I know, I know.....a bunch of boring text and no cute pictures. ;o) Don't leave this page without reading! This may very well be the greatest learning experience in your search for a new puppy and prevent you from making a huge mistake.
IMPULSE BUYING - Well, we do live in a world today where we have become quite used to convenience. Everything is at our fingertips and we simply don't wait for anything. Have you ever heard the saying, "Good things come to those who wait?" The point I'm trying to make is that purchasing a puppy isn't the same as running to the store and buying a new toaster or at least it shouldn't be. Some people might check reviews on toasters before buying one but I'd say that would be rare. Yep, I admit, if my toaster breaks down, I'm throwing it away and going to buy a new $30 toaster without a whole lot of thought going into it. I'm not going to plan at all because I want toast in the morning! If I end up hating that toaster, oh well, I'm out $30. I'll throw it in the recycle bin and start over, on the same toaster buying escapade as before. Why can't I just do that with a puppy? Well, you may not know it now because you are only thinking of getting that furry creature into your arms ASAP or you have a precious little child nagging you daily for that much sought after dream of his/hers. All this is quite understandable. However, we have to think long-term and make a decision based on knowledge, not emotions. How does a puppy differ from a toaster? Well, other than the very obvious reasons, I can tell you that your entire family is going to be completely in love with this puppy in about 24 hrs or less and that loving bond will grow into something you may or may not have imagined. At that point, you are so emotionally invested, you would do just about anything for this furry little chunk of heaven. If you don't have children at home, this will be your child. If you do have children at home, this puppy will come 2nd only to those 2 legged family members. Are you starting to see the difference between the puppy and a toaster? OK, you know I'm being funny here but also trying to make a very important point. I would like you to read very closely what follows. I'm going to WARN you of some very important things to avoid while shopping for a puppy. This IS a very big emotional investment and you want it to be the right choice for your family, not the fastest choice or the cheapest choice (because cheap up front is not the same as cheap in the long run). It can be life enhancing or seriously life altering. I know you want the best chance possible for a positive experience for you, your family and this new puppy. Just consider all the FREE therapy. If you've ever had a special canine friend, you know exactly what I mean!
BROKERS - There are websites out there who are masquerading as a classified ad site with local puppies from within your state. If you google "Goldendoodle puppies Indiana" (put any state in place of mine) you will see right at the top of the list, a broker site. I'm not going to name names but you can find it for yourself. All the puppies are pictured with nice little blurbs about each one and an inflated pricetag to make sure the broker gets paid. They try to lure you with "Lifetime Guarantee" and such phrases. These companies have been on the news. I've seen it personally. These puppies come from all over the country and the breeders are not screened as they claim. Many of these are puppy mill puppies and you'll never speak to the breeder so they don't have to be held accountable at all. Don't expect health testing on the parents or optimal health on the puppies. There have been lawsuits filed against these businesses because people received their puppy in terrible health and sometimes the puppies were so ill they didn't make it.
BREEDERS - This is a hot topic. Breeders come in all shapes and sizes, ethically speaking. I'm not judging anyone but I am hopefully educating many. It is up to you to decide what risks you are willing to take. Some folks out there just see raising dogs as something fun to do while pocketing a little extra cash. They probably just have one or two dogs and maybe another family member owns the sire or something to that nature. Usually what you'll find in these situations are people who aren't trying to get rich but they just haven't put any thought into it at all. Their dogs may or may not have the right personalities. They most likely will not have any health testing nor did they come from breeders who did health testing. So, you will probably get a much cheaper (up front) puppy but even if there is a warranty of some kind, what difference will that make if your dog ends up with a debilitating genetic disorder? Then, in many cases, the only way a breeder will make good on a warranty is to take back the original puppy that your whole family has fallen in love with. That is a flaw I see on many warranties from all kinds of breeders. Another type of breeder I have run into is your high volume, trend chasing, jumbo dollar sign seeing, low investment making breeder. If a breeder can charge $1,500+ for a puppy, is it really too much to ask that the parents be carefully chosen and extensively health tested before breeding them? If a person wants to hand over $2000 (for example) for a puppy that is no better bred than one from the pet store, that's up to them. In that case, someone was in an awful big hurry (See above "Impulse Buying") to get a puppy and they had one "RIGHT NOW" (of course they had one available because they have 50 breeding dogs and 10 litters of genetically unsound puppies, at any given time) or they just don't realize they are in the process of paying the same price for less quality to a person who is just in it for the money. Their breeding dogs could be anything from another's breeder's backyard bred dogs to Craigslist freebies. Trust me, I've had breeders admit this to me. Don't be fooled by nice websites. Ask the right questions and get proof. That's the only way to find out what kind of breeder you are dealing with.
WARRANTIES - This can be overwhelming. Everybody has their own warranty. Some short, some long, some fair, some not, etc. There are some serious red flags I've seen in various warranties. First, you should NEVER be expected to return your original puppy if he has a serious enough genetic disorder to cause the warranty to be utilized. If you want to treat your dog's illness and keep him, that should be an option for you. It isn't likely you could just throw him out and get a new one or put him in the recycle bin like the toaster. It seems like one of the most heartless and ridiculous things to put into a warranty. Why even have a warranty and create such obvious loopholes. It isn't a shirt you bought and discovered a hole in and now you have to exchange it! OK, with that said, most breeders only honor a warranty if the dog's life is seriously altered where it requires something "extra" for it to live (surgery, expensive treatments, etc.). This can be a gray area. Because it generally says seriously life altering or life threatening. Seriously life altering is that gray area because that is totally a matter of perspective. Make sure you trust your breeder. Make sure they are not just out for the money or they will always find a way out of backing their warranty. With that said, some people expect everything to be covered and that just isn't ever going to happen. If a dog has an allergy, heart murmur or thyroid imbalance, etc., they can live a full life just fine. I'm being completely up front so you understand what to expect. One other serious red flag I ran into....a breeder actually stated that they would not cover hip dysplasia if the vet used a sedative on the dog while taking the x-rays. OK, here is something most puppy buyers aren't aware of. Sedation is ALWAYS used during hip x-rays. If you don't make sure the dog is totally relaxed, the dog will almost always tense up while being awkwardly positioned for the x-ray. That, in turn, causes the joint to appear tighter. Therefore, the results will not be accurate as the hip joints will appear much better than they actually are. Every breeder knows this and if this is in their warranty, they cannot be trusted. If they really don't know it, I'd look for a breeder that is more knowledgable anyway.
