The first thing that must be understood and accepted is that the whole process of dog ownership is a gamble. Puppies are not perfect little machines, assembled from standardized parts. They are individual animals whose physical and behavioral traits are not immediately observable. Potentially crippling diseases may not create any symptoms until the animal is older – which is several months or years after you must make your decision about which puppy to take home. Therefore, in reality, there is no breeder who can categorically guarantee life or a quality of life.
Just like people cannot guarantee that their children will not be afflicted with a grave disease, breeders do not have a crystal ball to know what will happen with your puppy in the future. It does not take a rocket scientist to understand that healthy parents are more likely to produce healthy offspring. So rather than worrying about which breeder offers the best guarantee, it is better to diligently locate a reputable breeder who health checks their breeding stock. Of course, health testing is not a guarantee in itself that your puppy will live a long, healthy life, but it certainly does help.
Many breeders have written agreements, contracts, and guarantees. Make sure the breeder you choose allows you plenty of time to read them thoroughly. If the breeder does not offer a guarantee and you feel more comfortable having one, write a short guarantee before you pick up the puppy and ask the breeder if she/he will agree to it. If it is reasonable, the breeder will likely not have a problem signing it.
Just keep one thing in mind. You could have the BEST-written guarantee in the world but if you cannot find the broker, importer, middleman or irresponsible breeder or get them to respond, how can you collect on your guarantee?
Health warranties that guarantee against "life threatening" genetic problems for a year are bogus. These slick breeders know that most genetic health issues will not turn up within a year.
Requirements that frequently appear in guarantees are:
Must return your puppy to receive a refund or another puppy. Now WHO would ever return their family companion after nurturing and loving this dog for so many months or years? Moreover, the irresponsible breeder is counting on that. This kind of guarantee is not a guarantee for you, the buyer, at all. It simply guarantees that the breeder will not have to replace the defective puppy.
Must euthanize your puppy to receive a full refund or another puppy. This agreement usually has a time limit such as a year or two. Now, you are obviously not going to euthanize a pet for early-stage knee problems, hip dysplasia, or the heart problems that could occur at that early age. Certainly none of these issues would be severe enough at 2 years of age to do anything as drastic as euthanasia. Yet the cost of repair would be substantial.
Requires all sorts of autopsies to be performed before offering another puppy or a refund. Autopsies are extremely expensive and there is no guarantee that any money or puppy would be forthcoming. At that point, it would be more cost effective and safer to seek out a different, more reputable, breeder and simply purchase another puppy that has a better chance of remaining healthy throughout his/her life.
Terms that frequently appear in guarantees are:
Refund will not exceed the purchase price or 50% of the purchase price of the puppy. For example: If you purchase a puppy on the Internet for $900 and your puppy comes up with patella luxation in both legs, you are looking at a $3,000 surgery bill (approximately $1,500 per leg). Depending on the guarantee, you are allowed at most $900. More than likely, you are allowed $450 (allowed 50% of the purchase price). In addition, that refund is further subject to what is said in the remainder of the guarantee -- such as whether the leg problem is considered due to trauma, what food the owner gives, gave a vitamin supplement required by the breeder, etc. As you can see, no refund is probably forthcoming.
Receive a 50% discount on the next puppy if your dog comes up with a health problem within a specified amount of time. No responsible breeder would insist that you purchase another dog, even at half price, to resolve a health issue on the first dog.
If a guarantee sounds too good to be true, it usually is. Read the small print carefully. If you really have to have a guarantee, then it should say that if any genetic problems do arise, the breeder will either refund the purchase price, replace the puppy with another of similar quality or (since they know you are not going to return a pet that is now a member of your family) help with the costs of treatment. There should also be a time limit on this – no breeder should be required to produce a life guarantee on a dog.