Whether you plan to adopt a healthy adult dog from the shelter, or you are looking for a brand new puppy from an elite breeder (bear in mind, puppies cannot leave their mother until they are 8 weeks old), there are many details to prepare for. Your home needs to be dog-proof and ready for the arrival of your new pet, with chew toys or blocked off areas as needed. Owning a dog is a financial investment averaging $800-$1,000 per year, so be sure that this is a commitment you are willing to make. Once you are ready to purchase your pet, consider the below pros and cons to each option available to you.
Many people wait for months at a time to find the right breeders, or to purchase a puppy at the earliest possible age. However, an increasingly popular way to select a dog is to go through an adoption or rescue agency. This is an admirable choice, as adopting a dog is potentially saving him from being put down, and giving the possibility of a happy life. Some of the benefits of adopting a dog are that most animal shelters and humane societies provide excellent health care including vaccinations and parasite treatments for their pets, so you will receive a well-cared for animal. Adoption is also a far less expensive option than buying from private breeders or going to a pet store, and the veterinarian fees will be much more expensive on an individual bases. One important factor to consider will be that rescue dogs may have undergone some traumatic experiences, or may have separation anxiety. As an adoptive owner of a pet, you will need to factor in an extra measure of patience and love for your new friend.
Another option is to shop for your puppy at a pet store. The benefit of this option is that there are easily accessible puppies to choose from. However, though this is a convenient option, there are many negative factors to consider. Most shops claim to source their puppies from "local breeders" when instead the animals are shipped from puppy mills, which are known for profit-driven breeding with little care for the animals' quality of life.
Often, while pet stores promise that their puppies are in good health, most shops neither keep sufficient health records, nor actually test their dogs for health problems. Instead, they have a reputation for overloading the animals with vaccinations to avoid spreading disease from animals in close proximity. This overdrive of vaccinations will weaken the animal's immune system in the future. In addition to this, there is a wealth of other problem areas, including false registration papers from unlicensed registries like the Continental Kennel Club, APR, KNC, etc., that cannot verify whether or not there has been in-breeding. Behavioral problems arise as well, as many pet shop dogs often turn out to be nippy, since they are used to rough-housing in small spaces without an opportunity to move around and function normally. Therefore, even if you meet the puppy of your dreams in a shop, recognize that there may be a difficult road of health trouble and training ahead.
Though it is usually the most expensive option, purchasing from private breeders is one of the more reliable methods of buying a dog. Though the location of the breeder's home may not be convenient, it is beneficial to see the conditions in which your dog was born. The breeder should also have reliable papers for the breeding history of the dog. If they do not, you can also trace responsible breeders, refer to a local breeding club or visit professional dog shows to find a breeder that can be vouched for.
It is also advisable to purchase the puppy from a breeder based on a referral, which ensures accountability. When you meet the breeder you are considering, ensure they have screened the dogs for genetic health problems and have paperwork to prove it. They should take the proper time to inform you about the breed, about your puppy's needs, and should have a fair amount of questions for you as the buyer since they ought to care about the welfare of the puppy. Be aware that many well-bred dogs who have sufficient paper work, and have been given the right health testing and vaccinations may cost anywhere from $200-4,000 depending on the breed.
If the breeder would like to have you sign a contract upon the purchase of your dog, be sure to read it carefully as some like to retain training or breeding rights over the puppies they sell, or might have profit-division requests should you ever choose to breed your dog.
Lifestyle and personality are some of the most important considerations when deciding what breed to choose. If you are a single, living in an apartment or in a large city and you work a 9-5 type job, you will want to select a dog that is comfortable in a small space. Pets who have more laid-back or "stay-at-home" preferences and are not high strung with the noises of city life, will be a better fit for this type of situation. If you live on a large property with briars or nettles, or various wild animals, you will need to choose a sturdy and protective dog who is not easily exhausted.
Some dog breeds (such as Shih Tzus, Pugs, Pekingese, etc) are happy to be left at home all day, so long as they get a walk in the evening. Similarly, larger dogs (such as Bloodhounds, Greyhounds, Whippets, etc) also enjoy peace and solitude, as long as they are exercised before and after. For active individuals or families, you will need to discuss which kind of dog will be well-matched to your lifestyle. For example, an energetic Labrador or an athletically-built Vizsla might be just the companion for you, while most bulldog breeds get overheated and have heart problems with too much exercise in warm regions.
Climate is also a factor to weigh before purchasing a dog. Observe the hair length and whether or not constant up-keep and grooming would be something you could commit to. If you are not willing to brush and wash their coat so it doesn't shed, perhaps you should you choose a breed whose fur does not need any extra care. Our dog breed descriptions should help narrow down the process of finding what dog will best match your lifestyle.