Before You Buy A Puppy

Anyone looking for a pet has to make a number of decisions first. The most important may be whether or not your household even needs a pet! A living creature, from gold fish to Golden Retriever, needs attention and care from its owner and that owner must have time to devote to those needs. This article is intended to help you understand the needs and requirements for the potential Bichon Frise owner. It will also suggest questions the breeder/seller should be asking you and the questions you need to ask of the seller to insure a good fit between puppy and human.

Before you buy a pet, and especially a puppy, ask yourself:

Why do I want a puppy’A puppy is not a status symbol, it is not an educational tool to teach children the facts of life, it is not a stuffed animal that can be tossed aside on those days the family is too busy.

How much time do I have for this puppy’Puppies need lots of training to make them responsible household members. Compare them to a two-year old child who does not know good manners, needs potty training, cannot prepare his own food and water, and may not always sleep through the night. Puppies should not be left alone for long hours and then be expected to learn all these things in a timely fashion. See the detailed articles on Caring & Training, Puppy Information, Crate Training, Obedience Training, Puppy Proofing Your Home, Going to the Vet etc.

How old are my children’If you have a child younger than four, you may already have your hands full! It is difficult to potty train a puppy and a child at the same time.

Am I committed to lifelong care’Having a pet is a commitment to his care for his entire life.For a Bichon, this can mean as long as 16-18 years!This means through sickness, old age and any infirmities that may come with age.Veterinary treatment can be quite expensive and the annual exam, shots and teeth cleaning has a cost to it.

Is my yard fenced’A Bichon can be incredibly fast when he sees a ball in the street, another animal to play with, or when he is being chased by a child. It is heartbreaking for a family to lose a pet to a speeding car. An electric fence is not the answer for small breeds. The electric fence cannot keep larger animals out because it only works for the dog wearing the collar. Larger dogs, woodland creatures, and hungry hawks that roam free and often will attack smaller dogs. There are also ‘dognappers’ who capture cute dogs for resale and other purposes.


A responsible breeder wants information from you before selling you a puppy. Those questions will reflect the questions you should have already asked yourself about your reasons for wanting a puppy. Other questions will concern the members of your household, ages of children, who will be responsible for training and care, who is home during the day. The breeder will be unlikely to place a puppy in a home that is not prepared to provide adequate time and attention to raising it. A breeder who asks NO questions and only is interested in selling has probably not spent a lot of time in planning for a genetically healthy litter, has no concern as to how the puppy will be cared for and may not even know much about the breed expect that the Bichon is cute and desirable.

In addition to the topics mentioned, a breeder may ask:

  • Why do you want a puppy’Why a Bichon?
  • Have you owned pets before’
  • How do you plan to give exercise to the puppy?
  • How many other pets do you have’Are they neutered/spayed’Their ages, sex, health and temperaments?
  • If a local sale, the breeder may ask which veterinarian you plan to use.
  • Have you ever obedience trained a dog before?
  • Are you willing to sign a contract to spay/neuter the puppy?


  • How old is the puppy you are selling’Never buy a puppy younger than 8 weeks and it is better for the puppy to remain with the litter until about 10-12 weeks. Some breeders will keep a puppy several months before selling it because it is a particularly desirable puppy, so do not reject it because of age! However, do ask why it is being sold later than others in the litter.
  • Who are the parents and can they both be seen (especially the mother)?
  • What is the puppy’s pedigree’It’s AKC registration’A puppy registered with the American Kennel Club is a purebred puppy. Ask to see the pedigree. Its pedigree shows the ancestor’s names, many of whom may have designated initials such as CH indicating an AKC champion meaning that he/she has been judged to be a good representation of the breed standard.
  • What’s in a Kennel Name’It is the puppy’s family name ‘ ask the breeder to explain its origins.
  • Health of the parents, grandparents and great-grandparents’A responsible breeder is aware of the health of the pup’s ancestors. Ask about screening certificates on the parents etc. from the OFA (Orthopedic Foundation For Animals) and CERF (Canine Eye Registration Foundation). These registrations cannot be used unless the animals have been checked by the properly trained veterinary specialists. The Health Resource Center at and the websites contains detailed information. Another important designation will be CHIC numbers. CHIC stand for Canine Health Information Center and it is a registry for dogs that have been screened for specific health conditions. The screenings required are set by the Bichon Frise Club of America based on diseases that are prevalent in the breed. If a breeder says ‘I don’t test because my dogs don’t have these problems’, you must realize that if testing isn’t done, you do not know if your dogs have problems.
  • What shots has the puppy had and what will he need’What should I feed him’What about training’What vaccination protocol are you doing’What equipment will I need’What about medications (Heart worm and flea protection)’Follow your breeder’s advice. There are many detailed articles about Crate Training, Obedience Training, Grooming, Puppy Proofing Your Home etc. at Click on Breed Information, then Caring & Training, and then on Puppy Information. Also, many how-to videos exist on the internet.
  • What about a microchip’Do I need pet health insurance”Yes’ to the microchip! There are pros and cons about this type of insurance’ get your breeder’s guidance.
  • Shop and Learn online’but Buy in person. Many quality breeders have websites to provide information on their history in the breed, the accomplishments of dogs that are being shown as well as health information. It is worth noting that you should NEVER buy a pup from someone who ‘will meet you at the mall’ or some location other than his home. Be alert to brokers who buy pups from other breeders to sell. Finding a breeder on the internet does not negate your due diligence in finding a well-bred healthy puppy. Also note that there is no such thing as a ‘toy’ Bichon. Their adult size ranges from about 9 to 12 inches at the shoulder. A good breeder has a lifelong commitment to the welfare of pups being sold and will always be available to answer questions, to give advice on diet and training, and to help place a dog that you can no longer keep because of a move or health situations.