About Heritage Puppies.
Heritage puppies is proudly owned and operated by Steve and Sue Steele of Lake Mills, IA, with help from a great staff.
Sue grew up in southern Minnesota and loved dogs from a young age. She was active in 4-H and received a grand champion award with her registered poodle at the county fair. Steve grew up right here in Lake Mills. He was also an animal lover, and was noted for all the stray cats and dogs he provided a home for when he was a young boy.
They were married in 1990, bringing two families together and raising six kids - four boys and two girls.
In 1997, Steve left the grocery buisness and Sue left her office job. They purchased a farm and existing kennel that was having hard times, and started Heritage Puppies. Since that time, they have been working hard to make Heritage Puppies the best kennel in northern Iowa, and a premier supplier of exceptional pets.
Now we realize that the industry we are in does not please everyone, and never will. Regardless of how hard we do try, there are groups out there such as Peta who will do whatever they can to end dog breeding and companion animal ownership completely. Some people in the public will listen to them and find something arbitrary about us that they do not like – whether it’s too many dogs, or not enough attention, or that the USDA and anyone associated with them is an evil government entity, they will find something. If you search the web, you may even find an occasional complaint about us – after all, we have been in business for many years, and it would be impossible for nothing to ever go wrong when dealing with live animals. At the end of the day all we can do is take great care of our dog, raise beautiful puppies, follow the law, and always strive to improve our kennel and the industry as a whole – and that is exactly what we have always done, and continue to do.
We support regulations and laws that go after unlicensed kennels, and shut down any kennel that mistreats their dogs. At the same time we will stand up for the rights of pet owners, and fight for our right to run our business without the interference, intimidation, and illegal tactics of the animal rights activists by working closely with the Iowa Pet Breeders Association and Iowa Federation of Animal Owners to improve our industry and protect both its human and canine members. After all, the American public loves dogs; they are our greatest companions and friends. If we want them in our lives, then someone has to be able to raise them, and that person has to be able to make some sort of living doing it without being harassed by special interest groups who believe that their way is the only way regardless of the law and the rights of pet owners such as you.
Our ultimate goal is to raise your puppy in a way that will make you feel good about buying your puppy from your local pet store. You don’t need to buy your puppy from a backyard breeder who has little experience and offers you nothing after the sale. You also don’t need to buy from a national broker who doesn’t care about where their puppies come from. You have another choice right at your local pet store – a Heritage Puppy!
Is Heritage Puppies licenced and inspected?
Of course! Any dog breeder that sells puppies to another breeder or pet store must be licensed by law if they have more than three breeding females. Licensing is done by the USDA to enforce the Animal Welfare Act, which requires minimal care and living conditions for animals. Most breeders go far above the requirements dictated by the AWA, and those that don’t eventually go out of business. We can admit that the system is not always perfect – yes, occasionally sub-standard kennels get overlooked. After all, the USDA is may be underfunded and understaffed, but for the most part they do a great job closing down bad kennels and going after unlicensed ones. We are also licensed by the state of Iowa.
The USDA inspects all our kennels. They check the health of our dogs, the condition of our kennel, review our medical records, and keep track of who we buy dogs from and who we sell to. They also make recommendations, and point out things that we can improve on – similar to restaurant inspections. In some cases the inspector may find something that the USDA feels needs to be corrected and followed up on – these issues are listed on our inspection records which are available to the public. Few breeders have perfect USDA inspections – it is easy to overlook something minor, or put it off a little too long until a surprise inspection occurs. In our case, we had a lot of work to do when we bought Heritage Puppies to get it back in great condition, and our early USDA inspection reports reflect this. After much hard work, we feel we can be proud of our kennel, and that our records support this as well.
Where do Heritage Puppies come from - where are they born?
All of our puppies are born here at Heritage, or at one of our partner kennels in the local area. Unlike our competitors, we know every single breeder we buy our puppies from – we see their kennels, how they treat their dogs, and work with them to always improve their operations.
