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I applaud you for thinking this decision through so carefully.

You are right to worry about socialization and other issues since the puppy was taken from her mother and litter mates so young. From what I have read some very important lessons are learned in the 6-10 week age period, including bite inhibition and socialization with other dogs.

You are also right to worry about this puppy's background. As Sisse's Mom said, a puppy from a backyard breeder or puppy mill can be carrying "genetic time bombs" that won't go off for many years. So getting a clean bill of health from the vet now is no guarentee this puppy will stay healthy. You might want to read the thread on Loca's Vet visit to see what kind of tests should be done to be reasonably sure a puppy is healthy, including blood work, and ultrasound of heart and lungs, knees checked for luxating patellas and a liver bile acids test. No matter where you live, these tests will be quite expensive. Another thing to consider is that if your friend got any sort of health guarentee, it may become void if the puppy is transferred to you.

As Sisse's Mom pointed out, the puppy you choose will hopefully be with you for many, many years. These years can be happy and carefree or they can be heartbreaking and financially devestating. Liver shunt surgery runs about $2000 and knee surgery $1500 and up. (Maltese are genetically prone to both conditions). From one who has a poorly bred Maltese, my advice would be to wait and save up for a puppy from the best breeder you can find/afford, even if it takes longer to save more money. It has been my sad experience that it's "pay me now or pay me later". My Lady is both diabetic and epileptic, has a heart murmur, severe inflamatory arthritis and allergies. I spend about $150 a month on medications and diabetic supplies alone. I have spent enough at my vet's office that they should name an examining room after Lady! I am older and an empty nester so I can (sort of!) afford this, but expenses like that could be crippling to a student or someone who wanted to have a family later on.

Worst of all, though, is the heartbreak loving a chronically ill dog can bring. I wouldn't wish that on anyone.
 

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Originally posted by sunnydays+May 3 2005, 02:05 PM-->
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@May 3 2005, 11:59 AM
Worst of all, though, is the heartbreak loving a chronically ill dog can bring. I wouldn't wish that on anyone.
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I wouldn't wish that on anyone either. Especially when you could've tried to avoid it by going to a reputable breeder

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Lady is a rescue, so I didn't get her from the pet shop. She was abandoned by her first owner when she started having seizures. She was tied up outside with no food or water in 100 degree heat when her owner moved away without her. She was there for 3 days before my neighbor got an email from the woman and asked about Lady. Jen ran over there in the middle of a thunderstorm to rescue her even though she had just had chemo a few days earlier. She is Lady's rescue angel.

Lady's former mom is an example of a person who just couldn't cope with the results of what probably was not a well thought out decision to get her. She had two sons at home when she bought her, but both left home a few years later at 18. Lady was then crated most of the time. Jennifer said Lady was always dirty and matted. This woman apparently had financial problems trying to raise her sons on her own and just couldn't handle veterinary bills. So she just left her to die.
 

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Unfortunately, the tests she would need to have done would be way more than $100. Dhodinia is going through that with Loca and I can only imagine what the bloodwork, ultrasound of heart and lungs, complete physical and a bile acids test set her back.

And that still wouldn't give Sunnydays piece of mind. There is no test to predict epilepsy or diabetes. My Lady has both and didn't show symptoms of any genetic problems until age 4&1/2.

The puppy is adorable, but did you ever see a Maltese puppy that wasn't? It's what lies within if she's poorly bred, what you can't see, that can bring huge vet bills and heartbreak later on.

Health problems down the line can happen with any puppy, as you say, but buying a puppy from a less-than-reputable breeder is a bit like playing russian roulette. As Saltymalty says, why not reduce your risk as much as possible by buying from the best breeder you can find? As the author of the Dogs for Dummies article I posted earlier pointed out, people spend more time checking out microwave ovens before purchasing one than they do a dog who will (hopefully) be a member of their family for many years.
 
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