Buying A Puppy ?
Silmaril's Kennel Check List


"Purebred dogs are stupid."

"Purebred dogs aren't healthy."

"Purebred dogs are high-strung and nervous."

We have all heard these old saws - they have been around a long time. But any veterinarian can tell you that crossbred dogs get sick, too, and that some can have questionable temperaments, and it doesn't take long to find examples of purebred dogs demonstrating their keen intelligence every day. Just ask the officers of your local police force's K-9 unit.

But why spend  'all that money'  on a purebred when the newspaper is full of ads for
"Puppies to give away"? There are lots of reasons. Buying a dog is very different from buying a
car, or a dining room suite. A car may start to burn oil after you've driven it for a few years, it may eventually need some repairs, and its styling may go out of fashion, but you pretty much know what you're getting when you buy it. It's a machine, after all. The tiny puppy that comes into your home will mature into a very different animal than it is now at eight weeks. If it's a purebred, you still can't be certain about its future, but your guesses can be a little more educated.

Each of the breeds has been selected over the years (some for many centuries) for certain
characteristics - size, coat, colour, temperament, specialized skills - so once you've done some research and decided on a puppy of a particular breed, you'll know generally what to expect. When you visit the breeder, you'll find out still more. You'll likely be able to meet the mother of the puppies, possibly the father, and very often several generations of the family. At the very least, there will be many pictures.

Another benefit in choosing a purebred is that the breeder will act as a valuable source of information, and will continue to do so after the sale is made. She should be able to tell you a lot about the breed, and about her own dogs in particular. She'll know all about the good qualities that drew you to the breed in the first place, and she'll know the problems you'll have to look out for (no dog is perfect). She'll have had her breeding stock tested for genetic problems known to occur within the breed. A responsible breeder has invested a great deal of time, research, money, effort and emotional commitment in a litter, even before it is born.
A puppy buyer reaps the benefit of that investment by taking home a healthy puppy, backed up by written guarantees.  The breeder is anxious to be assured that each of her charges has found a good home, and is willing to give advice and support when necessary.

Most puppy buyers are looking for "just a pet," but soon discover (often at puppy obedience class) there is a highly enjoyable world of competitive canine activities out there, and that many of these events are open only to purebred, CKC-registered dogs. And it's not just dog shows and obedience trials, either. There's a sport to suit every type of dog - from lure coursing for sighthounds to den trials for terriers, with tracking, draft tests, sledding, retriever trials and many more in between. Any dog can enrich your life, whether it be a mixed-breed or purebred. But before you bring a puppy home, be sure to weigh all the advantages that are part and parcel of purebred dog ownership.    INDEX

   Prepared by Dogs in Canada and presented in the interests of better care by
                    Ralston Purina . . .  helping dogs live longer, healthier lives.
    * T.M. - Ralston Purina Company, Ralston Purina Canada Inc., Licensee


The decision has been made - the time has come to bring a dog into the family. The breed has
been chosen, breeders in the area have been approached, and one or two have puppies  available. So isn't it now just a question of going out and taking home that adorable one in the corner, the one with the melting eyes?  Well... it's not quite that simple.

Picking a breed is just the first step. If you've done your homework, you know a bit of what to expect - how big your puppy will grow up to be, what kind of personality is typical of the breed, how much grooming and exercise will be required. But there is much more to consider.

Do you want a male or female?  If you plan to have your puppy spayed or neutered before it reaches sexual maturity, choosing which sex to buy looms less important. Behavioural differences won't be all that great. And you won't have to worry about your unspayed female coming into heat every six months or so, or your unneutered male leaping the fence to form a misalliance with your neighbour's dog.

Does it have to be a puppy?  Puppies are fun, but they are also a lot of work. If you haven't the time or the perseverance to take on the responsibility of raising a puppy, but feel you can give a dog a good home, perhaps an adult dog is the answer. Breeders often have older dogs available, and many breed clubs have rescue committees that attempt to place unwanted dogs with suitable families. Don't be surprised (or offended) if you are asked searching questions about your qualifications for providing a good, permanent home.

Taking on an adult dog is not for everyone, however.  Some older pets take a long time to adjust to their new situations, and others come with bad habits you may not be equipped to handle. Behaviour quirks you have grown used to in a puppy you've raised somehow seem less annoying than those that come as part of a complete package with an adult animal.