Our partner kennels must all be licensed and inspected in order to do business with us, and be of a medium size; not too small, not too big. Kennels that are too small, with only a couple breeding parents (backyard breeders) do not have the experience needed to raise their puppies in the best manner. On the other hand, kennels that are too big usually have to keep their dogs in smaller areas where they get less attention, and have a hard time keeping up with cleaning and care. We try to work with kennels in the middle – those that have enough dogs (and resulting experience) to know what they are doing, and cash flow (usually from a second income) to give their dogs the best surroundings and care. Large national puppy brokers don’t do this; they buy puppies from anyone, anywhere their trucks go – often from rest stops on the freeway, never seeing or caring what conditions the puppies come from, or how their parents are treated.
When it comes to the care of the puppies and their parents, we expect all of our breeders to meet all state and USDA requirements for space, heating, air conditioning, feeding, medical care, etc. We expect all that and more, as it is not acceptable to barely meet the requirements. Puppies and parents alike get human attention daily, and our mothers always have a safe, clean environment to whelp her young. A veterinarian is on call 24 hours a day, every day of the year should medical attention be needed by any dog, and is on the premises at least once a week to do health checks. We take the health of our puppies seriously, and we believe it shows at the store.
How do Heritage Puppies get to my local pet store?
All Heritage puppies make either one or two trips to get to your store. The first trip occurs if you puppy came from one of our partner kennels in the area. This is a relatively short car trip - half an hour at the most, usually much less. The second trip (or first and only trip if the puppy was born here at Heritage) is from here to your local store. Our goal is to make the trip as comfortable and quick as possible. We do this in a couple ways:
First, we drive at night. Shortly before bedtime, we put our puppies into a comfortable travel carrier and drive straight to the store. It is dark out, the puppies are tired and ready for bed, and the road lulls them to sleep much like children are. By the time they wake up in the morning they have arrived at their destination with minimal stress.
Second, we don’t stop for anything other than gas and to check on the puppies as needed. We don’t run around to other breeders picking up puppies. Every trip has two people who ride along – one to drive, and one to attend to the puppies, be an extra eye on the road, etc. Our drivers have worked with us for many years, and are well trained to watch for any issues that a puppy might have while on the road. If there is any question about the health of a puppy when it arrives at the store, it will come back with us for further monitoring.
Now we realize that our competitors like to boast about their special delivery trailers with high-tech ventilation systems and wire containers with waste washouts. We are sure that these are great vehicles to have, and probably much needed if you puppy is going to spend a couple days in the vehicle as it drives around to various breeders and even highway rest stops picking up other puppies who might have any number of germs to pass along. Since your Heritage puppy goes straight to your store, we don’t need those types of trucks. We use a modern, clean, minivan much like the vehicles that you, your kids, and you pets travel in, and it works just fine.
What if my local pet store does not have the breed I want?
Most of the common breeds are available through Heritage Puppies. If your store does not have what you are looking for just ask a store manager and they can request it for you. Depending on the popularity of the breed, we should be able to get your puppy in two to eight weeks.
What should I consider before buying a Heritage Puppy?
The first thing that you should do before buying a puppy is determine whether or not you should have one at all. All too often, people buy puppies on impulse, without doing any breed research, or considering the change and demands that will be placed on their day–to–day lives. In these cases it is often the pet that suffers by being raised in a home that neglects it, or sends it to a shelter where it will be euthanized. The people that buy these puppies have every good intention, and are good people at heart, but made a bad choice.
In an ideal world, every person that walks into a pet store will have done their research, and be completely ready for this new family member. But we all know that an ideal world doesn’t exist. No pet store has the resources to check the backgrounds of all its customers, and even if it could, it would likely be deemed an invasion of privacy. There is only one realistic solution to impulse buying:
Accepting personal responsibility for our actions by researching your breed and lifestyle before buying a puppy is the only way to ensure that both you and your puppy will be happy for many years to come. Below are some things you should consider at length before buying a puppy. Remember, there is no need to rush into buying a pet – there will always be one available when you are ready.
Please avoid buying on impulse in response to life events. Bringing a dog into the house to make you feel better about a lost job, or bad relationship, or any other negative event usually does not work out.
