Choosing a puppy that offers a perfect fit between what you desire in a dog and your particular lifestyle is a decision not to be taken lightly. Whilst it may be often repeated, it deserves further reiteration - puppies will grow in to adults and, if you're lucky, you could be spending upwards of the next fifteen to twenty years with the result of your puppy choice, writes Ryan O'Meara.
Two Major Decisions When Choosing a Puppy
There are two major decisions to be made when choosing a new puppy. Firstly, and most obviously, what breed of dog is going to be right for you and your family. It is absolutely essential that both you and the dog are compatible with each other. It would not be suitable to buy a Bull Mastiff pup if you live in a tiny tenth floor flat, for example, because he would grow too large to live in it and both of you would be unhappy. It would not be suitable to buy a breed that requires lots of free running exercise if you don't have access the right areas to provide that kind of environment. Making a bad choice when selecting the type of dog you decide to bring into your home as part of your family is one of the main reasons why many dogs end up in shelters so it really is important to think through.
Secondly, and perhaps not quite as obviously, what sex is going to be suitable for you and your family. Males and females do tend to have different personalities, however subtle they may be, choosing the sex of your dog is a personal choice and isn't necessarily as important as the breed you select in terms of the dog's ability to fit in to your lifestyle, but it is worth consideration.
Once the breed and sex have been decided on you must then seek to choose your new dog on it’s own individual merits. Each dog is different and certain dogs would just not suit certain people, and vice versa. Always watch the puppy in it’s own environment (i.e. with its litter) to see how he behaves. Consider how much you are prepared to change your way of life to accommodate your new puppy - regardless of breed - a dog is a lot of responsibility and WILL take up a lot of your time for a long time.
Here is a six point guide to consider when choosing a new puppy.
1. Decide whether you want to buy or adopt a new dog. There are many advantages to adopting a dog and you will get expert guidance on making sure you are perfectly matched in terms of dog and lifestyle fit. Don't be one of those people who has an outdated view on what dog adoption is all about.
2. Ensure that you are equipped personally and financially to look after a new puppy successfully. Dogs cost a lot of money. They live for up to two decades in some cases and they cost money every day. Make sure you can not only afford to buy the dog but that you can afford to properly feed and care for them as well as insure them throughout their life.
3. Be certain of what breed and sex you want before getting to know any individual dog. You may become attached to a dog that is completely unsuitable for your situation. Be prepared to listen to the opinion of experts.
Research your breed on the web. Look for forums dedicated to your breed of choice and don't be shy about joining and asking questions. Breed enthusiasts will be only too happy to tell you more about their breed and, if it so happens that the general view is that your lifestyle is not quite right for that type of dog, be prepared to listen and not take it personally. This can save you and the dog a lot of pain in the long-term.
4. Be sure the breeder is a reputable one. This is a topic all in its own right. Make sure you familiarise yourself with responsible dog breeding protocol if you choose to buy a puppy, avoiding puppy farms and understanding the process of adopting a dog should you adopt, depending on which route you choose when acquiring your new puppy. It's a myth that there are no puppies in rescues, there are many there through no fault of their own.
5. Spend time with the prospective family member before deciding. You may like him but he may be uncomfortable with you or a family member for any number of reasons. He or she may be very boisterous and you might expect that behaviour to just disapear when he or she comes home with you. It probably won't. Don't expect every puppy to be the same. They do have personalities and behaviour traits from as young as four and five weeks of age. Ask the breeder or rescue about them.
6. Ensure that the dog is free of any condition or disease that may prevent your enjoying of a long and happy life with your new friend. Make it a rule that you will ONLY buy a puppy from a breeder where both parents are fully health tested. Don't bend on this one or you will have cause to regret it later, besides which you'd be rewarding a breeder who hasn't bothered to insist on all health screening in their animals. Research the health conditions inherent in your breed(s) of interest.
Finally, because it really is worth repeating, animal adoption shelters have puppies too. Great ones. Don't assume for a second that your perfect, ideal, lifelong companion is not waiting for you in a shelter right now.