How To Choose A Puppy

How to choose a puppy” was the first question I asked when I decided I finally had the time, maturity, and was responsible enough to raise a puppy on my own.  Throughout my life we’ve had family dogs and puppies.  My roomates and girlfriends also brought home puppies during my college years.  However, I always thought it was such a huge responsibility and commitment that I never brought home a puppy or dog of my own until five years ago.

How To Choose A Puppy?

As I mentioned earlier the first question I asked myself was “How to Choose a puppy?” or How should I choose a puppy?  Before I even considered bringing home a new member of the family I made sure I had three things:

  1. Time - for the first time eight years I was not working a full time job.  In fact I was on winter break after attending my first semester back at college.  This was very important because a puppy requires a good portion of your time during those first few months.
  2. Maturity - was I responsible enough to take care of this little guy.  I’ve given up a lot since adopting my first puppy.  Although I do still go out and have fun some night.  Many a night I stay home with my dog rather than bar hop with friends.  Also, during the puppy stage I spent practically 100% of my time taking care of the puppy.
  3. Money - initial expenses aren’t the only thing involved when bringing home a puppy (a purebred puppy can cost as much as $2,000).  There are recurring monthly expenses, vet bills (these can be extensive depending on the health of your dog), toys, treats, grooming,  and the list goes on and on.

Does A Puppy Make A Good Gift?

It all started out on my birthday a little over five years ago.  My girlfriend new I loved dogs and thought that a new puppy would make a great gift.  By the way, you might think twice about getting someone a puppy as a gift.  Check out this article on whether or not a Christmas Puppy makes a good gift.  I digress…anyhow, lucky for me she went about it the smart way and made an appointment for us to meet with several Labrador Retriever and Golden Retriever puppy litters.  I was very hesitant about getting a puppy for my birthday and thought I really needed to know more before choosing a puppy from a litter.  However, even though we did not choose a puppy on that first day of puppy shopping it was a lot of fun with much cooing and baby puppy talk.

Research Before You Choose A Puppy

After our fun day of puppy browsing I decided I should find all I needed to know before choosing the perfect puppy for me.  After all it’s a very personal decision and even though a puppy is cute and cuddly when it’s young it will most definitely grow up into a dog that may have habits or tendencies that you do not approve of.

What was my next step?  A trip to the bookstore, lots of research on the internet, and talking to friends and family about the different dogs they have had during their lives.  An absolutely invaluable tool for me at the time was picking up the Puppies For Dummies book and reading it from cover to cover.  If there’s one book you should get before choosing a puppy I highly recommend this one.

Some of the most important things I learned in this book:

  • Choosing the correct breed for your lifestyle.  I was looking at three different breeds based on my previous background, but I also made sure to research each breed to make sure that breed suited my lifestyle.  The three breeds I chose were Golden Retriever, Labrador Retriever, and Australian Shepherd.  All of these breeds are highly intelligent, athletic, and need exercise to stay out of trouble.  Don’t choose a breed strictly on their nice looks.  This is a recipe for disaster.  If you don’t like exercising your dog then an athletic, high energy dog is probably not for you.
  • Staying away from the pet stores.  Hopefully most of you already know that many pet stores get their puppies from puppy mills.  Puppy mills are horrible places where people churn out puppies like a factory.  The dogs and puppies are treated very poorly and often the breeding stock never have a chance to leave their tiny cages.  It’s a horrible scene.  If you want to learn more about puppy mills then check out the stop puppy mills website.
  • Backyard Breeders – People who breed dogs just for the sake of it or to make a little money.  It’s not a good idea to pick up your puppy from a backyard breeder mainly because the backyard breeder does not consider possible faults, genetic defects, or whether their breeding stock are a good representative of the breed.

How To Find The Perfect Puppy

After reading through Puppies For Dummies we decided even though there definitely are good breeders out there we’d rather rescue a puppy from a shelter or rescue.  At the time I didn’t really thing about it, but the first step in raising a green dog is to get a recycled dog or puppy from your local pet shelter or rescue and a good way to find your perfect match is to search for your new puppy on Petfinder.com.  By the way, if you’re interested in purebred dogs, approximately 25% of the dogs at the shelter are purebreds.

After searching for Australian Shepherds, Labrador Retrievers, and Golden Retrievers in the Petfinder.com database I found a litter of three Australian Shepherd Labrador Retriever mixed breed puppies:

  • A tri-colored female
  • A black male
  • A black male with a white spot on his chest

Now a new task was at hand…How to Choose A Puppy From A Litter?

We’d love to hear your experiences on how to choose a puppy? or how you chose your puppy?  Leave us a comment below.

We didn’t want to go to long with this article so check out part two at How to Choose A Puppy From A Litter.

Also if you want to check out one of my earlier recollections on picking up Linus from the shelter take a look at A Shelter Dog Named Linus.

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