- Deciding what gender of Boston to adopt
- Choosing between a puppy or an adult
- Finding the Boston of your dreams
- Identifying a healthy dog
It’s easy — and common — to follow your emotions when selecting a new dog. You fall in love with that adorable puppy in the window, so you bring her home on a whim, only to find that you’re not prepared or you don’t have time to share your life with a puppy.
Battle of the Sexes
Unaltered males (those who can reproduce because they haven’t been neutered) tend lift their legs to mark their territory, letting other dogs know that your home and yard are his turf. Male dogs do this regardless of whether they are housetrained, so you’ll need to have some odor-busting cleaning products on hand. (See Chapter Housetraining for Bostons for more on housetraining.)
Unlike their male counterparts, however, unspayed female Bostons (those who can have baby Bostons) can be moody and temperamental, especially when they come into heat (their fertile period) twice a year. When this happens, you’ll need to isolate her from ready and willing male suitors. You’ll also need to clean up her bloody discharge during that time or outfit her in a pair of absorbent pet pants.
Puppy or Adult?
Choosing between a puppy and adult can be a challenging task for any dog lover. Each has its benefits and drawbacks. Before making a decision, ask yourself these questions:
– Do you have the time to dedicate to raising and training a puppy? If you work at home or have some flexibility with your schedule, a puppy is for you! If not, consider an adult dog who has been housetrained and is relatively independent.
– Is your lifestyle conducive to raising a dog? Pet owners who prefer to stay at home rather than go out are a step ahead when it comes to raising a puppy. If you enjoy going out, an adult who is already trained would suit you better.
– Do you want to breed your dog? If so, you need to find a breeder who is willing to adopt out a breeding young-adult female dog who has already begun to display her adult conformation and temperament.
– Is it important that you raise the dog yourself? If so, definitely choose a puppy who you can watch grow up. An adult dog has already established her personality, and she may have some behavior issues left over from the previous owner.
– Do you have children? Older children can help with the chores associated with raising a puppy; younger children may not be ready for such responsibility. An adult Boston who has been raised around kids will be tolerant of playful children, though she should be supervised at all times.
– Is cost an issue? The purchase price of a purebred puppy is often more than that of adults or rescues. If price is an issue, consider adopting an adult.
– Is it important for you to help a retired show dog or rescue? If so, then open your home to an adult Boston. Many Boston breeders will place a retired show dog or a female after she is past the breeding age of 5 years old.
If You Choose a Puppy . . .
Locating a reputable source
You need to look for upstanding breeders and dealers who are experts at selecting, breeding, and preparing dogs for loving homes. These breeders sell the animals through a variety of outlets, from individual placements by the breeders themselves to offering them through responsible pet stores.
What makes a breeder reputable?
– She chooses her breeding stock very carefully, with the goal of improving and preserving the breed. She uses the breed standard as a guide to produce the best puppies she can.
– She tests her puppies for congenital defects and illnesses, and she tries to eliminate unhealthy dogs from her breeding program.
– She supplies Boston buyers with a proof of health screening, a sales contract, and plenty of references.
– Though she may list her name among other breeders in national magazines, she typically doesn’t sell her puppies through local or regional newspapers advertisements. She doesn’t need to because she often has a waiting list for her healthy, well-mannered puppies.
– She will ask you about your home, your lifestyle, your experience with dogs, and your goals with the puppy. She may even ask you to complete an application.
– She willingly opens her home so you can inspect her facilities. She introduces you to the dam and her litter, and she’ll show you photos, pedigrees, and health certificates from the litter’s sire.
– She will take back a dog from her breeding program if you can no longer care for the puppy.
Dog shows offer another opportunity to locate Boston breeders. After watching the dogs compete, talk to some of the people showing their dogs. Ask them about their breeding program or where they got their dogs.
– How long have you been breeding? The more experience, the better.
– How long have you been breeding Boston Terriers? Do you breed other dogs? People who breed one particular type of dog are truly dedicated to bettering the breed. People who breed based on the latest fad or those who breed several different types of dogs should raise a red flag.
