Where you get your dog will depend greatly on what kind of dogs your research has led you to put on your shortlist. There are lots of different ways to find your new pet, from searching the Internet to finding a dog in the street. Other than actually finding a dog and keeping her, you are probably going to have several options from which to choose her, including breeders, shelters, and rescue groups.
If you’re looking for a purebred puppy or a competition prospect, you’ll want to start with a breeder. Most breeders occasionally have adolescent or adult dogs available as well. There are many great, responsible breeders out there who do everything in their power to improve their breed. Unfortunately, for every wonderful breeder in the world, there are several that aren’t so great. Through lack of knowledge, misguided intentions, or plain greed, they just want to produce puppies to sell.
Because there are so many common genetic health problems in purebred dogs, it is very important to get your purebred puppy from a breeder who does health testing of the parents before breeding them. Along with the major registries like the American Kennel Club and the United Kennel Club, every breed has a parent club, which sets the standard for both the breed and the members of the club (the breeders), often including a code of ethics that members must follow with the care, breeding, and placement of their dogs.
Getting your purebred dog from a responsible breeder improves your chances of getting a healthy, happy dog that appears and behaves normally for his breed.
How to Find and Select a Breeder
Finding a breeder is easy. You can find literally thousands of them in the back of any dog magazine, the classified section of your local paper, bulletin boards around town, or on the Internet. However, just because someone has managed to produce puppies doesn’t mean that he or she is a good source from which to purchase your dog. Finding a great breeder who cares about the long-term well-being of both the puppy and you is a little tougher, but is easy enough with a little research and time.
In addition to the American Kennel Club, breed parent clubs, and other national and international dog clubs, most areas have local all-breed kennel clubs and individual-breed clubs. These clubs are usually great resources of both information and support. You can also pick the brains of your local veterinarians, groomers, and trainers. Dog professionals usually know or have listings for both breeders and local dog clubs, and they may even share a little insight into some of the breeds that you’re considering.
Rescues and Shelters
Whether you’re looking for a purebred or a mixed breed, puppy or adult, rescue organizations and shelters can also be great places to find your new companion. Almost every breed has its own rescue organization — and some have one or more in each state or region. In addition, you can often find purebreds — most often adolescents — in shelters.
Many shelters and rescue organizations list their available dogs on www.petfinder.com, which can save you a bit of legwork. Most shelters welcome visitors but may have certain requirements, so it’s best to call before you go.
The Problem With Pet Stores
Pet stores, especially the few independently owned ones left, are wonderful sources of quality food, supplies, and information for puppies. However, they’re not good places to actually purchase a puppy. The overwhelming majority of puppies for sale in pet stores are factory farmed in puppy mills by “breeders” whose only motive is to produce as many puppies as possible as quickly as possible, with little or no regard for the health or welfare of the puppies or the parents. Because the puppy mills breed with no regard to the parent’s suitability for breeding (i.e., whether the dog closely matches the breed standard, and whether the dog has no temperament faults and has been tested to be free of hereditary medical defects), the puppies produced are often ticking time bombs of medical and behavioral problems.
Unfortunately, the problems don’t stop when the puppies are born. They miss the vital handling and socialization that a responsible breeder would provide them during their first few formative weeks. Then comes the trip to the pet sore. The journey itself is traumatic, sometimes with a stop for several days at an overcrowded puppy warehouse. Finally, the puppy makes it to the pet store, only to be isolated in a sterile environment with no enrichment. If he’s lucky enough to be really cute, then people might handle him multiple times a day. Then again, some people have no business handling puppies, and he could just as easily be frightened by an unpleasant experience.
Pet-store puppies are notoriously difficult to housebreak because they have been forced to eat, sleep, pee, and poop in the same confined area. This goes against the natural desire for cleanliness that puppies learn when they are three to five weeks old. The longer the puppy stays in the pet store, the more difficult the housebreaking and socialization process will be.
Finally, pet stores that sell puppies capitalize on impulse purchases. Buying a puppy on impulse is never a good idea. Raising a puppy is a huge commitment of time, energy, and money after the purchase of the puppy. Puppies purchased on impulse commonly end up in shelters because their owners failed to realize the responsibility and work required.