A Puppy Buyer’s Guide to the Internet: Online Resources to Find and Raise a Healthy  Purebred Dog 
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The following was contributed by Stuart F. Eckmann, Co-Chair of the Health Committee of the  Tibetan Terrier Club of America, club liaison to  the AKC/CHF, and developer of the Tibetan Terrier  DNA Bank & Registry. 


Remember when you got your first puppy, and how  you thought it was so soft and cuddly, and just  perfect? Well, we realize now that there is no  such thing as the perfect dog. Responsible  breeders work diligently to reduce the incidence  of health problems. They monitor their dogs’  health through hip evaluations, eye exams, and  other phenotypic, or outwardly observable,  expressions of genetic conditions. When actual  genetic tests have become available, these  breeders use them as an integral part of their  breeding programs. 

But which breeds are disposed to what? And which  breeders have used available exams and tests to  try to improve their breeds’ health and  temperament? Fortunately, there are a number of  online resources which can help you determine the  right breed for you, identify responsible breeders  within that breed, and also point you toward good  resources to help you train and care for your  puppy. If you’re trying to decide which breed is  right for you, check out the American Kennel  Club’s website at  http://www.akc.org/breeds/index

You’ll find  information on size, temperament, coat care, and  general care requirements for 150 different  breeds. More importantly, though, you’ll find out  what kind of adult that cute puppy you’re  considering will turn into, and what type of  commitment you’ll need to make. 

The AKC’s website provides links to the national  breed club for each of these breeds. Many of the  breeds’ websites include a breeder referral list  and a code of ethics for responsible breeders. It  may state, for example, that breeders will breed  only mature bitches over the age of two, will skip  a cycle between breedings, will have completed  certain health checks prior to breeding, and will  submit the results of these tests to certain  registries.

For many breeds, these include submissions to the Canine Eye Registration Foundation (CERF) 
and 
hip evaluations by the Orthopedic Foundation for  Animals (OFA) http://www.offa.org/ . The OFA is 
now also registering the results of other exams,  such as hearing tests, and has also become the universally-recognized database for registration  of the results of genetic marker tests.  Some of the more progressive breeds are  participating in a database called the Canine  Health Information Center (CHIC)
A joint effort  of OFA and the AKC Canine Health Foundation  http://www.akcchf.org/ , CHIC requires each  participating breed to designate at least three  mandatory tests for participation. CHIC is now  the gold standard for online databases for dogs. 


You can go online to CERF, OFA, or CHIC and see if  the sire and dam of the puppies you are interested  in are listed; all you need to do is submit their  registered names. You can even search the kennel  name of the breeder you’re considering to see  which of their dogs they’ve registered for these  exams and genetic tests. 
Remember that the dam – the mom – is only half of  the equation. The other half of the genetics that  goes into your puppy will come from the sire.  When you search these registries, check out the  background of the sire. If the sire comes from  another breeder, you can also use these online  databases to check out that breeder. A good way  to ensure that both sire and dam come from  breeders with a commitment to the ethical  standards of the breed club is to make sure that  the breeders of both are members of the national  breed club. Another good way is to print off the  code of ethics from the national breed club’s  website and go over it, point by point, when you  visit a breeder, to ensure to your satisfaction  that they are adhering to acceptable standards.  Many of the genetic tests have been developed  through the dedication and generosity of breeders  whose contributions have helped fund genetic  marker studies supported by the AKC Canine Health  Foundation. The AKC/CHF has acknowledged the  generosity of these breeders on their website, and  a search of the breeder’s name on  http://www.akcchf.org/ identifies those  whose support has made this genetic research  possible.

After you’ve identified a breeder with a focus on  health, how do you determine which one of their  dogs is right for you? Some breeders have gone  beyond the concept of a waiting list to matching  each of their dogs to the most appropriate home.  Many of them use a temperament test such as the  one listed at  http://www.golden-retriever.com/puppy_aptitude_test.htm.  Temperament testing helps a breeder to match the  dog’s temperament to the new family’s lifestyle.  Your new puppy should be seen immediately by a  veterinarian, who will examine it and work out a  schedule for vaccinations, microchipping, routine  medications, and regular well puppy visits. 
For 
unforeseen and unexpected health emergencies, the  American Red Cross offers excellent Pet First Aid  classes throughout the country. The course  description and list of locations is on their  website at http://www.redcross.org/news/hs/firstaid/010801petfirstaid.html  . Instruction includes CPR and rescue breathing,  choking, and fractures.

Once a breeder has placed a puppy with you, it’s  your responsibility to start socializing that  puppy, both within your home and outside. One of  the best ways to do this is to do this is through  puppy “kindergarten” obedience/socialization  classes. The Association of Pet Dog Trainers  provides a listing of members offering such  classes at   http://www.apdt.com/cgi/trainer-search 

 Their site also identifies those trainers whose  levels of knowledge and experience have qualified  them to be designated as a Certified Pet Dog  Trainer. 

Using these websites when you’re looking for a  puppy should help you become an informed consumer.  It should also help frame the questions you’ll  want to ask breeders. It’s a short investment in  time that will yield immediate returns. And once  you’ve chosen a breed and brought your puppy home,  consider contributing to that breed’s welfare  through the AKC Canine Health Foundation at  http://www.akcchf.org/donations/make.htm. This  is an investment that will return dividends  throughout the life of your dog. For questions and comments, email Eckmann@ix.netcom.com




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