Please avoid buying someone else a puppy as a gift unless you know without a doubt that they want a dog, you know exactly what they want, and they have asked you for it. Be especially careful when buying a puppy for your children. When a parent has fond memories of a dog they had as a kid, they often want their own kids to experience the same feelings of love and companionship. This is natural, and can also help kids become more responsible. But please make sure you are not forcing the puppy on them. We suggest being patient, letting them approach you first, and see if their interest in having a dog is long-term, and not just temporary. You will also need to be prepared to take care of the puppy yourself should your kids lose interest in doing so.
Please avoid buying a dog because it is the cool breed of the moment. Unfortunately this happens far too often. Remember Eddie, the dog from the NBC show Frasier? Many people fell in love with him on TV, and ran out to buy one just like him. The problem is that Eddie was a dog that was extremely well trained, and more often than not, people were disappointed that the dog they had just bought did not act like Eddie. They realized that Jack Russell Terriers are very willful and determined little dogs that can be destructive when not trained and exercised properly. Unfortunately, many of these dogs ended up in shelters or in the street.
Please remember that Dogs are social animals and need to feel like a part of your family – do you have the daily time to spend with your new dog? Do you have time to play, socialize, walk and train your dog? More importantly, will you have time for all of this for the next 7–15 years?
Please remember that life deals changed, an that your dog depends on you to keep it safe and loved. Do you move or change jobs often? What if you start a family? These are two of the most common reasons your dog will end up in a shelter. We know life is unpredictable, and sometimes we have to make hard choices unexpectedly, but at least consider how you may need to respond to future life events and what it means to any pet you bring home.
Please remember that dogs do get sick, and can make you sick. Do you have allergies or other health issues that could cause you to either get rid of your dog or not spend enough time with it? If you have not previously been around many different breeds of dogs, we recommend getting an allergy test. If you are even a little allergic, try staying with a friend that has a dog for two or three days and see how well you respond to it. Make sure you also take into consideration your cleaning habits. Remember, different breeds have different traits – some shed more or less then others, and some produce more allergens, but no dog is completely hypoallergenic. If you have light allergies, and are still interested in a dog, we recommend checking out this external list of Breeds for Allergy Sufferers.
Are you prepared to deal with the health issues your dog may develop in old age, or will you get rid of it when it is no longer as active and healthy as it was when it was young? No matter how healthy your puppy is now, and no matter how good the breeder was, you are still dealing with a living creature who will likely develop some sort of health issue(s) in old age.
Please remember that cost is not just what you pay for your puppy. Determining if you can afford the price of the dog itself is the easy part, but make sure to consider the ongoing expenses. There are initial costs such as a crate, collar, registration license (In some places), toys, etc. You will also have ongoing expenses such as food, treats, and flea medication if your dog goes outside. All included, your initial cost of supplies could cost $200 – $300. You will also need annual vet checks and vaccinations which can cost up to $150, and possibly training classes. You also cannot expect that your dog will never get sick or have an accident – emergency medical bills can run into the thousands. We strongly recommend getting pet insurance. Below are some links to the more popular pet insurance web sites.
VPI Pet insurance
Is my Heritage Puppy already trained?
Your puppy has NOT been trained. There are many methods for potty training your dog and we have no idea which method each person will want to use. If you have not trained a dog before, this will be you biggest challenge. Training is not particularly difficult, but it does take patience and consistency. You should never buy a puppy if you do not have a plan already in place. This is where breed research is also important – some dogs take longer to train then others, either because of intelligence or stubbornness. You first step is to pick up a book or two on training. Understanding the methods available for training and how you puppy relates to you is vitally important for success. We also recommend puppy training classes – these are invaluable to the first time puppy owner.
Again, we ask that you NEVER buy a dog of any sort without having a plan in place to train it. A dog that is not properly trained can be a danger to itself, and a headache for the owner. Your dog can be whatever you want it to be. It wants to please you, and looks to you for guidance. If you don’t provide it then that is not your dogs fault. No dog should end up in a shelter simply because its owner is not prepared for the training.
