There is an unwritten rule for most breeders. When you sell a puppy, the buyer is expecting the puppy to be healthy, have its first set of vaccinations and been dewormed. This has been the gold standard for many, many years.
This old standard needs to change, and it is up to the buyer to do this. Let’s take a quick look at the flaws in this old, bad, protocol.
Remember, the breeder is using an old formula that was passed on to her from other breeders. So, let’s update it so that you have the best opportunity for a healthy puppy.
- First puppy shots: Most breeders get these from the vet so that the vet not only vaccinates the puppy with a good vaccine, but the vet also does a physical exam on the puppy to make sure that there are no congenital defects like defective heart, hernias, no testicles, etc. Some breeders want to save the cost and will purchase the vaccine from a pet store or feed store and give it themselves. If it is done by the vet, the vet will then give the breeder a puppy immunization record that notes that the puppy is healthy and has been given its first puppy vaccine. And, a card so that you can call the same vet for further vaccinations.
Almost all puppies at 6-8 weeks of age, still have their momma’s protection, called maternal antibodies. These natural antibodies for the viruses that are being vaccinated for at the vet, will block the puppy’s response to the vaccine (modified live viruses). So, the vaccination is not likely having any benefit. I would explain this in detail, but it is not necessary. Therefore, I would not recommend the breeder giving the first vaccine or having the vet give them. They are not helping and can be harming the puppy. The last puppy we purchased from a breeder had the first set of puppy shots given by the vet and 4 of 9 puppies lost their vision the next day and never recovered. Unusual reaction, but needless. So, NO initial puppy vaccines at 6-8 weeks. If you pick out a puppy, tell the breeder to have it checked out by the vet but no shots. I recommend giving the first puppy vaccine at 14 weeks of age, which is after the maternal antibodies are gone. Then, I will give a safe rabies vaccine at 18 weeks of age and no more vaccinations. Keep the new puppy away from areas that have lots of dogs like dog parks, community parks, etc. You do not want to expose them to viruses until they are protected at 18 weeks of age.
2. Deworming: The breeder will likely deworm the puppy themselves to save the cost of the vet doing it, but some will have the vet give a routine deworming. I do NOT like this protocol as it is ineffective and gives a false sense of security that the puppy will not have a problem with intestinal worms. Not all common intestinal parasites respond to the same dewormer and many of them require multiple treatments at a specific interval. The dewormers will only kill adult worms and not immature worms. The subsequent deworming should eliminate the new adults.
Find out if the puppy was dewormed and with what medication. If it has been dewormed, wait 3-4 weeks and take a fecal sample to the vet for a fecal analysis for parasites. If the puppy has worms, the vet will know exactly which worms and will prescribe the correct dewormer for that parasite with recommendations for re-treatment if needed. If the puppy has not been dewormed, take the fecal sample to the vet immediately. Take a full sample that you collect instead of letting the vet get a small sample from the puppy.
3. General exam: Like I mentioned, the puppy should come with a well-health record from the vet. Good breeders don’t want to sell an unhealthy puppy any more than a new caretaker wants to buy one.
My recommendations: Do NOT buy a puppy that has not been examined by a vet and has a signed well-health check record. I have seen many, many puppies purchased for lots of money that came with severe congenital defects. I had a doctor purchase a puppy once to be used as a male breeder that came without testicles. Oops. All bad breeders know that if the caretaker takes the puppy home and gets attached to it, they will likely overlook any underlying problem when it is detected. No one wants to return a puppy that they are attached to and the breeder knows this. We need to empower ourselves to not allow this to happen.
Remember, old protocols don’t necessarily mean good protocols. Hope this helps when you are looking for your next puppy. 🙂