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Puppy Buying 101

Perhaps it is my own thirst for knowledge as a breeder but I highly encourage all buyers to be educated buyers.  My website offers a lot of information for all buyers and I ask that you read through all the sections under Puppies (main menu bar) before inquiring about purchasing a Devanley puppy.

Definitions

Puppy Mills:  Puppy Mills range from the extremely large operation down to medium and small operations.  It is truly the conditions in which the dogs live and are treated that determine whether or not it is a puppy mill or a commercial breeder (see below).  A puppy mill is a "cash" operation, cutting corners just as any businesses would do in order to reduce expenses and maximize profits.  They may breed several different breeds -- or -- maybe specialize in just one breed; however, they usually have an extremely large number of dogs (50+).  Living conditions for the animals are usually extremely poor.  Puppy mills tend not to worry about the health and temperament of the dogs they are breeding.  They may advertise that the dogs are cleared by x-rays  for hip dysplasia and other genetic defects; but in the end it is doubtful such x-rays were done or they were not professionally evaluated.  Some puppy mill owners will try to portray they are active with their dog through clubs and various activities.  A closer look may reveal that although at one time they were, they are no longer active -- or may never have been active at all.  Puppy mills usually advertise in newspapers and over the internet.  They may sell puppies to Pet Stores, they may sell puppies directly to the puppy buyer.  
Commercial BreedersA commercial breeder is someone who has many dogs and produces many puppies.  This is not always a bad thing.  Look around, how clean are the facilities, how social are the dogs?  The mental and emotional well being of the dogs are just as important as the health of the dogs.  Is there an adequate number of staff members on hand to care for the number of dogs and puppies.  Have all parents received clearances before they are bred?  Some commercial breeders are active in the same dog activities as hobby breeders.  Commercial breeders usually advertise via the internet, occasional newspaper ad and possibly in the phone book.
Hobby BreedersHobby breeders are truly the future of the pure bred dog.  Their dogs do not just live to produce puppies.  Hobby breeders are active with their dogs, whether it be in conformation (show); obedience, agility, hunting, tracking, luring, and therapy, to name just a few.  Hobby breeders are breeding for themselves first and foremost.  They want to produce a healthy, sound pup that can live up to their expectations.  A hobby breeder may keep their dogs in their home, or in an outside kennel -- but in either case, the dogs are well socialized, trained and loved.  Hobby breeders not only clear both parents before breeding; they also evaluate the health clearances for the entire pedigree of puppies they wish to produce.  Hobby breeders will breed a litter with the goal to keep a pup or two from that litter.  Unfortunately, not all the pups in a litter measure up to the hobby breeders' high standards.  Maybe their nose isn't dark enough, maybe they aren't quite tall or short enough, maybe they simply have a white mark where there shouldn't be one.  These are the circumstances that the companion puppy buyer should be looking for.  The slight cosmetic imperfection that will allow them to bring home a sound, healthy, happy puppy that can play, run, jump, live and love a family for years (not just 12 months).  Hobby breeders may or may not have a personal website, some will advertise in the newspaper -- but it is very rare.  The best way to locate a hobby breeder is to contact a local all-breed OR specialty breed dog club; visit a local dog show; or ask your veterinarian.
Backyard BreedersBackyard breeders, for lack of a better term, are companion animal owners who wish to breed their dog because their friend loves their dog and wants one; because they feel it would be a good experience for their children to see; because they love their pet so much they want another one.  Back yard breeders (BYB) often do not understand the importance of health clearances; they do not know the grandparents, great-grandparents of their dog and the important role they play in regards to the pups that will be produced by breeding a litter.  Although their heart is in the right place, the education and knowledge isn't quite there.  Some potential back yard breeders take the time to learn and become educated, in that case they turn into the novice hobby breeder and deserve to be taken seriously.  A backyard breeder typically advertises in the newspaper. 

Now that you are educated in the type of breeder you are dealing with, the choice is yours.  The only sure way to stop puppy mills is to stop supplying the demand.  That is why you must interview each potential breeder of your future puppy.  

 

Puppy Search Recommendations
There are ways to ensure that your search for a new puppy will ensure you bring home a happy, healthy companion.
ObservationAt some point, you will visit the kennel.  You do not necessarily have to visit before you commit to buying a puppy, in today's digital age -- photographs and/or work just as well.  A simple visit or receipt of photographs is all it takes to see if the living conditions of the dogs are adequate.  A tour of the facility which very often is  the breeder's home may or may not be feasible in order to protect new puppies as well as all their dogs from disease/viruses carried in unknowingly by visitors that could be detrimental to the litter.  Please take appropriate precautions as directed by the breeder when visiting their property.  If you have questions, please ask and  it is not unreasonable to request photographs.  Please check out Devanley Labradors on YouTube.
Interview:  A reputable breeder will expect you to ask questions.  A reputable breeder will also expect you to answer questions.  Be prepared to be asked such things as:  what is your work schedule?  Who lives in the house with you?  What is your yard layout like, do you have a fence, if so, what kind?  Do you rent or own your home?  Although these may seem like personal questions, a breeder who cares about their puppy wants to ensure that it is placed in the best possible home.  A breeder who does not ask questions is probably just looking for a sale and won't be able to offer you the same quality of puppies as a reputable breeder.  Devanley's online Puppy Inquiry Questionnaire is the first step of our interviewing process.
Health Clearances:  Ask to see the actual Health Clearance Certificates for each parent or, if the parents were cleared through the Orthopedic Foundation for Animals, conduct a search on their website to verify the clearances www.offa.org.   If the sire and dam have passed their clearances they will be listed on this site, if they are not listed they either did not pass clearances or exams/x-rays were never submitted.  Different breeds require different clearances, search for a specialty breed club website or AKC Breed Parent Club, the recommended clearances are often listed. (www.thelabradorretrieverclub.com).  Bait and switch tactics have been used by less than reputable breeders.  They may show you certificates for another set of parents, take the time to write down the name of the dam and sire of your future puppy.  In some cases, health clearances may have been obtained through a foreign registry (British Veterinary Association, BVA) or another U.S. registry (Penn-Hip, Wind-Morgan) without an open data base; in those instances you will need to see the actual certificate.  Devanley Labradors provides a copy of all parental health clearances in the Health Clearances section of your Puppy Notebook.
Expect Photos:  As you wait for your puppy to grow old enough to come home with you, expect to be sent photographs or see photographs on the breeder's website as they develop.  
Contract:  What is said within the context of that document is what sets apart the reputable breeder.  Read it word for word and understand it fully, never sign it without reading it and understanding it.  Do not be tempted to sign such a document at the last minute without reading it first.  Please ask Devanley Labradors to email you a copy of their contract prior to your puppy going home with you.  The areas covered in Devanley's contract include 26-month hip & eye guarantee, mandatory spay/neuter time frame, commitment to the well being of the puppy by its new owner for his/her lifetime as well as Devanley's right to have that puppy returned if the situation were to occur that you could no longer keep your puppy.  
Bill of Sale:  AKC requires that new owners are given a bill of sale as the time of purchase.  A bill of sale will be provided to you which includes purchase price, any deposits received as well as the amount of sales tax which the State of Ohio requires be collected on the sale of all puppies/dogs in Ohio.  (ORC 5739.01)
ReferencesYou should ask for references from past puppy buyers as well as from the breeder's veterinarian.

Reputable breeders will be able to help you find the puppy that is right for you and will be happy to give you tips on raising and caring for your new family member.  They will be available to you for the life of the dog.  As long as you find a reputable breeder, finding the right puppy is as easy as 1-2-3!

Click here for a Checklist of Potential Questions to Ask Breeders