© Puppy Buyer's Guide:
1. Responsible breeders do NOT sell puppies thru a pet store! Purchasing a puppy via a pet store is like playing Russian Roullette. You may get lucky (and your puppy will be healthy) or you may not. You are also promoting poor breeding practices and when you bring your puppy home, you only open up room for yet another irresponsibly bred puppy to take its place. Responsible breeders don't care who has the most cash... they want to know that their puppy is going to a loving home, and where their puppy is going to live. NEVER buy a puppy from a pet store!!
2. Attend a dog show. You can find upcoming dog shows in your area by going to InfoDog.com. Generally, about a week before the event, they will list the exact time and the ring that Boston's (or the breed you are searching for) will be there. Go to the show and talk to some of the breeders. But please be courteous, and don't interrupt them as they're going into the ring. Most of them will love to talk to you about their wonderful breed, and many have or know of other good breeders who may have puppies available. Keep in mind, that just because a breeder shows their dogs, does not mean that they only have show dogs to sell. Additionally, just because a breeder shows their dogs, does NOT automatically make them reputable.
3. If the breeder will only meet you in a store parking lot, you should wonder what they are trying to hide. You should ALWAYS be able to see the living conditions of both the puppies and the parents. The puppies and the mother (and their living/sleeping quarters) should be clean and dry, and they should appear completely healthy. Keep in mind that the mothers do look somewhat lean at this time as she's nursing the puppies, but their coat should be shiny, and their eyes bright and attentive. The puppies should appear healthy, be clean, playful, and well socialized. They should also LOOK like the breed they are!
4. The internet is a wonderful tool, though a deceiving one. Most responsible breeders do not need to advertise their puppies on an internet classified, nor do any that I'm aware of offer a "point and click" purchase of a puppy (and absolutely NONE accept credit cards OR PayPal!) Buying a puppy sight unseen (or just from photographs) is dangerous. What you see is not always what you get. If you cannot physically visit the breeder's home yourself, I highly recommend you locate a friend living in the vicinity to do it for you. Be sure that the friend you choose is aware of the proper questions to ask and what to look for while they are at the breeders home.
5. Is the breeder USDA licensed? If they are, that is a red flag to you that this breeder is a puppymill. Class A licensing is required by USDA for any breeder who sells puppies to a broker or pet shop. Puppymills and BYB's do NOT check for genetic problems, nor do they care. They only want your $$. Puppymills will generally breed a bitch her very first season, and she will unfortunately wind up living in a 3x3 cage her whole life being bred every single heat after that until she is either dead or doesn't produce anymore litters. Check out the puppymill link on my home page for more details on them.
6. Has the breeder sold puppies to pet stores? Have they sold/given any puppies to another person to sell the puppies for them? Neither of these scenario's are acceptable. A responsible breeder wants to KNOW where their puppies are going, who they've been sold to, and who is going to raise them to adulthood. A responsible breeder wants to check out your references too. A responsible breeder doesn't care if you have the most money and are first in line, but they DO want to know that you are a responsible person.
7. You should be able to see both parents (at the very least, a picture...as some breeders do use outside males). Frequently, the puppies turn out very similar to the parents in size, temperament, and looks. Is that what you want?
8. Check out the pedigree. Any reputable breeder has a pedigree on their dogs, at the minimum a 3 generation pedigree. Look for inbreeding. That is when a brother/sister or father/daughter, mother/son have been bred together. Done correctly, this type of breeding can produce some outstanding dogs, but for the average backyard breeder who has no concept of lineage, or the role that genetics will play is taking quite a risk and can create some seriously ill puppies. Also, just because a puppy has some Champions in his background does NOT mean the breeder is reputable, nor that the puppy is healthy. There is quite a difference between Champion Sired and Champion bloodlines. Pretty much any puppy will have a Champion in there bloodline if you go back enough generations, but even Champion Sired is not a guarantee of quality or health. Don't let a title fool you into thinking it means the puppies are automatically healthy
9. Beware of breeders that advertise their puppies as registered with a dog registry other than AKC (American Kennel Club), CKC (Canadian Kennel Club), or UKC (United Kennel Club). Frequently they will advertise pups as CKC (Continental Kennel Club), and the unknowing buyer thinks they are getting a purebred dog. Chances are, you are not, but are paying a registered price. Almost any dog can be registered with the CKC (Continental Kennel Club), and there are numerous other registries popping up every day. AKC (American Kennel Club), CKC (Canadian Kennel Club), and UKC (United Kennel Club) require strict breeding records be kept, and while their system is not infallible (an unethical breeder can always find ways around a system), it works fairly well, and you can be rather certain that your puppy is purebred if not well bred.
