We are so used to having everything we need, right at our fingertips – need a new television? Order online and you have it within a day or two. Food deliveries happen within minutes – and nowadays without you having to talk to anyone, you just choose what you want online. Furniture, cars, you name it – with a click of a button, it’s yours. We have grown so accustomed to this, why should buying a puppy be any different?
Before I start off my explanation, I think it is important to take into account that this cute puppy will turn into an adult and be a part of your day to day routine (or hopefully an integral part of your family) for his/her entire life – this is a 12 to 15 year commitment (depending on the breed) to a living being that you are totally responsible for. I completely understand that we make hasty decisions in our daily lives, but shouldn’t something that might span over a quarter of your life be researched and thought about extensively?
Knowing how a puppy is raised and what the parents’ temperaments are like, is very important. Why should this be so important? Firstly, the parents’ temperaments are passed on genetically to their pups. An aggressive dog with a bad temperament, will far more likely whelp and produce aggressive dogs (maybe not as pups, but definitely as they grow older) than would a dog with a good, stable nature. You, as the owner, will sit with that temperament problem for the remainder of your chosen puppy’s life. In the beginning it might not bother you so much, but trust me it will eventually and here are only a few examples of how a dog with behavioural problems might impact your day to day life:
- Everytime you need to muzzle your dog to have vaccinations done
- When guests come over, you might need to put your dog away out of fear of them biting someone
- If you go away , you might not be able to take your pet with because of behavioural problems and some boarding kennels do not accept aggressive dogs
- Taking him/her to the groomers might become an issue
Yes, some behaviour can be taught, but people tend to forget what a big role genetics play in this – training can only go so far and then genetics step in. Please do not get me wrong - I strongly believe that all dogs should attend training (I am so passionate about this, that we require our puppy owners to attend training for at least two years), but I am trying to emphasize the fact that genetics has a huge impact on how your pup will react or behave in certain situations.
Secondly, the first 12 weeks of a puppy’s life (known as the socialization period in Puppy Culture) is extremely crucial – this is when they learn many of the skills required to be functional dogs. If a puppy is not raised (by the breeder and thereafter the owner) in the right environment, he will ALWAYS lack some of the skills necessary to be a happy, confident, well-adjusted dog.
Now I am going to ask the million dollar question – Do you think that a breeder that has a puppy available to you right away/on demand (whom probably churns out puppies monthly if not sooner) puts in the effort to raise these puppies in the correct environment or to choose dogs with stable, good temperaments to breed with? The answer is –NO - it’s a money making business to them – so who cares what the parents are like or how these pups are raised…In eight weeks’ time it’s no longer their problem, it’s yours (by that time their next bitch is probably getting ready to whelp).
If you were to build a house and you knew that you could get it done by the guy on the corner, for much cheaper and probably quicker than waiting for an accredited, verified builder who can assure you that your house won’t collapse in a few years , would you wait a bit? Of course you would! Why should buying a puppy be ANY different?
I previously did a post on why health tests and pedigrees are so important (https://www.arohahillsaussies.co.za/post/backyard-breeders-vs-ethical-responsible-breeders), but in the spirit of comparisons – You will also not buy a house without all its necessary electrical, plumbing etc. clearances and certificates – why buy a puppy from a breeder who cannot supply you with the health certificates (which is not the same as a DNA- profile)? I am also quite sure you will not buy a house if the Building Compliance Certificate has not been signed off. The pedigree/registration papers of a dog almost acts as a “compliance” certificate – showing the generations of dogs before him or her and that they indeed were Australian Shepherds. Any “unknown” should be avoided as I am sure you would not want to buy a house/dog whose foundation has been made up off “unknown” materials. It is also crucial to choose a builder that belongs to the National Homebuilders registration council (NHBRC) as it is illegal to build a house if you are not a member of the NHBRC - they hold home builders accountable for the homes they build and provide sanctions for non-compliance. Similarly, one should purchase a puppy from a breeder registered with a registering authority (preferably the Kennel Union of South Africa (KUSA) as they are the only body in South Africa recognized by the FCI (an international canine registering authority). In the same light, if a breeder (that has spent the majority of a puppy’s life with him/her) doesn’t believe a certain puppy is the right fit for your household, BE GRATEFUL – they are putting YOUR needs as a family (and that of the puppy) above anything else! I strongly believe that the majority of dogs that end up at rescue centers and shelters are surrendered because the families could not cope with them – and who is to blame for this? Certainly not the dog. People need to start researching their chosen breed – their wants and needs and breeders should assess the ability of these potential puppy owners to provide a puppy with what they need.
I hope I have briefly highlighted why waiting for the right puppy from the right breeder should be a no-brainer and not getting frustrated with the ethical breeders for not having a puppy available immediately for you. If you do however choose not to wait or turn to the backyard breeders, do not be surprised if “your house” starts showing cracks earlier than expected.