Do you want a show dog?  You probably don't, although you may get 'bitten by the bug' later
on.  "Show-quality" dogs often cost more, and may come with strings attached by breeders, who
understandably want the best examples from their kennel exhibited before the public eye.
"Pet-quality" in some breeds may mean something as insignificant to the average owner as a
mismarked coat, or size a fraction over the allowed limit. Steer clear of puppies with
difficult temperaments or structural flaws that may result in physical problems, however.

And what about temperament?  Your initial research into your chosen breed has probably
shown you what to expect - you'll know that your average Whippet will behave rather  differently than your average Golden Retriever, for example - and if you're smart you'll have
picked a breed to suit your lifestyle. But even within a breed, variations can be enormous. The
more often you have the chance to observe all  the puppies in a litter before you take one
home, the better.  Early puppy behaviour is not a perfect indicator of adult behaviour, but it
can provide important clues. The puppies' breeder can often be a big help here, and if you are uncertain of your own judgment, find a friend knowledgeable about dogs who can observe
the puppies and give advice. As a general rule, avoid extremes - leave the overbearing puppy
who tries to shred your pant leg at every opportunity, and the timid little soul who always hides in the corner, to someone with more experience.

When you decide to get a dog, you are making a choice that will affect many aspects of your
life for years to come. Take your time, and make the right one.    INDEX

   Prepared by Dogs in Canada and presented in the interests of better care by
                    Ralston Purina . . .  helping dogs live longer, healthier lives.
    * T.M. - Ralston Purina Company, Ralston Purina Canada Inc., Licensee


So you thought your dog's purchase price was going to be the major cash layout?
Think again.  Keeping a dog is an expensive business.

Before He Comes Home :
$ 6.00
 ID tag
     $  8.00
$ 6-20.00
Retractable lead
$ 20-50.00
Crate and pad 
$ 125.00
Food and water dishes
$ 15-40.00
Toys (chew, soft, squeaky) 
$ 1-15.00
Grooming supplies 
nail clippers, brush, comb, 
$ 35.00
Baby gate(s)
$ 30.00
(one breed, one puppy training)
$ 45.00
After He Comes Home :
More collars 
(he's growing)
$ 6-50.00
More toys 
(check out second-hand stores)
$ 1-15.00
Damage repair 
(he's bound to chew something)
$ ?-25.00
Phone bill 
(to breeder, for advice)
$ 50.00
More books & magazines 
obedience training, 
 breed-club membership with newsletter
$ 50.00
Throughout the year: 
$ ?-200.00
checkup, spay/neuter, vaccinations, 
 heartworm test/pills, flea prevention
$ ?-500.00
Obedience classes
$ 75.00

Prepared by Dogs in Canada and presented in the interests of better care by
                    Ralston Purina . . .  helping dogs live longer, healthier lives.
    * T.M. - Ralston Purina Company, Ralston Purina Canada Inc., Licensee


The Canadian Kennel Club registration system is one of the best there is, and several of its features have been copied by kennel clubs around the world.  In Canada, the onus is on the breeder, not the buyer, to register the dog and to identify it with either a tattoo or microchip. It is illegal for a breeder to charge extra for registered puppies, or to sell some puppies from a litter with papers and some without. By law, every dog sold as purebred in Canada must be registered with the CKC.  The first step the breeder takes is to register the litter, soon after the puppies are born. Usually the individual puppies are registered as they are sold, so the transfer of ownership need not be a separate transaction.  Before the puppy can go to its new home - and before it can be registered - it must be identified, the two recognized means being either a tattoo (in the ear or flank) or a microchip inserted by a needle under the skin. The breeder, not the buyer, is responsible for the cost of  both registration and identification.

You may call your puppy Spot, Rover or Iphigenia, but she'll also have an official name, unique to her, which will appear on her papers when they arrive. You may get to choose that name, but many breeders have systems they like to stick to, especially if they have a registered kennel name (all dogs they breed will have this as part of their name) and prefer to do the choosing  themselves. The registration procedure should not take long, although there may be brief delays if, for example, the sire of the litter lives outside Canada, since additional paperwork is required.  The registration papers will have the dog's name and registration number, along with the name and number of both parents, but most breeders will also supply you with your new puppy's pedigree going back four or five generations or further.  Usually any show, obedience or other working titles earned by your pup's ancestors will be noted. A pedigree is even more revealing if health clearances (eyes tested or hips checked, for example) follow each name.

