Regardless where you choose to get your dog, whether it be a breeder, animal shelter or from someone who rescues and fosters animals, there are some things you want to be concerned with to ensure your dog is as healthy as she or he can be before she or he even steps one paw in your home.
• Are their shots current?
- At minimum they should have rabies and distemper
- Puppies purchased from a breeder or rescued at a young age, prior to 16 weeks will not have had a rabies shot.
- They should have DPPH (Distemper, Hepatitis, Parainfluenza, and Parvovirus)
• Have they been spayed or neutered?
- Unless you intend to breed your dog, he or she should be altered. There is much debate about the age for this. Some literature suggests this should occur by six months and others suggest that a female (yes commonly referred to as a bitch) should be spayed after her first heat to avoid uterine cancer. You will want to read literature from advocating both perspectives and make the determination that is best for you.
- Again, if your dog is less than six months old, chances are, neither a male nor a female will have been spayed. There is an exception to this. Most shelters will not release an animal for adoption until he or she has been altered. Their jobs are difficult enough trying to keep the animal homeless population down; they aren't about to add to the problem.
• Ensure they don't have worms and parasites
- Whether they're from the shelter, a rescuer or a breeder, all dogs eat myriad of things, including feces (one's own, other dog's and cat's) that give them parasites
- Don't assume because your dog is from "a top breeder" he or she is immune to worms and parasites
Breeders, unlike shelters, are not mandated by the same city and state regulatory agencies and some are not very clean or ethical. Some breeders admit to inbreeding - father/daughter, mother/son, brother/sister and see nothing wrong with it. In their view, it's all to ensure the "champion blood line" is preserved. If this is the case, you would hate to learn that because of inbreeding your pet suffers from:
• Hip dysplasia
- Very common in German Shepherds (GSDs), Huskies, Akitas and other large breeds
• Neurological problems and has seizures
- Very common in English Springer Spaniels
• Retinal problems and/or deafness
- Can occur any breed
• Difficulty breathing easily and is prone to allergies and asthma
- Pugs sadly present with this often
• Overheats easily
- Pekingese are well-known to suffer from this
It's important to do your homework, wherever, regardless where you feel it's best to find your beloved animal companion. These are just a few of the examples to look for with respect to breed and known problems that can occur in any dog. If you don't do your homework, you run the risk of getting an animal prone to problems and being unsure what to do. This is by no means a suggestion to find another breed, especially if your heart is set on a particular one. It's merely a guide to share so you can go in with eyes wide open.