All dogs and puppies rule. But finding one that's right for you can take weeks. In dog years that's a long time! Don't worry. Simply read on to find the dog that was made for you (or were you made for him?) sooner, rather than later.
Where to begin? Before you visit a breeder or shelter to adopt, try seeing your world through the eyes of a dog: If you were a big dog, how would you feel about living in a small apartment? And if you were a small fluffy pup, how would you feel if you caused sneezing in friends and family?
What does this all mean? Basically, there's a lot to consider before bringing a pooch home, including:
- Your living space
- Your lifestyle
- Your budget
- The medical conditions of people in your home (i.e., allergies)
These are all areas of your life to consider before deciding to bring a dog into your home. Our Select-a-Dog® tool is a great way to help you narrow down the breeds that best match your home and lifestyle.
Shelter, breeder, or breed rescue?
1. Animal shelters
Shelters like to say, "Make adoption your first option." At animal shelters, you'll find lots of dogs in need of a good home. There are other benefits, as well. If you do adopt a dog from a shelter, you're saving more than one life, because you're making room for another dog, or allowing another dog to be kept at a shelter for a longer period of time, giving them a better chance of being adopted, too. (Talk about a loving option!)
Another rewarding aspect of shelter adoption is the special bond many owners develop with their rescued dog. Opening up your heart and home to an "orphan" usually results in an extremely strong relationship. That can mean a loyal, affectionate and attentive dog for life.
You can easily find shelters and adoptable dogs near you on our website by clicking here.
If your heart is set on a specific purebred, then you're ahead of the game. But you've still got to find a breeder or breed rescue club—and find one you can trust. The best place to get a purebred dog is from a recognized, reputable, and ethical breeder or rescue organization that understands the character, temperament, and challenges of their breed.
To find a breeder or breed rescue group in your area, you can:
- Check the National Breed Club for the breeder referral contact in your area
- Ask other dog owners
- Ask your veterinarian
- Check advertisements in newspapers and dog magazines
- Visit a dog show
- Search the Internet for breeders and rescue groups
Have a breeder in mind? We recommend asking lots of questions about their facility, the bloodlines of their dogs, and the warranties/guarantees offered. If they're caring and responsible professionals, they'll be happy to answer your questions-and should screen you with plenty of questions, too. Some even make potential dog owners fill out detailed questionnaires.
Once you've decided on a breeder, here are some general questions you can ask:
- What height and weight range is appropriate for this breed?
- What are the grooming requirements for this breed?
- What are the exercise requirements for this breed?
- Are there genetic diseases common to this breed?
- Have the appropriate tests been taken to identify diseases?
You can then ask a few questions about the individual puppies:
Have the puppies been socialized? Responsible breeders start this process by spending time with the pups, introducing them to toys, children, and other animals.
Can you see the mother? You should be allowed to observe her with the pups (depending on their ages) to give you an idea about the eventual physical and behavioral characteristics of the puppy you are considering.
And don't forget to obtain or complete the following before taking your puppy home with you:
Health and vaccination records. The breeder should provide you with a health record, including information on diet and parasite control, and a record of vaccinations. These records should be available for the pup and the pup's mother.
Basic care information. A reputable breeder will want to ensure that you have the basic diet, exercise, and grooming information to begin caring for your pup properly from the start.
Bill of Sale. This should include the purchase price, date of purchase, and any refund policies or guarantees.
3. Breed rescues
If you want to adopt a purebred dog from a trustworthy source but find breeders too expensive, you can always try a breed rescue club. These clubs are typically run by dedicated and knowledgeable volunteers who often foot the bill of housing homeless purebred dogs and pups.
As always, you should find out as much as possible about the organization you have in mind. If it's reputable, there's a good chance that your new dog has been well looked after. You should also expect that the volunteers will try their very best to match the right dog for you.