If you have decided to purchase a Shih Tzu puppy, or adult, from a breeder, you will have a little work to do in finding the perfect breeder for you. As surprising as it may be, the hunt for a perfect Shih Tzu isn’t in finding the right dog but in finding the right breeder. If you can do that, then it can be very easy to find the puppy for you.
But how do you find a Shih Tzu breeder? If you have ever ‘Googled’ that term, then you are well aware of there being hundreds of breeders and even more Shih Tzu for sale. It can be very difficult to find the breeder that is right for you but the very first place I would recommend starting at is a breed club. There are several breed clubs in the United States and Canada and I have provided links in the resources section at the end of this
From the Shih Tzu clubs, you can find breeders in your area and start calling, emailing and visiting the websites of the breeders. One important point before you choose a breeder is to find one that is close to home. Don’t find a breeder that you can’t travel to since it is important to see the kennel. Many reputable breeders will ship puppies but I personally feel that my first purchase from a breeder should be in person.
The only time I will ship a puppy I have purchased is if I have a long history with the breeder and know them personally through dog shows because I feel that seeing the environment is an integral part of responsibly purchasing a Shih Tzu puppy.
But before you pick up your puppy, you are going to need to search for a breeder. To do this, I always recommend following the A, B, and C’s of finding a breeder. These are:
A: Make a short list of breeders
To get to this point, you have already found breeders within a travel distance to you. It is important to note that when I mention travel distance that it can be much farther than a 5-minute drive. I have driven 7 hours one way to pick up a Shih Tzu puppy so if you don’t mind the travel time, don’t discount an overnight trip.
These are breeders that you like for some reason or other. It could be that you liked several of their dogs, you liked what the breeder was saying on their site, or you have heard good things about these breeders.
Once you have your short list, try to find things out about them. You can Google them, ask other Shih Tzu owners where they found their puppies and visit Shih Tzu forums. In addition, you can go to dog shows and get to know the breeders there. (A word of caution about dog shows. Breeders are working here so make a brief contact and ask if there is a good time to chat over the weekend or if you can call them. Don’t expect your questions to be answered right then and there.)
B: Make contact
If you have made contact at the dog show, that is great, but usually you will need to email or call them to find out about their dogs. First and foremost, never make that first contact about buying a Shih Tzu. Yes, I know, that is the goal, but if a breeder is only about selling, then you may want to find a different breeder.
Instead, let the breeder know that you want to purchase, eventually, but right now, you are trying to find the best breeder to provide you with a puppy. Let them know what you are looking for in a puppy, if you are planning to breed or if you want to show your dog.
Although breeders are busy people, the good ones are always willing to chat about their dogs and are more than happy to build a relationship with their potential puppy people because this gives them a better idea of what type of owner you will be.
C: Plan a visit
The visit is very important when you are looking for a puppy and you should make it clear that you don’t want to purchase a puppy when you have your first visit. This is just a visit to see the kennel and to make sure that it is clean. Also, check the dogs, how many they have, where they are kept and if any of them are sick.
In addition, if you see a number of litters on the ground at one time, ask about it. Sometimes a breeder will end up having a number of litters simply because the heats worked out that way but if you find that they have 4 or 5 litters available at a time, especially if it is several times a year, then they are more than likely breeding for quantity and not quality.
When you are planning your visit, it may be better to plan when a potential litter is on the ground (being raised) and you may purchase from it. Go when the puppies are around 4 or 5 weeks and if you find anything that you don’t like, don’t purchase a puppy in the end, no matter how cute those Shih Tzu puppies are (and trust me, they will be very cute).
In the end, when you are looking for a breeder, you should make sure that you always go with your gut instinct. If you don’t feel comfortable with the breeder, then this is not the person to buy from. If you see anything that makes you hesitate, then this is not the breeder to buy from. Don’t feel pressured or obligated to purchase, even after you took up some of their time.
If you see any of the following, then it is recommended that you don’t purchase from the
They don’t ask questions.
I know this can seem like a strange thing to say but if a breeder doesn’t ask you things, then you probably shouldn’t purchase from them. I remember purchasing my first Shih Tzu and feeling like I was in the inquisition from the number of questions I was asked but it proved to me that the breeder was picky about who they sold to and wanted the best for their dogs.
If your breeder doesn’t ask you questions like the following, then it may be better to find a different buyer.
Questions your breeder should ask are:
- Do you have experience or knowledge about the Shih Tzu?
- Do you rent or own?
- Do you have a fenced yard?
- Will the Shih Tzu be kept inside?
- Do you work long hours?
- Do you have children and, if so, how old are they?
- Do you have other pets? If so, what types and how old?
- Are you aware of the special needs a Shih Tzu can have, particularly in regards to grooming?
The Shih Tzu breeder may have several other questions but be prepared to answer your fair share of them.
The kennel is very dirty.
When I say kennel, I am referring to the whole house and the area where the dogs are. Shih Tzu are companion dogs so I feel that the best place for them is in the home. They shouldn’t be kept outside or in cages so if you see that, find a different breeder.
If the environment where the puppies are reared is dirty, then there may be some underlying health problems because of an improper start so be aware of the environment. When I have puppies on the ground, I usually do a full clean up twice a day and random clean ups every few hours. This keeps the puppies dry, clean and the smell down to a minimum.
The dogs appear sick.
If any of the dogs, even the other adults the breeder has appear to be sick or lethargic, then this is not the breeder for you. Occasionally dogs do get sick but if the breeder is trying to hide it or the entire kennel seems to be of ill health, then it is important to find a different breeding.
One thing I should point out is that a nursing female does not always look at the top of her game. Her coat can be dull, or she may look a little worse for wear and this can be perfectly normal. I have seen dogs, with the same prenatal care react quite differently after whelping a litter. One will shine and look like the best little mommy and the other will look like a mom that has had enough and doesn’t have any energy to give.
That being said, a female should never look like she has one leg in the grave after whelping and should still have her usual zest that is common in the Shih Tzu breed.
There are no records.
If the breeder doesn’t have records for past litters, the overall health of their dogs or even the pedigrees, then it is best to look for a different breeder. While it may just be a case of them being unorganized, my feeling is that if they can’t be organized in their records, then what else is affected by this.
If you follow these few rules, you should be able to find the perfect breeder and when you do, don’t hesitate to ask as many questions as they do. In the resources section at the back of this book, I have provided you with a questionnaire to ask any potential breeder.
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