Congratulations on your choice to bring a new puppy into your family! Whether it is a first pet, or an addition to your gang of furry companions, a new dog will be sure to bring years of love and joy into your family.
Please check out our tips for prospective puppy adopters:
- Choose the breed that’s right for you
Selecting the right breed is perhaps the most difficult – and most important – part of choosing a puppy. While we can tweak a puppy’s personality through obedience training and socialization, there are some breed characteristics that are innate and cannot be ‘trained out’.
Several breeds are meant for working and could cause problems if they don’t get a lot of opportunity to output their energy. Some examples are Border Collies and Huskies. Working breeds would not be well suited for pet owners who want a more laid-back lifestyle with their dogs.
Potential for aggression is another important consideration. If you have a family with kids or even live in a neighborhood with kids, or have frequent visitors to your home, dogs that have a tendency toward aggression may not be a good fit.
Grooming requirements and hair coat type are also very important to consider. Poodles and poodle crosses are good examples of hair coats that shed less, but require regular grooming (brushing/combing and trimming) to control matting. Labrador Retrievers have less grooming requirements but need regular brushing (often seasonal) and shed much more. Short coated dogs such as Dobermans have minimal grooming requirements but can still shed.
- Choose your breeder carefully
Selecting a good breeder is very important. Many characteristics of individual dogs (even within breeds) can vary tremendously depending on the quality of the breeding program. These include temperament, conformation, and predisposition to diseases such as ocular disease, heart disease, hip dysplasia, and allergies.
Breeders should ideally be willing to show you the environment where the puppies are raised and allow you to meet the mother of the pups. Try to get a sense of her temperament – is she friendly or shy? Do you see any signs of aggression (barking when approached or growling)? Ask whether the breeder has done any genetic testing or screening tests like hip x-rays or eye exams on the mother (dam) and father (sire). There is variation in what type of screening is recommended based on the breed. Also try to get a brief history on the health problems the dam/sire have had – eg a history of repeated ear infections is a clue that predisposition to allergies may exist in the bloodline.
Look out for signs that a puppy is sourced from a ‘puppy mill’. Examples of red flags are if someone claims to be a liaison or broker for the breeder, or if the seller of the pup requests to meet you at a public location to hand over the pup. Some pet stores have also been known to source their puppies from puppy mills, though many now have switched to offering only dogs that need adoption through the humane society or other adoption organizations. It is always preferred to see for yourself where the puppies have been raised.
- Consider a ‘rescue dog’
There are always dogs available who need a home. Adopting a dog through a humane society or rescue agency can be a very rewarding experience and give an animal in need a second lease on life. Rescuing isn’t right for everyone – it requires someone who is dedicated to looking after a dog without necessarily having the benefit of training and socializing it from puppyhood. There is a higher risk of phobias and anxiety in dogs, which will need to be properly managed to ensure a happy pet and pet parent. If you’re not sure a rescue dog will work with your family, consider fostering a pet first.
Best of luck with your selection process. Once you have found your ideal companion, don’t forget to come by for a complementary new pet meet and greet and medical assessment!