top of page
BUYING ARTICLES

Can You Help Me Find A Reputable Breeder?

 

I’d like to buy a puppy from a reputable breeder. Can you help me?

 

So you’ve decided to add a dachshund puppy to your household. Wonderful, it’s a great idea. We all love puppies. However, the selection of that puppy needs to be pursued very carefully. There are few dachshund breeders who are reputable. There are many dachshund breeders who are breeding merely for money. When money is the only concern there are several things that get overlooked. Genetic concerns, health concerns, general health and well being of the animals is something not usually taken into consideration by someone whose only interest in raising dogs is money.

A reputable breeder has the welfare of the entire breed in general and their own dogs in particular (as their goal). You may have to wait in order to obtain a dachshund from a reputable breeder, but the wait will definitely be worth it. Along with purchasing a puppy from a reputable breeder who truly cares about the breed and their dog, you will have received a lifetime support system that will be there whenever you need assistance. The person who cares only about the money part of raising dogs is really not going to want to waste time with your questions once they have your money. Once they have sold you a dog, they expect to be done with you. We have numerous puppy mills in the Dallas area. However we have been threatened against calling any of them puppy mills so we will not use that term. We will instead refer to them as mass producers.

A mass producer is someone whose dogs are not members of their family but are simply there for raising quantities of dachshunds to supply the public. Many times a mass producer will have a shopping list of dogs available for you to purchase. Again their concern is not for the breed as a whole or the dogs as an individual but how much money they can make. The more dogs they have for you to purchase the more money they make. This is not the primary concern of the reputable breeder.

Reputable breeders will only breed the best dogs; therefore you may have to wait before being able to obtain a puppy.Many of our members have had heartbreaking situations in breeding dogs where they have to discontinue lines for health reasons or for temperament reasons. Although they were dedicated to these particular lines and had many years of involvement in this particular line they felt it was to the best interest of the breed as a whole and their dogs in particular to no longer produce dogs from that line. This would not be a concern to the mass producer. In many cases they would not know if there was a problem because they do not keep the animals that they breed. In other cases they simply would not care because money is their all-abiding interest.

Yes we know you don’t want a show dog, you only want a family pet. It would be nearly impossible for you to obtain a show dog anyway. Show puppies are very carefully kept by the breeder for the most part, and are generally not available for purchase by the public. But, in every litter of puppies there are some puppies that are not destined for the show ring. And these are the puppies that the reputable breeder wants a good home for; a home where the dog can be a family member and where the breeder does not have to worry about the health, welfare or the future of that dog. Reputable breeders sell pet puppies with a spay/neuter contract.

If the breeder feels that the dog is of sufficient quality to be in a breeding program, that breeder would have retained the dog and it would not have been available for purchase as a pet. The mass producer doesn’t care what happens to the dog once it leaves his or her possession because again, the mass producer has received the money and that’s the end of their concern. Additionally, the mass producer doesn’t want to make anything difficult or do anything that would hinder a sale. The spay/neuter contract could potentially negate a sale and additionally requires more paperwork. So this is something that most mass producers do not do. (And just to be certain you FULLY understand: A spay/neuter CONTRACT is NOT merely a statment that you “should” sterilize your pet, it is a REQUIREMENT stated by a legal document that is a binding part of your agreement to purchase the pet.)

As a general rule you won’t find a reputable breeder by going to the classified ads in the local newspaper. Most reputable breeders obtain their clientele by word of mouth. Additionally, most reputable breeders have a waiting list for puppies long before the female has ever been bred. Mass producers on the other hand produce such a large quantity of puppies that they rely on an ad in the classified section because they must have a continual large turnover of buying clients, buying public, people with money……in order to have a ready supply for their product.

Most reputable breeders do not allow their puppies to leave until at least 9 to 12 weeks of age. The mass producer, on the other hand, has everything to gain by selling the puppy at an early age, thus reducing the necessity of vaccinations and the purchase of food when the mother no longer cares for the puppy and he must start feeding the puppy. Additionally, very young puppies potty a lot and it is a time consuming job to clean up after them. So mass producers get rid of the puppies at a very early age to make their life easier. If you are offered a puppy at any age younger than 8 weeks, it is not in the best interest of the puppy and you should decline to purchase a dog that young. There are also many things that a mother dog teaches her puppies and these puppies also learn things from their litter mates. A puppy removed from it’s litter mates younger than 9 weeks of age may never learn “bite inhibition”. Once removed from the litter mates, the learning experience can NEVER be recreated.