10. You should also beware of breeders advertising their dogs as Champions, when they are in fact not. There are a few other registries that offer a Champion title for pets, and though a multiple Champion titleholder is nice, and can show that the dog is an all around Champion, if there is not an AKC title somewhere in the mix, chances are they're feeding you a line.
11. A preponderance of white on the head and/or body (in Boston Terrier's) and/or blue eyes is NOT a RARE Boston. Neither is a red, brown, fawn, blue, gray, lilac, etc. RARE. Studies have shown that the same gene that causes deafness, is also associated with the excessive white and/or blue eyes, and the "off" colors are not an acceptable color per the breed standard. They can still be registered with AKC, but because of the risk in producing these health/non-standard problems, they should NOT be bred. While these "off" colors do still make wonderful pets, and even a good breeder will have them show up occasionally in a litter, a breeder trying to sell you a Boston as RARE because of their color, markings, or eye color is NOT a breeder to be trusted! They simply want you to believe that their puppy is worth the exorbitant price they are asking for it.
12. There is no such thing as "show markings" on a Boston. Don't fall for a breeder who advertises their dogs as show quality because of the markings. A Boston's markings are merely icing on the cake. If the dog is not structurally sound to begin with, no amount of markings are going to make him show-worthy. If you are looking for a Boston to show in conformation events, chances are you will not find it among a litter bred by breeder who does not show their dogs. You would be far better off locating a breeder who does show their dogs, and purchase a show quality puppy from them. If your interest is genuine, this same breeder will very likely become a willing mentor to teach you the in's and out's of the show ring, and assist you and your Boston in your quest to fame.
13. If you checked the BTCA link above regarding the standard, you will have found that a Boston does have a short muzzle. A breeder who advertises that their Boston's have longer noses so they don't have breathing problems is not being truthful. This is generally their way of justifying the breeding of their pet. Having a longer nose does NOT reduce breathing problems. Boston's are a Brachycephalic (short nose) breed, and hence they do snort and snore a lot. Stenotic nares and/or an elongated soft palate can be found in any breed, including Golden Retriever's. But a good breeder who is breeding to the standard does NOT produce a long nose Boston, nor do their short nose Boston's have breathing problems.
14. A breeder's occupation is not an indicator of good breeding practices. Just because a breeder is a nurse, doctor, veterinary technician, or even a veterinarian for that matter, does NOT necessarily make them a good breeder. A good breeder not only certifies their breeding dogs are healthy with the proper genetic tests, they also breed to the standard. Their occupation has nothing to do with it.
15. Is this breeder willing to sell you a puppy on full registration? Why are they doing this? A reputable breeder does not sell a pet quality puppy like this. A good breeder calls a puppy pet quality for a reason. There is a flaw (albeit usually just a nominal one) that marks it as non-show quality. This same flaw in all likelihood should also mark it as non-BREEDING quality. If they are selling a pet quality puppy and are willing to let you (or any Tom, Dick, or Harry) breed this puppy at some time in the future, they are willingly contributing to the thousands of homeless dogs that are filling the shelters today. A good breeder will NOT sell a puppy as a "good breeding dog".
16. How long have they been breeding? How many females does the breeder have? How many litters has this breeder had? How often is the female bred? If the female is 3 years old, and has had 6 litters, they are being over-bred (in my opinion!). Generally speaking, most breeders will not allow their bitch to have more than 4 litters. If puppies always seem to be available you can bet it's become a lucrative business and the puppies are just merchandise. If checking the newspaper ads, browse over the other breeds and take note of phone numbers and/or addresses. Are there several repetitions?
