Choosing a Healthy Pet Shop Dog

While some pet owners choose to purchase their dog directly from a breeder or an animal shelter, others prefer to buy from a pet shop. A larger selection of dog breeds is typically one of the top benefits of buying from a pet shop, but if you are going to bring home a pet shop dog, you must know how to identify if the dog you are interested is of good health and temperament.

Where Pet Shop Dogs come From

Dogs that you will find in the pet store window usually come from commercial kennels and breeders. The sole purpose of these kennels is to produce dogs that can be sold in pet stores. Most dog owners purchase from a pet store because they are not looking for the top of the line breed, but rather a dog that will make a good family companion.

Given that most pet shop dogs are bred for mass production and sales, some of the harmful genetic health conditions that regular breeders would attempt to breed out are not considered with pet shop dogs. This does not mean that you should not buy a pet shop dog; it just means that you need to be extra careful about the dog you are buying at a pet store.

Living Conditions and Appearance

The first thing that you should always look at is the animal living conditions inside the pet store. Some questions you might want to ask yourself include:

  • Are the cages clean?
  • Is unlimited drinking water available?
  • Is each dog kept in a separate cage, or are several dogs combined into one cage?
  • Does the dog’s coat look clean, shiny, and well groomed? Or is it dull and matted?
  • Are the dogs allowed to come out of the cages to exercise? Or are they cage-kept day and night?

These are important issues to consider because they can all greatly affect the health quality of a pet shop dog. Cages should be kept clean to eliminate bacteria and parasites. Drinking water should always be kept available for dogs. If the several dogs are combined into one cage, not only are they exposed to each other’s health conditions, but they also have less room to exercise and properly develop their bone structure.

A dog’s coat tells a great deal about its current state of health. A dog that is developing, growing, regularly groomed, and receiving adequate nutrition will have a coat that reflects its care.

Health Certifications

Only the most reputable pet stores will have health certifications available for their dogs. Reputable breeders are interested in breeding the best and removing dogs affected by genetic ailments from their breeding lines, so if you can get a health certification from the pet store, you will know that the dog has been bred with care, does not have any congenital defects, and is less likely to develop genetically prone diseases.

Some of the most common dog health certifications are done on the eyes and the hips. Some breeds, such as the Bulldog, may also have their oral and nasal passages examined to detect the presence of a cleft palate or stenotic nares.