Q: I am thinking about getting a dog. What are some considerations to keep in mind about where to go?
A: Congratulations on your decision to add a fur baby to your family! As you think about your options, you may have thought about getting your dog from a breeder or pet store, or adopting from an animal shelter or breed rescue organization.
Here are a few things to keep in mind when deciding where to find the newest member of your family:
If you choose to get a dog from a breeder, it is essential that you do your homework. The American Kennel Club believes that “Responsible breeders are expected to give careful consideration to health issues, temperament, and genetic screening, as well as to the individual care and placement of puppies in responsible homes.” The American Kennel Club has a referral club to help you find a reputable breeder.
By going through the right channels, you can confidently find a dog that is not the product of a “backyard breeder”. Backyard breeders breed for the sole purpose of receiving a profit and do not adhere to responsible breeding practices. They typically breed multiple litters in a one-year period of time from one mother only to repeat the same process year after year. In some instances, the mother is surrendered when she is no longer able to produce a litter.
Avoid pet stores. Many pet stores are guilty of selling dogs purchased from puppy mills, which are dog breeding factories. Like backyard breeders, puppy mills breed dogs in terrible conditions and are only concerned with making a profit. They also breed the same dogs over and over again, eventually putting them down when they are rendered useless. Sadly enough, these puppy mills are innumerable and span all over the United States. According to The Humane Society, puppy mills “continue to thrive because they prey on unwitting consumers who are smitten by too-cute-for-words puppies in pet store windows and on legitimate-seeming website”. Over the last 5 years, there has been a high demand for the “too-cute-for words puppies”, also known as designer breeds. These custom made puppies are the product of breeding two different breeds together in order to create a hybrid dog such as a Chiweenie, Newfypoo, or Snorky. This type of breeding is unethical.
Adopting is a great option. Adopting a dog from an animal shelter has many advantages. By adopting, you can save the life of an orphaned pet. As well, you can reduce the supply & demand trend that exists as a result of purchasing a dog from a backyard breeder or puppy mill. If you are set on a purebred, you can still adopt, as there are many purebred rescue organizations out there. Petfinder is great tool to use to find a pure breed rescue organization near you.
After you have decided whether or not you plan to purchase or adopt, it is time to determine the right breed for you and your family. There are 7 breed groups registered with the AKC (Sporting, Hound, Toy, Terrier, Working, Non-sporting, Herding; not including Miscellaneous).
Personally, I am quite partial to the active dog breeds, or sporting breeds, which are separated into four categories: setters, spaniels, pointers, and retrievers. Many of the dogs that make up the sporting breed group have been described as being intelligent, stubborn, and extremely loyal. This breed group needs a significant amount of strenuous physical activity on a daily basis; therefore, they are not suited for an owner who cannot provide them with the exercise they need. This breed group benefits from agility training, play dates, hiking, running, or any number of enjoyable activities. They also crave a lot of love and attention. My Boxer is extremely affectionate and expects the same in return. He never gets enough vocal praise, belly rubs and ear nuzzles. The parent/pet connection is important because dogs are by nature very protective of their pet parents. This intelligent, energetic, breed group doesn’t like to experience long stints of inactivity. An active dog left to his own devices is a recipe for disaster. They will eventually exhibit destructive behaviors as a means of getting your attention.
When a potential pet owner doesn’t properly research the temperament and activity level of their new pet, both the owner and the dog will become frustrated. This frustration often leads to the surrender of the dog, a situation that can usually be avoided by doing the right homework up front. A good site to research further about the different breeds is The Dog Guide.
Best of luck to you in your search for a canine companion!
Authored By: Rashayla Moise
Photo: Courtesy of Stefan Baudy via flickr (CC by 2.o)