The recent media reports of puppy farms are horrifying and where to buy your new puppy or dog has never been more important. While getting an adult dog from a no kill rescue centre is ideal, if you do want a puppy and your local rescue doesn’t have any, it is important to know how to find a reputable breeder.
According to the RSPCA the average pet owner will spend $1245-$3010 in the first year, then $1600 each year after, so buying a puppy and looking after it can be an important investment. Like buying a new car, you want to make sure you know exactly where your puppy came from and how it was treated before you invest. There is evidence that puppies raised in puppy farms have more significant behaviour problems later in life.
What are Puppy Farms?
Pet shops pay little more than $50 per puppy then sell the dogs for around $1000 to unsuspecting impulse buyers. It is equivalent to factory farming, with breeders often keeping hundreds of breeding animals.
The dogs are continuously caged with no attention to health, genetics or temperament. With this many animals it is impossible to provide individual animals with attention and socialisation. The RSPCA estimates that 95% of those cute little puppies in the pet shop window are actually from puppy farms.
We know that dogs are a very social species and have a critical socialisation period from 3-12 weeks. If they are not exposed to many and varied experiences in this time, behaviour problems can develop.
Growing up in a tiny, dirty cage with no human contact, then spending more time in a glass-fronted cage in a pet shop is hardly the best start. Generally any puppy available in a pet shop, via classified advertisements, or online is questionable. Visit Oscars Law for more information about how to stamp out puppy farms.
Rescue or Foster
There are over 1500 rescue organisations listed here. Many have a ‘no kill’ policy and often have a fostering process which can be an option if you want to “try before you buy”. Foster carers are also used to keep dogs housed comfortably so they can be trained and socialised and get used to the home environment again.
Any pet that has made it through the pound and has been deemed suitable for adoption has been temperament tested, so they are usually wonderful pets. Most have simply been abandoned through no fault of their own because their family situation has changed.
Many of our pounds are full of wonderful purebred or mixed breed dogs of all shapes and sizes. If you are after a specific breed, there are also specialised rescue organisations that you can approach. Many breeders will take back their dogs should they need to be relinquished and will therefore have adult dogs they need to rehome.
If you want a puppy from a breeder, do your research to ensure you are getting what you pay for. Dogs NSW has a list of breeders available here, but they cannot guarantee all those on the list are reputable. You should always be able to visit the parents and puppies in the home environment.
Any ‘breeder’ who makes excuses as to why you can’t see the premises or the parents should not be trusted. Ethical breeders also ensure they are breeding from good bloodlines, don’t breed their dogs continuously, and screen for congenital diseases such as hip dysplasia. Generally for a good breeder you will need to go on a waiting list for a puppy.
Before you buy a puppy ask yourself these questions:
- Have I seen where the puppy came from, is it clean and do the breeders love their dogs?
- Have I met the parents of the puppy?
- Do the puppy and parents appear to be well socialised?
- Has the puppy been vaccinated, microchipped and wormed?
- Has the puppy been screened for genetic problems?
- Do I have the time and money to look after a puppy, am I best of fostering a dog first to make sure I can commit?
This important decision will stay with you (and your special furry life companion), potentially for the next 15 years. We hope this guide has helped you decide where to buy your puppy and make decisions on the industries you want to support. Most importantly, when you welcome this new friend into your family you want to feel good about where he came from so you can start building your life of happy, healthy memories together.