Picking a Puppy

Dopey, Sleepy (a.k.a. Vector), and Doc -- the boy puppies welcome you.  Click on their fur for a larger pack pic.

What dog is best?

YOU have to decide what you want!  Do you want to rescue an inhabitant of the local pound?  That's a great idea.  If you want a pure-bred dog, do you know what type? 

Every year in January the local dog club sponsors a benched show at the Cow Palace. "Benched" means that the exhibitors are required to stay with their dogs in the designated area for their breed for the full two days of the show. This gives the general public an opportunity to wander the aisles, see the different dogs, and talk with the owners, handlers, and breeders.

Arm yourself with some basic information about possible breeds. The American Kennel Club has a good set of questions for you to consider.

Then go to the Cow Palace show -- or a benched show in your area -- and talk, talk, talk.  You want a dog that was bred for health and temperament.  Looks and conformation to the ideal breed standard may or may not matter to you.  But, you and the dog world both want to know that care, love, and patience were part of your puppy's life from day one.

We bought Syntax from a woman who interrogated us to see if we'd be fit parents.   We liked her caution.  We also had to have a play period with the litter at the breeder's house.  She watched to see if we behaved well with the dogs, and only when we passed that test did she offer to sell us the dog she thought was best for us.

How much is that doggie in the window? Miniature long-hair dachshund puppies in Northern California are priced starting at $450 by the breeders I know and respect.  Ones with great bloodlines can cost hundreds more, and some puppies sell for thousands! 

I see regular ads in the newspaper for $200 dogs, and I cringe.  It cost us more than that per puppy when we had our litter.  I can only image the assembly line treatment a dog must get in order to be sold for $200.

Some breeders charge more for "show quality" dogs than "pet quality" ones.  These terms indicate the breeder's initial assessment if the puppy conforms to the AKC standards for the breed.  Also, most breeders will ask you to sign a promise that you will spay or neuter a pet quality dog, and sometimes you are asked to guarantee that you will breed a show quality dog.

Stay out of the Pound Of course, high price does not necessarily mean a quality dog.   Chat with several breeders and see if you like their motivation. Choose one you are most comfortable with.  During your conversations:
bullet Ask about the dog's ancestry. 
Are there any show or field champions in the line?  You may not want to show the dog, so this may not be important.  But, a dog from a long line of champions, in general, has more potential to be a show dog him or herself.  And, it will cost you more.
 Ask about which hereditary diseases run in the puppy's family. All bloodlines have some problems.  Nevertheless, you want to know what to watch for as your dog grows,. You may also decide that you don't want to risk breeding your puppy in later life if he or she carries a genetic problem.  Or, you may want to by-pass this litter if the potential genetic problem is too severe for you to handle if your puppy has the unlucky combination of genes.

Genetic issues in dachshunds include bad backs, premature retinal atrophy (PRA), epilepsy, and luxating patella.

Remember all of us -- human and dogs -- carry some genetic weaknesses.  The only type of dog whose line includes no potential problems is the Steiff family of stuffed animals.
bullet Ask about the return policy. Most breeders want to make sure that the dog is well taken care of and never abandoned.  So, one of the paragraphs in a typical sales contract will offer to accept the dog back from you for a generous percentage refund of your money.   Most contracts also insist that you offer to sell the dog back to the breeder before you do anything which sounds like abandonment.
Syntax gave us a litter of seven healthy puppies, all of whom lived to adulthood.  The experience was wonderful, but time consuming.  We don't plan on having puppies again until after we win the Lottery.

What's in a Name?

Before you meet your dog, she will have a litter name.  Syntax was "Sandy" when she was a puppy and hadn't met us yet.

Your dog's registered name is what the AKC calls your dog.   Usually the registered name has three words, one of which is the name of the breeder's kennel.  Syntax's breeder ran Lilliput Dachshunds. That kennel shows up in Syntax's registered name, "Lilliput's Red Hot Syntax ML".   The "ML" indicates "miniature longhair" which is meant to tweak the AKC for not having a separate class for miniatures at its shows.

Your dog's call name is what you and your dog think her name is. Syntax's call name is "Syntax".  You are not supposed to use any part of the dog's registered name in the show ring, and so the call name is not supposed to be related to the registered name.  We blew it with "Syntax" which is both her call name and part of her registered name. 

When you take the dog home, you can start calling her whatever you want.  When you send in the registration papers in her first months of life, you need to decide what her formal name will be.

Return to Ozdachs Main Page or to San Francisco Dachshund Pack's Main Page
Galen Workman 1994-2008. All rights reserved.