Most breeders love to talk about pedigrees; beware one who is reticent on the subject.  Many breeders sell some or all of their puppies on nonbreeding agreements.  At the time of purchase, the buyer and seller, in front of witnesses, both sign the agreement, which states that the buyer
agrees not to use the dog for breeding, that no progeny of a dog covered by the agreement will be registered by The Canadian Kennel Club, and that if the dog is bred from, its offspring may not be sold as purebred, under penalty of law.  The agreement is filed with the CKC, and may be lifted with the mutual consent of those who signed it. In this way, a responsible breeder tries to ensure that only the healthiest and best specimens will be used to perpetuate the breed.  In most cases, there is little reason for the agreement ever to be lifted because few puppy buyers ever intend to breed dogs, and a puppy sold under a nonbreeding agreement can enter dog  shows and obedience trials, and participate in all CKC activities open to registered dogs.

The breeder should have prepared a purchase agreement outlining the responsibilities of buyer and seller, and detailing guarantees on health and temperament, including the conditions of such guarantees - veterinary certification, time limits, refunds, replacements.  Such agreements are useful for both parties, but read them carefully, and question anything you do not agree with or understand.  Some breeders require that the puppy be spayed or neutered, that it come back to the breeder rather than be sold if you cannot keep it, or that it be examined by a veterinarian at a specific age for certain health conditions known to exist within the breed.     INDEX

Prepared by Dogs in Canada and presented in the interests of better care by
                    Ralston Purina . . .  helping dogs live longer, healthier lives.
    * T.M. - Ralston Purina Company, Ralston Purina Canada Inc., Licensee


You are on holiday hundreds of miles from home and have stopped to exercise the dog, who gets excited when he sees a squirrel and slips his collar. Thrilled with his newly won freedom, he disappears into the trees. Moments later, he is lost.

Not a happy situation for any dog, but if he's registered with The Canadian Kennel Club, he has one thing going for him - even though he's no longer wearing his collar with its ID tags, he's still carrying his own permanent identification. He's either been tattooed or microchipped.

The CKC requires that every purebred dog born in Canada be uniquely identified by the breeder, with either a tattoo or microchip, before it goes to its new owner and before it can be registered.  Purebred dogs imported to Canada must also be microchipped before registration. The tattoo number or microchip code is recorded on the registration papers you receive,  providing an ideal means of tracing that animal if it is lost or stolen, or settling any dispute concerning its identity.

Tattoos have been around for a long time and have been used to identify all sorts of animals. Dogs are usually tattooed in the flank or the ear with a series of letters and numbers that identify both their breeder and the year in which they were born. Breeders who choose to use tattooing  to identify their puppies apply to the CKC for their own unique tattoo "prefix," which is used with the appropriate year letter (1998's letter is "H," for example) and a number to identify each puppy. Anyone who finds a tattooed dog can trace it through the CKC; the local humane society may also maintain a list of tattoo prefixes used by area breeders. The advantage of the tattoo is that it is there on the skin, immediately visible. The disadvantages?  It may fade or grow illegible over the years, or it may be obscured by hair or dark skin.

The microchip is a tiny electronic implant (about the size of a grain of rice) that is injected under the skin of the dog and contains a 10-digit letter/number code unique to that dog. For the dog to be identified, the chip must be 'read' by a microchip scanner, which is passed over the  area of injection (between the shoulder blades). Animal shelters and research labs routinely scan all dogs that come to them, and veterinarians possess scanners as well.  Like the tattoo, the microchip code provides a trail back to the dog's owner.  Unlike the tattoo, the microchip never  becomes unreadable.

Such permanent means of identification as the tattoo or microchip are, of course, only the second line of defence when it comes to reuniting a lost dog with its owner. Every dog should wear a secure, properly fitting buckle or other nonslip collar, and an ID tag. The information on  the tag - your dog's name; your name, address and telephone number; and possibly your veterinarian's phone number - provides the finder of the dog with the quickest and best direct link to you. Never attach ID  tags to a slip collar (also known as a choke or "check"  or training collar) and leave it on your dog - the collar can become a lethal noose if the tags catch on something.   INDEX

Prepared by Dogs in Canada and presented in the interests of better care by
            p;              Ralston Purina . . .  helping dogs live longer, healthier lives.
    * T.M. - Ralston Purina Company, Ralston Purina Canada Inc., Licensee