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Buying a Dog - How to Select the Right Dog

 
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Buying a dog is no small decision. Often, it's a choice made impulsively (Oh, look! Puppies!), and later regretted. To fully prepare yourself for the challenges—and the many rewards—of buying a dog, research the subject carefully. Talk to other dog owners, dog breeders, your veterinarian, and animal shelter professionals and volunteers before buying a dog—or adopting one. What you learn will help to ensure that you are buying the right dog for you, for your family, and for your living situation.

Features to Consider When Buying a Dog

  • Breed – purebred or mixed breed
  • Size – Adult weight
  • Sex
  • Pedigree
  • Cost
  • Age – Puppy or Adult
  • Personality
  • Where will you get your dog
  • Use (pet, showing, sporting, non-sporting, hounds, working dogs, herding dogs, terriers, toys, rescue, service and guide dogs)
  • Training (learning curve)
  • Family oriented (Child friendly)
  • Environment (apartment, home with yard, farm)
  • Grooming requirements

    Desirable Features in a Dog

  • Healthy
  • Good personality
  • Serves the purpose you want

    Features to Avoid in Buying a Dog

  • Bad breeders
  • Dirty kennels
  • Pet Stores
  • Puppy Mills

    To help you choose the best dog, consider these points:

    ARE YOU READY FOR A DOG?

    Dogs take commitment of both money and time. It is essential that you consider this up front before getting a dog. Buying a dog is a luxury, in some ways, no different than any other leisure product or craft. Just as owning a “boat” can be fun, it requires ongoing care, dock fees, maintenance and your time. So does your new dog.

    DO YOU HAVE ENOUGH TIME FOR A DOG?

    Dogs take time. They need for you to take them for a walk, for you to feed, exercise and play with them and they need to be let out to do their business. Depending on the breed of your future dog, some need to be groomed on a regular basis and grooming can be very costly and or time consuming. Before buying a dog that requires regular grooming call your local vet, buy a breed specific, call a breed club, talk to people who have the breed of dog you are interested in buying for what type and the cost grooming. Consider how you spend your time and when you would have time to spend with your new four-legged friend. You should consider having at least 2 hours per day in your time budget to give your dog the love he or she deserves.

    SOME GENERAL QUESTIONS TO CONSIDER WHEN BUYING A DOG.

    Are you buying a dog for the city, or the country?? Are you buying a dog that will live in the house, or in a warm, secure kennel? Will it have a fenced in yard or a local park in which to play? Do you live near the water? Ocean? Lake? River? Stream? Canal? Pond? Swimming pool? If yes, having a dog that is water friendly and who is a strong swimmer is a must. Please not that an accidental drowning not only happen to people but also to dogs; some dogs are not strong or the best of swimmers and can easily drown.

    Are you buying a dog that's friendly, or might it bite? Think about your lifestyle: do you have kids, other pets, do you have friends and family over your house frequently? If yes, then an aggressive dog is not a good match.

    We have all heard the phase: Location, Location, Location… and now you are saying to yourself, what does “location” and my future dog have to do with one another? EVERYTHING. Now this might seem like a no-brainer, but certain breeds of dogs do not do well in certain environments. For example having an Alaskan Husky in hot and humid South Florida or the hot and dry dessert would not be a good match for this thick furred, cold-weather-loving pooch. And having a Chihuahua in Alaska during the cold, long winter months may not be fair or healthy to this fragile, light-coated breed. These and other concerns and questions are important to answer before buying a dog. In fact, there are almost as many questions as there are dogs. But if you're serious about buying a dog, you can improve your chances of success by being thoughtful, deliberate, and cautious.

    WHY DO YOU WANT A DOG?

    Are you buying a dog for pleasure, companionship or for protection? Consider what you want your dog for, example do you want just a pet, a show dog, or a sporting, non-sporting, hounds, working dogs, herding dogs, terriers, toys, rescue, or a service and guide dogs? This will influence your selection for finding your perfect pooch.

    WHAT SIZE SHOULD I GET?

