance on some real heartache. See Puppy Mill Awareness on facebook for the sad stories, including an all too common problem with “papers” from various registries that are not AKC.
One more problem is that pet stores rarely sell Borzoi. This is a good thing for Borzoi. A Borzoi puppy who is shipped at 6 weeks of age and kept in a pet store cage for a few weeks really may have some problems psychologically and even structurally. A pet store may not be an option for you.
Internet: It is possible to find a breeder on the internet who will make arrangements to meet you and put you on a waiting list. If someone has puppies that are not spoken for you should question why this is so. Did they have an unplanned litter? Do the puppies have any faults that make them unsuitable for the usual show homes? There can be many explanations that would suit you. A website can present a lovely first impression but if you don’t visit in person you’ll never know for sure. Get references and expect to give them as well. Anyone who is willing to ship you a puppy without checking you out, is not concerned about anything more than whether your credit card is good. Selling retail over the internet can allow a breeder to avoid USDA inspection. Due in part to the increase in internet sale of dogs, Maryland is considering a bill currently that will require State inspections for anyone with more than 10 dogs and another bill that will require pet stores to post the names of breeders they use. Shocked this isn’t already required? Me, too.
Newspaper Ad: You saw an ad in the paper. The puppies are only $500.00 and they will hold one for you. This is a gray area. If you want a show dog, stick with the reputable breeder. If you want to have puppies of your own someday, definitely go with the waiting list breeder. But if you meet the parents of the newspaper puppy and like them and the puppies are home raised and clean and healthy, it may be worth taking a chance. It’s not impossible to get a show dog this way. The amateur breeder does not usually do genetic testing and medical screening and may not have gotten vaccines for the puppy before you take him home. She also can’t guarantee the puppy’s health long term as a breeder with experience and future litters can.
Don’t forget the rescue option we discussed in a previous column.
Time for the Grande Finale.