Are you looking for a puppy in Adelaide? Then no doubt you’ve already seen how hard it is to get one. There’s a massive demand for new puppies, and seemingly a reduced supply since SA’s dog breeding regulations came into effect.
Traditional sources like breeders and shelters have long waiting lists. The only quick and easy way to get a puppy is from a pet shop. If you’ve thought about it I perfectly understand. But before you make the commitment, there are a few things to consider.
This is an honest, open discussion of what you can expect from pet store puppies. If after reading you want to get one, you’ll have have a good idea of what to look out for.
Most of the puppies sold in Adelaide pet shops come from puppy farms interstate where such breeding is allowed. The problem is that it’s rarely clear from the paperwork or the shop. Therefore, an absence of information is enough to raise suspicions.
Additionally, many puppy farms are large businesses quite capable of making themselves appear legitimate online. It often takes a bit of detective work to find out the truth.
Why does it matter? Because of the next issue…
There’s no question that many puppies from pet shops turn out to be excellent dogs, but vets observe a higher rate of physical and mental illness. Some of this may derive from the shop, but a large part is believed to be due to how they are bred.
Giardia is an important protozoal gastrointestinal infection that is both serious and easily spread to people. It should not occur in well-bred dogs, but we see it very commonly from pet shops. I know of one new owner who was hospitalised, and many puppies who died or were sick for extended periods.
Coccidia is another protozoal infection that is more easily overlooked but just as serious. Any puppy that does not always have normal poo should be suspected of having coccidia or giardia.
Anxiety is more common in puppies bought from pet shops. We suspect this is due to four factors:
- An impoverished breeding environment
- Early separation from their mothers
- Transit at a sensitive age
- A lack of 24 hour care in the shop
Anxious dogs usually retain some traces for life. This affects both trainability and quality of life.
Also worth mentioning is inbreeding. We don’t have evidence, but it appears that pet shop puppies are more likely to have genetic diseases. The suspicion is that puppy farms replace breeding dogs with others bred from their own puppies rather than buying in new stock.
I have personally observed Adelaide pet shops not housing puppies adequately. Here are some red flags:
- Pens and cages made from wood, which make disinfection all-near impossible
- Puppies of different ages being housed together, risking vertical disease transmission
- Inadequate space for the number of puppies being housed, preventing emptying and cleaning of pens
- Puppies being left alone at night, either in the shop itself, or out the back
- Staff unqualified for animal husbandry
One thing I don’t want you to discover without being warned is regret. In the moment of buying a puppy, with the kids all excited, it’s easy to not see the future.
If things go well, for the next 15 years you’ll be taking your dog for walks, going to the vet, visiting friends and spending time at the park. Everywhere the first topic of conversation is going to be your dog. Before you buy it’s worth making sure that you’re going to be okay answering the common question of where he or she came from.
You will undoubtedly face some judgment and even open hostility, but most people won’t care. It’s more about picturing how you’ll feel inside and whether the kids will feel the same way in the future. This is one of the reasons I advise heavily researching the origin of your puppy so you don’t find out later.
A very practical consideration is the high price you will pay for convenience at a pet shop. Although breeders are definitely expensive, they still are generally cheaper than the pet stores.
Most vets I know consider it more than ironic that the puppies that seem to require the highest level of veterinary care are also more expensive to buy. It certainly doesn’t seem to be a case of “you get what you pay for”.
If you feel you can buy a pet shop puppy and avoid the problems listed above, I’ll support you. For example, a locally bred puppy held in a caring and well-maintained environment is probably going to be OK.
Of course, I will always fully support you to achieve the best health and welfare outcomes for your puppy. So even if you think I might judge you, I’m really only here to give him or her their best life.
If you’re having second thoughts, visit our page on where to get puppies in South Australia. It shows you how to find breeders as well as adoptions from shelters. Waiting times can be as little as one month.
By Andrew Spanner BVSc(Hons) MVetStud, a vet in Adelaide, Australia. These blogs are from a series regularly posted on email and Twitter. Subscribe via email here to never miss a story!
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