How your puppies
can live longer?
How to choose a puppy?
Your lifestyle and how much you are willing to spend on the puppy now and in the future are important factors to consider when you choose a puppy.
The following are factors to consider:
1. Is the puppy healthy? When you have visited several pet shops over a few weeks, you will know how to spot a healthy puppy. It is just active and happy to see you. Some will charm your heart by knocking on the kennel cage specifically in your direction, eager to meet you.
Healthy looking Beagle puppies. The lemon Beagle (2nd from right) is a male while the other 3 are females. The male puppy is the most active and just wants to get out to explore.
Check that it has a clean coat with no hair loss or bald spots. It does not have watery eyes or runny nose. Look at its belly to see if it has any swellings like umbilical and inguinal hernias. For a male dog, check to see whether it has two testicles. Do more reading from the many dog books which are available at the library, book shops and pet shops.
As most pet shops will take back the puppy if it fails the veterinary inspection, do get your new puppy checked by your veterinary surgeon rather than save on the cost which vary from $25 to $60.00 for a general examination without blood tests and X-rays.
2. Pure breed or cross breed? Almost all Singaporeans prefer to buy pure breeds.
If you buy a cross breed, it is hard to fore see how it will behave and how large a size it will grow up.
If you buy a pure breed, you know its temperament. A miniature Doberman Pinscher will tend to be a noisy barker and guard dog. A Jack Russell will be a high energy puppy.
Pure breeds tend to inherit the faults of the breed and this is one disadvantage compared to the cross breed.
2.1 Pet quality and show quality puppies. The problem for the Buyer that I am aware of is that occasionally, a pet quality puppies grow up to look like cross breeds when they grow up.
There may be litigation when such a puppy has been sold with pedigree papers and now one year later, grows up to look nothing like its breed
A new inexperienced shop owner may not be able to tell whether a purebred pet quality puppy will grow up to its pedigree standards. The shop owner may find it prudent to mention in the puppy purchase contract that the puppy is a pet quality puppy, not a show quality one.
It may be best to sell a puppy without pedigree papers or to warn in writing that the puppy sold with pedigree papers are pet quality, not show quality puppies that will be exhibit most of its breed specifications.
If you want a "true" pure breed, you may need to buy a show quality puppy. This can be expensive. Do buy from a reputable breeder or pet shop.
3. Male or Female?
The costs of maintenance for a unsterilised female is higher than for a male.
The main worry is that the female stains the apartment with blood, twice a year during her "menstrual period", also known as the "bitch's heat period".
The bitch is often easier to train, but it may get attention from male dogs and unwanted pregnancy.
Spaying a female solves most problems but the veterinary costs will be higher to sterilise a female male.
The main complaint about unsterilised males is the spraying of urine to mark his territory in or outside the apartment, aggressiveness, mounting on the legs of people including visitors. Some apartments can be full of urine smell due to the urine spraying, but the owner is unaware of the smell. A sterilised male usually not do spray urine.
4. Six-week-old, eight- or twelve-week old puppies or adult dogs?
4.1 The younger the better? Every dog lover falls in love with 6-week-old puppies.
However, certain breeds like the Chihuahuas are not easy to care for at week 6 -8 and many will not eat in the new home. Some will forget to eat as the younger children play with them for a long time. Soon they collapse and require
veterinary attention. A reputable breeder will not sell his Chihuahuas or mini-Maltese till they are at least eight weeks old since my owners don't have experience with younger ones.
4.2 Adult dogs from animal shelters or re-homing organisations do make great pets if they have proper training. If not, their anti-social behavioural problems like nuisance barking, biting people and jumping on people may be hard to handle.
A puppy has the advantage of being a clean slate for training. You must have the time, money and motivation to train the puppy to be a good dog.
4.3 Local breeders usually sell at 8th week and they are irresistibly cute. They have been weaned and are ready for the new home.
4.4 Imported puppies lose out to young ones. The Agri-Food and Veterinary Authority (AVA) mandates that imported dogs must be at least 12 weeks old. The pet shop owners find that these puppies are not so much favoured by the buyer who prefers the 8-week olds. However, they are stronger and will have higher immunity against the viral diseases of puppies.
5. Long coat or short coat?
Much depends on whether you want to spend the money on grooming the dog every three monthly if you have a long-coated breed. The cost is around $30.00 every 3 monthly. Or get an electric clipper and spend the time doing your own grooming.