Are you always going to be burned by buying a dog from a mass producer? No. You might get lucky. Some of them are very bad, some are not dreadful. However, every time you purchase a puppy from a mass producer you have consigned another female dachshund to living a life not as a member of a family but whose sole existence on the face of the earth is to crank out puppies for the public. And whenever you purchase a puppy from a mass producer you are guilty of consigning that female dachshund to that life. It is your responsibility, your decision as to whether or not you want to have a role in that.

Most reputable breeder’s dogs are members of their homes. They “may” have kennel runs that the dogs reside in part of the time but for the most part the dogs are members of their family. They generally do not reside in a barn behind the house, they do not live their life on raised wire pens never being held, never being talked to; only being fed once a day and twice a year having a litter of puppies.

When you go to look at a puppy, you should be allowed entrance into the home. Do not expect to purchase a puppy from the front yard, from the driveway or the parking lot of a store. You should be extremely suspect if any of these scenarios present themselves at the time you intend to purchase a puppy. Most reputable breeders may need a little notice to do a little surface cleaning. Many of us have full time jobs in addition to our dogs and our homes are not always spic and span nor are they advertisements for House Beautiful. However, it should be reasonably clean and the dogs should be happy to see you and expect attention.

However, when you go to visit, you should be ushered in to the home of the breeder. The breeder should be pleased to show you, in fact eager to show you, ALL of their dogs. They’re usually quite proud of their dogs. In many cases they will be able to show you other relatives of the puppy you might be purchasing or they might have pictures of the relatives of the puppy you might be interested in. If the breeder brings in a basket or a container of some sort of puppies from different litters, you should ask how the breeder is identifying the different puppies. Puppies tend to look alike. If you have 6 black and tan smooth female dachshunds that came out of 3 different mothers, you should ask how the breeder has identified the puppies so the breeder knows that that puppy did indeed come from that particular mother.

You need to be extremely leery of any story that does not allow you to see as a MINIMUM the mother of the puppies. It is possible that the father of the puppies may not be on the premises as the mother of the puppies may have been shipped to another state or the breeder may not own the father of the puppies. But in all probability the breeder will at least have a picture of the father of the puppies. In reality, you should have been allowed to see every single dog that the breeder has on the premises. The “building” behind the house or the kennel runs behind the house should NOT be off limits to your visit. You have the right to see all the dogs the breeder owns.

Before you leave with your new puppy you should receive several things from the breeder. One of the things the breeder will want to be sure you have is access… a way to reach the breeder should you have any problems. A reputable breeder will always be there to help you with that dog. They probably will provide you with a packet of information, a small amount of whatever food the puppy has been eating in order to avoid any stomach upset from switching to a new food. Additionally the breeder will have supplied you with either the AKC blue slip and/or a bill of sale. A bill of sale in order to be considered a legal document must state the date, the registered name of the sire and dam, their AKC registrations #’s, the date the puppy was whelped, the sex and color of the puppy and if possible the AKC litter registration # or the bill of sale should state ‘AKC litter registration applied for’. Additionally a reputable breeder will have stipulations in that contract which state that the dog may NOT be used for breeding, MUST be sterilized and that if you are, at any point in the dog’s life, unable to care for it that the dog MUST be returned to the breeder and may not be sold or given away to anyone else.

How To Find A Reputable Breeder

 

How do I determine if I’ve found a reputable breeder or not?

 

It’s really very simple. If you are being asked a multitude of questions about your life, how you intend to care for the dog, and your entire life history, if you are beginning to feel as if you are having to qualify for a child, then you have found a reputable breeder. If the breeder is not asking you any questions, you need to be very suspicious of their motives. If the breeder is trying to impress you with how wonderful they are and how long they’ve been in the area and how many years they have been raising dachshunds and how many hundreds of litters they’ve raised you need to be very suspicious of their motives.

