So you want a puppy, where do you look?

Whatever you do, DO NOT RUSH! Impulse buying is the easiest and worst way to buy a puppy.  This is a decision that will affect the next 10 – 15 years of your life, it deserves at least the same diligent research as any other major purchase.  Careful consideration of your needs and circumstances is a good place to start. Each purebred dog variety is bred for different purposes and temperaments. Studying the various dog breeds will help you find a dog that fits your personality and lifestyle. Becoming an informed shopper increases the likelihood of a successful dog/owner relationship.

Reasons for having a dog vary from companionship, competition in dog shows, obedience, field trials or carefully starting your own line of purebred dogs. Excellent temperament, emotional stability, instinct and conformation are never a matter of luck. Generations of careful breeding to meet a certain criterion defined by the breed standard of the American Kennel Club (or United Kennel Club). Each breed has a certain predictability of type and temperament when bred to meet the established standard for that breed..

After completing your “dog” homework and deciding which breed is right for you, finding a dog is the next step.

Sources of Puppies

Brokers, pet stores, commercial kennels, backyard breeders, puppy mills, shelters, professional breeders and rescue organizations are all sources of dogs. All sources have different purposes and goals for producing or selling puppies. The ‘doggie’ homework you have done should help you make the best decision to suit your and the puppies’ needs.

Brokers buy and sell puppies wherever they can. They mostly deal with puppies for a profit. Many times the broker buys from commercial kennels. However, they also purchase puppies from backyard breeders and puppy mills. A broker sells either directly to the buyer or to pet stores. In this case, you cannot see the mother or her living conditions, nor are you able to ask questions when you need help with raising the puppy.

Pet stores rely on your immediate attachment to the cute puppy. While some pet store puppies have health certificates and AKC registrations, there are many unknown variables. The source of the puppy and the condition of the mother are not known . Contracts offered usually benefit the seller more than the buyer. Also, pet store employees are not generally prepared to answer questions about temperament, care and health problems of specific breeds.

Neighbors or relatives are a better source than a broker or pet store. But, more than likely, they are not professional breeders. They usually do not study characteristics and genetics and, like most backyard breeders, they do not have hips x-rayed for displaysia. Bitches and dogs can not be x-rayed for an OFA certification before the age of two years old. Dogs and bitches should not be bred before they are x-rayed. Also, bitches should not be bred more than once a year. Waiting the year allows the female dog a full recovery from the stress of whelping a litter.

Rescue organizations and shelters are sources for pets in need of a new start. They offer a pet that is screened for temperament and health problems. Adopting a rescue dog can be a very rewarding experience. Make sure you find out as much about the dog you are adopting as possible. Some dogs have established needs such as an aversion to cats, a temperament better suited for adults, or an aversion to other dogs (males & females).

The best professional breeders maintain a clean environment, breed with care, keep in touch with their puppy people, study bloodlines, socialize their puppies, follow the breed standard, certify health and prove their dogs in the show ring and/or in the field. The number of litters produced a year should not exceed four unless the person is home all the time or has a kennel manager. Responsible breeders are always working to improve the breed. A good breeder also has the first responsibility of taking back the puppy if things do not work out. Contracts offered protect both the buyer and seller.