5.1 Asthmatic baby? Some breeds, whether long coated or short coated, will shed more hairs. Locals believe that the hairs shed will cause "asthmatic" attacks to babies and young children. Do research on which breed sheds less hair and if your puppy loses hair more than usual, do consult your vet rather than wait till it is bald as there may be a skin infection. A wise groomer will usually advise you to check with a veterinarian rather than selling you pet products to cure the excessive hair loss and losing good will.
6. Money on maintaining a dog. Buying a puppy is cheap, but the maintenance cost over the life of the puppy will be higher. How much are you prepared to spend for veterinary care when your dog is sick, food, grooming and pet transport?
6.1 Veterinary costs. Some puppies never see the veterinarian after the puppy vaccinations. Others see the veterinarian frequently.
Veterinary costs for an emergency illness may be around $100 or more. Bigger breeds do cost more to be sterilised by the vets too! Some locals tend to note that a visit to the general practitioner costs much less than a visit to the veterinarian but this is like comparing apples to oranges. Vets generally have to invest in and maintain anaesthetic machines, surgical equipment, various sutures, autoclaves to sterilise equipment and isolation and sick ward facilities that a general practitioner does not need to.
6.2 Grooming costs. The bigger the size and the longer the coat, the more money you have to spend on grooming. For the miniature Schnauzers, the cost is range from $30 -$45. A standard Schnauzer will cost more.
6.3 Pet transport cost. Taxis are usually the means of transport of getting a puppy to the veterinarian for most owners as dogs are not permitted in the subway trains and buses.
Do keep your pet inside a carrier cage as many Singapore's taxi drivers just avoid you if you carry the puppy in your hands. They are worried about the hairs shed in the taxi and the possibility of the puppy vomiting in their taxi. Muslim taxi drivers, owing to religious reasons do not wish to transport pets.
The pet transport people charges around $40 - $60 per to-and-fro trip to the veterinary premises and may have to include time waiting for your dog to be treated.
Many groomers, owing to intense competition, include transport in their total grooming fees and this is convenient for owners.
6.4 De-ticking & annual dog licence costs. Most dogs will get ticks from other dogs when they are taken out for exercise and there is the cost of tick control shampoos or drugs to be considered.
All dogs over 3 months of age are required to be licensed by the AVA. The penalty for keeping an unlicensed dog is $500. The yearly licence fee for an unsterilised female dog is $70 while it is $20.50 for a unsterilised or sterilsed male or a sterilised female.
7. Singapore's canine laws.
7.1 HDB restrictions on dog breeds and numbers. Only approved breeds and their crosses (height and weight limits) can be kept in the HDB apartments. Only one dog is permitted in HDB apartments.
This ruling deprives many lovers of Cocker Spaniels, Golden Retrievers and Alsatians from owning dogs.
Not all HDB residents like small toy
breeds. Many large breeds are well trained and cared for in apartments
and condos. They are much less of a barking noise nuisance than the
untrained small breeds!
7.2 Condo rules, regulations and screaming teenaged girls. The government ruling is a maximum of 3 dogs and so far, no ruling on size or breeds.
Fortunately in Singapore, there is no ruling that the majority of residents must agree to the prospective dog owner keeping a dog as in some countries. Big breeds like the Golden Retriever, German Shepherd and the Rhodesian Ridgeback have been seen in condos.
Some Singaporean pre-teen and teenagers, usually females, just scream hysterically in fear when they see a large dog approaching them. With the veterinary authority and other organisations educating school children on responsible dog ownership, there should be less fear now.
8. Genetic and congenital diseases. I believe there are very few breeders in Singapore who can assure in writing that the puppies have been bred from parents who are free from hip and elbow dysplasia or eye defects causing blindness later. This certification is available for some breeds imported from the U.S or Germany. There are also no laboratory facilities in Singapore able to screen the blood of the new born puppy for genetic, congenital and metabolic diseases.
The shop owner may find it prudent to mention in the puppy purchase contract that the puppy's parents have not been certified from genetic disease like hip dysplasia.
9.1 Interaction with other puppies and people.
Four male Silkie Terriers just want to have fun. Well fed, they look plump and active and look forward to meeting people to play. They have socialised well with other puppies and will make great pets.
Of course, the long coat means that you have to pay or spend time grooming.
9.2 Dominance and
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