We are rescuing a tremendous number of dachshunds on an annual basis. Additionally in a year’s time we have approximately 150-200 dachshund owners that contact us about giving up their dachshunds. You need to realize when you purchase a dachshund puppy you are making a 16-17 year investment. An investment of time, money and emotion. Please do not obtain a dachshund puppy if you do not have sufficient time to devote to it. If you work a 10-12 hour day, come home to change clothes and then run out for other events, please do not purchase a dachshund puppy because you do not have time to adequately care for it.

We understand that you may want the companionship of a dog in your life but it is not fair to the dog to expect it to be alone for that amount of time. It will be impossible for you to train the dog if you are home that little and soon you will be frustrated with the chewing, the destructive nature and the lack of housebreaking that is occurring because you simply do not have time to devote to your new family member. It’s not fair to the dog and we really do not want to have to rescue another dachshund if we can prevent that from happening.

Now that you know how to look for a reputable breeder, please let us know what size and coat variety of Dachshund puppy you are looking for. Be advised that we have very few names to recommend to you and in all probability you will have to wait some time to obtain a dog from a reputable breeder. We will contact you with the names and numbers of people we feel will deal with you honestly and fairly. We will only give you the names and numbers we would feel comfortable sending our own mothers to.

Giving A Dachshund Puppy As A Gift

 

I’d like to give a Dachshund puppy as a gift (Birthday, Christmas, etc) to someone.

 

We do not under any circumstances recommend that you obtain a Dachshund as a gift for someone as a surprise. We can not begin to count the number of times that someone ASSURED us that the recipient DID indeed want a Dachshund puppy, only to discover AFTER the dog was obtained that it was not wanted……..or a different color or sex was wanted. Choosing a dog should be as personal as selecting your own underwear! Additionally, no reputable breeder (nor rescue organization) would agree to this type of situation because they would want to personally interview the person who is going to be the caretaker of the dog to ascertain whether or not it is an appropriate home. It would be perfectly permissible to obtain a Dachshund as a gift for a friend or relative as long as it was not a surprise and the recipient was allowed to select their own dog.

Before You Buy A Dog

 

ASK THE SELLER THESE IMPORTANT QUESTIONS

1. How long have you been involved with this breed? Are you familiar with it’s physical and behavioral traits? Can you tell me about the history of the breed?2. Do you belong to a breed club? Obedience club? Field trial or tracking organization? Do you participate in breed rescue or support their efforts?3. Can you tell me one negative aspect of this breed, even if it is relatively insignificant? Did you take this into consideration when you bred your dog?4. What is your policy toward a dog of your breeding which may someday need to be “returned”?

 

5. What inoculations do you routinely give your puppies and at what age are puppies released to their new owners? If indicated by breed history, do you x-ray hips, test for congenital deafness, ect.?

 

6. On a scale of 1 to 10, how would you rate your breed as an all-around “family” dog? Would you describe them as generally outgoing or somewhat reserved?

 

7. Do you provide any guarantee regarding the general health of the dogs you breed? What is the average life expectancy of this breed?

 

8. Do you provide any incentives to buyers for spaying/neutering this dog? Do you withhold AKC/UKC registration on pet puppies until proof of the spay/neuter is provided?

 

9. Could you refer us to someone who has bought a dog from you? Is the sire of this dog in the area, if you do not own him…and, if so, could you arrange for us to see him?

 

10. What are you hoping to accomplish in your breeding program? Why did you breed this particular litter? Will you be willing to offer advice and help in raising this dog if we have any questions or are uncertain about specific training methods?

 

ASK BEFORE YOU BUY

Ye Olde Pet Shoppe

 

by Shannon McClure
Addie’s Safehouse IG Rescue

 

We love our puppy customers -
They’re our #1 bread and butter,
Especially right now at Christmas time
With their MasterCards all a-flutter.

Oh sure, they’ve heard about puppymills -
They don’t live in a cave.
The tree-huggers dreamed THAT whole thing up.
They’re really quite depraved!

All OUR pups came from “Local Breeders”.
These signs around TELL you so;
We paint em up and hang em high
Cause we want you to know!

We don’t put a price on honesty,
But this pup will cost eight hundred dollars.
You don’t think that we make the big bucks
Selling fish food and martingale collars !

