It is during this time when the dogs learn proper dog behavior. A pecking order is established, and the pups are properly shown that they cannot bite, chew, and tackle without consequences. Puppy play is rough, and they learn more quickly from their litter mates than they do from humans at this point.
For trainers, some of the biggest behavior issues they deal with are from pups that didn’t learn anything about self-control and socialization. Almost always, these are the pups that were bought at an early age. Some puppies are horribly shy and terrified of the world, others are raging maniacs biting anything and everything in sight. A lot of unscrupulous breeders will try to unload the puppies earlier – so they don’t have to feed them or give them shots. That’s a load of crap. Those puppies need their mother for more than just milk. Their mother and the other litter mates teach puppies about inhibiting bite, socializing with dogs, hierarchy, and so much more. If you buy a pup at 6 weeks, you are really getting cheated out of some early social development that cannot be replaced.
Do not purchase any puppy that has not had proper shots and has not been wormed. A puppy at 8 weeks of age should have had at the very least one modified live Parvo shot and a Distemper Measles shot for minimum protection against these viruses. They should also have had 2 wormings prior to these shots so that a worm infestation will not interfere with the shots. Most puppies that die from Parvo are wormy. Parvo is the biggest killer of young puppies and one of the easiest to spread. Most good breeders give Parvo shots every 2 to 3 weeks from 6 weeks to 20 weeks to help close the window of opportunity for it to infect their puppies. Maternal antibodies can interfere with the shots and can last up to 16 weeks, making the vaccine less effective, but allowing the virus to invade the system when the antibodies are breaking down. Other shots given by breeders usually starting at 8 to10 weeks are Distemper, measles, Bortadella, and DHPP. The shot information should be listed on your bill of sale along with the name of the Veterinarian. If the shots are given by the breeder ask to see the bill of sale for the vaccines. This is not an unusual request as this is the only proof of shots you will have. If they do not have a bill of sale for the shots or vaccines they probably have not given them the shots.
A breeder should give you a written health guarantee for one year against major genetic or congenital diseases and 15 days from the date of sale against existing problems your Veterinarian might find or incubating viruses.
Check with your Veterinarian about genetic problems associated with the breed you are interested in. Ask if your breeder will stand behind their puppies for these diseases. Incidentally, if your breeder doesn’t know about genetic diseases in their breed & you are more knowledgeable about dogs than the breeder, don’t buy from them!
You should be able to see at least one parent. Never meet a breeder someplace other than his home. You want to see where those puppies were raised. No breeder that cares about their puppies will cart them all over the place and expose them to possible viruses just to make a buck. For all you know that puppy could have been stolen.
Never buy from a breeder with two prices, one with papers and one without. Papers only cost $25.00 plus $2.00 per puppy for an entire litter, so why the difference in price? Buy only AKC registered purebreds. If they don’t have papers they may have been suspended by their registry for such things as bad record keeping, inhumane living conditions, impure breeding, or cruelty convictions. Unless spaying or neutering is required prior to registration, the breeder should provide you with your registration application. It should also be properly signed and transferred to you. If there was a prior owner proper supplemental transfer application should be provided and signed by those previous owners. If no papers are available at the time the breeder should provide you with the registered AKC name of both parents, name of breeder of litter, sex of your puppy , color and date of birth. This is the only hope of getting registration papers if the breeder doesn’t provide them after purchase.
Spay neuter contracts where papers are provided after proof of altering and in some cases financial penalties if the dog is not altered within a certain period time are perfectly appropriate. Good breeders will sell with limited registrations, non-breeding contracts and or neuter contracts and won’t encourage breeding.
A reputable breeder will be able to show you letters and pictures from satisfied clients. Their puppies will be clean, properly vaccinated and they will not try to push their puppies on you just to get rid of them. They will provide a written health guarantee, shot record, registration papers (or the information stated above if not back from the AKC), a bill of sale, and often at least one week supply of food. They also will be there for you after you buy and will always take back the puppy in the future if you are unable to keep it rather then have it turned into the pound. Remember buying from a reputable breeder is a privilege, not a done deal.
Thanks to Matt N. for the super cute photo of little Ellie Sue!