WEB SITES THAT SELL DOGS: A CAUTIONARY NOTE
The web has brought many good things to the world of dogs. You can find much useful information there, such as the material on this site. You can find out when Shih Tzu are being shown at a dog show near where you live so that you can meet breeders in your area. If you are interested in purchasing a Shih Tzu, you may also use the web to try to locate a breeder. Many members of the American Shih Tzu Club now maintain their own web sites, as do others who may be following the ASTC code of ethics.
However, the most important advice we can give anyone using the web to find a Shih Tzu puppy is this: >>BUYER BEWARE<< When you type the word Shih Tzu into a search engine, hundreds of web sites will pop up. Many of the most polished and appealing sites will be maintained by people who will always or almost always have puppies available, will ship anywhere, and will take credit cards. In general, finding this information on a web site should be a major warning sign. Unfortunately, you need to view the virtual world with skepticism. For many large-scale breeders, dogs are a cash crop that can be sold for more money to individuals than to pet stores. Do you really want a "home-raised" puppy that actually spent its first weeks confined to a tiny and often filthy crate somewhere on the property, had little or no socialization, and received the barest minimum of medical attention, if any? Its mother is probably bred each time she comes into heat, with little thought to her well-being or whether the sire was a suitable mate.
Responsible breeders generally breed infrequently, after considerable thought. They seldom ship young puppies to owners they have never met. They do not breed to the dog down the street (or one in their house) just because it is convenient. They know what constitutes a good representative of the breed, take the time to socialize their puppies well, pay close attention to their upbringing and needs, and will screen their buyers carefully to be sure that each puppy goes to a home well suited to both its individual temperament and the new owner's situation. Responsible breeders perform the necessary health tests on both the parents and the puppies, are willing to take back puppies they have bred, and will be available to answer the many questions that arise as your puppy grows.and have the knowledge to answer them! To help you figure out how to sort out the wheat from the chaff, here are a list of questions to ask a breeder and questions a breeder may ask you.
Mating two purebred dogs does not a responsible breeder make. AKC registration means only that a puppy's parents were both AKC registered and that the dog is a purebred Shih Tzu, not that it is of good quality. Responsible breeders generally insist that pet quality Shih Tzu be neutered so that only the best representatives of the breed will reproduce (see why not to breed your pet). Many web sites maintained by uninformed backyard breeders or commercial breeders make much of the fact that their puppies have "champion lines." Usually, this means that there are one or two champions in an extended pedigree. This, too, is no indication of quality, as whatever good genes they might have introduced into your puppy's lineage have been greatly diluted. Even the presence of large numbers of champions may mean little if the parents of your puppy have not been health tested and wisely bred.
As you surf the web, be especially wary of fads. An "Imperial" Shih Tzu is not something special - it is an undersized and quite often unhealthy version of the Shih Tzu described in the AKC breed standard. Neither is a "designer dog," which is simply a mixed breed (which may well inherit the undesirable qualities of either or both parents rather than the desirable ones); its fancy name is used to justify selling it at a high price rather than simply giving it away. Remember that all puppies are cute. One of the reasons for buying a well-bred purebred puppy is predictability; it is likely to look much like its parents and the ideal specimen described in the Shih Tzu standard.
By now, most people know why you should not purchase a puppy from a pet shop. You should always be willing to wait for a puppy, if need be, and to educate yourself before beginning your search. A puppy is a living thing, not an impulse purchase you can later abandon if you made a mistake. If at all possible, go to see the puppy (and at least one, if not both parents) and verify the conditions under which it has been raised. If you cannot do this, then you need to be especially cautious. The appealing pictures you see on the web may or may not be of the breeder's home or the dogs that he or she actually owns. Also, remember that breeders do not belong to the American Kennel Club. Only dog clubs, such as the American Shih Tzu Club, belong to the AKC. It would be more meaningful if the breeder you found on the web was a member of the ASTC and a local Shih Tzu and/or all-breed club. You can contact the breeder referral committee to confirm whether a breeder you have located is an ASTC member, or to locate a breeder in your area who belongs to the ASTC. You can also contact our rescue committee for the name of an ASTC member in your area involved in Shih Tzu rescue.
Like you, we dearly love our wonderful breed. We hope that this and other articles on this web site will help make you a wise consumer and lead you to the perfect puppy.