Health Topics

Choosing a Puppy

(This article was originally published in the January/February 2009 Issue of Pets Magazine and is reproduced here with the permission of the publisher.)

There is a lot more to choosing a pet than basing your decision on looks, breed or personality. Here are some key things to look for, and a few thoughts on what to consider before you bring your new friend home.

Introducing a puppy into your household should be a shared decision by all family members. First you need to determine whether your family has the time, money and living arrangements to accommodate a puppy. If the answer is yes, your next concern is choosing the type of dog that will most suit your lifestyle.

Taking the time to properly research the various breeds will set you in the right direction. Yes, those big brown eyes staring at you through the window are heartwarming, but remember the scope of the commitment you are making. Researching various breeds will help you find your ideal dog. Are you looking for an energetic breed or one that is less demanding? A busy work schedule or personal constraints can get in the way of providing sufficient exercise or even proper training. The more intelligent breeds, such as German Shepherds and Sheepdogs, need a lot of stimulation.

The following are some questions to consider:

  • Would a large or small dog appeal to your lifestyle?
  • Are you looking for a puppy with an independent nature or one that is generally obedient?
  • Do you want one that is going to require a great deal of grooming or would a short-coated breed be preferable?
  • What about temperament? Are you looking for a friendly, reserved, feisty or gentle animal?

If you are adopting a dog for purely esthetic reasons, the dog's behaviour and temperament could clash with your lifestyle and personality. This could cause unexpected problems such as property destruction, biting or aggression, which is why it is important to conduct research on the breed you are interested in, to further fine tune your choice.

Finding a respected breeder to purchase your puppy from can be as simple as visiting a veterinarian or any other respected member or the canine community (i.e. obedience instructors, groomers, shelters, breed clubs and dog shows). Visit several breeders in your area. A good breeder will be concerned his/her puppy is going to a good family. Check to make sure the breeder has the proper records for the animal you are interested in. The breeder should also have copies of the parent's pedigrees.

As for the puppy, determine its sex and look for healthy signs, such as:

  • Curiosity
  • Playfulness
  • Confidence

Do your research and remember to find an authoritative but independent source for breed analysis.

Animal shelters have an abundance of dogs that need homes. Unless owners are planning to show their pets, shelters are a good source - not only of puppies, but also older dogs that may require less supervision.