BREEDING DOGS - It is up to you, the buyer, to ask as many questions as you can think of. Thinking of them can sometimes be the difficult part. Your questions should be more geared toward things concerning the parents at first. I would be specific and ask questions such as:
1) Would you trust these two parent dogs to be left alone with my 5+ yr old child? Don't change the year to anything less than that or they'll probably tell you what I would tell you which is that a 2 yr old child should never be left unsupervised around any dog. Too many other non-aggressive type things can happen that could cause a child under the age of 5 yrs or the dog to get hurt.
2) Have you treated either parent dog for ear infections or allergies in the past year? If so, how often does this occur? Allergies and ear infections can be a chronic problem and can be passed down to offspring. It may sound petty but it is financially draining and never goes away. What you end up doing is treating the symptoms just to offer some relief. I see dogs all the time that have such sore ears and the owners just look beaten down when I ask about the issue. They can't whip it. They medicate and spend more and more money and it just offers temporary relief.
3) Do you do health testing on the parent dogs? If so, which ones? Do NOT just take the breeder's word for it. Some breeders will tell you they've all been done when indeed, the haven't had any testing at all. When you get your puppy, your breeder should send home with you, copies of all health testing on both parents. That's what we do. I can tell you that we fully health test ALL of our parent dogs and if they don't make the cut, they are spayed or neutered and placed in pet homes. I've had breeders tell me, "Yes, we have all of our breeding dogs thoroughly examined by a vet." OK, back to my original question, have you had any health testing done? Of course, if that was their answer, you know they haven't done any testing.
4) Have you ever had to honor your warranty? Hopefully, the answer is yes. "What?" you ask. The bottom line is, there are some breeders who can't bear to let anyone know they've had issues. Honesty is the best virtue and the only honorable way by which to do business and live life. I know they are just scared of what people will think. However, let's look at the situation realistically. A breeder can be educated, have worked very hard, have really awesome dogs and do everything right and still have a puppy with a problem. We see this happen in our own species! Breeders can do their ultimate best but the bottom line is, only God can truly guarantee anything. That's where you have to look at how the breeder dealt with the situation. Are they still breeding that same pair of dogs together? etc. I would certainly raise an eyebrow if a breeder told me they had never seen a single genetic issue crop up. The longer they've been breeding, the less likely I would be to believe it! What we want is an honest breeder with great ethics and great dogs. A spotless track record would be awesome but it just isn't realistic.
5) What do you do to make sure the puppies are well socialized? I'm going to answer this question with regards what we do here at Winding Creek Ranch. Our puppies are whelped in a nursery we built specifically for raising puppies. Everything is easy to disinfect and we are able to cut way down on viral/bacterial exposure by having them isolated from where many people can bring deadly organisms in on their shoes. That is why we do not allow anyone in the nursery. No one is allowed to visit the puppies until after they are 6 wks old and have had at least one vaccination already. The puppies get used to sounds from when the kids come in the play with them, banging doors, banging food pans etc. We also play a desensitization CD at least twice/day. It helps them become more comfortable with the sound of kids screaming/playing, thunderstorms, fireworks and household noises. We've never had anyone feel that their dog was poorly socialized. They do not have to be raised inside a person's house to accomplish this. We also bathe and groom all the puppies twice before they go home which is an excellent part of the desensitization process. We are very fortunate to have a grooming facility on our property so we can start this part of their training. What we have found to be important is to meet somewhere in the middle with all of this. One thing that really turns me off is to go into a breeder's home and find that the place is overrun with animals and isn't fit for human living conditions. We want to protect the puppies but be able to socialize them really well, all the while, keeping our house clean and pleasant. So, this system has worked really well for us and we feel the feedback we've gotten has confirmed that as well.
6) Lastly, most people don't need to be told this one....What all is included with my puppy? These days, the reputable breeders are microchipping puppies. However, just because a breeder does microchipping doesn't mean they are automatically a good breeder. It is, however, a good thing to do and I'd expect it. Vaccinations, health records, puppy's pedigree, copies of health testing on the parents etc. are all things that typically SHOULD come with a puppy. While it is very nice to receive a free toy or blanket, I wouldn't want to be blinded by free gifts. The most important thing is the puppy.
In closing, trying to find the right place to get your puppy can be a very difficult process. One of the best words of advice I can give you is to make sure you stick to your guns when it comes to what is important to you. Sometimes it is a good idea to make a list on paper. When you find a breeder that has a puppy available, make sure you look at your list. Does this breeder meet your "qualifications?" If not, don't "just go look." You'll most likely end up making a decision based on emotions. A well-bred, quality puppy is worth waiting for and in the end, you'll feel good about your choice. This writer wishes you and your family all the best, in your search for the perfect puppy, and a lifetime of happiness thereafter.
Isaiah 40:31 But they that wait upon the LORD shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint.
Psalm 27:4 One thing I ask of the LORD, this is what I seek: that I may dwell in the house of the LORD all the days of my life, to gaze upon the beauty of the LORD and to seek him in his temple.