How to Select a Puppy That's Right for You

How to pick a puppy that is compatible with your home and family.


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Your next step: Explore the breeds. The American Kennel Club has 145 registrable dog breeds in seven groups: Sporting, Herding, Working, Non-sporting, Toy, Hound and Terrier. These breeds have been honed for years to perform certain functions. While many share similar characteristics, they differ in temperament, exercise requirements, maintenance and grooming.

If you are looking for a purebred, decide on the qualities you want and narrow the list. Resist falling for looks. You may love wrinkly Dogue de Bordeaux puppies, but do you really need a beefy dog whose ancestors fought bears?

"I ask potential buyers, 'What's your lifestyle?"' said Kyle Symmes, whose Temecula, Calif., kennel produced American Bulldog Rattler, who played Chance in the "Homeward Bond" movies. "Do you sit around and eat pretzels and watch TV? Or do they say, 'We plan to do the obedience training. We go camping and to the beach.' They are the ones who will see the potential and experience the wonderfulness of the breed."

Read books and magazine articles about breeds. Contact breed clubs for information. Attend a dog show. Ask breeders whether their variety is right for you. Once you've decided on a breed, look for a reputable breeder. Ask your veterinarian. Contact the breed association. Read dog magazines. Then go visit.

Symmes recommended going to three kennels before purchasing. "Sometimes i t's not possible to do that, but it would allow you to compare different facilities," he said.

Tour the facilities, and talk to the breeder before looking at the dogs. Are the facilities clean? Do the dogs act territorial in their pens? (This could signal that they've never been let out.)

Have they had access to the home? Have they been reared around children?

Ask the breeders if you can speak to their veterinarians. They can discuss the dogs' health with you. Ask for references. Find out if the breeder offers a guarantee. Most will refund your money or replace a dog if it has medical problems. Others have a lifelong guarantee and will take a dog back anytime regardless of reason. Ask to see the puppies' parents, if they are on premises. If they are not, find out where they are. The parents can give you an idea about the puppies' potentials.

Good breeders will ask you questions. They want their dogs to live in happy homes and will inquire about your environment, lifestyle and intentions for the dog. They may ask you to sign a spaying/neutering agreement on a pet-quality dog. And don't be surprised if they ask if you can afford a dog. Purebreds range in price from $200 to more than $1,000, and you need to plan for veterinary services, supplies and food bills.

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Give us your opinion Give us your opinion on How to Select a Puppy That's Right for You

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STB   Eagan, MN

8/19/2010 9:35:48 PM

Great information. My son is planning on getting a dog and has two toddlers. Your article is very thorough on choosing a puppy. Thanks so much.

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janet   bethlehem, PA

8/18/2010 4:12:06 AM

good information, thank you

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Arianna   cape coral, FL

5/29/2010 3:49:31 PM

This article is very good information

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janet   bethlehem, PA

8/12/2009 4:26:38 AM

good article thanks

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