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Acquiring Your First ST

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Decided on a Shih Tzu?

Some Qn To Ask
 
GETTING A PUPPY

You have decided that you would like to become the proud parent of a Shih Tzu puppy. Congratulations! Few things in life are more satisfying than giving a good home to a loving and lovable puppy! But right now, before you start your search, a little research will go a long way to ensure that ours is the breed for you--and that the puppy you choose is likely to grow into the healthy, happy companion you expect it will be.

Before you fall in love with the first adorable Shih Tzu face you see, take the time to ask yourself some questions to be sure that you can offer a good home to a Shih Tzu puppy for the rest of its life. You may decide that this is not the time for you to get a dog, that the Shih Tzu is not the right breed for you, or that you would rather provide a home to an older Shih Tzu who needs one.

Rescue dogs in need of loving homes may or may not have been responsibly bred. However, since they are adults, we are able to evaluate them for any signs of a problem before you fall in love, something that can't be done with a puppy. Our rescue workers think this is only one of the advantages to adopting an older dog!

SOME QUESTIONS TO ASK YOURSELF...

Are You Prepared To...

* Take full responsibility for this dog and all its needs for the next 10-18 years? (Shih Tzu live for a long time, and this is NOT a task that can be left to children, no matter how well-meaning! It requires committment from an adult.)

* Invest the considerable time, money, and patience it takes to train a dog to be a good companion? (This does not happen by itself!!!)

* Always keep the dog safe--no running loose or being chained outside?

* Make sure the dog gets enough attention and exercise?

* Spend the money it takes to provide proper veterinary care including, but certainly not limited, to vaccines, heartworm testing and preventative, spaying or neutering, and annual check ups?

* Become educated about the proper care of the breed, correct training methods, and how to groom? (Many good books are available. Invest the time to read a few to learn about our breed.)

* Take the time needed to keep your Shih Tzu well groomed? You must at least be responsible for daily maintenance. If you can't do it all, can you afford to take the dog to a groomer regularly and/or be willing to keep it in a "puppy cut?" (Those long flowing coats you see at dog shows are the result of a lot of hard work and expertise.)

* Keep the breeder informed and up to date on the dog's accomplishments and any problems that may arise?

* Take your questions to the breeder or other appropriate professional before they become problems that are out of hand?

* Have the patience to accept (and enjoy) the trials of puppyhood and each stage afterward?

* Continue to accept responsibility for the dog despite inevitable life changes such as new babies, kids going off to school, moving, or returning to work?

* Resist impulse buying and instead have the patience to make a responsible choice?

If you answered yes to ALL of the above, you are ready to start contacting breeders. Start early because most responsible breeders have a waiting list ranging from a few months to several years. Remember, the right dog IS worth waiting for!

All Shih Tzu puppies are cute, so take the time in an initial phone call to ask the questions listed in this brochure. You may not find a breeder who fits 100% of these criteria, but if you receive more than two negative responses, consider another breeder.

Remember, your puppy will be a part of your family for many years. NOW IS NOT THE TIME TO BARGAIN HUNT!!

You may have known someone who has (or you may yourself have purchased) a "backyard" bred dog or a pet store or puppy mill dog and had great success. However, it is prudent to remember that such puppies may have health or temperament problems due to a lack of knowledge about breed health problems and genetics or a failure to provide proper socialization at a young age. Responsible breeders do all that they can to screen for and eliminate health and temperament problems. They also can provide you with advice about your puppy both before and after you take it home.

Do not be in a hurry. If getting a Shih Tzu, any Shih Tzu, RIGHT NOW, is foremost in your plans, then you are not serious and will get what you ask for...just any Shih Tzu. You should read books on the breed, attend dog shows, and LEARN.

Finally, responsible breeders are expected to produce Shih Tzu to high standards. They are entitled to respect and courtesy from the people they are trying to please. Always be on time for any appointments and be honest in explaining your lifestyle, family activity level, experience with dogs, and knowledge of Shih Tzu.

Keep the following checklist by the phone when you make your calls. Good luck in your search!

QUESTIONS TO ASK OF/ABOUT A BREEDER...

* Where did you find out about this breeder? Responsible breeders usually breed only when they have a waiting list of buyers and don't need to advertise in newspapers or put a sign in the yard.

* How often is the dam bred? Breeding every heat cycle IS TOO OFTEN and may indicate that profit is the primary motive for the breeding.

* Is the breeder willing to provide you with references and telephone numbers of other people who have purchased his/her puppies?

