So you’re ready to get your next puppy, and have done your research in choosing a breeder. Or maybe you’re about to pluck a puppy from a [intlink id=”44″ type=”post”]shelter or rescue[/intlink] out of a litter that arrived with its mother. Of course you will want to know as much about your new puppy’s upbringing as possible, and when purchasing from a breeder, this includes meeting the sire and dam in person. As puppies aren’t ready to be placed into their new homes until eight weeks or so, that should leave you plenty of time to visit with the litter and parents, when possible.
Here’s what to watch for in the sire and dam of your new pup:
- Are they friendly? By friendly, we don’t mean tail wagging and sniffing and jumping all over you. That’s arousal. We mean, is the dog eager to be held, petted by you or interested in playing a game with you after an initial greeting? Or does he or she wander off and ignore you? (Or worse, stay in a corner and bark?) A dog with little social reaction to humans often won’t tolerate handling. If the dog is interacting in a gentle, attentive way with the breeder or foster person but not you, that’s fine — so long as the dog isn’t actively avoiding you or displaying overt signs of aggression, such as barking or growling.
- Do they live in the house? If either the sire or dam lives primarily outdoors, or in a kennel, beware. There’s usually a reason the breeder or foster parent doesn’t want the dog in the house — regardless of what he or she tells you.
- Are they mature? An immature sire or dam (younger than 2 years) may have hidden health problems that haven’t yet surfaced. When buying from a breeder, be sure the stock has been health tested for diseases common to the breed, and that the breeder’s contract covers the pup for inherited diseases for a minimum of two years.
- Do they appear to be in good health? Of course you will take your new puppy to the vet almost immediately after bringing him or her home, but picking a puppy whose sire or dam is ill or in poor condition means your pup’s immunity may also be compromised.
- Do you like the parents? Listen to your gut — if something seems off about either parent, or you find yourself worrying about either parent’s behavior, look elsewhere. While training and environment certainly play a part, your puppy will inherit traits from both parents! Don’t feel pressured to take a puppy whose parents you wouldn’t take home.