But back to our Christmas Greeting
And why we wish you all Good Cheer;
You see, you are $pecial folks to us
At this festive time of year.

We love you because you’re lazy,
Though very well-connected.
You just won’t take the time to find
A breeder who’s respected.

You so rarely do your homework.
(Santa, send us MORE trusting fellas
With no time to learn about Legg Perthes
Or Luxating Patellas !)

Zoonotic’s not a word you learned
Playing Scrabble or at school ?
Color Mutant Alopecia ? Duh !
We LOVE it, man, you’re COOL !!!

Cryptorchids must be flowers from Hawaii you say ?
We will sure not tell you better.
And you don’t need to know Brucellosis, my friend,
Unless, of course, you get er !!!

You think that CERF-ing’s what cool dudes do
Somewhere out in California ?
And OFA’s just another old workplace law ?
We’re sure not going to warn you !

But should we stumble upon someone
Who IS savvy in any way,
We’ll just start extolling the wonderful work
Of the grand ole USDA !!!

We love you cause you just don’t care -
You buy it because you want it.
You can lay your cash on OUR counter, ma’am,
If you’ve got it, you OUGHT to flaunt it !!!

We love the things you DON’T ask !!!
It makes our job so easy.
If you saw the sights behind the scene
You’d probably get quite queasy.

You’ll never see the breeding dogs
Who suffer on the wire,
Or pups die of hyper-thermia
When their truck gets a flat tire.

We’ll keep you from our back room, too,
And put a padlock on the freezer.
Those tiny puppies stiff and cold
Would not be a crowd pleaser.

We hope you have a vet you like -
That pup’s probably gonna need him.
Ivomec wears off in thirty days -
That’s how long we’ve guaranteed him !!!

Who cares when you get that blue slip home
And find out that it wasn’t true.
Your Local Breeder’s way out in Kansas ?
HO! HO! HO! That joke’s on you !!!

So come and see us, one and all -
Join in our Christmas Cheer !
We’ve strung the tinsel all around.
If we could, we’d serve you beer !

We’ve got the carols playing
And a Santa, for good reason;
We’re all scrubbed up and lookin good
So you’ll make our Christmas season.

As you walk away with your new pup
We’ll shed a happy Christmas tear.
Don’t change ONE THING about yourself-
Just DO come back next year !!!

(ching, ching)

Pet Store Puppy

 

I’m a little puppy,
so cuddly, sweet and small
I live inside a cage, you see
in a Pet Store at the mall.I’m not an only puppy,
my sisters are all here.
My brothers, too, except for Ralph
who died coz he was scared.

It’s lonely here at nighttime
when all the lights go dark,
We tremble in our cages
and we whimper whine and bark.

But no one comes to hold us
or pet our fears away
We sit all night in terror
til the store opens next day.

We don’t remember mama,
left so far behind
She did the best she could for us
til Man said “It is time.”

He crammed us all in cages
too small for us you see
We rode for hours and hours;
laying in poop and pee

And now we sit in the Pet Store
where kids come taunt and squeeze
They do not hear our whimpers
or understand our pleas

We’re miserable and it’s scary here
and we all would rather die
But since we don’t
we do our best to run away and hide

I know you think my story
is too sad to leave me be
You want to take me home with you,
a happy little puppy.But please, though it is fearful
to live here against our will
If you want to take me
ther’ll be another spot to fill.

You can stop our suffering
but not by taking us home
You must be strong and leave us here,
unsold and all alone

For if you do not take me,
then another pup won’t come
And maybe he will not be shipped
so far away from home

Tho some of us may not
survive the cycle ‘ere it falls
If we’re not sold
they’ll not need more puppies in these halls

And if they need no puppies
then the Man will not bring more
Eventually it all can stop!
You CAN close the door.

So when you see a puppy face
so sad and sweet and small
in a cage at the Pet Store
in your neighborhood mall

The best thing you can do for him
is leave him sitting there
That is the best way to tell ALL dogs
How much you really care.

Christmas Puppy?

 

It seemed like such a good idea in the beginning. There I was, in my cage at the pet store with my brother and sister. I could tell by the crowds in the store everyday that Christmas was drawing near. My brother, sister, and I all hoped each morning that today would be the day we would go to a new home, one filled with loving, caring people.
First it was the Beagle in the cage next to us. I saw the excited gleam in his eye as his new family prepared to take him home. I hoped one day that I would feel the same excitement.