    Do You Have Enough Room for the Dog You Want? Consider your environment relative to the size of dog and the exercise requirements of that particular dog. Do you have an apartment, home with yard or a farm? This may impact the size or breed you select. The larger the breed or size of dog, generally the more room you need. A small apartment may work well for small dogs that are less active. However, it is possible to have a larger breed dog in a small space, but you need to make sure you give him enough external stimulation to make sure he gets what he needs in terms of play and exercise. Also consider if you have weight restrictions on how big a dog you can own if you are in a rental or condo unit.

    RESEARCH THE BREED OF DOG.

    If you choose a purebred dog, research it well. Read information on our site by searching on that breed, ask your vet, talk to friends who have the breed of dog you are interested in, or go to your local library. Know what you are getting. Too many pets end up in shelters because dog buyers didn't know what they were getting.

    DO YOU WANT A PUREBRED OR A MIXED BREED?

    There are pros and cons to both. It is essential to understand the positive and negative aspects of both so you can make the right decision for your situation. Purebred dogs generally have a history that can often help you understand their personalities, appearance, size and weight average, exercise requirements, health problems, life expectancy, and even idiosyncrasies. You often know what you will get. However, purebreds are often considered less hardy than mixed breeds, as a result of inbreeding. Mixed breeds are also going to be less expensive but often you don't know for sure what you are getting. Many times it is difficult to know what breeds even make up the mix so it is almost impossible to predict the personality traits of a particular dog. So, some important things to think about include: Why do you want your dog (for example, do you want a companion or a guard dog?) Do you want a dog to look a particular way (such as with a purebred?)? Can you handle some unpredictability in what you are getting (such as in a mixed breed?) How much time and money do you want to spend? Do you have kids? Other pets? Answer these questions honestly and this will guide you to finding your perfect dog.

    DO YOU WANT A MALE OR FEMALE?

    Female Dogs verse Male Dogs

    Pros:
    1. It has been stated that female dogs are easier to train than males.

    2. Female dogs tend to be more passive.

    3. It has been said that female dogs more affectionate and make better companions, but, to be honest, the jury is out on that one. We believe that all dogs treated kindly, compassionately in return will give you unconditional love.

    4. Yes, it's a fact, a female dog can hold her urine longer than a male dog and some can wait as long as ten to twelve hours if necessary. In a household where no one is home during the day, this is important information in deciding whether to get a female or a male.
    5. And, when you and your furry-female companion finally get to go on that much need walk, she will most likely empty her bladder all at once. A male dog takes longer to relive himself because they go in little spurts here and there, especially in the cold.

    Cons: Female Dogs verse Male Dogs

    1. It is more expensive to spay a female than to neuter a male.


    DO YOU WANT A PUPPY OR ADULT?

    Advantages: Adult
    You don't have to guess how big the dog will get. The adult dog is usually housebroken and has outgrown his impulse to take everything in his mouth and chew on it. An older dog – especially one who has already shared a household or played with other pets – is more likely to meld into the existing hierarchy established by your other dogs and cats.

    Advantages: Puppy
    You get to teach and watch him grow; also you get the advantage of developing a strong lifelong bond.

    Disadvantages: Adult
    Some dogs are available for adoption due to behaviors issues. His prior owners might have given him confusing commands or didn't do a good job of keeping him from tearing up the house. Or maybe his previous owners spoiled him, indulging all his doggy desires.

    Disadvantages: Puppy
    During their early life, puppies can be destructive. House training can be frustrating and training takes time and patience. Size might not be revealed until full-grown.

    Now, step back and take a look at your life. Do you have the time and patience it takes to raise a puppy? If yes, you will have a loving pet that you have trained to fit perfectly into your family. If you are willing to adopt an older dog, even with minor flaws, you will have a greatly devoted companion. Either way, it is a win-win for everyone.


    WHERE WILL YOU GET YOUR DOG?

    We recommend that you avoid puppy mills, pet stores and bad breeders. Focus on breeders with an excellent reputation and referrals, your local shelters and humane societies.

