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red-flag-mdPart 1  of 3 “Raise the Red Flag”

 How to select your new Boston Companion

At some point in their lives, all those with good taste (at least in my opinion) discover that their lives will not be complete without a Boston terrier. Who can blame them? I question the sanity of anyone who does not want a Boston, and even look suspiciously at someone who owns only one. Once the decision is made, one can only hope that research is done to determine the best route in choosing their new companion. There are many Bostons in rescues right now that could use a great home so that option should be the very first explored, especially if someone is able to make enough time in their day and has enough room in their heart for a special needs Boston. Should rescue be ruled out for one reason or another, the alternative is purchasing from a breeder. This in itself can be quite the challenge in determining what red flags to watch for. There is a right way and there is a wrong way to breed dogs and if your smooshy faced buddy is going to be around for their lifetime, you need to make sure you avoid heartbreaking health issues by purchasing your dog from an ethical and educated breeder. Purchasing a pet is not like purchasing an item on Amazon… at least it shouldn’t be.


Red Flag #1: Avoid “shopping cart” websites like the plague.

If they will take a payment from you without approving of their puppy’s future owner, they are NOT a reputable breeder. You should also be wary of those who take many deposits from people prior to having a litter. This indicates they plan to always have a large supply of puppies on hand to “fill orders”. Reputable breeders produce puppies for themselves first, and puppies that they choose to place are typically determined after 6 to 8 weeks, unless they have some sort of disqualifying characteristic from the start. Okay so let’s say the MOST beautiful Boston you have ever laid eyes on (in pictures) is clear across the country. Thanks to the improvements in pet shipping through airlines, you can have your puppy delivered to your local airport sight unseen. Great plan? NO, it is not. And let me tell you why.


Red Flag #2: Don’t ship sight unseen.

In November 2013 a new rule went into effect that prevents a breeder from shipping your puppy sight unseen to you unless they, 1. Have four or less breeding females. Or 2. They are a USDA licensed kennel. #1 could include reputable breeders or more likely could include backyard breeders since most reputable breeders are still probably going to ask you to pick up your puppy in person. #2 means you are most likely buying from a puppy mill….


Red Flag #3: Don’t buy from a USDA licensed kennel.

USDA licensing requires kennel facilities with concrete floors and drainage to accommodate volume waste. Puppies are required to be raised in the kennel rather than the home, and regulations do not prevent a breeder from crowding several dogs into one cage, rarely allowing them exercise or attention. Kennels bragging that they are USDA inspected and approved do not realize this is not a positive point. USDA inspects and approves a lot of horrible facilities with dogs living in horrible conditions. Being USDA licensed and inspected merely means they are breeding puppies in high volume. We all want our smoosh faced buddies to be healthy and this particular breeder says all of their breeding dogs have been checked by their vet and found to be healthy. That’s good enough, right? BZZZT! Wrong!


Red Flag #4: “My vet says my dogs are healthy”.

A “vet check” is NOT the same as breed specific health testing for hereditary conditions. Testing for conditions specific to the breed should be done on the parents and preferably for many generations back in order to rule out the likelihood of your dog inheriting a crippling condition. Bostons should be BAER tested for normal hearing in both ears, CERF tested for multiple conditions of the eye, Patellas tested Normal, and JHC DNA tested, (or both parents JHC DNA tested) for juvenile hereditary cataracts, which can render a dog blind by the age of two. (Be warned however, that BAER testing does not diagnose “selective hearing” which is commonly found in Bostons). Why does this Boston not have a smooshy face?