Hint: They drill you as much as you drill them!
After deciding that we were ready for a puppy and that we wanted to get a Labradoodle, we began reseplaceing dog breeders. I heard lots of cautionary tales — and horror stories — about puppy mills and unsafe breeding practices. I followed my gut on a lot of things. I was not about to order a puppy online. I wouldn’t get a dog from a breeder who wouldn’t let us visit. And, though I know lots of people do this, I couldn’t imagine picking a dog up from an airport. I want to be able to see the puppy’s birthplace, and hopefully mom and dad. But there were a few things I learned very quickly that I wasn’t expecting.
The best breeders are few and far between — and have waiting lists! Once we narrowed our sights on a breed, we quickly discovered that there weren’t that many breeders who specialized in Labradoodles in our area. There’s Hudson Doodles upstate which we have heard good things about. But we gravitated towards Eden Valley Labradoodles in Maryland. Always a sucker for packaging, we instantly fell in love with their site and gorgeous pix of happy pets romping with lovely girls. And best of all, they were expecting a couple of litters towards the end of the year, which seemed like perfect timing to us.
Breeders won’t sell their dogs to just anyone. I was amazed at how extensive the puppy application form was — questions about our lifestyle, home, and level of commitment were asked. It forced us to ask ourselves a lot of questions and do even more reseplace on the breed. We learned about grooming needs, crate training, and immediately decided we needed a fence around our backyard. We completed the form, sent in a deposit for a puppy that was just a pea in its mommy’s belly, and waited for news.
Be suspicious of any breeder who won’t supply references of previous clients or allow visits. Because a dog’s early development is crucial, you need to know how a puppy is being raised in its first few weeks of life. How often are the dams mated? When does early training and socialization begin? What are the puppies fed?
Ask for a health certificate for the pup’s sire and dam. Make sure they have been tested for any common problems the breed may be susceptible to. Here’s our future’s puppy’s dad, and its mom, Lady Godiva (shown above).
Be prepared to pay! The price was a bit of a shock to us. But it is so important to make sure that a puppy comes from a good breeder — with clean facilities, high quality food and expert medical care – that it is worth it.
Another shock is that we couldn’t pick out which puppy would be ours. The breeder is deciding which dog we will get. We don’t know if it will be a boy or a girl, but we are putting our faith in Pam at Eden Valley to match us with the puppy that best fits our family. She has years and years of experience doing this.
A good breeder will be your guide through the new puppy process. I can’t believe how much I have already learned from Pam on how to prepare for a puppy (more on that next time).
There is more to know about picking a breeder — this is a great reference article at Petside.com — but those were the big factors for us. Our puppy was born on October 26th and after eight weeks of waiting we’ll be picking him or her up next weekend! I will try to write a couple of more posts about how to prepare your home for a puppy in next week. Then — let the cuteness begin! — Angela M.
Previously on the Puppy Files
After Losing Our Dear Cat, We Ask: Is It Time For a Dog?