One of the goals of Alaskan Malamute Rescue of New England is to try and educate prospective
owners before they buy a puppy. We believe that educating someone before they buy a dog will
prevent dogs being turned in to Rescue in later years. The data we have compliled over the last
ten years supports this. Most of the dogs turned in to us have been bought at area pet stores,
from backyard breeders or from a few irresponsible breeders both from within New England and from
other parts of the country.
What do these pet stores, backyard breeders and irresponsible breeders have in common? They
are trying to make money. When someone is trying to make money and selling dogs for a business
two things tend to happen: first they get very good at selling their product and second they sell
their product to anyone!
Over and over we see families that have purchased a puppy from a pet store/ irresponsible
breeder because they had been talked into buying what they thought was the perfect dog for them
(besides malamute pups are the most adorable things on the face of the earth)! In reality a
malamute is the last breed they should have bought and in the end it led to heartbreak for everyone
So if you want a puppy how do you know that this is the breed you want? How do you know when you
have found a responsible person to buy a puppy from? How do you know that the puppy is healthy?
Before you fall in love with that adorable Malamute puppy face, take the time to ask yourself,
the person you are thinking of purchasing a puppy from and your family the following questions.
Above all use your common sense…if you don’t like someone do not buy a puppy from them. If you
do not like how their dogs act, look or live do not buy a puppy from them and above all do some
homework: go see people who own these dogs, meet adult dogs, and remember that you will own this
dog for ten years or more!
Find a well-bred puppy from healthy stock and from a good breeder!
Ask yourself, your family and the breeder the following questions:
Questions for you and your family:
- Are our lives stable enough to think about adding a dog into our family?
- Can we commit to ten or more years?
- Can we afford the vet, food and unexpected costs that come with owning a dog?
- Do we have the time we need to commit to a malamute? Play time and regular exercise and training is a
must for this breed.
- Do you have what we need to contain this dog and give it a safe, happy home?
- Do we want a dog that blows it coat twice a year and sometimes sheds on and off the rest of the time?
- Do we have the time to train a puppy to be housebroken, walk on a leash nicely and obey basic commands?
Malamutes are very trainable but sometimes take much more time than other breeds to learn things.
- Do we want a big dog indoors? Malamutes are horrible permenent backyard pets.
They need to be part of a pack, which means they need to be around their human family and in the house.
Questions for the person selling the puppy:
Questions to ask that might help you determine the quality of the puppy you are buying and
the integrity of the person selling the puppy(please print these out and use them when you go
to see the breeders or people selling the puppy:
- Do both parents (the sire and dam) have a hip clearance from the
OFA (Orthopedic Foundation for Animals)? PennHip?
Ask to see the certificates. Don't be fooled by someone telling you that they will send you the information after
you buy the puppy or someone who says their vet never thought it was nessessary or that the vet okayed the x-ray.
Make sure both parents are at least 2 years old. Final hip clearances cannot be obtained before that age.
- Do both parents have Chrondodysplasia
(CHD) certificates? These certificates are issued by the Alaskan Malamute Club of America after the
probability of this disfiguring condition is evaluated.
- Do both parents have current eye clearances from an Ophthalmologist or CERF certificate (Canine Eye Registry)?
This must be re-done every year on breeding stock so your reputable breeder will have the certificates to show
you on both parents. Malamutes suffer from genetic eye diseases such as
juvenile cataracts, day
blindness, and progressive retinal atrophy.
- Do both parents have clearances for hypothyroidism?
This is another problem Malamutes can have and some breeders are now checking for it.
- A responsible breeder will keep track of the clearances of grandparents, great grandparents,
sisters and bothers etc of the puppies parents. Ask about this and ask what if any problems that
have occurred in the lines and what has been done to prevent them from occurring.
- Does the breeder an active member of the
Alaskan Malamute Club of America (AMCA)
and/or a local All-Breed Club? Such clubs have a code of ethics that the breeder agrees to follow.
Membership does not necessarily mean that a breeder is reputable but if they are active in
their club they probably have the dogs best interests at heart. Ask them what they do for their club!
- Does the breeder have only malamutes?
- Does the breeder only have one litter? If they have more than one breed of dog in their kennels
and they are breeding them this maybe a sign of someone mass producing puppies. If there is more
than one litter at a time it may mean they are breeding for profit, rather than trying to improve
the breed. Feel free to question a breeder about their dogs, how often they breed and why they breed.
- Will the puppy have a limited registration with the AKC and a mandatory spay/neuter contract?
- Will the breeder have a written guarantee against congenital health or temperament problems?
A reputable breeder will want pet dogs spayed/neuter and with limited registration.
A limited registration means that the dog is being sold as a pet and not as breeding stock,
therefore you will not be able to enter conformation dog shows. Any puppies genertated by
a limited registration dog are not eligible for registration with the AKC. Many pet stores will
give health guarantee but you should read it very closely. Most pet stores will not cover
anything past the dogs second birthday, most breeders will extend that time.
- How was the mother/father of the puppy chosen? A reputable breeder will be able to tell you what
traits they were trying to improve on and exactly why they chose the dog they did! On what basis
was the sire chosen? The dam? If the answer is "because my neighbor had a stud dog" or "because she
is really sweet" or "I wanted one just like her", it may be that sufficient thought was not put
into the breeding.
- 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 way to make rescue obsolete).
- Will the breeder be available to answer any questions you might have for the life of the dog?
- Is this someone you would feel comfortable asking any type of question?
- Does the breeder provide you with a 3-5 generation pedigree, a contract to sign,
copies of all clearances and a guarantee, health records and material to help with feeding,
training and housebreaking?
The Puppy and its Parents
After you have checked on the health of the dogs its time to check on their quality.
Quality is important even with the pet dog. Buy the best dog you can!
- Are the majority of the dogs in the pedigree titled dogs (the initials: CH, OTCH, CD, ROM, BIS, BISS,
CGC, TT, WPD, WWPD, ... before or after the names) in the first two generations? Having a champion
back three or more generations means nothing. Having only one or two in the whole pedigree means nothing.
Find a puppy with champion parents and grandparents! Many dogs found in pet stores do not have any
champions in their pedigrees and cost more than breeder puppies with all champion parents!
- Are the puppy's sire and dam available for you to meet? What is the mom and dad like? If you don't
like their looks and personality you may not what to get a puppy out of them! If the sire is unavailable
can you call his owners or people who have the puppies to ask about temperament or health problems?
- Is the breeder knowledgeable about raising puppies, critical neonatal periods and proper socialization
techniques? Puppies need human contact, lots of socialization and experiences with different situations,
noises and people. Puppies should not go to their new homes till they are 7-10 weeks old and have had
their first set of puppy shots and a vet check.
- Were the pups temperaments evaluated and can the breeder guide you to the puppy that will best
suit your lifestyle? Most breeders will have looked at all their puppy buyers and match puppies
to their new homes. A shy puppy will not do well in a noisy household and a dominant puppy won't
be a good match for an older couple wanting a quiet mal.
- Do the puppies seem healthy, with no discharge from eyes or nose, no loose stools, no foul smelling ears?
- Are they clean? Are their surroundings clean? Have the puppies had room to move around and play together?
Have they been able to spend time with their mother until they were 7-10 weeks old?
(Mother dogs teach their puppies manners and taking them completely away from their moms can
sometime effect later social habits)
- Do they have lots of energy?
- Are they playful?
- Do they come up to you quickly?