17. How old are the dogs they are breeding? Dogs (males) are used for stud up until they are 9 to 10 years old, sometimes even older, but most good breeders will not breed a bitch over 6 years of age. The reverse side of this coin is how young are the breeding dogs. A bitch bred before she is at least a year old is still a puppy herself, and should not be bred, and in my opinion, a male should also be at least that age. Some health certifications are not valid until a dog is at least one year old, and they should not be bred before they have passed all of their certifications.
18. The breeder should also give you a WRITTEN guarantee on the puppy, NOT VERBAL. Any health problems should either be paid for by the breeder, a partial refund of your purchase price be given, or they will exchange the puppy... Preferably YOUR choice, not theirs! (Unfortunately, the choice guarantee is not always an option, but there are some breeders that will give this choice). Each breeder's guarantee is different, so be sure you understand exactly what and how they will warrantee the puppy before you sign any documents. Also, keep in mind that many genetic problems do not appear until the puppy is an adult of 1, 2, or even 3 years old. The guarantee should cover no less than a one year period for genetic defects. The puppy should also have ALL of his/her puppy shots, and been wormed. A health certificate is required by most states prior to selling a puppy, and it is ALWAYS required when shipping a puppy, so don't be fooled into thinking it's a healthy puppy just because it has been given a health certificate. There are unethical veterinarians, just as there are unethical breeders.
19. A good breeder will also have run the proper genetic health tests that are available to ensure the breeding dogs are free from genetic defects, and thereby (hopefully) so are their puppies. A certificate is issued when the dog passes these tests, and the breeder should provide a copy of these certificates to you. The tests that are most common for Boston Terrier's is CERF (eyes), OFA- LP (luxating patella), BAER (hearing), and OFA (hips). Keep in mind that the majority of these tests are only valid for a one year period (BAER testing is once in a lifetime). Just because a female was tested 2 years ago for juvenile cataracts, does not mean she doesn't have them today. Check the date on the annual certificates. They should be no less than a year old. These genetic problems can cost thousands to correct, and unless you have some type of guarantee in writing, YOU pay the vet bill. Granted, these tests are NOT a guarantee that your puppy will never develop these genetic problems, but they DO greatly reduce the risk of them ever showing up.
20. Many breeders will make a sweeping statement regarding their dogs health. Their "vet says the dog is healthy", the "vet says they are wonderful Boston's", their "friend says they could be show dogs". These are all examples of excuses a backyard breeder makes to help justify the breeding of their pets without the proper genetic tests. Ninety nine times out of one hundred, the vet has no clue what a properly bred Boston should look like, nor does their friend. Most of the genetic tests cannot be performed by a regular veterinarian, so he cannot certify that the dogs do not have a genetic problem.
21. "I'm not a breeder" is commonly used by people who have allowed their female to get pregnant. One litter MAKES them a breeder, whether they like it or not. And as a breeder, you should expect everything from them as a first time breeder as you would expect from a breeder who has been breeding for 30+ years! There are NO excuses for irresponsible breeding!!
22. Get references from the breeder. Most reputable breeders will have a list of several people who have purchased puppies from them. Call the references, and ask about the health of their puppy and satisfaction with the breeder.
23. Why is the breeder breeding? Because they want to scatter Fido's good looks and charm around? Did they just want to educate their children? Do they state they only want to provide nice "pets" for their friends and family? Did they never bother to spay or neuter, and an "accident" happened? Or do they truly care about the Boston breed, are trying to better the breed, and are striving to breed for the PERFECT Boston?
24. Find out who the breeder's veterinarian is, and CALL THEM. Most Vet's will be able to tell you yes or no if the parents are generally healthy and if they're brought in for regular care. They also should have seen the puppies at least a couple times, and would know if the puppies are healthy. They are also another ideal contact on "who" has any puppies available.