Then the cute little bunny from one aisle over was picked. When the ferret with the bad case of psoriasis found a new home, I began to think I would stay a pet store puppy forever! Finally, it happened.

I had seen the couple in the store the week before, talking about bringing home a Christmas puppy for their son Billy. You see, Billy was eight years old, and had been pestering his folks for a puppy for some time now. Although they were busy people, they had decided that a new puppy would make the ideal Christmas present for Billy.

The car ride home was exhilarating and terrifying at the same time. It seemed so cold outside, and I was very glad that Billy would keep me inside. I stayed at Billy’s aunt’s house until the night before Christmas, so as not to ruin the surprise. That night, Billy’s dad put me in a small, dark box with a couple of holes punched in the side for air. I could see through the holes the pretty green bow they had tied around my box. Finally, it came time fo Billy to open his presents.

There was a GI Joe figure, some new slippers, and a big truck or two. At last, I felt my box being picked up and heard Billy’s mom say, “OK, Billy, one more present. We saved the best for last”. I felt like I was going to turn inside out with anticipation, when suddenly the box was flooded with light and there was my new boy, Billy. He shrieked so loud when he saw me that it was a little bit scary! “A puppy, a puppy!”

The first few days with Billy were puppy heaven! He was out of school you see, and had lots of time to take care of me. We played all day, and I slept in his bed at night. Things just couldn’t have been better.

After a week or so, Billy’s mom took me to my new doctor. By then, Billy’s holiday vacation was over and he was back in school. The doctor told Mom all about how to keep me healthy and happy. Mom did seem a little distracted though, especially when the nurse from school called on her cell phone to say that Billy had a bloody nose.

I didn’t even mind the shot I had to get, because like the doctor told me it was better than getting sick! As Mom and I left, the doctor reminded us that I needed more than just one shot to be protected, and I should come back in a month for another check-up. I never saw the doctor again.

As time went by, I really started to grow! I suppose that I wasn’t quite as cute as before, because Billy and I didn’t spend as much time together. He seemed to have a lot of things to do beside take me for walks and fill my food bowl.

Billy and his friends sat in front of a strange box filled with moving pictures every afternoon, playing some game I suppose. Heck, I couldn’t even pronounce Nintendo, much less play those kind of games. I started to get confused about what my real name was.

At first, everyone called me Petey, which I thought was a great name. A funny thing started to happen when I got to be about six months old. Mom and Dad stopped calling me Petey, and started calling me “the dog”. I guess that was OK, I am a dog after all. A few weeks later though, they changed my name again. Now I was “that damn dog”. I wasn’t sure, but I didn’t think that was such a nice name.

Since my family didn’t have much time for me anymore, I had to think of things to do on my own. I liked to chew, and so I did! Remember that GI Joe Billy got for Christmas? Well somehow I managed to chew off his left leg, which Billy seemed mad about. After a couple more incidents like that, Billy’s dad decided I should live outside.

Well, spring had come, and the weather was nice so I figured, why not? I thought they would build me one of those nice doghouses like I had seen in the pet store. Maybe it would have carpeting and a soft blanket to sleep on. Well, they must have forgotten to build it, because I spent most of the time tied to a tree in the yard.

That was OK for awhile, but I began to get pretty bored. I found some nice soft dirt to dig in, but that made Mom mad. Something about flower bulbs and grass seed that I really didn’t understand. There was a dog next door tied to a tree in his yard, so we spent most of the day talking. For some reason, that made Dad mad too! I just couldn’t seem to do anything right. Finally, one day I heard Dad say to Mom, “I don’t care how you do it, just get rid of that damn dog!”

I figured Billy would convince them I should stay, but he didn’t much care one way or the other. Mom came outside and unhooked me from the chain. She put an old belt of Dad’s through my collar and we went out to the car. At first I thought it was time to go to the doctor’s for a checkup. Once we drove off though, we headed in the opposite direction. I could hear all the dogs talking inside the building as soon as we turned into the driveway. Mom and I went inside, and she handed the belt to the lady at the counter. Then she patted my head, and walked away, without me. The lady at the desk took me in the back and put me in a cage like the one I had in the pet store, only colder and dirtier. The room was filled with dogs, I even saw that cute Beagle I had known at the pet store.

