In this article we explore whether a puppy should be microchipped and the role breeders play when it comes to this important aspect of your pup’s future wellbeing.
First of all, what is a dog microchip and why is it so important? A microchip is a permanent method of electronic identification. They are radio-frequency implants no bigger than a grain of rice and injected under your pet’s skin between the shoulder blades.
Owners are sometimes wary of this futuristic sounding technology - but not to worry, the microchip is not actually a tracking device. It requires no battery or other power source and it only stores your pet’s identification number, no other information.
How does the puppy microchip work?
The microchip is essentially “inactive” unless scanned when the radio waves put out by the scanner activate the chip. The microchip number corresponds to some basic contact information for the dog’s owner so that he/she can be contacted in the event that Fido goes missing.
All shelters and veterinarians are equipped with microchip scanners so that if someone brings a stray dog into one of these locations, the dog’s chip can easily be scanned and his owner contacted. This is a valuable feature that ensures you won’t lose your dog.
Microchips, when used correctly, are significantly more effective than collars. While we still recommend the use of a collar and I.D. tags, a microchip is a really important backup ID system.
It is quite common for a dog to lose their tags or perhaps run out of the house without wearing their collar. In the event your pet is stolen, a collar is easily removed, but the microchip is of course permanent. There are numerous stories of dogs who got lost and passed through several owners before ultimately being reunited, sometimes years later, to their original owner, thanks to the use of the microchip.
Why should you find a breeder who microchips their puppies before being sold?
As discussed in a previous post on finding a good breeder, this is just one of several markers of a reputable seller. Unfortunately, since we live in an age where much interaction is done online, it can often be difficult to sort out the scams / puppy mills from the high quality breeders.
Whether or not your breeder microchips their puppies before going home is one simple but clear cut marker of integrity, as this information can be easily verified. Microchipping puppies is considered a basic standard of care among most breeders and can be an important indicator of a breeder’s affection for their pups.
Some breeders microchip their puppies themselves, others have their puppies chipped at their vet check appointment. Either way, the microchip is typically a non-invasive process — it is simply injected into the puppy’s skin much like any other dog vaccine.
As far as verification, if your breeder does microchip their puppies, then you should receive a pamphlet of information about the chip and how to register it in your name. Upon taking your puppy to the vet for his first checkup, it is always a good idea to have your vet check for the microchip. This verifies that it is in the right place and working correctly.
If your vet is unable to locate microchip, no need to immediately panic. Do not assume the worst about your breeder right away. While most of the time microchipping is a seamless process, it is possible that the microchip can slip out of place (particularly with a wriggly puppy!) and be difficult to find with the scanner.
Puppies SHOULD be Microchipped Before Being Sold
If the vet does a thorough check and is simply unable to locate the microchip, you can have your puppy chipped again. There is no harm in having two microchips in your pup as again they are smaller than a grain of rice and easily fit under your dog’s loose skin around his neck area.
Simply check back in with your breeder to let them know of the situation — an honest breeder who includes microchipping in their services will likely reimburse you for the extra chip.
Furthermore, a reputable breeder is tied to their puppies for life — contractually they typically require any puppy that needs to be rehomed to be returned to the breeder no matter the age of the pup! Microchipping is just one more example of this extra level of care for their puppies.
A breeder who microchips their pups is willing to incur extra cost to make sure their puppy stays safe in the future — perhaps well after they go home. Microchipping is all about the future safety of the dog. The goal is to increase the chances of reuniting a lost dog back to his owner. And data show it really works!
A study of more than 7,700 stray animals arriving at animal shelters showed that dogs without microchips were returned to their owners 21.9% of the time, whereas microchipped dogs were returned to their owners 52.2% of the time. The results were even more staggering for cats! For chipped pets that didn't make their way back to their parents, this often had to do with incorrect owner info in the microchip registry – so it is equally important to register your microchip and keep it updated with the correct information!
While we strongly recommend finding a breeder who microchips their pups, if you find yourself with a pup that has not been microchipped, you can easily have him chipped yourself. Any vet will be able to handle this task - the average cost is around $45.
While we can’t emphasize the importance of a microchip enough, it is equally essential to find a breeder who cares about their puppies enough to consider their future wellbeing.
If needed, the microchip itself is a relatively small, inexpensive thing that can easily be done by an owner after the puppy is 8 weeks old. We hope this has helped address some of the basic questions you may have about chipping but let us know if you still have questions by reaching out to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Jenna and the JLDD Team