Welcome to Pure Dog Talk. The podcast on Purebred dogs. I am your host Laura Reeves.
Today we are going to talk about shopping for a new puppy. How fun? We do have suggestions for you for buying a puppy for companionship, or performance or competition. If you are looking for a show dog or all of the above. It’s very exciting. It requires some patience, study and commitment. We are going to give you some tips and suggestions on how to make this a great experience.
- You have to remember, you are not going to the car dealership. You are not going to pick your favorite color and haggle the price. This is a living and breathing soul that is going to be part of your life for approximately 10 to 12 to 15 years. It requires commitment, money, love, guidance, food, medical, and exercise. Think of your new dog as the friend you get to choose. Or family you get to choose instead of thinking of it as furniture or decor. It’s important to first identify the breed that best fits your family’s current and future needs. For example. Do you want a dog that does a specific job? Hunting dog? What kind of hunting do you do? Do you want a pointer, retriever, and spaniel? Are you looking for a dog that can help with your livestock? A herding dog? A guard dog? A dog that can be a service dog to work with perhaps a family medical disability. A therapy dog? Someone that can work in your family or even go and provide services to the community as a therapy dog. Or do you just want a buddy to lay on the couch with? These are important questions to think about when you start shopping.
You also need to remember all of the jobs that dogs are bred for. Whether you are going to have them do that job or not. In most cases, they have been bred to do that for centuries. That will have an impact on their behavior. Herding dogs are bred to herd livestock. Guess what? They are going to herd your kids as well. Or they may herd you. Those are somethings you want to think about when you are making this decision.
Here are some things to talk about with your family.
Activity level of your dog. Do you want a high energy or high drive dog? Border Collie and Pointers. They are high energy and high drive breeds. They have a limited “offswitch” and they need mental stimulation, exercise, thinking games in order to keep them content. You can’t throw one of these dogs in the backyard and give it a bowl of food once a day. It won’t work. They will entertain themselves and make up their own games and often you are not going to like these games. Games like hide the shoes, reorganize the flower beds, you know, things like that. They are really not in your happy place. An example of lower energy but still very driven are like the hounds and beagles and whip its. They are generally content to be peaceful and quiet in the house but they lose all sense of urgency about responding to your commands when it’s time to play or chase something. We used to say the ears are on just for decoration. They had no bearing on the dog’s ability to hear anything. Some breeds have both low energy and low drive towards prey or any kind of job or function. Bull Dogs, King Charles Spaniels, toy dogs, were developed as companions. That is their job. They excel at it. Keep in mind the energy level is number one.
- Temperament and disposition. Do you want aloof or snuggly? Many of the sight hounds, terriers, strong guard and protection breeds are very devoted dogs but they are less demonstrative. They are more aloof in their dealings with their families. Spaniels and companion breeds are more incline to snuggling, hugging, require more hands on.
- The dog’s level of tidiness. How much grooming is required? Some dogs shed a little bit all of the time. Some shed a lot all of the time. Some only shed a couple times a year. Of course that comes in an avalanche of hair called blowing coat. Some don’t shed much at all but they require regular trimming and brushing to keep them tidy and clean. How much time you want to put into that, and how much you are willing to get the dog to a groomer every 8 weeks, you need to think about that. Also, you have to think about smushy faces. That cuteness comes with a lot of slobber. Or a slimy beard.
- Space. How much room do you have? How much room does the dog need? Do you live in an apartment or house? Do you rent or do you own? How are you going to keep the dog safe? Fenced in yard? Kennel? Do you have an invisible fence? What are your options? Many of the giant breeds actually are more likely to lie down quietly and sleep through the day than some of the smaller dogs. Just simply that you have a smaller house, it’s not a requirement that you have a small dog. You need to think about the activity level. If you rent vs. own, you have to remember, puppies make mistakes and if you are in a rental house, this is something to remember. How the dog is contained needs to be considered as well.
- Time. How much time do you have? Do you work full time? Then you don’t have a lot of time for a new dog? Do you work from home? Are you retired? How many kids do you have? What age? How old? Certain breeds need more time. Some don’t. Certain dog breeds do better with children than others. The age has a lot to do with that. Do you have the time to teach your children about interacting properly with the dog? These are important things in your decision making process. What type of dog and when to get the dog?
- Do you have other pets? Cats or birds or another dog? When you are thinking about getting another dog, certain breeds do best. You need to talk to breeders and ask them these questions. A great place to do that is to stop by a dog show. They are all around the country. You can visit the different breeds that make it on to your short list. You can talk to folks who own those dogs and breeders of those dogs who can give you more and more information to help you make an informed decision about the dog that will come and be with you for 10 to 15 years. First, find a breeder who is willing to talk to you and answer questions. Your breeder is going to be your first resource. Talk to a few people until you find someone you click with. Someone you really enjoy chatting with. Take a look as you get more narrowed down and you have gotten to a specific breed and a specific breeder or a couple different breeders within that breed that you want to talk to. Look at the health clearances on the litter that your breeder is talking to you about. Research these at the Orthopedic Foundation for Animals at the K9 health information center. Check out the show notes to get more information about that. Ask the breeders about contracts and their health guarantees. Understand that just like people, some dogs develop health issues. Check that the breeder will stand behind the work they have done and that if anything should happen, they will take the dog back so you know that the dog will only go back to the breeder and nowhere else.
