Finding a Puppy on the Internet
You can find just about anything on the Internet — even a puppy — and have it delivered to your waiting hands almost overnight. Although the Internet certainly broadens your search for a happy, healthy puppy, be careful to do the necessary research to find a good puppy from a good source.
Beware of the breeder who demands that you wire money immediately through Western Union. Puppy mills advertise their litters online, misrepresenting their devotion to their puppies’ well-being. Welfare organizations and shelters post haunting photos of mixed-breed puppies who need homes but may not be a good fit for your home. Remember, you can't tell much by a photo.
Some websites rate potential breeders and list the ones who have litters for sale. Good places to go for information are Petfinder, PuppyFinder, and PuppyFind. However, some people in the puppy industry make the argument that no ethical breeders would sell puppies online because, much like a child-adoption agencies, they want to know who is adopting their furry children and where they’re going. So be very careful to do your research before going down this road.
Here are some tips for finding a good puppy on the Internet:
In addition to e-mailing the puppy’s owner, speak to him on the phone. Ask about the breeds and genetic health of the puppy’s parents, if they’re known.
Have the owner’s veterinarian fax you a copy of the puppy’s health records. If you’re at all suspicious about the information, call and speak to the veterinarian’s office directly. Ask questions about the puppy and the owner: Did he meet the parents, does he know where the puppies have been housed, and does he know how they’ve been treated?
When talking to people in contact with your puppy, listen for loaded words. These include spunky (which probably means hyper or reactive), shy (meaning timid), or self-assured (meaning strong-willed). Think about whether those personality traits suit you.
Request a video of the puppy with his mom and littermates or with other dogs at the shelter. Is the location clean; does the puppy look happy and healthy?
If the puppy is separated from its mother, ask what age he was at the time. Puppies removed before 7 weeks often miss the natural maternal impressioning and important life lessons, such as self-control and respect. These puppies suffer from this loss and need more structure and time to socialize and train.
Ask the owner to send you the purchaser’s contract outlining the agreement between you. Don’t buy a puppy without an agreement that clearly states what will happen to the puppy if you discover that he has a health issue or find that his temperament isn’t a good match for your family.
Use an online escrow account to hold the funds until your pup has arrived safely and you’ve had him checked out by your veterinarian. A reputable breeder should agree to this plan if he’s more devoted to the placement of his puppies than to their dollar value.
Beware of the bargain-basement puppy. A puppy whose price is reduced may not be in good health or be temperamentally sound.
When choosing a mixed-breed puppy from a photo, be mindful of the mix. Although all puppies look adorable on the screen, if the puppy is a combination of two breeds that you wouldn’t otherwise choose for your lifestyle, mixing them together won’t help! Research all breeds that may be in the mix and evaluate each one’s fit with your lifestyle.