So You’re Thinking of Buying a Dog

You’ve watched the Youtube videos, you’ve seen the adorable pictures plastered all over the internet, everyone in the park seems to have one. You’ve decided. You want a dog and you want one now! But where to begin? Not to worry, the lovely Cynthia from Sunrise Animal Hospital has come up with an amazing guide that explores the many routes in which you can obtain a puppy. We hope you find this information useful and please do not hesitate to contact us if you have any questions about anything at all!

Consider Rescue!

There are so many animals in need out there, in shelters and rescues everywhere. In this modern day we have such an overpopulation of domestic animals in need. Every day animals are put to sleep due to issues like over-crowding, disease and breed legislation. To rescue an animal in need is to save a life, and in some ways you save two, because you also make room for another animal to be rescued when you adopt the new love of your life!

If you are looking for a particular cross or a full breed dog, there are many rescue organizations dedicated to breeds and their crosses too. The SPCA, your local Humane Services (accessible via your local municipality) and rescues are a great place to look for your new dog!

Even adopting a second-hand dog, is rescuing. A second-hand dog is also a dog in need and would likely end up in a shelter or be passed from home to home. Sometimes we even hear dreadful stories of dogs being given away to unscrupulous people posing as a good home who harm the animal or re-sell them for profit. By rescuing a second hand dog you are giving that dog a chance to have a good home that it deserves.

Avoid Back-Yard Breeders (BYB’s), Puppy Mills and Brokers

Often when looking for a dog, people think that there isn’t much difference in the average back yard breeder or the reputable breeders. But there is! Consider a number of facts that set the BYB’s and reputable breeders apart. BYB’s are typically in it for the money and with that in mind, many corners are sometimes cut when puppies are raised.

Often, they have not done their research on the breed, they have not paid top dollar for the best specimens they could find, they can’t prove their lineage or provide you with a family tree or any kind of guarantees on long term health or genetics.

A BYB can not legally guarantee the purity of their puppies. Without proof of lineage via registration there is no guarantee that your new puppy is what the breeder claims it is.

Often, back yard breeders are pushing puppies out the door long before they should be leaving mom, anything under 8 weeks is too early! I can’t stress that enough. And for some breeds it should be even longer. This will rob that new puppy of weaning phase and important imprinting that happens in the later weeks with mom, often affecting the puppy in it’s confidence and behaviour in a way that is unjust, as the end result is more work for the new family, and strong potential behavioural issues down the road. Parents in these situations (BYB’s and mills) may also not be of sound temperaments, negative behaviours from the parents can be passed on to the puppies during imprinting, starting them off on the wrong foot with their training before it has even begun.

The health of the mother is always important. Using high quality food and having mom’s vaccines currently up to date so that the puppies get the maximum benefit out of passive immunities during their first 8 weeks of life. Also, ensuring the mother has no genetic defects by waiting until age 2 then having her screened for said defects are some of the things that are over-looked by a back yard breeder.

The market of designer breeds (aka mixed or crossed of two breeds) as well as mutts (dogs with 3 or more breeds in them), is a market solely profited and used by BYB’s and mills. To purchase from a breeder who breeds these type of dogs can only be done from a BYB as reputable breeders do not breed these type of dogs. This brings me back to the rescue consideration, if it’s a designer breed or mutt you want, by all means go for it, but get it from a rescue or shelter so you are saving a life instead of supporting a BYB.

Brokers and Puppy Mills are considered the lowest form of people in this business. You need to avoid them at all costs. If you experience any red flags that give you an impression that someone is a broker or a puppy mill, avoid them like the plague! With current laws, these types are hard to stop, and Canada suffers from their existence. Brokers and Puppy Mills  are not concerned with any laws or regulations that are in place and you may notice this when talking to them that they have little regard for the law.

Consider a number of questions when shopping for a puppy. Are you allowed to visit the home or do they insist on meeting in a mutual location? Do they offer or sell numerous breeds of puppies or can they provide you with a breed of puppy at any given time? Does the volume seem excessive? Do they offer bargain basement prices and sales? Can the parents be seen? Are they located within the Quebec region where there are currently zero laws or regulations on puppy mills? Quebec is known as the puppy mill capital and for this reason, unless you can verify the legitimacy of the breeder and/or visit the location, should be avoided entirely in your hunt for the right breeder.

If someone is selling dogs for other breeders that makes them a broker, even if they tell you otherwise.

