10 reasons NOT to buy a puppy from a pet shop 

This applies to back yard breeders, facebook ads, and rescues/shelters as well, as no responsible breeder allows their pups into the shelter/rescue system


1. Health

That adorable puppy in the window of the pet store is hard to resist, but you are often paying a lot of money for a dog that you know very little about. Pet stores rely on impulse buys to sell their "product". There is a good chance that the pet store puppy will develop a health problem sometime in its life that will cost you a lot of money. When you buy a pet store puppy it is extremely unlikely that the puppy's parents were x-rayed for hip or elbow dysplasia. These tests are expensive, but people who are concerned about the welfare of their breed will have these tests conducted to improve the breed. Good breeders are more concerned about the health of the puppies that they are producing than the money that they will or won't make on the production of a litter. People who care about their dogs and their offspring want to know where they go and meet the prospective parents and would not place their pups in a pet store. So it's a pretty safe bet that whoever bred the pup, that not only did not care about the pup, but also equally does not care about the parent's and health testing them, and/or doing any temperament evaluating to make sure the pup is of good temperament and not scared, shy or aggressive.


2. The myth about AKC papers

Pet shops would like you to believe that if a puppy is registered by the American Kennel Club that this guarantees the puppy will be healthy and a good representation of the breed. This is not so. The only thing that AKC papers tell are that the puppy is a purebred and produced out of AKC registered parents. Even this can be fiction, as some breeders register more puppies than are actually born in each litter to receive extra registration slips to pass out with unregisterable puppies. The parents of your puppy may be dying of cancer somewhere else and be horrible representations of the breed that you are buying. Responsible breeders do register their puppies with the AKC, but that is only the beginning. See AKC Registered.


3. The pet shop guarantee

Many pet shops provide a form of guarantee for people buying puppies from them, but their guarantees are as bad as none at all. After your family has become attached to your adorable puppy you find out it is sick, and it will cost you several hundred dollars to correct so you take the puppy back to the store to receive your guarantee. What they will most likely do is trade you puppies. Take away your beloved pet and replace it with a new puppy that might also get sick. They will euthanize the puppy you brought back, because this is cheaper for the store. The other tactic that some stores use is to tell you your puppy will grow out of the problem until their guarantee has expired. Do you want to take this risk?


4. What will that puppy look like when it is full grown? 

You may have seen specimens of the breed that you are buying, but this does not guarantee that this puppy will fit the breed standard. You do not know if the parents fit the standard either and cannot see the faults that each parent has. There is no perfect dog, but a good breeder will be willing to discuss the faults and strengths that each of their dogs possess. There are so many variations of height, conformation and temperament. what you are buying could actually be the furthest thing from what you are expecting.


5. What do you know about the breed?

Employees of pet stores generally know very little about the dogs that are in the store. They might be able to tell you a little bit about the breed and then point you to a rack of generic dog books. What do you do after you find out that this breed is not right for you?


6. Housebreaking and training problems

This puppy that you are buying from a pet store has spent its life in a cage. It is almost certainly never seen carpet and may never have seen grass or dirt. They have been forced to eliminate in the same area that they sleep and eat. This goes against the dog’s natural instinct, but your puppy has had no choice. This habit will make housebreaking your puppy much more difficult. A good breeder keeps the puppy area very clean and makes sure the puppy has a separate elimination area. By the time their puppies are ready to go home with you it will be well on the way to being house trained. Good breeders will often start teaching a young puppy how to walk on a leash and to lay quietly for grooming. A pet store puppy has never walked on a leash or been brushed before and will much more difficult to get used to these daily exercises than a puppy that has been brought up properly. Responsible breeders also base their breeding decisions in part on their dog's temperament and personality, not only on looks or the fact that they are purebred. Pet store puppy’s parents have not been selected for any reason other than they can produce puppies that sell as cute "purebreds" registered by the AKC.


7. How about Socialization?

Your pet store puppy has never been in a house before. Everything will be new and scary for them. The doorbell, vacuum cleaner, children playing are all new sensations that can be terrifying to an unsocialized puppy. Good breeders will expose their puppies to many situations so that the puppy is used to them by the time that they go to their new home. Responsible breeder’s temperament test their puppies before they are placed in a new home. This shows the breeder which puppies are dominant or shy. Then the breeder will match the puppy to the new owner and make sure that active pups go to active families and that shy puppies go to a home that can help them overcome their insecurity. Good breeders will also have more than one or two puppies to pick from and they can help you make an educated decision based on your family situation. If you are going to spend so much money on a dog that you plan to keep for a lifetime, why not find one that will fit into your lifestyle well.


