The Best Ways to Search for — and Find — “Puppy Love”
Last time we talked about how to decide what kind of dog you want. Now that you have a breed or kind of dog in mind, the search really begins. Where are you going to get your perfect pup? If you are looking for a mixed breed, shelters and private rescue groups can assist you. If you have decided on a purebred dog, you have several more options. Some of the most common resources are private breeders, pet stores, and breed-specific rescue organizations.
Private breeders range from those that want the family pet to have one litter to professionals that research every aspect of their dogs’ bloodlines. Going to a breeder allows you to meet at least one of the parents, sometimes both. Because temperament and health are greatly influenced by genetics, the parents can give you a view into your puppy’s future. Private breeders are also a great source of knowledge about their breed. They should be able to tell you about the typical behavior of the breed and common health problems. The best breeders will screen their dogs for these problems. Tests are available for hips, elbows, eyes, and some blood disorders.
The downside to buying from a breeder is that you may need to wait a while for a puppy, you may need to travel to the breeder, and you will likely have to pay top dollar for a purebred. The American Kennel Club maintains a database of breeders, as do most local kennel clubs. Dog shows are great places to get to know the breeders in your area. Magazines such as Dog Fancy have classified listings of puppies, and national breed clubs can sometimes provide referrals.
Pet stores may be the most popular place to get a new puppy. They have the advantage of being local, and you can usually pick out a puppy and take him home the same day. However, because most pet stores have the puppies shipped in from out of state, there is no opportunity to meet the parents. You are also less likely to find the kind of health certifications private breeders offer. As with anything else, some stores are more reputable than others. If you decide to purchase from a pet store, make sure to ask around and inspect their facilities.
One of the least-known resources is the breed rescue group. These private groups take in unwanted dogs of a particular breed, foster them in their own homes, and then find them, adoptive families. This can be a great way to get an adult purebred dog, but young puppies may be harder to find. Rescue groups can be found on the internet or through local dog clubs.
There are several local rescue organizations that often have a wide variety of breeds, sizes, and ages. These groups accept surrendered pets and strays and help them find their fur-ever homes. Typically, most dogs from rescue groups come already spayed/neutered and fully vaccinated.
Whether purebred or mix, puppy or adult, breeder or pet store, make sure to have your new pet examined by your own veterinarian right away. Most sales contracts allow a 72-hour window in which you can return the puppy, so schedule your appointment as soon as you know you will be picking up the dog. Once your pup has a clean bill of health, you can relax and get ready to enjoy years of companionship.
This copyrighted article first appeared in the Residences section of The Palm Beach Post. It may have been updated since its original publication.