The Puppy Series: Part I - Getting A Puppy
Let's face it, puppies make everything better. From their cute little toe beans to their puppy fuzz to their adorable innocent faces, you can't help but have puppy fever. But what you don't know is that they're a lot of work. Like a lot.
Getting a puppy is no easy job. If you find it easy then you're not doing it right. The process takes a lot of research and quite a bit of patience. The more you research, the more you know before you set your heart on finding the right puppy for you. Every puppy will grow old and you need to understand that you are committed to your dog for its entire lifetime (10+ year commitment). Understand that this applies to ANY dog you decide to bring home, be it a purebred dog or a rescue pup. While this post mainly focuses on the Pembroke Welsh Corgi (finding a breeder and what to look out for), it can be applied to any other breed. Having a dog is a big responsibility!
Before starting your research, you need to make sure that you 100% want a puppy in your life.
Why do you want a puppy?
Do you have time for a puppy?
Can you raise a puppy for its entire lifetime?
Have you discussed with your family or spouse about bringing home a puppy? A puppy should NOT be a surprise.
Does your lifestyle accommodate for a puppy?
Are you prepared to be there for the puppy when unanticipated issues come up?
Can you afford the extra expenses and vet bills?
If your puppy develops a disease or becomes a special needs dog, can you afford the care?
Is your living situation dog-friendly? If it's not, what action will you take in order to accommodate your new puppy?
If you're expecting kids or have kids already, bringing home a puppy is a huge change.
Here are things to also consider when getting and expecting a puppy:
Do you have kids already?
Do you or anyone in your family (including kids) have allergies towards dogs?
Will you bring your kids with you to visit a puppy first to see if it's a match?
Are you going to test your kids for any potential allergies against dogs?
Are you willing to make the family dynamic work if dogs and kids can't coexist?
Will you still make time after you have a kid(s)?
Will you put in the hours of training so that your puppy will be okay with kids?
Are you willing to teach your kids to respect puppies?
If you're not happy and for any reason don't want the puppy anymore, you need to understand you can't just dump it at a shelter or rehome on Craigslist. Dogs are living beings that should not be easily discarded like some toys; they are not a plaything. You have a responsibility and the commitment to be there for them, for better and for worse. They should be treated as a family member. Address all your options and questions before you bring a dog home, whether it is a purebred puppy or a rescue pup. Consider all the cons and don't be swayed by all the pros.
Before going out and finding a breed that suits your needs, understand what you are looking for and what type of breed matches your lifestyle. Do not be swayed by what you see on the internet; do your homework.
An example of this is the ever so popular corgi. The internet shows them as cute, sweet, derpy, and all around fun dog. But did you know that they're herding dogs with high-energy level? Did you know that if not properly trained, they will not listen to you and tend to be very stubborn? Did you also know that they're a highly intelligent breed that requires a lot of mental stimulation? Did you also know that they shed a lot?
Every breed of dogs has pros and cons. And the cons need to be taken into high consideration prior to getting a puppy. If your reason for wanting a puppy is "OMG they're so cute, I want one" then you shouldn't get a corgi or any puppy for that matter.
Don't get a dog just because they're a popular breed or that you need a puppy to solve all your problems. You owe it to yourself and your future puppy to research everything, question everything, and consider everything.
Research & Finding a responsible Breeder
Like with any popular breed, there are bad breeders (puppymills, backyard breeders) who only want your money and don't care about the puppies once they place them in new homes. Sometimes, they will fake paperwork and make it sound like they're a reputable, responsible breeder. The bad breeders know how to talk the talk in order to get your money into their wallets. Don't be hasty, be prepared to wait for a puppy. The right one will come and the wait is well worth it. If you are willing to spend thousands of dollar on a purebred corgi/dog, then you owe it to yourself to find an educated, reputable, and responsible breeder. Responsible breeders will always have the breed's best interest. When looking for one, you want to make sure that you are getting a quality, well-bred puppy.
Where to begin? Start talking to breeders and ask them a lot of questions. A great place to talk to breeders would be at AKC dog shows. A responsible breeder will answer all your questions eagerly and won't become defensive when you ask certain questions. A responsible breeder will want to share their experience and knowledge with you. It is important that you find a breeder that you want to be in regular communication with over the course of your puppy's life. They will be your guide; they know the breed best and have been through all the life stages.
Here are some things to consider when you're on the search for the right, responsible breeder:
What are they doing with their dogs aside from producing puppies?
Do they regularly attend shows, agility, conformation etc.?
How are they improving the breed by breeding?
Where are the puppies being raised?
