Choosing the Right Puppy
What is the best breed of dog for me?
When choosing a breed there are several things you should take into consideration. It is wise to thoroughly research the breed you are considering. Below are some ideas to get you started.
- Your lifestyle
- Lifestyle considerations would include your activity level, how much time you have to spend with a puppy or active adult dog, whether you have other pets, and whether you have children or are planning on having them. Read up on prospective breed activity levels and compatibility with children and other pets to help find the best match for your household.
- Living environment
- If you live in an apartment, rental home or mobile home park, your landlord may have breed and/or size limits for your living space, and small breeds are often best for these situations due to smaller living quarters. If you choose a high energy or working breed, fenced in yards or country living is generally more appropriate for these dogs. If you are considering a large or giant breed dog it is wise to have a large home or yard as they just plain take up more space!
- The initial costs the first year for a puppy can be high and certain breeds such as large or giant breed dogs can be double those of a small or medium size dog throughout their life span. Many breeds are prone to genetic issues which can be costly to repair or treat as well.
- Breed characteristics
- Most breeds, at one time or another, were bred to do a certain job or function within their living environments and many behavioral characteristics will be somewhat ingrained into the dog. For instance, certain breeds will be chasers, others will be hunters or diggers, and still others will be more territorial.
Where do I find my puppy?
Once you have chosen a breed, there are several options available for obtaining a puppy. You can purchase from a breeder or adopt from a humane society, dog pound, breed or private rescue organization. Humane organizations, shelters and breed rescues often have litters of purebred puppies available. While sometimes you are unable to get background information on the puppy’s parents, many of these organizations include first vaccines, deworming and spay or neuter in the price of adoption. Almost all of them have had health screens prior to releasing for adoption as well. You are helping to rescue a homeless dog while gaining a wonderful pet!
How do I find a good breeder?
A good place to start is your veterinarian or local breed club. The AKC has some good resources on their site as well. Reviews from past puppy buyers or personal recommendations are helpful as well. There are certain things to look for that may help you decide if the breeder you are speaking to is reputable or not. Below is a list of a few questions to ask yourself when considering a breeder.
- Does the breeder have more than 1 or 2 breeds that they are trying to sell?
- If so, you may want to re-think purchasing from them. They may be a puppy mill.
- Is the breeder knowledgeable about all aspects of the breed including hereditary health and temperament issues?
- Does the breeder screen their breeding dogs to help eliminate unwanted traits in their line?
- These include but are not limited to eye, orthopedic issues (hip and elbow dysplasia), neurologic disorders such as epilepsy or potential temperament issues like fear aggression.
- When possible, does the breeder perform testing on puppies for genetic disorders (such as kidney or heart disease)?
- Can you go meet the parents of your puppy and view their living environment?
- If they say no, move on, this is a big red flag.
- Does the breeder ask questions of you such as past ownership, veterinary references, living conditions?
- Does the breeder give a health guarantee when you purchase your puppy?
- A reputable breeder will always have a health guarantee.
- Is the breeder willing to take back the puppy or help you find a new home if you are unable to care for your puppy or he isn’t a good fit for you?
- Most breeders will do so if they care about what happens to the puppies they produce. Sadly, many do not.
- Does the breeder keep the puppies until at least 8 weeks of age?
- If not, they may be violating the law as well as cutting short an important behavioral learning time with mom and siblings.