Hints on Choosing The Right Puppy For You

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The size chart we have used successfully for years with our dogs says:
  8 wks. 8 in.;    10 wks. 9in.;    3 mo. 10 in.;    4 mo. 11 in.

Take their measurements right on those dates. I say 3 and 4 mos. not 12 and 16 weeks, There is a difference. I want dogs to be between 7 1/2 and 8 in. Bitches can be 7 1/2 - 8 1/4. The same with all other measurements taken of puppies. Bitches stop growing sooner - dogs grow longer and bigger. I have heard many times that a breeder tells someone a dog which is 12 - 12 1/2 at 4 mo. will be all right. Stop and think about that.  4 mo old with only 1 - 1 1/2 inches to grow before 7 - 8 months. Think again!!!  Best to sell an oversized pup as a loving pet while it is cute and fluffy unless you have the time and money to raise oversized dogs, fight and hide from the wicket, and produce more and more of the same. It's a hard decision, but in the long run, a worthwhile decision.
 Peggie Blakley
bmajersnz@aol.com

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Identifying a reputable and responsible schnauzer breeder:

1. Any puppy you purchase should come with a veterinary health certificate plus a WRITTEN health guarantee from the breeder, including a guarantee against congenital defects.  The puppy should have been wormed and have had its first shots.  If the ears are cropped, they should be mostly healed. (Ears should not be cropped earlier than 6-8 weeks of age!)

2. Schnauzers need to have their eyes checked by a board certified Veterinary
Ophthalmologist specialist (ACVO).  (Knowledgeable breeders know that there are several potential eye problems in the breed.)  You should be given a copy of the signed certificate from the V.O. who examined your puppy.  You can also request to see a copy of the pup's parents' most recent V.O. eye exam certificates--breeding stock should be V.O. screened annually.

3. A responsible breeder will have a written contract specifying the rights of the seller and the buyer, health information (vaccine used, etc.), altering and buy back or return policy, and requirements (such as a fenced yard or leashing at all times, etc.).  Pet quality puppies should be sold with Limited AKC Registration (meaning any offspring are not AKC registerable) and/or a spay/neuter agreement.

4. A reputable breeder will give you the AKC registration papers (a blue form) when you pick up your puppy.  If for some reason the blue slip is not available (sometimes the AKC is slow), ask to see the parents' papers and write down all pertinent information: parents' names, registration numbers, the date the litter was whelped, etc.  Keep in mind, however, that AKC is just a registration body, and not a guarantee of quality.

5. A good breeder knows the lineage of his/her dogs going back many generations, and will provide you with a multi-generation pedigree ("family tree"), plus routinely has dogs tested for problems and passes this information along to buyers.  A good breeder is knowledgeable about the health problems found in the breed.  Beware of breeders who do no genetic testing, or who do not supply a pedigree.  The more Champions ("CH." in front of the names) in a pedigree, the more likely your puppy will match the breed standard (http://amsc.us); that is, be more like what a schnauzer is SUPPOSED to be like, in terms of conformation, temperament, etc.  Is the breeder a member of a local or national schnauzer club?  Most members of the national AKC-affiliated American Miniature Schnauzer Club sign a Code of Ethics and an Eye Pledge.

6. A conscientious breeder cares about placing puppies in good homes and will often interview potential buyers thoroughly, ask for references and refuse to sell a dog if necessary.  As the buyer, don't be afraid to ask for references from the breeder.

7. A responsible breeder will not sell puppies younger than 8 weeks, and most hold them until they are at least 10-12 weeks of age.  Backyard breeders often sell puppies at 5-8 weeks (too young!).  Another BYB ploy to watch out for: "Both parents on premises" -- a GOOD breeder is constantly working to improve the breed, which may necessitate breeding his/her female to a Champion male located elsewhere.  In such a case, the breeder is usually able to show you photographs of the sire.  Having both parents on premises is not a requirement for getting a good quality pup, especially if the sire is an AKC Champion of Record.

8. A responsible breeder will be there to answer questions and to help with any problems, for the life of your dog!  He/She is willing to take the dog back or help you place it in another loving home if at any time in the future you are unable to keep your dog.  The best breeders also do Rescue work.

9. Whatever you do, do NOT buy from a pet shop!  Regardless of what the store claims, no reputable breeder sells puppies through a retailer!  A good breeder places each of his/her puppies individually and personally, making sure they are going to loving, caring homes.  If the pet store claims their puppies come from good breeders, remember, ANYONE can be a breeder (even a puppy mill owner is a breeder!); what you want is a reputable, responsible breeder.  Pet shop dogs come from puppy mills and are often sick, maladjusted animals.  "USDA approved" is meaningless in regards to quality, as USDA licensing is required for any kennel producing a large number of puppies.  By buying a puppy from a pet store you are supporting a puppy mill and contributing to the misery of the dogs living there, as well as helping to perpetuate the problem.  If you bought a puppy from a pet shop because you didn't know better, please help by educating others to avoid the same mistake!

10. Finally, if money is tight, please consider adopting a rescue schnauzer.  Most rescues are already trained and well-socialized, and make wonderful pets.  For details and a list of schnauzers needing new homes, please see the Schnauzer Rescue Message Board.