Buying a Puppy from a Breeder|Dog Training, Agility, Dog Obedience, Southern Maine, Falmouth, Tree Frog Farm
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Liz Langham, MS, CPDT-KA
239 Mountfort Rd.
North Yarmouth, ME 04097
207 837 1613
Buying a Puppy from a Breeder
This morning I met with a woman and her 12-week old puppy. This woman had flown to and from Texas to pick-up the pup. This is her 5th golden retriever. The puppy’s breeder had buyers for the pups before they were born. The buyers of the puppies had specific intentions for their choice puppy. For instance, one individual from Ohio longed for a pheasant-hunting companion. The breeder introduced pheasant feathers to the puppies at 2 weeks of age in order to familiarize the pups with pheasant smell. In the pen with the pups was puppy size agility equipment. This got the pups used to different surfaces and objects. In addition, the dog and bitch were on the premises and free to greet guests. One should always meet at least one parent before purchasing the life altering addition. The woman called me to be sure she was moving in a good direction with her puppy.

On the contrary, this afternoon I met with a woman and her 4-month oldherding dog. She found her pup’s breeder in a local weekly publication. The puppies were whelped and raised in the garage. Upon acquisition, the breeder brought the puppy out to the car and handed her off to the new owner through the car window. I was called to meet and work with this puppy because it was terrified of nearly everything. This beautiful puppy spent most of the lesson under the woman’s chair. She finally let me touch her but was ultimately scared back to the chair by a sudden sound.Her recovery from fear was very slow. This puppy was not well socialized during the critical period of 3-12 weeks of age.

The above two examples are a synopsis of two different breeding scenarios. Was this a coincidence, or perhaps proof of nature and nurture affecting the stability of a puppy? Both puppies were bought from puppy producers. The puppies had very different beginnings.

Once you have decided that you are ready to research buying a puppy, consider the following: Decide what type of dog you want. The following qualities will help whittle down your breed choice.
  • Energy level
  • Maintenance needs (i.e., grooming)
  • Trainability
  • Family compatibility

    What your dogs is bred for:
  • Herding
  • Hunting
  • Guarding
  • Companionship
    (What your dog is bred for will frequently indicate whether you need to be vigilant with giving your dog a job or not).

    When I bought my Australian shepherd I told my dog’s breeder that I wanted a tri-colored female. The breeder said, “I will sell you what will work for your family. There may not be a match for you.” Luckily, there was a match for me. She was a competent, not-too-nippy, confident (but not too confident), moderate herding instinct, tri-colored female. J. Pam, the breeder, was very insistent about selling us the right puppy for our lifestyle, a lifestyle that includes young children and a chaotic household. Pam also took into account that I did intend on giving the dog jobs: Obedience, agility, and herding.

    How can you find a breeder?
  • Go to dog shows and talk with owners and handlers of your breed of interest.
  • Visit national dog club websites for your breed of interest. Breeders should be members of breed clubs.
  • Word of mouth. If you see a dog you like ask about where it came from, and have there been any health issues (allergies, structural issues, behavioral issues).
  • Ask your veterinarian if she knows of a reputable breeder in the area.

    What to ask the breeder?
  • Can I meet the parents?
  • How have you socialized the puppies
            200 Absolutely Essential Puppy Socialization Experiences
            Puppy Socialization(.pdf)
  • Can you guarantee hips, elbows, eyes?
  • Can I see the records on the parents and greandparents?
  • Do you temperament test?
  • How many litters do you whelp/year?
  • Do you take back the pup in case of hardship, bad match, or genetic issues?

    What the breeder might ask you?
  • Do you have a fenced yard?
  • Do you have children?
  • Have you had dogs before? If so, what breed?
  • How long did you have your dog?
  • If deceased, what happened?
  • Do you have references?

    What might the breeder recommend for her puppies?
  • A specific type of food
  • Vaccination schedule
  • Spay/neuter contract plus minimum age required.
  • Required training

    Once you have been in touch with the breeder and visited the facility
  • Was the facility clean?
  • Did you have an overall positive feeling about your visit?

    Getting a puppy is a big deal. You are adding a family member that will change your daily routine. A puppy will grow into an adult and the dog will live an average of 10-12 years. Puppies are usually “good” but as they gain confidence and independence they start to “test the boundaries.” Enroll in a training class when your puppy has a clean slate so that you won’t need to retrain when bad habits develop. Find a reputable trainer in your area (
  • Written by Liz Langhan
    Liz Langham MS, CPDT-KA is the owner of Tree Frog Farm Dog Training and Agility in North Yarmouth, ME. She has been training dogs and their people since 1994. Liz is a Certified Professional Dog Trainer, mother of three, Master Gardener, and the guardian of 2 dogs, 1 cat, 1 guinea pig, and 11 chickens. Tree Frog Farm Personalized Dog Training and Agility Farm
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