Buying a mill dog, makes room for more mill dogs, as does buying from a broker. You may find yourself in a position of feeling sorry for the puppy in their hand they are trying to sell you, but you must resist the urge to buy that puppy because when you do, you keep them in business, you are not rescuing an animal in need. When mills are busted or brokers are shut down, only then, when those puppies go to shelters and rescues do they become a rescue you can save. Remember, by adopting from a rescue or shelter you help make room for the puppy or dog in need.

By buying from mills and brokers, you put yourself at great risk of a dog with the poorest quality start in life. Bred from exhausted mothers who are too weak and depleted to pass on the best of herself to her litters. You are dealing with dogs who are at higher risk for countless health problems. The deal you are getting today will reflect that, you get what you pay for, and as a result there is a good chance that you will pay for it in health problems ten times over during the life of your dog. Sometimes people get lucky and the animal turns out OK, other times, they go through so much that words could not describe the suffering of the animal. The bottom line is, it’s just not worth it. Avoid Brokers and Puppy Mills at all costs!

Reputable Breeders

There are many things that make up a reputable breeder. The first is that they have a great passion for a particular breed and that is the reason they are doing this. That passion will show during your first communication with them, and continues as you wait for a puppy to be ready to go to it’s new home. They are in it for the betterment of the breed using careful selection of specimens and lineage; investing a lot of time and money in what they do. Registration with their countries kennel club (CKC, AKC, UKC) is the first step in what makes a reputable breeder. Registration matters for several reasons. It ensures that the lineage of your dog is known and can be proven. And with that they have also taken the time to find the highest quality specimens, often from champion blood lines, and can guarantee the lineage clean from genetic issues and defects, and when you ask them about this they will openly be willing to talk to you about this, let them brag, it will show you their passion and pride in what they are doing. Additional benefits to registration include a microchip often already in place and CKC offered 6 weeks trial of pet insurance giving your pet a great start in care. Proper screening and timing of breeding is important to a reputable breeder. They will have various health guarantees included with the purchase of their puppies. Often having waited until at least age 2 or sometimes even age 3, depending on the breed, and the parents screened for things such as the eyes or hips and so on, again what the health guarantees are may differ by breed based on concerns in genetics with a particular breed. What this all means is the breeder has taken steps to try and reduce the risk of certain potential health issues, defects or disease to the best of their capacity. While this does not mean every single specimen will always be free of these issues it does mean they have done everything to try and make it less of a risk. In most cases the end result of needing to use such a guarantee is the promise to either take back or replace any dog who ends up with such issues. While most people would choose to keep an animal at that point in the animals life, knowing that the breeder offers that is the best that they can do to ensure the care of their stock through the life of them.

Reputable breeders are also far more likely to have done their research on the breed they love and produce, animal care and husbandry are taken seriously. They are far more likely to work closely with a veterinarian for the optimal health and well being of their stock. As a result of these efforts, puppies are left with the mother for the appropriate length of time so that additional imprint on socialization and behaviour have taken place giving you a more confident and outgoing solid puppy with a better head start. Remember, that means a bare minimum of 8 weeks! Soundness of temperament has been passed on from mom with imprinting reducing the risk of behavioural issues early on, and often even housebreaking training has already begun as mom takes puppies out with her in the last few weeks when she goes out so they even learn about going to the bathroom outside. Passive immunity has kept your puppy healthier through the first 8 weeks of life prior to the first vaccine when mom has her own vaccines up to date. Good quality food is a must for reputable breeders as it benefits mom and puppies alike. Often when searching for a reputable breeder you will find they have waiting lists and only selectively breed at only certain times. It is well worth the wait to go on a waiting list with a good breeder, with all the benefits in mind, you will then get updates and they will work with you through the growth of your pup until it is ready to come home. They will be willing to talk to you about any concerns once pup goes home and help advise properly.

You will often pay more for a puppy from a reputable breeder. For the reasons listed above as well as many other reasons, reputable breeders rarely make any profit and are typically aiming to break even. With the extra time and effort that they put in to their stock in so many ways they charge a fair price for what they need to charge based on their expenses and the quality they are producing.

So now that we have discussed the differences and options in how to search for your new family member you will be able to make good decisions and find that perfect match. We wish you the best of luck!


Local Rescues:
SPCA St. John’s
Humane Services Mount Pearl
Humane Services St. John’s
Beagle Paws
Bullies In Need

Breeder Database: 
CKC Wesbite

Written by Sunrise Animal Hospital