That was five days ago. I guess that I must have a new home now, because a man came by this morning and put a red sticker on my cage door. Here comes the lady who feeds me, and she is carrying a thing to give shots with, just like my doctor did. As she walks me into another room, I see some of the friends I have made in this new place. Funny, they all seem to be asleep on the floor.

Oh well, the lady just told me not to worry, everything would be all right. She seems sad though, and I don’t really understand why. Maybe being a Christmas puppy wasn’t so great after all.

Difficulty of a Christmas Puppy

 

No Christmas Puppies, Please!

Copyright © 1993, Ruth Ginzberg

…in loving honor of my own dogs…
The following applies to both puppies and kittens:

 

To many people, a puppy is the perfect symbol of the true spirit of Christmas. A puppy represents wonderment, innocence, exuberant energy, unconditional love, hope for the future. These are the sorts of gifts that many of us wish we were able to give one another. And that is a good thing. In an increasingly violent, horrifying, mind-numbing and impersonal world, Christmas time reminds many that there are more important values, that there is hope and love, that joy comes from giving of oneself more than it does from taking. To many people, these values bring to mind the loyal, loving, uncorrupted, hauntingly simple innocence of a puppy.

Indeed, many advertisers and artists have noticed this connection. Images of cozy family Christmas mornings often include scenes of floppy-eared puppies peering innocently out of a colorful gift box, their eyes wide with wonderment and awe. As the scene continues, the puppy stumbles preciously over mounds of gift wrappings, to the great amusement of delighted children who rush to hug the youngster and receive big wet puppy-slurps in return. Mom and Dad smile knowingly in the background as the true meaning of life is celebrated before their eyes. What could possibly be wrong with this picture?

Nothing. As art, as fiction, or as advertisement, it captures a lot of the symbolic spirit of the Christmas celebration perfectly. The appeal of this scene is like that of Norman Rockwell’s paintings. As advertisement, it works. It sells products, even those totally unrelated to dogs or to Christmas. As fiction it warms people’s hearts. What’s wrong, though, is what happens when real people try to re-enact this warm loving scene in their own homes with a real, living puppy playing the role of a prop in this mythic family life-drama.

I am not against dog ownership. I have two dogs myself, and I think the world would be a lot better place if more people had meaningful relationships with dogs. My concern here is with the future of those living beings, those adorable puppies with child-like eyes who show up as gifts on Christmas morning. While images like the one I described may look irresistibly appealing in pictures, art, advertising or fiction, the future for those real-life puppies who start out under the Christmas tree, in all probability, will turn out to be fairly grim. Groups as diverse as, and often at odds with one another as, the Humane Society of the United States, canine behavior experts, the American Kennel Club, PETA, Animal Rights Activists, breed rescue groups, veterinarians, obedience training instructors, and most reputable breeders of sound, healthy dogs, are in strong agreement that live puppies should not be given as Christmas gifts. Here are some of the reasons:

THE ATMOSPHERE OF CHRISTMAS MORNING FRIGHTENS THE PUPPY.

People who study canine development and behavior have found that puppies, like children, go through developmental stages. The first fear/avoidance period in a puppy’s development occurs roughly between 7-12 weeks of age. However this is also when the puppy is developmentally best capable of leaving its litter and beginning to form bonds of attachment with its new family. Most breeders agree that this is the right time to send a young puppy home with its adoptive family. However, it is also extremely important not to over-stress or unduly frighten the puppy during this vulnerable time. Fears learned during this first fear/avoidance period can be very, very difficult to overcome later, even with the very best training or behavior modification techniques. In other words, traumatic experiences at this point can have a permanent impact on your puppy’s personality as an adult dog.

Your puppy’s experiences of leaving its mother and litter-mates, and its arrival in its new home and introduction to its new family, can permanently affect its ability to bond with and trust humans. The puppy needs to be introduced to its new home and family during a relaxed and quiet, gentle time, with a minimum of loud noises, flashing lights, and screeching children, ringing phones, visiting company, and other types of general hub-bub. Christmas morning is absolutely the worst time, in terms of the puppy’s developmental needs, for introducing this newly-weaned youngster to its new family.

