You made a decision to get a puppy and did your research to find the perfect breed, the one that matches your family temperament, energy level, and personality. But how do you find the best breeder to get a healthy, well-adjusted puppy?
Breeders advertise in a variety of ways, including newspaper and Internet ads and websites. These are good places to start, but they can also be places where you can run into trouble if you don't do your research. You can also go to the breed website(s) or look on American Kennel Club website. The AKC lists breeders for breed clubs and can put you in touch with breeds across the country. Suggestions such as visiting the kennel, even unannounced, to inspect their facilities may be helpful. Responsible breeders are very proud of their kennel and their dogs. The kennels should be a clean, well-run home or facility. Ask for references and be sure to check them out. Talk to your veterinarian, they may have a list of reliable local breeders.
It is a good idea to meet the parents of your future puppy. It may give you an idea of the size and temperament of the blood line your pup comes from. You could also ask the breeder about any health problems the parents may have had, such as allergies, heart murmurs, seizures, and dysplasias. Many of these conditions are heritable and you should be aware of for the future of your chosen pup.
The ideal time to bring a new pup home is between 8-12 weeks, especially true for small and toy breeds. You should be sure the breeder has started the puppy on its vaccinations, has been de-wormed and veterinary checked. You might ask the breeder if they honor any guarantees for heritable conditions such as hip dysplasia or patella luxations. Sometimes many heritable conditions do not show up until the puppy is older. Many reputable breeders guarantee their pups from certain breed specific conditions until they are a year old.
While you are visiting the kennel, you should ask about the socialization of their puppies. Do they get handled a lot? Do they get play time with other puppies? Have they been introduced to any of the sights and sounds that may be in your household? Puppies that do not get positive exposure to a variety of environmental conditions (true too when you take the puppy home) and grown up to have many anxiety and behavioral issues.
Be sure to take your time when choosing which puppy you want. I suggest sitting on the floor with the puppies. Look at the entire litter. Are they bright eyed? Curious? Do they run right up to you? You do not see any nasal discharges or runny eyes? If you see them poop, is it firm and normal in color? You do not want a lethargic, uninterested puppy. Ask the breeder about the puppies. They should know which ones are bold and outgoing and which are the shy ones. The bold, outgoing puppy will do much better with that active family with three kids versus the shy pup, which might be better in with a single owner who can spend more time with it so that it will not feel overwhelmed.
The important thing to keep in mind is to do your RESEARCH! You make think a Jack Russell Terrier is a cute dog that you would like to have, but finding out that they are a breed that requires lots of exercise and attention after they have terrorized your household cat and children, may leave you with a unpleasant decision of what to do with the dog. If you live in an apartment, a Great Dane may not be a very good choice, etc.
We also suggest that before you make a final decision on adopting a purebred dog, check with your local shelter. Many dogs/puppies end up in shelters and need a good and loving home. Work with your shelter to place these unfortunate souls.