8. What is a pedigree worth?

Pet shops often make a big deal out of their puppy's pedigrees. This is interesting as the pedigree is really just a piece of paper with names on it. Unless you know the dogs behind those names the pedigree is really quite useless to a puppy owner. Can the pet store tell you what your puppies grand-parents died of, or how long they lived? Do any of the dogs in your pup’s pedigree carry genetic diseases? A reputable breeder can tell you all of this information about your pup’s family tree. When you buy a puppy from a reputable breeder you are getting more than a piece of paper, you are getting the important information associated with the names too. Almost all responsible breeders will "title" their dogs by showing them under a judge. They will achieve championships on their dog, which tells that the dog is a good representation of the breed. Many also obtain obedience or at least canine good citizen titles on their breeding dogs. These titles will be shown on the dogs pedigree before and after the parents’ names. Ask the breeder to explain what the letters mean.


9. Do you want to support puppy mills? 

Almost all puppies that are in pet stores come from puppy mills ( and the rest come from back yard breeders) These operations are exactly what the name implies. They mass produce puppies with the prime motive as money. Their breeding dogs are kept in very poor conditions and are often malnourished. The dogs are never tested for genetic diseases and may not receive vaccinations. Puppy mills often get their breeding dogs from people in a hurry to get rid of dogs for some reason, public auctions and occasionally they are stolen from their owners. Females are bred every heat cycle until they are worn out and then they are sentenced to death.

The horror of puppy mills is encouraged every time a puppy is bought from a puppy store and with every dog that is rescued. Where do you think all these rescue dogs come from? Rescues are a quick and easy place to dump used up stock. The rescues happily take them and adopt them out as its a lucrative endeavor (while pretending to be horrified) they are making MILLIONS and although there are some good rescues most are owned by large corporations sitting back making money on donations and adoption fees. Almost all food, vet care, supplies and even the facility are donated by loving pet owners and even the staff are all unpaid volunteers so in truth many are no better then the big puppy mills themselves. Oh they are non-profit you say, well they (the people behind the non-profit, not the volunteers) the still run the non-profit business and get a "salary" for doing so, including elaborate transportations, business "perks" etc.. How do you know that your puppy comes from one of these places? The main reason is that responsible breeders will not, under any circumstances sell puppies to pet stores, brokers or in any other means that takes away the direct contact between you the puppy buyer and them the breeder, and a responsible breeder will require an application to be filled out. Good breeders want to make sure that their puppy goes to a good home and is well cared for. They want to be actively involved in screening the home that their puppy is going to. Breeders are also concerned about keeping track of their puppies that they produce. They want to know about any health problems that their lines may carry, and a good breeder will always take them back rather then see them in a shelter or rescue. A pet store generally never hears about their puppies once they leave the store, and really don't care.


10. After the puppy goes home

Once you take the puppy home from the pet store they do not care what happens to the puppy. They do not care if the dog is left to run loose and kill livestock, or if it dies of liver disease at one year old. If you have a training problem they will not give you training advice. They do not care if you take your dog home and breed it continually. A responsible breeder is more than a person that sells you a quality dog, they are also a friend. They care what happens to their puppy once it is out of their house. Almost all good breeders sell on spay/neuter contracts or sell show quality puppies on limited registration, so that they still own part of the dog. This enables the breeder to keep inferior dogs out of the breeding population and monitor what happens to their puppies. If you have a health or training problem they will be able to offer you advice and help you through the ordeal. A reputable breeder wants to make a good reputation for themselves and they care about each of their puppy's futures. They care not only about their own dogs, but also the impact their dogs will make on the breed as a whole. 


 So please next time you are looking for a new puppy to buy do your research. These places are the worst place to get a puppy but as long as there is a market for pet store puppies other dogs will be condemned to death by mass breeding only so that a few people can make some money with no thought of their "products" welfare. This is not to say that a good pet has never come out of a pet store or rescue, as many have, but for each that has many more have not. Remember when you buy a puppy you are adding another member to your family, not just another piece of furniture that can be disposed of at the smallest whim, and you are responsible for every piece of extra baggage that puppy comes with. Why take the risks when so many reputable breeders are there to guide you along the way?