* Will the puppy have a limited registration (which means that if the dog is bred, the puppies cannot be SKC registered) with a mandatory spay/neuter contract? A breeder who cares enough about the breed to insist on these for a pet puppy is probably a responsible breeder.

* On what basis was the sire chosen? If the answer is "because he lives right down the street" or "because he is really sweet," it may be that sufficient thought was not put into the breeding.

* How long has the breeder been breeding Shih Tzu? Does he trace health problems in the dogs he sells? If he is new to the breed, has he carefully researched the genetic problems that may lurk in the background of his lines?

* Will the breeder take the dog back at any time, for any reason, if you cannot keep it? This is the hallmark of responsible breeding (and the quickest, best way to make rescue obsolete).

* Will the breeder be available for the life of the dog to answer any questions you might have? Is this someone you would feel comfortable asking any type of question? If you feel intimidated or pressured, keep looking!

* Is the breeder knowledgeable about the breed? Does he or she represent his dogs as honestly as possible and try to assist the serious novice in his understanding of the breed? Is he or she involved in competition with their dogs (conformation, obedience, agility)? Responsible breeders try to breed dogs as close as possible to the breed standard, which does not recognize "toy" or "imperial" Shih Tzu. Shih Tzu far below the normal weight range for the breed may have health problems. If you want a truly tiny dog, select another breed. Responsible breeders also do not sell puppies to pet shops or commercial pet mill establishments, donate puppies for raffles or auctions, crossbreed or sell crossbred puppies, or give stud service to unregistered bitches.

* Are there a majority of titled dogs (the initials CH, CD, etc. before or after the names) in the first two generations? The term "champion lines" means nothing if those titles are back three or more generations or if there are only one or two in the whole pedigree. Also, remember that not all champions are created equal and that a champion may or may not produce quality puppies.

* Are the puppy's sire and dam available for you to meet? If the sire is unavailable can you call his owners or people who have his puppies to ask about temperament or health problems? You should also be provided with pictures or videos.

* Have the puppies been raised in the home?

* Is the breeder knowledgeable about raising puppies, critical neonatal periods, and proper socialization techniques? Puppies require high exposure to gentle handling, human contact, and a wide variety of noises and experiences, and should not be removed from their dam or littermates before 8 weeks of age. (The STCS Code of Ethics suggests puppies not be sold before 12 weeks.)

* Does the breeder provide a 3-5 generation pedigree, a complete health record, and material to help you with feeding, grooming, training, and housebreaking?

* Does the breeder advise you to have the puppy checked by a veterinarian within 2 days (48 hours) of sale, with additional time allowed if the puppy is sold on a Saturday or Sunday, and provide a written agreement to refund the purchase price or take the puppy back and replace it if it is found to be unfit by a veterinarian? Has the puppy received the necessary immunizations and been checked for parasites and treated if necessary? Is the breeder knowledgeable about and working to control and/or eradicate conditions, including those that are particular to the breed, such as renal dysplasia, portal systemic shunt, hip and eye problems, allergies, Von Willebrands disease, thyroid disorders, and inguinal hernias? Pamphlets attained from the vet can tell you more about breeding healthy dogs and renal dysplasia.

* Have the puppies' temperaments been evaluated and can the breeder guide you to the puppy that will best suit your lifestyle? A very shy puppy will not do well in a noisy household with small children, just as a very dominant puppy won't flourish in a sedate, senior citizen household. A caring breeder will know the puppies and be able to help you make a good match.

* Do the puppies seem healthy, with no discharge from eyes or nose, no loose stools, no foul smelling ears? Are their coats soft, full, and clean? Do they have plenty of energy when awake yet calm down easily when gently stroked? If the puppy is in good weight, a slight, clear nasal discharge may be due to pinched nostrils, quite common during the teething phase. They generally open as the puppy matures. Small umbilical hernias almost always close with age.

* Does the breeder have only 1 or at most 2 breeds of dogs and only 1 litter at a time? If there are several breeds of dogs, the breeder may not devote the time it takes to become really knowledgeable about our breed. If there are several litters at a time, it is very difficult to give the puppies the attention they need and may indicate that the primary purpose for breeding is profit, rather than a sincere desire to sustain and improve the breed.

* Does the breeder belong to the Shih Tzu Club (Singapore) and abide by the STCS Code of Ethics?

Good Luck in Searching for the Right Shih Tzu....

*Our appreciation to the ASTC for the information provided*

 

~Connecting All Shih Tzu Lovers~

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