– What dog organizations do you belong to? Reputable breeders should belong to some membership-based club or organization, like the Boston Terrier Club of America, with the goal of continuing their education in the breed.
– What are the parents’ strengths? What shortcomings do they have? Though most breeders will boast about the quality of the dam and sire, question her to learn about any behavioral or temperament problems, like possible aggression or poor socialization skills.
– Can I visit your facility and meet the dam? The answer to this question should always be, “Of course.” Even if the breeder has no puppies at the time, she should welcome you into her facility so you can see the dogs in her breeding program.
– Where do you raise your puppies? How have you socialized them? Ideally, the breeder has raised the puppies in her home around the sounds of normal daily activities. You want to find out whether the pups are getting used to being around people.
– What health problems do you screen for? What congenital defects are common in Boston Terriers, and what are you doing to decrease those defects? If the breeder says, “None,” or “My dogs are perfect,” run the other way! All breeds have the potential for some sort of genetic defect, so your breeder should be upfront about health problems that may present themselves. If possible, know the correct answer to this question in advance. (Chapter Breed-Specific Ailments covers common Boston ailments.)
– What kind of health guarantee do you offer with your dogs? At the very least, the breeder should guarantee against any debilitating health problems and congenital defects.
– How many litters do you raise a year? Breeders who produce more than three litters per year may not be paying enough attention to the dogs’ health. Avoid breeders who always have puppies because that can be a sign of irresponsible breeding practices.
– When can I take the puppy home? A reputable breeder will let her puppies go home when they’re 9 to 12 weeks old.
Backyard breeders and puppy mills
These terms are packed with negative connotations, and for good reason. Some backyard breeders and puppy mills breed and raise purebred puppies as a commodity, with little or no interest in the dogs’ well-being.
A backyard breeder is often a person who breeds her dogs to make some extra money. She knows little or nothing about selecting for specific genetic traits or preventing congenital malformations.
A puppy mill is just as it sounds: a facility that churns out puppies purely to make money. Disreputable puppy mills are often on a farm or in a residence, and they keep their animals in filthy, inhumane conditions. The dogs being used to produce the puppies aren’t taken care of properly and are usually bred each season with no chance to recuperate.
There are, however, reputable hobby breeders who are learning from an experienced mentor. Similarly, puppy distributors raise puppies en masse, but the dogs are cared for by a veterinarian, raised in pristine facilities, and socialized on-site by staff members who adore the dogs.
Before pooh-poohing a novice breeder or puppy distributor, do your homework and get the facts. It may not be as bad as you think.
The owners of one pet store in Southern California, for example, regularly visit each breeder with whom they work. They take in only as many puppies as their retail facility can handle, and they keep them in an open play area during the day so the puppies can interact with each other. Three designated employees are specially trained to care for the puppies and check potential buyers. The store owners recognize the need in the community for purebred puppies from a reputable source, and they have filled that need with healthy, well-cared-for puppies.
Next, prepare to ask the shopkeeper these questions:
– Do you have a source for Boston Terrier puppies? Depending on where you live, a Boston may be hard to find in a pet store. Ask the shop owner whether he can get one, and if his answer is yes, ask how involved you can be in selecting the puppy.
– What kind of background do you have on the puppies? While many pet store owners won’t have the detailed information and pedigrees that are available from a breeder, he should have the dogs’ medical history, including shots and wormings that have been done; whether the dogs can be registered, and with what registry; the age of the puppies; and a list of medical problems, if any.
– Where did the puppies come from? Have you inspected the facility yourself? The shop owner should know exactly where the puppies came from, and ideally, he should have inspected the facility at least once. He should be keeping tabs on the breeder or distributor, knowing as much as possible about the facility, the breeding practices, and the care the animals receive.
– Do you work with a veterinarian? Puppies sold through pet stores should be under the care of a veterinarian who oversees their health and well-being.