Here is where we run into problems. Good breeders may very well not have a puppy for you right now. 90% of the time, you are not going to be able to go somewhere, pick up your puppy and go home. A puppy isn’t’ an impulse purchase. You need to think about planning ahead. Depending on the breed, you could be waiting six months, maybe a year until the breeder that you are wanting to work with has the right puppy for you. If you have done your research and planned ahead, the wait will be worth the effort. Sometimes the right dog comes along at just the right time. You have to be willing to be flexible.
Something to keep in mind as you are looking at your new dog, as a breeder, I have had people say to me, they only want a puppy because of the bond. Personal experience, and reality I am going to tell you, I have been placing dogs, puppies, rescues, old dogs, young dogs, for thirty years. Trust me, give it time, love and patience, a dog of any age will bond with any person. The person who feeds, pets and gives her a nice place will be fine.
If you don’t require a puppy and have no interest in breeding, there are a couple options to consider. Breed specific rescue. Every breed has a parent club. In other words, a breed club is a club whose goal is to preserve and protect their breed. Most of these clubs will refer you to breed specific rescues. Another option is the idea of a breeder rehome. If a puppy isn’t what you want you could possibly rehome a retired show dog, or breeder dog, or a prospect that didn’t pan out. Let’s face it, no matter how much time I spend with my ten or twelve dogs at home, I am never going to be able to give each one of them the same amount of attention if they were an only dog. These are the hidden gems of the Purebred dog world. These are dogs that have had a lot of time put into them. They are crate trained, traveled, leash trained, wonderful companions who are happy to have all the couch time they possibly can get. They make great pets.
So now you have chosen a breeder, you have decided to go with a puppy. What kind of qualities are you looking for in your puppy? You need to read and study the breed standard for your new dog. Know what the disqualifying faults are in the show ring if you plan to pursue that goal. Understand the temperament is for your breed. Keep in mind that even within a well-bred liter, differences in temperament, activity level, etc. are going to pop up. If possible, visit the liter in person. You are going to get to see the interaction of the puppies with the breeder, with you, etc. Some of these puppies are going to be bolder. Some are going to be more reserved or laid back. But you want to see puppies that are happy to see people. Come running up to the front of the pen, or at least come toward you for attention. Active and bright eyed and bushy tailed. They should be curious, clean and healthy. Keep in mind puppies are poopy. They will trample in it. That’s not what I say when clean. I am talking about the area. It’s ventilated, warm, well lit, not stuffy, clean bedding, toys, and fresh water. This is important. Puppies are like sponges. They take in all kinds of experiences. Literally from the minute they are born. There are a lot of excellent conditioning that breeders can and should do to make sure the puppy you are taking home has the best chance of fitting well into society. There is work you are going to need to do to get your puppy.
So as you looking at these puppies, and maybe seeing pictures of them, or playing with them, understand you won’t get to “pick your puppy”. Hopefully you have chosen a breeder that you trust to make a good match. This is a breeder who is going to have a lot of knowledge about the breed and these puppies. You will have a chance to chat with the breeder that they understand your lifestyle. That will make it easier to make a good match of the individual puppy in each liter with your family. Remember no breeder in their right mind is going to guarantee you that an 8 week old puppy will turn into a show champion. We can make an educated guess. Most of these breeders are planning for the future of their breeding program. They are probably doing this litter in order to keep one for themselves. They are going to keep the best one for themselves. That is why we do this. We want to make sure that everybody is properly matched with the right puppy. You getting to pick out the one you think is most adorable might not be the best match for you. If you want to get a great dog, from a great breeder, may I recommend that you are going to expect to start with a dog who is solid, well- bred, good representative of the breed, but it might not be an exceptional show dog and you are going to work with that breeder and establish a relationship with them so that you can work towards the goal of getting a really good one the next time the breeder has a liter and they have a really great dog. Maybe they are willing to share that great dog with you because you have worked with them so well and can be trusted. Remember for us that breed dogs, these are our kids. You stand a better chance of getting a really great male dog than a female dog. Keep in mind, color, male or female, that sort of thing, in most instances, these are going to be less important priorities than the right temperament and the right personality and the best health for your family. Always remember that when you make your choices.
Ok, the day arrives and your precious bundle is ready to come home with you. Congrats and now the fun really starts. If you are going to the show ring, listen to our podcast on growing up your show dog and for some training tips, best wishes and best of luck. Let us know if you have any questions, we will be happy to do a podcast just for you.
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