Puppy buyer etiquette

One of the classic mistakes is buyers saying I need a puppy at the start of the school holidays, etc, so they go out looking for puppies in July. Puppies are not interchangeable, one litter is not the same as another litter.

Start by looking for a breeder, as opposed to a puppy. Make a personal connection with a breeder you feel shares your top criteria, and then wait for a puppy from them. Maybe they even have a litter on the ground, which is wonderful, but maybe they’re not planning anything for a few months. Or maybe they’re not planning anything for a year; in that case, ask for a referral to another breeder that shares those same priorities and has a similar (or just as good) personality and support ethic. However it works out, screen the breeder first, then ask about a puppy. Expect to wait, it is very rare to wait less than a couple of months, four to six is normal. I’ve waited a year on a couple of occasions, even we breeders don’t walk through the field, able to pick puppies like tulips. We all have to wait, and we all have to get matched up by the puppies’ breeder. 

Introduce yourself..... The initial e-mail should be several paragraphs long, block out at least an hour of quiet for the first phone call. When you initiate contact, clearly communicate three things: You are ready for a puppy, you are ready for a puppy of this breed, and you understand what sets this breeder apart from the others and you share that commitment. Specifically describe your plans for this puppy; be truthful. If you are not going to be able to go to four training classes a year, say so. Don’t say “Of course, training is a huge priority around here,” or you’re going to end up with a puppy who’s flushing your toilet sixty times a day because he’s so bored and you’re not challenging him. 

Bring up price either at the end of the first contact (if it’s been successful and you feel a connection to this person) or in a follow-up contact. It’s nice to say “If you don’t mind me asking, about how much are your puppies. I just want to be prepared.”

Be willing to be told no......... Not every person is the right match for every breed. That’s just fact. There is no way on earth some of us could make our home appropriate for a Malamute puppy, and we would have to lie through our teeth to get approved for one. Some breeders devote their entire life to their dogs, and they don’t expect you to have anywhere close to the obsession they have, so that means there will be some dogs that are just plain wrong for you. If a breeder says no, ask why. If the answers make sense, don’t keep calling people until you finally get one who will sell you a puppy of that breed. Go back to the drawing board and be very humble and honest with yourself about what kind of dog really would be right for you and your family.

Now this one is important.....It is very frustrating to find buyers are on more than one breeders waiting list, or don't have the courtesy to tell you they have got a puppy when you contact them to confirm your bitch has been mated or is in whelp. Finding out that you had your name on four lists shows that you don’t realise that puppies are not packages of lunch meat, where getting one from Mrs Smith is basically the same as getting one from Mrs Jones. Clearly you want the first puppy that comes along and not one of that breeders precious babies.

As soon as your name is on a breeders list, they could be turning away buyers. If they send ten people elsewhere because their list is full, and then suddenly you say “Oh, yeah, I got a puppy from someone else,” it really toasts their bread. So just be honest. If someone says “I’m on a list with so and so, but she’s pretty sure she won’t have a puppy for me, and I’d love to be considered for one of your puppies and I’ll let you know just as soon as I know,” most breeders will be fine with that, and would probably say give me a ring in a few months and I will let you know the current position.

Remember, we are a tight knit community, we speak to each other, if you have gone to another breeder, we will find out. Saying, 'oh I was going to tell you when everything was confirmed' to find that they have put a substantial non returnable deposit on said puppy with another breeder is just so frustrating when you have turned other buyers away knowing you will not have enough puppies to supply demand.

Please do not expect to choose your puppy.....This one drives puppy buyers crazy. Breeders will usually be keeping a puppy for themself, and will not be sure which one until right up until the puppies are due to go to their new homes. If they are keeping a bitch, they may let you have your choice from the male puppies.

Behind every pure bred puppy/dog is a breeder. A reputable breeder does not breed dogs without papers, that does not protect the integrity of the breed. Registration papers are records of lineage that document bloodline and allow one to research any possible health issues present in the lineage. When you tell a Breeder you don’t care about papers what you’re really telling them is you couldn’t care less about the health of the puppy you just want the cheapest thing you can find. When you select to buy a puppy from a reputable and quality breeder, this breeder is responsible for the health of every pup, both dogs owned and every pup they’ve sold for its lifetime. This breeder will skip holidays, miss sleeping, and most of their personal house space has been turned into space for their dogs. The truly passionate breeder who loves what they breed, puts their whole heart and soul into it. Not only in puppies that are sold, but also in each client who owns a piece of their heart and now is a member of their extended family. This does not take into account any puppy/dog who might get sick or need extra help to thrive. Breeders worry about their babies after they leave and will take one back without question.

A breeder will get their hands dirty, often covered in everything accompanied with birthing. Because that’s what life is about...In the middle of birth and death is life. The wheel that keeps turning. A breeder will do tests, xrays, analysis, emergency c sections, vaccinations, register litters, research pedigrees, deworm, as well as microchip their puppies and get them evaluated by specialists.
Last but by no means least, a true breeder chooses who they sell to because they are not making money off the sale. There is no compensation that can offset the investment a Breeder has made so they need to be confident its the right fit. Many times saying more no’s then yes...A good Breeder will have different criteria for those wanting to carry on their bloodline, why? Because breeding is not a responsibility to ever be taken lightly, it’s a lifestyle choice set aside for only the few devoted people willing to sacrifice.

Because a dog is never “just a pet” it’s the Breeder’s legacy, a little boy’s best friend, a little girls protector, an elderly persons therapy, a member of the family, someone’s whole world!!!