THE TIMING TEACHES CHILDREN THE WRONG VALUES.

Many families who value pet ownership do so at least partly because of what children can learn from the family pets in terms of care and responsibility, love and loyalty, and respect for other living beings. But think of what happens to the rest of the toys and gifts that start out under the Christmas tree. By Valentine’s Day, most of them have been shelved or broken or traded or forgotten. The excitement inevitably wears off, and the once compelling toy becomes something to use, use up, and then discard in favor of something newer.

A living puppy should not be thought of in the same category as a Christmas toy. Children need to learn that a living puppy is being adopted into the family – as a living family member who will contribute much, but who will also have needs of its own, which the rest of the family is making a commitment to try to meet. A puppy who makes its first appearance as a gift item under the Christmas tree is more likely to be thought of by children as an object, as a thing-like toy rather than as a family member. This will not teach one of the most valuable lessons there is to learn from a puppy, which is respect for living beings and concern for others in the form of attention to their needs.

A GOOD BREEDER WILL NOT SEND A PUPPY HOME ON CHRISTMAS MORNING.

Responsible breeders – those who guarantee the health and temperament of their puppies, and who are abreast of current knowledge about canine health, genetics, socialization and development – already know these things and will not send a puppy home with its new owner on Christmas morning. If you were to be able to obtain a puppy from someone who actually let you have it on Christmas Eve so that it could appear under the tree on Christmas morning, that should tell you something. It should warn you that you would be getting your puppy from someone who does not know enough about canine behavior and development to be in the business of breeding or selling puppies.

You would be much better off acquiring your newest family addition from a breeder who knows enough about dogs, and who cares enough about the particular puppies that he breeds and places, to insist that you take the puppy home under conditions which would be best for the puppy. If your breeder does not insist on this, you are purchasing a puppy from a breeder who does not know or care enough about his “product,” to be in that business, and you should acquire your pup from someone else instead.

THE PUPPY GROWS UP AND HAS NEEDS.

Many people have a somewhat romantic view of what dog- ownership is like. This romanticism can become exaggerated by the warmth and loving kindness associated with the Christmas season. People who have not had dogs before, or who have not had dogs since they were themselves children, or who have recently had a dog but one who was a canine senior citizen trained and socialized to the family’s ways long ago, often are completely unaware of how much work it is to raise a puppy from infancy into a good adult canine companion. They may have mental images of happy times romping with the dog on the beach, or curling up in front of the fireplace, of playing Frisbee in the park or of hunting with a loyal companion. All these are things they might well eventually enjoy with their canine companions. But they may have temporarily forgotten, or perhaps not ever really have known, how incredibly much work it takes to raise and socialize a dog from puppyhood to that point of mature canine companionship.

Unlike cats, who generally do not need extensive training and socialization, dogs require a huge commitment from at least one person who is prepared to teach the dog what behaviors are expected of him, under a wide variety of circumstances. Adults may believe that they remember a Faithful Fido from their youth who seemed never to need training; Faithful Fido always seemed to “just know” what was expected of him. But those adults were children at the time, and they did not necessarily see all the work that their parents and others put into training and socializing Fido.

Professionals who deal with dogs regularly, call this common fantasy the “Lassie Syndrome.” That is, everyone hopes for that imaginary dog who has E.S.P. and who automatically knows how to behave in human company without needing any training. In other words, they want a dog like “Lassie.” But “Lassie” was a fictional character. “Lassie” actually was owned and trained by Rudd Weatherwax, one of the most hardworking and successful professional trainers of dogs in the history of US television and film. Rudd Weatherwax spent his entire lifetime training “Lassie” to do those things which looked spontaneous in the fictional story lines. No real, non-fictional dog is actually like that.