Are Heritage Puppies vaccinated?
Yes, and thouroughly! Each puppy gets the following:
•Week 0: Iron
•Week 1: Strongid-T (de-wormer)
•Week 2: Strongid-T (de-wormer)
•Week 3: Iron, Ivomec (de-wormer) and Progard KC (kennel cough vaccine)
•Week 4: Panacure 3-day (de-wormer) and Progard CPV (Parvo vaccine)
•Week 5: Progard CPV (Parvo vaccine)
•Week 6: Galaxy DA2PPv (5-way vaccine)
•Week 7: Ivomec (de-wormer) and Progard CPV (Parvo vaccine)
•Week 8: Strongid-T (de-wormer) and Galaxy DA2PPv (5-way vaccine)
A vaccination record will be included with each Heritage Puppy so that you can give it to your veternarian duiring your first check-up.
Are Heritage Puppies registered?
Yes, all purebred puppies are registered with AKC or APRI.
Are Heritage Puppies checked by a Veterinarian?
Yes – more than once. All of our puppies are closely monitored, and if there is ever any question about the health of a puppy we have it checked by a veterinarian. In addition, all puppies that arrive or leave Heritage Puppies get a thorough vet check. You puppy is then checked yet again when it arrives at your local store.
Puppies are checked for general health in much the same way as people are. The veterinarian will check the teeth, eyes, knees, listen to the lungs and heart for any abnormalities, feel the abdomen, check for hernias, etc. Naturally, this check cannot find every condition that a puppy could potentially have – just like people, a puppy could have a problem that is not causing any outward symptoms, and will not do so until farther down the road. In other words, there is always risk involved with adopting a living animal, and this holds true for anyone, regardless of whether you buy from a store or directly from a breeder.
One of the reasons you find our puppies at your local store is because of the high customer satisfaction – our puppies are fully vaccinated (unlike some of our competitors), and we don’t breed dogs that are even suspected of having genetic problems that would be passed on to the offspring. Our puppies are some of the healthiest you will find!
Do Heritage Puppies come with microchip tracking?
We do not at this time microchip our puppies for the simple reason that it is permanent, and not every customer wants it. Micro-chipping is available at most veterinarian clinics, and most stores have clinics very close if not right inside. Home Again is the preferred provider of micro chips, and gives the best service for your money. You can learn more about Home Again at homeagain.com.
What should I feed my Heritage Puppy?
Feed your Heritage puppy any high quality puppy food such as Iams. When you first get your Heritage Puppy, make sure that it has food and water available all the times for the first week or two. Once your puppy has settled in, you can remove the food at night, but even if you are crate training we do recommend that there is a small water dish available at all times. After that, refer to your veterinarian for guidelines on feeding amounts or schedules for your particular breed, and to know when to switch to an adult food.
What should I watch for after getting my Heritage Puppy home?
Your puppy should be in perfect health, and has been checked by at least two independent veterinarians, however, please remember that your puppy is a living animal and is susceptible to stress or germs that can occur after the vet checks, and after you bring your puppy home. This is true whether you buy your puppy from a store or directly from a breeder.
The most common issues that occur are stress related. Any time a puppy moves from one place to another (such as from the store to your home), and is suddenly introduced to a whole new environment with new people it can become overly stressed. For the most part, any stress related issues will happen during the transfer from our kennel to your store, and will be resolved before you buy the puppy. Just like with people, stress can do different things to different dogs.
In some rare cases, stress may cause your puppy to become depressed and quit eating or drinking. It is important that you watch for this, but remember that puppies don’t generally sit down and eat a meal until they are full. Instead they will often just grab a mouthful or two of food and take a quick lap of water every so often. Because it is so quick, it is easy to miss. For the first day or two you can smooth the food in the bowl so that when your puppy eats, you can clearly see that the bowl has been disturbed.
Water is a little harder to notice, but you can tell if you puppy is dehydrated by pinching the bare skin on its belly. If it snaps back within a second or so then your puppy is not dehydrated. If the skin stays bunched up for two or three seconds then your puppy may not be drinking. If you suspect your puppy is not eating or drinking, try giving it a can of soft food. Most puppies see this as a wonderful treat.
