With dogs for sale in pet stores to anyone who has a credit card, and a plethora of ads on Craigslist, Facebook, newspapers, and internet forums, purchasing a dog has become even easier. However, purchasing a good dog of proven health, temperament, and breeding has not! The one thing pet stores and various ads for “papered dogs” have in common is this: they are promoting dogs of poor quality as impulse buy items. “Available right now!! Buy now, before you change your mind, or before they are all gone!”
A dog is not an impulse buy item. We are not adding a new TV, new piece of clothing, new boots, new gadget or gismo to our homes. We are adding a living, breathing creature that will be part of our lives and families for 10-15 years. Think about it: if your children are now 5 – 8 years old, this dog will still be with you when they graduate high school and start college!
A dog needs to be taken care of properly. It needs to be fed, groomed, exercised, potty-trained, obedience-trained. It will need regular vet check ups, vaccinations, spaying or neutering, and possibly even emergency care. And if it has health problems, it won’t matter that you only spent $300 on it as a puppy (instead of the $1800+ from a good breeder); you could be spending thousands of dollars more on medical expenses for diseases that good breeders screen for. A dog is not a lawn ornament, either, to be bought on a whim because it is so cute; if you want something to look cute and stay in the backyard all day and night, opt for a cute statue, not a dog.
Finding the Right Dog
If you want to add a dog or puppy to your home, take your time! Contrary to popular trend, you do not need to add a dog “right now”. Many of these dogs purchased “right now” wind up in shelters only a few months down the road. Instead, think through this first:
- What type of dog do you want, and why?
- Will this breed be a good fit for your family?
- What do you want from your dog: a good family companion, a competition prospect, a friendly and trainable animal? Do you want an energetic dog, calm dog, etc.?
The more information you have on what you want and need in a dog, the better chance you will have of finding a dog that matches what you need. If you need a confident and stable dog, then do not select the shy and nervous puppy. If you want a healthy dog with a good temperament, then look for parents that have their health and temperament tested and proven.
Also think through the logistics of getting a puppy. What will it eat? Where will it sleep? Will you have time to potty train it, socialize it, and obedience train it? Who will feed it? Walk it? Train it? Clean up after it? What will you do when it misbehaves? Even if this dog is “for the kids”, parents still wind up doing most of the work.
Now to the most important question: where will you get this dog or puppy? If you are dead-set on a purebred puppy, find a reputable breeder. Don’t buy from a pet store–NO reputable breeder would EVER sell their puppies to a pet store to live in little cages with no socialization, and to be sold to anyone who has the money. Don’t buy from a “breeder” whose main claim is that their dogs are “AKC papered”. Sadly, this means very little in terms of quality. It simply means the parents were registered as purebreds, and so the puppies are also–even if they hardly look or act like the breed they are supposed to be! AKC registration is NO indication of quality, health, and temperament. There are no standards to meet or requirements to complete, not even basic requirements like health testing and temperament testing!
Instead, support good breeders. Good breeders:
- health test their dogs for crippling genetic diseases like hip and elbow dysplasia, degenerative myelopathy, cardiac problems (depends on breed), eye problems (depends on breed), etc.
- breed for good temperament, structure, and working ability
- have proven that their breeding stock have the above traits by training and titling them in some venue (Obedience, Agility, herding, IPO/Schutzhund, etc.)
- produce quality litters, not quantity
- care about their puppies and about who buys them. They do not just sell to you because you showed up and have money to spend.
Expect to wait a little for your puppy. Expect to pay a bit more (but it is still nowhere near the cost of the puppy). Expect to have lots of questions asked about you, about your experience with dogs, about your plans for the puppy, etc. You are not just picking a puppy–you are selecting a breeder, who should be a mentor and a guide for the life of your dog. If you have selected your breeder wisely, you will be getting a dog whose parents have been carefully screened and proven in temperament, health, structure, and trainability; this gives you a much greater likelihood of having a confident, healthy puppy of good temperament that looks and acts like its breed should, AND that is a good match for your home. Good breeders know their dogs, and will help you select the right puppy. If it is not a right match, they will say so (unlike most other “executive protection dog” sellers, German Shepherd Watchdogs will not sell our dogs unless we feel the home really is the right match!).
If you want an older dog, or do not care about getting a purebred, then contact a local breed rescue or shelter in your area. There are many animals waiting for adoption, often a product of the “impulse buy” crowd. Refuse to let your new dog become one of them. Think before you buy or adopt; you will not regret the careful thought you put into it.Please note: the informative links on this page are for informational purposes only. They are not an endorsement for any particular breeder.