    HOW TO FIND A GOOD BREEDER?

    If you want a purebred dog, consider how to get a good breeder. Get recommendations from them and actually call those individuals. We have several good articles on our site about choosing good breeders. Please go to How to Pick a Good Breeder and 16 Questions you Should Ask the Breeder.

    WHAT GROOMING REQUIREMENTS DO YOU WANT?

    Are you willing to brush your dog every day? Do you want a pet that sheds?

    DO WANT A “TRAINABLE” DOG?

    Some breeds are more trainable than others. For example, Retrievers can be very well trained and are very smart dogs. Other dogs are much harder to train. Is this important to you?

    IS IT IMPORTANT TO HAVE A CHILD FRIENDLY BREED?

    Kids and pets are made for each other. FYI... puppies have extra-sharp teeth and claws. Toy-sized dogs may be too delicate for an exuberant toddler; large dogs can knock a child over. Some breeds, despite size, are domineering or high-strung. Different breeds can elicit different allergic reactions. Spend time with a similar pet at a friend's house before choosing yours.

    BUY YOUR DOG FOR THE RIGHT REASONS.

    “It's For the Kids” - There's no question that kids and dogs belong together. But before buying a dog, find out if the breed is known as being child friendly. Buying a dog that looks cute in the movies, may lead to disappointment when they're chewing your furniture or nipping at the kids. And when buying a dog for the family, make sure that you are willing to be the dog's primary caregiver. Even the best-intentioned child sometimes fails to take responsibility for a pet.

    ALREADY HAVE A PET?

    At first they might become jealous but after slowly introducing them, they will become pals. Oh!!! By the way.... Cats and dogs can get along just fine thank you. Becareful in your selection however. For example, Greyhounds are not generally “good” with cats.

    HOW MUCH DO YOU WANT TO SPEND ON YOUR FURRY FRIEND?

    Consider how much money you have in your budget. If you find a breeder with good qualifications AND good recommendations, they probably have good dogs. Don't spend all your money on the dog when you consider your budget. Please consider they added costs of health care, vaccinations, spaying and neutering, and flea and heartworm prevention medications. Also, remember, generally the bigger the dog, the more money he will cost you annually (he eats more, surgery and health care may be higher, etc.).

    IS YOUR DOG HEALTHY?

    Before buying a dog, make sure that the animal has no obvious physical infirmities. This can be done, in large part, by petting, walking, and playing with the dog. This is particularly important when buying a dog from a pet store. Pet stores sometimes get puppies from large-scale breeding operations that have been linked to hip dysplasia, and other hard-to-detect conditions that could shorten your new dog's life. For that reason, rather than buying a dog, you may choose to adopt a puppy, or an adult dog from your local animal shelter or Humane Society. Their dogs are examined for good health and temperament before being adopted.

    WHO WILL BE RESPONSIBLE FOR YOUR NEW ADDITION?

    Your responsibility only begins with buying a dog. Your new dog needs your love, and your attention. That means time spent together, walking, running, playing—being active. Buying a dog, and chaining it to a tree, will not make for a happy, or healthy dog. Buying a dog also means trips to the vet, and trips to the store for high-quality dog food. Your vet can recommend suitable brands.

    Buying a Dog or Adopting The Ideal Dog

    Buying a dog is an act of love. The ideal dog is one you can love, and who will love you in return. It is the right size, temperament and the breed for where and how you live. It should also healthy! Research what you want, follow recommendations regarding breeders and have him examined by a veterinarian.

    Those who adopt from a shelter tend to be much more open-minded in their expectations. Conversely, if you are dealing with a breeder, you most likely have done some homework and decided this is the breed for you. Your resource list for purebred dogs should include: professional trainers, breed-club personnel, books by authoritative trainers and behaviorists.

    Ultimately you want your ideal dog to be obedience trained, spayed or neutered, and given plenty of quality dog food, fresh air and exercise. In short, the ideal dog is yours.

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