Before you begin the search for that special puppy to share your home, there are several issues that you must first resolve.
The most important question of all is whether or not you are ready to commit yourself to being a responsible dog owner. Is
there time in your life to devote to your new companion, or will he be left alone for long stretches of time, while you are
at work or school? Are ALL members of your family happy about getting a puppy or do some view him as an intrusion? Questions
such as these must be honestly answered before you make the descion to get a puppy, as this is a long-term commitment and
you must do what is best for both you and the animal.
WHAT TO LOOK FOR IN A PUPPY
When evaluating litters of puppies, in an attempt to select the one that is right for you, what should you look for? Your
primary concern should be for signs of health. A puppy should look plump and well-fed. His ribs and hip bones should not be
protruding prominently. A very thin or potbellied puppy may have worms and should be carefully inspected by a veterinarian.
A healthy puppy should have clear eyes and there should be no discharge from his eyes or nose. The coat should be filling
in nicely, without bare patches or obvious sores, and there should be no sign of a rash on the inside of the dog’s legs
or on his abdomen. Check his hearing ability by standing behind the puppy and making loud noises. He should quickly respond
to the commotion and turn to you. Given that most puppies you see will pass this basic health exam, what else should you be
Among a litter of healthy puppies, one may stand out as the most jovial or outgoing. He may do things to
attract your attention and generally seems to like you, as if he has picked you for his own! He should be alert and full of
energy, not listless and shy. Concern yourself with his general appearance.
WHAT AGE IS BEST?
While puppies certainly are the most adorable at six weeks of age, this is not the most advantageous age from an owner’s
point of view. At six weeks the puppy is like a baby that requires care twenty-four hours a day. He is too young to reliably
housebreak, he requires four or more feedings a day, and he is undisciplined. In fact, a much higher percentage of four-to-six-week-old
puppies die shortly after being placed with new owners than do eight-week-olds who have greater stamina. From an economic
standpoint, it is certainly best for breeders to sell their puppies when they are very young; they do not incur the additional
expense of those first few trips to the veterinarian. But from a buyer’s standpoint, one must consider how much time
one has to devote to a puppy’s early care before setting out to purchase that new family member.
MALE OR FEMALE?
If you are interested in breeding and raising a litter of puppies, you should, of course, select a good-quality
female. Those who do not plan on breeding their dogs should bear in mind that a non-neutered female will attract males whenever
she comes into heat. These heat cycles occur approximately every six months, last two to three weeks, and can be very annoying.
Spaying will eliminate this problems.
Males are often slightly larger than their female counterparts, but both sexes make good pets.
SHOW QUALITY OR PET QUALITY?
When purchasing your purebred puppy, you must decide whether you want him to be a companion or whether you
want to show him in competition. This is very important because only the finest breed specimens should be entered into active
competition. Show-quality puppies are the hardest to find and are the most expensive to buy. If you are not interested in
dog-show exhibiting, any healthy, well-bred specimen of the breed should do.
If showing is your intention, you should buy a puppy from a knowledgeable and reputable breeder. The puppies
available from most neighborhood owners are generally termed "pet quality." This does not mean that they will make inferior
or superior pets as compared to show-quality dogs; it just means they are somehow slightly faulty when measured against the
breed’s standard of perfection. This faultiness is rarely evident to anyone except a breeder or dog-show judge and is
of great concern only when you are entering the dog in competition. Be sure to make your desire to show the dog clear to the
breeder so that he or she will sell you the best specimen possible that you can afford. Dedicated breeders strive to produce
the finest dogs they can, ones that will enhance the quality of the breed. Not all dogs owned by even the top breeders are
of superior quality when compared against the standard; therefore, a breeder may stipulate that you may not breed the pet-quality
animal and thereby pass on his faulty traits. So bear this in mind and be sure to clarify your breeding intentions at the
time of sale. Also, be aware that you will pay top prices for show dogs and for those females with brood bitch potential.
ONE DOG OR MORE?
If you are introducing a puppy into a home with an older dog, remember that there will be a period of adjustment
for both dogs. The older dog may manifest signs of jealousy and resent the intrusion of the puppy. To counteract this, be
sure to give the older dog lots of attention. At feeding time be sure to watch both dogs - especially the puppy, who, not
knowing the rules, may try to steal from the other dog’s bowl. Most adult dogs will accept a new dog in the home after
a day or two; but if either dog shows any aggressiveness, you may want to keep them separated. Introduce them to each other
for short periods of time until they become more accustomed to each other.
PURCHASING YOUR PUPPY
Once you’re decided that you are ready to commit yourself to being a good owner and you’ve selected
those characteristics and traits that you want in your dog, where do you go to locate that specific puppy you’ve been
thinking so much about?
While you may pay more for a puppy from a professional breeder than you would from a local mating, you may
be able to see several generations of your dog’s ancestors at the breeder’s kennel. This should give you a good
indication of what your puppy will look and act like when it grows up.
Before you take the puppy home, be sure to ask the breeder for all the puppy’s inoculation and health
records. The breeder also may be able to familiarize you with some of your puppy’s habits or personality traits. Did
he have a favorite toy or blanket that you could take home with you to help ease the transition to his new home? Ask what
and how often the puppy has been fed. Try not to vary this diet very much once you have gotten him home, to avoid possible
stomach or bowel upset. Some thoughtful breeders often give the new owners a few days’ supply of the puppy’s food
so that he can continue eating the same food in his new environment.
At the time of sale, arrange with the breeder to furnish you with your purebred puppy’s registration
papers from the national kennel club. Depending on the age of the dog, you may be given the registration application or the
completed registration certificate, if this has already been received back from the registering body. Once a litter is born,
the breeder generally applies to register the litter, specifying the names of the sire and dam and stating the number of puppies.
The governing kennel club then issues a registration application for each of the qualifying puppies. If you are purchasing
a six-to-ten-week-old puppy, this application will most likely be what you receive. With this, you will give the dog a his
official name and transfer ownership of the puppy from the breeder to you. The breeder will have to supply some of the information
on the form, so discuss this application procedure with him or her if you are not sure how to proceed.
If you are purchasing a slightly older dog, he may have been registered with the national kennel club and
a registration certificate may already been issued.