Do they require the puppy to be spayed/neutered?
Are you able to visit the dam/sire in the breeder's home?
When do the puppies go to home?
Are you able to meet the puppies before taking them home?
Can they prove their breeding dam/sire through one or more of the AKC events/specialties/venues?
Can they provide a complete health and temperament guarantee?
What dog clubs do they belong to? Here are examples:
With any breeder, you want to make sure they are health testing their sire/dam for OFA hips and eyes, von Willebrand Disease (vWD), Intervertebral Disk Disease (IVDD), and Degenerative Myelopathy (DM). Visit the OFA for more information about potential diseases and why it's important to test. For certain breeds, there are certain diseases that can happen. Corgis are prone to hip/joints/back problems.
Among health testing, there are some other factors to watch out for when you're talking and researching for reputable, responsible breeders. Listed below are red and yellow flags to take note of during your journey. Keep in mind that these flags below are more focus on the Pembroke Welsh Corgi.
They're willing to take a deposit and “hold” a puppy for you without knowing anything about you or your lifestyle, they don't require questionnaires and haven't properly interviewed you
They allow you to pick your own puppy rather than “match” the puppy to your home and lifestyle
They're willing to “keep the tail” if you ask them to — this is weird because of ethical dilemmas (tail/ear modification) but they CANNOT know that early of an age what dogs are show-worthy and which should be kept only as pets (Cardigan Welsh Corgis are the ones with tails, Pembroke Welsh Corgis are typically the ones without).
Their websites emphasized on “Champion Lines” but have no actual champions owned or bred by the breeder
They take a deposit to promise a spot in the next litter
They list price for full breeding rights, they want to make sure they're being very picky about who they allow to breed
They send home their puppies younger than 10 weeks. The PWCCA Code of Ethics agrees that 10 weeks is the minimum age to be re-homed. This is such a critical socialization period and they learn a lot of early life lessons from their mother and littermates
They breed “designer colours”, including whitelies, blueies, and non-standard coat colors (Red/Blue Merle for Pembroke Welsh Corgis) that are not recognized by the AKC for that breed
For Corgis: They breed fluffies and charging more for fluffies than their standards
They don’t talk about vWD, IVDD, DM, OFA hips/eyes
They offer a puppy “with/without papers” as an option
They brag about dog size, smaller or larger than normal
They have more than 3-4 litters a year
They have breeding dogs that are clearly of poor structure
Their contract does not stipulate that if, for whatever reason, you cannot keep the dog they get returned
They registered their purebred with a fake registry in order to appear legit
Consider dog adoption/rescues
If finding a breeder for a quality purebred dog is too daunting, consider looking at your local dog shelters and rescues. However, finding a shelter or rescue for what you're looking for is a lot like finding a reputable, responsible breeder. A great shelter/rescue will do thorough background checks, questionnaires and home visitations, and they sometimes even require a trial period to see how their dog fits into your home and lifestyle. Again, if you want a puppy, expect to wait. The right one will come! Avoid sites like PuppyFind, Craigslist, Kijiji, etc. You don't want to just GET a puppy right away, you want to be match with a best friend for life. Every dog deserve a loving home
Queen's Best Stumpy Dog Rescue - A rescue specialized in special needs corgis/corgi mixes from SoCal's high kill shelters and those looking to re-home their dog
Animal Hope and Wellness Foundation - A rescue specialized in rescuing and rehabilitating severely abused animals, then work to find them amazing homes.
Best Friends Animal Society - A nationwide animal rescue and advocacy organization with programs in spay neuter, TNR (trap neuter return), pet adoption and no-kill.
The Sato Project - A rescue that's dedicated in rescuing abused and abandoned dogs in Puerto Rico and finding them forever homes.
Hope for Paws - An animal rescue group based in Los Angeles that's dedicated to give homeless and injured animals a chance for a good life.
Another great way for you get started on your puppy research is by talking to dog owners or join Facebook groups. If there is a particular breed that you would like to know more about, there are a ton of Facebook groups with like-minded individuals that will be able to provide further insight. In the end, you want to make sure that you are making the right choice before going out and committing to a puppy's lifetime.
Now, do you still want a puppy knowing what you know now? Be an informed and well-educated dog owner. Don't commit if you're going to quit. As always, feel free to send us questions if you have any thoughts or concerns. Stay tuned for our next part in The Puppy Series!
Note: A huge thank you to SwayzeBear's wonderful corgmom for helping us consolidate the red/yellow flags when searching for a responsible breeder.
Next Up: The Puppy Series: Part 2 - Preparation