10 reasons NOT to buy a puppy from a pet shop
1. Health - That adorable puppy in the window of the pet store is hard to resist, but you are often paying a lot of money for a dog that you know very little about. Pet stores rely on impulse buys to sell their "product". There is a good chance that the pet store puppy will develop a health problem sometime in its life that will cost you a lot of money. When you buy a pet store puppy it is very unlikely that the puppy's parents were x-rayed for hip or elbow dysplasia. The parents have most likely not been checked for PRA, which causes blindness. Both of these debilitating diseases are genetically passed from generation to generation. These tests are expensive, but people who are concerned about the welfare of their breed will have these tests conducted to improve in the improvement of the breed. Good breeders are more concerned about the health of the puppies that the are producing than the money that they will or won't make on the production of a litter.
2. The myth about AKC papers - Pet shops would like you to believe that if a puppy is registered by the American Kennel Club that this guarantees the puppy will be healthy and a good representation of the breed. This is not so. The only thing that AKC papers tell are that the puppy is a purebred and produced out of AKC registered parents. Even this can be fiction, as some breeders register more puppies than are actually born in each litter to receive extra registration slips to pass out with unregisterable puppies. The parents of your puppy may be dying of cancer somewhere else and be horrible representations of the breed that you are buying. Responsible breeders do register their puppies with the AKC, but that is only the beginning.
3. The pet shop guarantee - Many pet shops provide a form of guarantee for people buying puppies from them but their guarantees are as bad as none at all. After your family has become attached to your adorable puppy you find out it is sick and it will cost you several hundred dollars to correct so you take the puppy back to the store to receive your guarantee. What they will most likely do is trade you puppies. Take away your beloved pet and replace it with a new puppy that might also get sick. They will euthanize the puppy you brought back, because this is cheaper for the store. The other tactic that some stores use is to tell you your puppy will grow out of the problem until their guarantee has expired. Do you want to take this risk?
4. What will that puppy look like when it is full grown? - You may have seen specimens of the breed that you are buying, but this does not guarantee that this puppy will fit the breed standard. You do not know if the parents fit the standard either and can not see the faults that each parent has. Their is no perfect dog, but a good breeder will be willing to discuss the faults and strengths that each of their dogs posses. You should also be able to see at least the mother of the puppy that you are buying if bought from a responsible breeder. Even then you can not tell exactly what the puppy will look like, but will have a much better idea of what to expect. Why spend so much money without even knowing what the puppy's parents look like?
5. What do you know about the breed? - Employees of pet stores generally know very little about the dogs that are in the store. They might be able to tell you a little bit about the breed and then point you to a rack of generic dog books. What do you do after you find out that this breed is not right for you
6. Housebreaking and training problems - This puppy that you are buying from a pet store has spent its life in a cage. It is almost certainly never seen carpet and may never have seen grass or dirt. They have been forced to eliminate in the same area that they sleep and eat. This goes against the dogs natural instinct, but your puppy has had no choice. This habit will make housebreaking your puppy much more difficult. A good breeder keeps the puppy area very clean and makes sure the puppy has a separate elimination area . By the time their puppies are ready to go home with you it will be well on the way to being house trained. Good breeders will often start teaching a young puppy how to walk on a leash and to lay quietly for grooming. A pet store puppy has never walked on a leash or been brushed before and will much more difficult to get used to these daily exercises than a puppy that has been brought up properly. Responsible breeders also base their breeding decisions in part on their dog's temperament and personality, not only on looks or the fact that they are purebred. Pet store puppies parents have not been selected for any reason other than they can produce puppies that sell as cute "purebreds" registered by the AKC.
7. How about Socialization? - Your pet store puppy has never been in a house before. Everything will be new and scary for them. The doorbell, vacuum cleaner, children playing are all new sensations that can be terrifying to an unsocialized puppy. Good breeders will expose their puppies to many situations so that the puppy is used to them by the time that they go to their new home. Responsible breeders temperament test their puppies before they are placed in a new home. This shows the breeder which puppies are dominant or shy. Then the breeder will match the puppy to the new owner and make sure that active pups go to active families and that shy puppies go to a home that can help them overcome their insecurity. Good breeders will also have more than one or two puppies to pick from and they can help you make an educated decision based on your family situation. If you are going to spend so much money on a dog that you plan to keep for a lifetime, why not find one that will fit into your lifestyle well.