Stress can also make a puppy more susceptible to colds and other germs that neither Heritage Puppies nor the pet store can vaccinate for. If you notice a runny nose, coughing, hacking, or diarrhea, your puppy should be seen by a vet as soon as possible. These germs can be picked up anywhere, especially where there are lots of people and other dogs (such as a pet store), and some bacteria are present in all dogs, but simply get out of control when the immune system is not 100%. In almost all cases, you vet will simply need to give some inexpensive antibiotics.
Always be especially watchful for coughing or breathing issues at any age as lung infections can turn deadly very quickly. If your puppy is listless, won’t sit up, falls over, or doesn’t respond to you normally then you need to get it to a vet immediately – not tomorrow, not later today, but NOW!
All puppies, especially those under 12 weeks old are going to eat & drink, go to the bathroom, play, and sleep. As long as your puppy is doing all of those things it should be just fine. We also like to remind everyone that your puppy does need to rest – please keep this in mind if you have children. You puppy should have a safe to go when it wants to (such as a crate), and should be allowed to sleep at any time. A puppy that plays hard sleeps hard – it is not uncommon for a puppy to be playing one minute, and be sleeping so hard the next minute that you have a hard time waking it up. This is ok – it just means your puppy is content, feels safe, and is exhausted from playing.
Again, any problems that we mentioned above are rare, but you should know what to watch for. If you ever have any question as to the health of your puppy, bring it in for a vet check as soon as possible.
When should my Heritage Puppy have its next vet check?
Heritage Puppies recommends that your first veterinarian check occur within a week after bringing your puppy home. This benefits both your puppy and yourself. The vet will check and verify that same things that the previous ones did, and make sure that nothing new has been picked up along the way home. Many stores have their own warranties, so you will want to make sure that you get the check done within any time frame dictated by the warranty.
What do I do if my Heritage Puppy has a problem?
If you have purchased your Heritage Puppy sometime in the last two weeks, please take a moment to read our previous FAQ on what to watch for after you bring your puppy home.
If you have had your puppy for more than two weeks and it suddenly becomes sick or is having a problem of any kind it should see a veterinarian. The health of your puppy should always come first. Your store representatives and Heritage Puppies are happy to help if we can, but we can only do so much if there has not been a diagnosis made by a qualified vet. We cannot diagnose your puppy over the phone or via email. Once your dog is out of immediate danger, and a diagnosis has been made we can act accordingly as the situation calls.
If you puppy has been diagnosed with a cold, flu, infection, cough or any other communicable sickness that cannot be vaccinated for by Heritage Puppies, then check your store warranty. Each store has its own warranty, and may cover certain conditions for a specific period of time. However, communicable sicknesses generally have an incubation time of well under two weeks, so if your puppy gets sick after that time then it likely contracted the sickness after it left the pet store. Puppies, like people, get sick from various virus and bacteria that cannot be vaccinated for. While unfortunate, it is just a part of life when raising an animal. Feel free to contact your pet store or Heritage Puppies if you have any question regarding the particular problem you puppy has been diagnosed with.
Should the unforeseen happen, and it turns out that at some point after the sale your puppy develops a condition that impacts its quality of life, and that should have been caught by our veterinarians, or that can be shown to have existed since birth as a result of bad genetics, or should have been vaccinated for, then you should contact your store immediately. These types of situations are very rare, but there are many problems a dog can have that cannot be caught by a veterinarian until outward symptoms are seen. Although small, there is always some risk that a puppy will have a problem that cannot be caught by a vet check. It doesn’t matter if you get your puppy directly from a breeder or from the store, and any breeder or store that claims to have a 100% health rate is lying. If your puppy is found to have a problem by your vet talk to your store manager first; we have great working relationships with them, and trust their judgment. If your manager finds it appropriate to give you a full or partial refund
they know that Heritage Puppies supports them – no questions asked.
If for any reason you do not feel that the matter is properly being addressed by your pet store, then please contact Heritage Puppies so that we can help rectify the situation.