Getting a New Puppy!

So, you’ve decided to look for a puppy from a breeder! Fantastic!


Points to remember:


From the time a breeding female begins her heat cycle to the time puppies go home is just under 5 months. It is not uncommon to have to wait 6-9 months for a puppy once you’ve settled on a breeder.


Pregnancy cannot be confirmed before 4 weeks, and there’s no way to determine the sex of the puppies until they are born.


Life is fragile for the first several weeks. There are a lot of systems that need to “turn on” in order for a puppy to survive past the first month of life. Some breeds are healthier than others and have a higher survival rate for various reasons. Your breeder should be able to provide expectations for this.


Most states have laws regulating the minimum age that puppies can go to a new home without their mothers. In some states, the minimum is 7 weeks, in others the minimum is 8 weeks, and some states have no regulations regarding minimum age of placement.


State Minimum Age Under Which Cannot Sell Puppy
Arizona Less than eight weeks old
California Under eight weeks old
Colorado Under eight weeks old
Connecticut Under the age of eight weeks unless such dog or cat is transported with its dam for import or export
Under the age of eight weeks for sale, offer for sale, adoption, or transfer within the state
Florida Less than eight weeks old
Georgia Puppies must be a minimum age of 8 weeks prior to sale
Illinois Under eight weeks old
Indiana Under the age of eight weeks
Kansas Unless the puppy is eight weeks old AND weaned. “Weaned” means that an animal has become accustomed to taking solid food and has done so, without nursing, for a period of at least five days.
Maine Until completion of seventh week of life
Maryland Less than eight weeks old
Massachusetts Under eight weeks old including acquire, offer for sale, or display by regulation
Cannot import under eight weeks by statute
Michigan Less than 8 weeks old; also Import or cause to be imported into this state, or offer for sale or resale, a dog or cat unless the dog or cat has deciduous (baby) teeth visibly present
Minnesota Dogs or cats before the age of eight weeks
Missouri Under eight weeks old ANDhas been weaned
Nebraska Under eight weeks of age without its mother
Nevada Shall not separate a dog or cat from its mother until it is eight weeks of age or accustomed to taking food or nourishment other than by nursing, whichever is later
New Hampshire
New Jersey
New Mexico
New York Younger than eight weeks old
North Carolina
North Dakota
Ohio Under the age of eight weeks
Oklahoma Cat or dog less than eight (8) weeks of age
Pennsylvania Under eight weeks old
Rhode Island
South Carolina
South Dakota
Texas A dog or cat at least eight weeks of age.
Utah No puppies or kittens less than 8 weeks of age
Virginia Under seven weeks old without its dam or queen
West Virginia
Wisconsin Under seven weeks old




Some states have laws that regulate how breeders maintain the animals in their care, so familiarize yourself with those regulations if they apply, and be sure that your breeder is in compliance with the standards. Even if your breeder is exempt for some reason, minimum care standards should be in place in all cases.


Not all breeders are the same or keep their animals in the same way, but in all cases, the area where the puppies are raised should be clean and mostly odor-free. (Puppies are puppies and they are messy, but there is a difference between fresh messes and grime).


The puppies should appear to be robust little creatures by the time they are five weeks old. They should not appear malnourished or sickly.


All breeders have read the lists of “questions to ask a breeder” and give answers accordingly. We get people all the time that recite the questions, with no understanding of what the answers really mean.  The question is not really “are they good enough to sell me a dog” but rather “am I good enough for them to sell me a dog”.


Some breeders respond to texts, email, or phone calls. Others only to phone, or only to email. There is a reason for their preference, and some will not respond to inquiries that are not in their chosen format. That’s just a personal business practice, and each breeder will be different.


Not all puppy packets are the same. Some breeders send home vaccine records and registration applications only, others send home elaborate kits with training books or DVDs, toys, and blankets. Ask what is included in their puppy packets.


Not all breeders give the same guarantees or have the same requirements.  There are two types of breeders; Those that have produced a health issue and those that are going to produce a health issue. That is a simple game of numbers, and part of purchasing from a reputable breeder is getting a good and reasonable guarantee that covers serious life-threatening issues for at least 2 years, and some support or guidance for age-related issues even 16-years later. Reputable breeders try to hedge their bets by breeding healthy animals to begin with, but no breeder can control genetics.


Many breeders are competitors in one or more venues, along with being employed away from the home. This means that arranging visits or even response time may vary depending on the season, day of the week, etc.


All breeders have different requirements and expectations from buyers. Some require that you compete, some require that you feed certain foods, others just require a good home. Find a breeder that shares your philosophy.


You may need to be flexible on timing or gender if you want the puppy that is the best match for your family, living situation, and what you plan to do with the dog. The family living in a subdivision with young children needs a different kind of dog that the family living in an apartment in a big city and they need a different kind of dog than the hunt club or serious field trial or show competitor.  Be absolutely honest with your breeder about what you are looking for, and don’t just tell them what you think they want to hear.


The differences between male and female Vizslas is negligible. They very same reasons that people cite for preferring females today are what were given for male preference in the 1970’s.  The size is close, the temperaments depend on the dog, not the genitals.


Males are typically slower to mature in mind and body than females, so while females tend to be easier to train at the beginning due to this maturity, the males usually make up for it later in reliability.


The girls love you, the boys are in love with you.


Vizslas are typically very soft tempered, and respond best to positive training methods. Their intelligence that makes them very easy to train also makes it very difficult for most of them to overcome excessively harsh methods. They are a breed that notices everything around them, and will frequently associate all of their surroundings with the negative experience. So, a poorly timed harsh correction can mean a lifelong fear or avoidance of children, or gunshots, or women wearing a blue shirt sitting in a lawn chair.


Purchasing an 8-week old puppy is essentially bringing home a non-verbal toddler, and many of the same management techniques apply to both. Redirection, prevention, environmental controls, proper interactions with novel items/people/situations all lead to a well-balanced adult.


All animals – from chickens to humans –  learn in the same manner. Behaviors that are reinforced will be repeated, behaviors that don’t get reinforced in any manner will decrease. Reinforcement can be food, praise, eye contact, touch, but for dogs even yelling and chasing can be reinforcers. “Negative attention” is better than “no attention”.


The American Kennel Club has a DNA department that can establish the “genetic thumbprint” for the animal. A solid pedigree with integrity should contain almost all breeding pairs with this DNA profile. In Vizslas, all DNA profiles begin with the letter “V”. When a dog is cheek swabbed and submitted for a DNA profile, that profile is compared to that of its parents. If the DNA profiles don’t match the parents, AKC starts a special investigation to get the pedigree accurately recorded. In the event that the correct parent or parents cannot be found, the dog is issued a registration number that begins with the letter “Q”. A pedigree that contains the “Q” registered dogs is not accurate and should be avoided.


In the United States, there are only three registries that are worth anything. The American Kennel Club (AKC), The American Field (also known as Field Dog Stud Book) and NAVHDA (North American Versatile Hunting Dog Association). While AKC is the gold standard in the breed, a lot of field dogs are dual-regsitered between AKC & AF/FDSB or AKC & NAVHDA. Any other registry was created for the sole purpose to allow the disreputable breeders to claim the ability to sell a “registered dog”.


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