25. Do you feel comfortable with this breeder, or are you kept at arms length? Do you feel they are answering your questions honestly? Could you consider this person a friend you can call with a really DUMB question? We all have dumb questions now and then. Can you call them after the sale and expect answers to your questions? Is each litter special in some way? Will they help in training and grooming if you need it? Will they show you how to clip nails, brush out the coat properly, or make a correction to an uppity puppy if you need that kind of help? Are they willing to take the puppy back if at any time you are unable to keep it?
26. I have noticed a recent trend towards some breeder's releasing puppies to new homes before they are 8 weeks old. Some even at 5 weeks. This is a VERY important period for puppies. Puppies of that age are still learning to eat solid food, and are learning socialization from their mother and littermates. Many good breeders won't release puppies to new homes until they are at least 10 weeks, and quite often even longer. Use caution, as frequently, their desire for you to take the puppy earlier than 8 weeks is an indication that they are a puppymill, or at the very least a poor and uncaring breeder. They either need the room for the next batch of unfortunate puppies, or all too frequently they are just tired of the mess and smell. A good breeder does not EVER tire of having puppies around their house! I would really question a breeder who requires you to take a puppy prior to 8 weeks old. More and more states are initiating laws making it illegal to release a puppy prior to that age, and some are even making it illegal to purchase one that young. Check the laws in your state before removing a young puppy from its mother.
27. Most reputable breeders will only sell a pet quality dog on a spay/neuter contract and/or a limited registration. A spay/neuter contract requires you to have the dog spayed/neutered by a certain date. Occasionally the breeder will ask for an additional fee that is refunded to you on proof of the spay/neuter. A limited registration means that the dog could potentially be bred, but any resulting litter is ineligible for AKC registration. Because of the increase in sub-standard registries, and the fact that the majority of them will register a dog whether it's purebred or not, the extra fee spay/neuter contract is becoming more popular than the limited registration. There are even some breeders that are requiring both the extra fee PLUS the limited registration simply to help ensure that their dogs are not bred indiscriminately. Do not be surprised if the breeder withholds any registration documents until proof of spay/neuter. A good breeder has worked many hours and often invested years of pedigree research in their breeding program. Holding the registration papers is merely their way of protecting the puppy and their bloodline.
28. If you are buying a pet, PLEASE have your pet SPAYED OR NEUTERED! Statistics show that spayed/neutered pets actually live longer, and have fewer health problems than intact dogs.
29. Consider a rescue Boston. They do sometimes come with emotional or health issues, but more often than not, they just need the opportunity to have and be a part of a loving family that cares about them. Contact the Boston Terrier Club of America or your local Boston Terrier or breed club for a rescue contact, or check with your local Humane Society.
30. Don't fall for that "someone else is looking at this puppy" spiel. If they're willing to let that puppy go to the highest or fastest bidder, they are not someone you want to deal with. A good breeder will care more about where their puppies go than how fast you can pull out your wallet.
31. Don't make a snap decision. Talk to the breeder, view their dogs, discuss any questions you have, then leave. Allow yourself at least a day to think it through. Did they answer your questions with confidence and knowledge? Did they question you as much or more than you did them? Make a list of everything that you thought was good about the breeder and their puppies. Then make a list of what you didn't like or had more questions about. Which list is longer? Call the breeder and if they can't answer the questions on your list, avoid some of the questions, or give evasive answers to them, look for another breeder.
32. Last but most assuredly not least, be absolutely sure that you will be able to care for a puppy. Who will care for it? Bathing, feeding, loving, playing, training, health care, etc. are all important factors to consider. Don't expect your 5 year old to take over complete care of this new addition to your family. Children frequently get bored with a puppy after the newness wears off. If YOU aren't willing to take on the above responsibilities, you may want to reconsider getting a puppy. This is a LIFETIME commitment, you are not just borrowing a puppy for a few weeks or years. Boston's have an average life span of 12-14 years. Be SURE that this is what you want. Shelter's are full of puppies that are no longer wanted, please don't add to the problem.