– How do you socialize the puppies? To grow up to be healthy adults, puppies need to interact with other dogs, be handled by humans, and introduced to a variety of sounds and smells. Pet store owners should be able to describe how their puppies are being socialized.
– Can I inspect the puppies? Look at the puppies to make sure their eyes are clear and bright, that there are no signs of external parasites, that their skin and coats look healthy, and that they show no signs of hot spots (surface skin infections that look like festering sores) on their backs or legs. The puppies should be energetic and full of life.
– Can I inspect the facility? Look at the play area and kennels where the puppies are housed. Is the area clean and sanitized? Is the air cleaned through air purifiers? You should smell no odor at all, and you should see no feces or urine in the kennels. The facility should be as pristine as possible.
– What kind of guarantee do you offer? The pet shop should offer a health guarantee in case the puppy becomes ill after you take her home. A health guarantee ensures that you can return the puppy within a specific time period (typically several days, depending on the contract) if your veterinarian sees any signs of health problems or congenital defects.
– What information do you need from me? To determine whether your home is fit for a puppy, a reputable pet store owner should ask you about your experience in keeping a dog. He should ask if you live in a home or an apartment, and whether you have a yard or outdoor area to exercise your pet. If the shopkeeper doesn’t question your ability to care for the animal, he’s not acting responsibly.
That puppy in the pet store window may tug at your heartstrings, but don’t rush in and buy it just to rescue it from the retailer. Though some pet stores offer healthy pups, many don’t, and that expensive impulse purchase may lead to unanticipated veterinary bills. Besides, by buying a pup from a disreputable pet store, you’re supporting the production of puppy mill dogs.
Recognizing a healthy puppy
You can begin this puppy health-check while the dog is at the breeder’s facility or in the pet store. If the puppy is still with her littermates, look at the entire group. They should all be active and playful. There should be no sick or weak puppies in the bunch; if one is sick, the others will likely come down with the same illness.
The pups should all have clear, bright eyes with no redness or discharge; cold, damp noses; and clean ears with no signs of ear mites. None should be shaking her head or scratching at her ears, because this behavior can indicate an infection. Similarly, there should be no odor around the dogs’ ears. Their gums should also be pink and healthy.
You want an alert Boston who leaps up to see you, wagging her little tail in sheer ecstasy. You don’t, however, want a pup who appears overly aggressive or domineering, charging over her littermates to get close to you. That little pup is a discipline problem waiting to happen!
If You Choose an Adult . . .
You can find adult Bostons through kennel clubs and breeders. Often, after the dogs are past their reproductive stages, breeders place Bostons in loving homes so they can enjoy the rest of their lives being spoiled by loving owners. You can also find adult Bostons through breed-rescue organizations that specialize in finding homes for dogs whose owners can’t care for them anymore
Rescuing a Boston
If you choose to adopt an adult Boston Terrier, one of these national rescue organizations can help. They have hundreds of healthy Bostons who are looking for loving “forever” homes. They even have special-needs dogs who require a little extra care and nurturing.
Working with a breeder
You can find a reputable breeder by attending a dog show, contacting your regional kennel club, searching through periodicals, or asking your veterinarian or pet store owner for a referral. Assess the breeder just as you would if you were buying a puppy: Ask questions, visit the facility, and check references whenever possible. (See the “Breeders” section earlier in this chapter for more info.)
Connecting with rescues
Recognizing a healthy adult dog
- Clear, bright eyes with no redness, discharge, or injuries
- A cold, wet nose with no discharge of any kind
- Clean, erect ears with no signs of ear mites or infection
- Clean and bright teeth with little tartar
- A smooth, clean coat free from external parasites, including fleas, ticks, and mange
- Healthy, pink skin with no sores
- An overall sound structure with healthy legs, paws, and body
- No signs of coughing, congestion, or diarrhea
- Free and easy movement with no difficultly moving about
- Well-socialized, appearing confident and not afraid of sudden sounds or movements
- Up to date on her shots and vaccinations