The puppy you purchase will be a part of your family for many years to come. To assure a well-bred, healthy dog, it is a wise choice to select an experienced and reputable breeder.
Experienced breeders choose their breeding stock very carefully, selecting the best suitable parents of each litter to improve on attributes and minimize faults in the offspring. A reputable breeder is committed to improving the physical and mental health of their breed with each new generation they produce.
Choose a breeder who specializes in the particular breed of dog you are interested in obtaining. Begin the process by visiting as many qualified breeders as possible before you make your final decision. This gives you the opportunity to interact with not only the puppies available, but also the dam and possibly the sire as well. From these visits, you can form a general impression of the temperament of the puppy you eventually take home.
Buying a puppy from a breeder also gives you the opportunity to examine the breeder's premises to make sure they are clean and that the puppies appear to be healthy. A healthy puppy should be clean, well-fed, friendly and lively, with no visible signs of illness (such as runny noses, sores, etc.). No fleas should be in evidence. Try and also meet some of the other adult dogs on your visit. They should also appear healthy, groomed and fit, with good temperaments.
The breeder may ask you questions regarding your home and family. These questions help assure a responsible breeder that their puppy is going into the proper home, and may include the following:
Is this your first dog (Sheltie)?
Why did you choose this particular breed?
Are there any children in the household?
If so, what are their ages?
Is your yard securely fenced?
Do you have a swimming pool?
Do both adults work full-time?
By the same token, don't be afraid to approach the breeder with your own questions and concerns. Some of your questions might be:
What tests do you do on your breeding stock?
What type of hereditary problems are found in this breed of dog?
How long have you been breeding dogs (Shelties)?
Do you show your dogs (Shelties) in conformation?
What type of health guarantee do you offer?
What kind of genetic problems have you experienced in your years of breeding?
The breeder should be honest and straightforward with answers to your questions, and should be happy to provide proof of any tests (such as hip x-rays, eye exams, etc.) you request. Any evasiveness or resentment of your questions on the part of the breeder could be a warning that they might have something to hide.
The following is an excerpt from an article entitled To Test or Not to Test, written by Mary E. Galloway, DVM, Health Chairperson of the American Shetland Sheepdog Association (ASSA). The entire article can be found on the ASSA website.
"... I am interested in buying a Sheltie, But when I hear about all the tests my puppy's parents should have, it worries me ... Should I look for a healthier breed? When I spoke with one breeder, I was told about all the tests her dogs have had ... I can get a Sheltie from another person who told me they don't have to test for problems since they don't have any in their lines ... What do you think?"
In reply to this, Mary's article states:
"... Testing for diseases and monitoring the occurence of diseases by breed clubs and breeders does not indicate that problems exist in that breed or line. In fact, it is a positive indication that the people who breed these dogs are trying to produce the healthiest puppies they can ... don't be afraid of a breeder that is active in ... testing of their breeding animals. This indicates the acceptance of responsibility and an ongoing effort to produce beautiful, healthy Shelties."
When you buy a purebred dog from a responsible and reputable breeder, you also become a part of their extended family. A good breeder is always happy to help you through problems you might encounter with your new dog. They also expect a call from you if a crisis should arise at any time during the dog's life. Come what may, the reputable, responsible breeder is always there to be of assistance.
You may locate a breeder with whom you feel comfortable and you like his/her dogs, but they may not have any puppies available at the current time. Isn't it better to place your name on a waiting list for a puppy from your preferred breeder than to purchase a puppy from a breeder with whom you are not completely satisfied? Your purchase of a healthy dog, one who, with proper care, will be a part of your family for the next 12-15 years, should always be your main criteria. The delay of a few months against a lifetime of a healthy, happy dog should not (in our opinion) be of to great a concern. You and your dog will be all the happier for your wisdom.