Real dogs not only must be housetrained – most owners are aware of that need; they also must be taught not to chew the furniture, taught not to jump on their owners, taught not to play-bite, taught not to bowl over the toddler, taught not to dig holes in the yard, taught to come when they are called, taught not to eat the homework or the woodwork, taught not to swipe food off the table, taught not to growl at strangers or bark at the mail carrier, taught to walk on a leash without dragging their owner down the block, taught to allow their toenails to be cut and their coats to be groomed without biting the groomer, taught not to shred feather pillows and down comforters, taught not to steal the baby’s toys, taught not to growl at their owner’s mother-in-law, taught to sit, stay, and to lay down when and where the owner tells them to, and to wait there until the owner says they may get up (absolutely essential commands for the dog’s own safety), taught not to escape out the front door or out of the yard or out of the car when the owner looks away for just a second … all of these things and many more are not “natural” canine behaviors; they must be taught by owners who are willing to spend the time and the effort doing so.

The reason I mention this is because lack of owner knowledge about the amount of work required to socialize, raise, and train a puppy, is one of the main factors contributing to a huge national problem: the problem of adolescent and young adult dogs being “given up” by owners within the first year or so of having acquired the animal. Untrained, unsocialized puppies might be “cute” and “natural” but they are tolerable only for a few weeks, if even that. Then they start to be nuisances. Then they start to be major problems. Sooner or later they become downright dangerous to themselves or to their families and neighbors.

It is often between the ages of 7-14 months that the dog (sadly, reluctantly) is brought to the pound or to the vet for euthanasia by a frustrated owner as an “uncontrollable” dog, or as a dog with “behavior problems.” Or perhaps it is taken to a shelter in the faint hope that it will be adopted by someone else. (Chances are almost certain that it won’t; nobody else wants an untrained, unsocialized dog’s behavior problems either.) By that age the untrained dog is a full-grown and unruly adolescent. It might have bitten a family member, or threatened a neighbor’s child, necessitating the involvement of a town animal control officer. Or the dog may have run away and been hit by a car. Or it may be adopted into a series of homes, one after another, none of which can adequately control it, until it finally winds up on death row at the pound.

These tragic dogs, those wonderful canines known to generations as “Man’s Best Friend,” never had a chance. According to statistics kept by the Humane Society of the United States, the majority of puppies and kittens born in the United States never reach their second birthdays, even though their natural lifespans should be many times that length. They die from being hit by cars, euthanized by owners, starving or being fatally injured in fights with other animals – including wild animals, some rabid in many areas – after having run away from their owners, or being taken to shelters, pounds or vets, where they are “put to sleep,” usually before the age of two. In other words, many, many canine deaths are squarely the responsibility of owners who did not understand what it would involve properly to train and socialize their puppy, or who did understand, but did not do the necessary work.

IT’S THE RIGHT THING TO DO.

“Christmas puppies” often are impulse purchases, in a spirit of love and giving and generosity that goes with the season, but without the hard self-assessment that goes into asking oneself if one has the time and the energy and the inclination to give the necessary commitment to raising and socializing and educating that puppy. Better to get that new puppy at a less emotionally charged time of the year, when the decision to add a dog to the family is a less impulsive and more carefully considered one, uninfluenced by seasonal generosity of spirit, which might just fade a bit after the tree comes down and the lights are put away.

If you are absolutely set upon getting your family a puppy for
Christmas, consider this alternative instead: Purchase a leash, a collar, a good book on raising a puppy, a gift certificate for a veterinary checkup, a gift certificate for puppy socialization classes from one of the local obedience instructors, a book or video tape on the topic of how to select the right dog for your family (there are several, including even a computer program that purports to help you do this), or a gift subscription to one of the dog-oriented magazines.

Wrap these up and put them under the tree. As family members unwrap the various pieces of the “puzzle”, their delight and anticipation will grow. They will gradually understand what this present is! Then, after the Christmas tree is taken down and the frenzy of the holiday season is behind, the family can once again enjoy together the anticipation and excitement of discussing and selecting a breed, selecting a breeder, selecting an individual pup, and so on. This will increase the family’s mutual commitment to, and investment in, the well-being of the newest family member. It will be a project the family has done together, which is a wonderful way for any adoption to commence. This will not decrease the enjoyment of your new puppy; I guarantee it. It will increase it by many fold. And it will be a better start both for the puppy, and for the long-term relationship between dog and owner(s). A dog with a good introduction to its adoptive family is much more likely to become a long term companion rather than just another tragic statistic.

bottom of page