8. What is a pedigree worth? - Pet shops often make a big deal out of their puppy's pedigrees. This is interesting as the pedigree is really just a piece of paper with names on it. Unless you know the dogs behind those names the pedigree is really quite useless to a puppy owner. Can the pet store tell you what your puppies grand-parents died of, or how long they lived? Do any of the dogs in your pups pedigree carry genetic diseases? A reputable breeder can tell you all of this information about your pups family tree. When you buy a puppy from a reputable breeder you are getting more than a piece of paper, you are getting the important information associated with the names too. Almost all responsible breeders will "title" their dogs by showing them under an unbiased judge. They will achieve championships on their dog, which tells that the dog is a good representation of the breed. Many also obtain obedience, hunting, herding or at least canine good citizen titles on their breeding dogs. These titles will be shown on the dogs pedigree before and after the parents names. Ask the breeder to explain what the letters mean.
9. Do you want to support puppy mills? - Almost all puppies that are in pet stores come from puppy mills. These operations are exactly what the name implies. They mass produce puppies with the prime motive as money. Their breeding dogs are kept in very poor conditions and are often malnourished. The dogs are never tested for genetic diseases and may not receive vaccinations. Puppy mills often get their breeding dogs from people in a hurry to get rid of dogs for some reason, public auctions and occasionally they are stolen from their owners. Females are bred ever heat cycle until they are worn out and then they are sentenced to death. The horror of puppy mills is encouraged every time a puppy is bought from a puppy store.
How do you know that your puppy comes from one of these places? The main reason is that responsible breeders will not sell puppies to pet stores. Good breeders want to make sure that their puppy goes to a good home and is well cared for. They want to be actively involved in screening the home that their puppy is going to. Breeders are also concerned about keeping track of their puppies that they produce. They want to know about any health problems that their lines may carry. A pet store generally never hears about their puppies once they leave the store, and really don't care.
10. After the puppy goes home - Once you take the puppy home from the pet store they do not care what happens to the puppy. They do not care if the dog is left to run loose and kill livestock, or if it dies of liver disease at one year old. If you have a training problem they will not give you training advice. They do not care if you take your dog home and breed it continually. A responsible breeder is more than a person that sells you a quality dog, they are also a friend. They care what happens to their puppy once it is out of their house. If you have a health or training problem they will be able to offer you advice and help you through the ordeal. A reputable breeder wants to make a good reputation for themselves and they care about each of their puppy's futures. They care not only about their own dogs, but also the impact their dogs will make on the breed as a whole.
So please next time you are looking for a new puppy to buy do your research buy attending American Kennel Club sanctioned shows, talking to many breeders, requiring proof of genetic tests and hip and elbow x-rays and request to see one or both of the parents of your new puppy. The pet store is the worst place to buy a puppy and as long as there is a market for pet store puppies other dogs will be condemned to death by mass breeding only so that a few people can make some money with no thought of their "products" welfare. This is not to say that a good pet has never come out of a pet store, as many have, but for each that has many more have not. Remember when you buy a puppy you are adding another member to your family, not just another piece of furniture that can be disposed of at the smallest whim, and you are responsible for every piece of extra baggage that puppy comes with. Why take the risks when so many reputable breeders are there to guide you along the way of your dogs development?
- ALSO -
Federal Animal Welfare Act (AWA)
Originally passed in 1966 to protect dogs being stolen and sold to research hospitals, the law was amended in 1970 to include dogs (and other regulated animals) being sold in the wholesale market. The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) is responsible for overseeing the Animal Welfare Act. Pet stores are not regulated by USDA because they are a retail sales establishment. The breeders and/or brokers that sell to the pet stores are regulated by USDA, since they are selling at a wholesale level. A consumer generally has no legal rights under the AWA, although complaints can be filed with USDA if an unlicensed breeder or broker was the source of your puppy. Note that USDA allows an exemption for breeders with three or fewer breeding female dogs.
State Lemon Laws
The following states have "lemon laws" that pertain to the sale of puppies. If you have purchased your puppy in one of these states, you may have recourse if your puppy is sick.
There are usually fair business laws that apply to pet shop sales, but unlike lemon laws that are often enforced by state officials, miscellaneous state and local laws are usually enforceable in a court of law. These laws are too specific and extensive for PetShopPuppies to stay abreast of, so we recommend you contact your state attorney general's office, or local elected officials to see if you have any recourse.