Dogs provide a lifetime of unconditional love and lots of fun along the way. The best way to guarantee a perfect fit between your new puppy and your family is to decide carefully when searching for the right dog.
Things to consider when picking a puppy:
- Your activity level
- Your lifestyle
- Your living quarters
- The puppy’s breed characteristics
The Purebred Advantage
It’s true that you can find the right dog by accident, and that mixed breeds, or what now more commonly are known as “designer breeds”, can make great pets. However, the reason purebreds are better choices is that you can more accurately gauge what that dog will look like when he or she gets older, and also how they’ll behave.
Purebreds were created to do specific jobs or to have specific personalities. Within certain ranges, each member of a particular breed will likely exhibit the traits for which they were bred. For many years, I owned, bred and exhibited Doberman Pinschers in conformation, obedience, agility and other sports such as fly ball and dock diving.
Our Dobies were true representatives of their breed: staunchly loyal, fiercely protective and lean athletes. To me, my husband and children, they were big, loving couch potatoes. To anyone else, they were guarded, but reasonable. However, anyone entering our home uninvited better have a suicide pact.
If you want a dog that will invite everyone in and give them a tour of the house while licking them from head to toe, a Golden Retriever is one of the breeds you should consider. There’s nothing wrong with friendly dogs, but if you want to feel protected and know that your house will be guarded when you’re gone, there are better choices. A Yorkie or a Shih Tzu is probably not going to pin down an intruder, or hold an attacker at bay.
When it comes right down to it, however, nothing beats that instant connection you get with a dog, or a member of a certain breed. When I finally decided it was time to bring a new puppy home, I did all the homework and thought long and hard about what I liked and needed in a dog.
Having a lot of experience showing dogs in the past helped a lot, because I had the chance to see many different breeds in action, especially in the obedience and agility rings. So my short list included dogs that were smart and active and liked to learn new things. I wanted small. I am getting older, and, frankly, I can’t keep up with a bigger dog. So Papillons were high on my list.
However, it wasn’t until we met one face-to-face that both my husband and I fell deeply and completely in love. The bubbly, outgoing personality was perfect. The small size was just what I wanted, and there are certainly not many breeds with more energy and drive than these little six to eight pound bundles of big-eared energy.
If you’ve really done your homework, and you stick to your specifications, you’ll find the breed that’s perfect for you. The big problem comes from impulse buys. Get this—all puppies are cute. God designed them that way so their mothers would love them, and people would get all weak in the knees over puppy breath.
Those cute, slobbery little wiggly puppies are going to grow up. Don’t get me wrong—there are no bad breeds. There are just breeds that are bad for “you”.
Breeds were developed because everyone has a different idea of what makes a great dog. Ignoring the things that make each breed unique is disastrous. Don’t let instant connections override what you have on your list of things that make the perfect dog for you.
Where to Find the Perfect Puppy
Pet shops are not a good place to buy a puppy. It can be really hard to keep your heart from tugging at you when looking at all of the adorable little puppies in the window under the pets for sale sign. Picking out a puppy also means looking for well-bred animals that will grow up healthy and have stable temperaments.
A serious breeder is your best bet. You’ll be surprised to find you won’t have to pay more than the average pet shop price either. Pet shops have a lot of business overhead, and those little darlings in the pet shop window are often priced even higher than what a breeder would charge. Pet shops have a lot of business overhead.
That doesn’t mean you should deny a breeder their fair price. They have a lot of expenses too. Those expenses aren’t on buildings, employees and things like that, but they’re actually for your benefit as well as the puppy’s. A good breeder will test the parent’s health to make sure they do not have any genetic problems that could be passed along to your puppy. Pet shops never do that.
How to Pick a Puppy from a Litter
Within each breed, there are variations of drive and temperament. If you know what you want, but aren’t sure how to tell which puppies have those qualities, ask the breeder to help you choose. For instance, if you want a puppy that is more active within the range of the breed you’ve chosen, the breeder can let you know who is first to play, first to come running when they come in the room, or who shows the least fear.