Thinking about a Puppy? How do you choose the right one?

Roly-poly, growly, chubby bellies that love to be rubbed and endless games of “who took my shoe?” are always tugging at our heartstrings. All puppies are seemingly adorable, but they grow into dogs of different sizes with different temperaments. People considering bringing a new canine companion into their home do well to educate themselves about dogs before making a purchase. When you bring a new pet into your home, you are making a commitment. Take some time to analyze what type of dog fits into your lifestyle, rather then making an impulse decision. Once you bring the dog into your home it will be with you for many years, so take the time to educate yourself about different breeds. The American Kennel Club, known as the AKC, is a terrific resource to educate your self about breeds and their characteristics. When considering the purchase of a canine companion, consider whether you can afford the expense. The expense of a dog goes beyond the purchase price. A healthy dog of strong lineage may cost more up front, but end up costing less then a less healthy dog. Veterinarian expenses, shots, dog food, leashes and collars all cost money. The cost of maintaining a dog can easily exceed the initial investment of purchasing the dog. So, what kind of dog should you get? Think about what kind of dog will fit into your lifestyle. A large or very active dog will need a place to run and exercise. If you live in a city apartment, a big breed may not be right for you. Dogs with long, thick coats are beautiful, but they do require more maintenance. Consider whether you have to time to brush the dog regularly. Other considerations also need to be thought out properly. Do you have small children? Do you own any other pets? Are the pets already in your home social animals and in good health? These are all questions that must be answered before the arrival of a new furry baby to your home.

Breeders and Private Owners of AKC Purebred Puppies:

A responsible breeder is the best place to purchase a dog. Once you have decided which breed is best for you, find some breeders in your area. Our own Lantana-Atlantis Animal Hospital is a wonderful resource to find reliable breeders. Give us a call and talk to our staff about their recommendations. Veterinarians often have relationships with area breeders, because breeders bring their dogs and puppies to the vet for shots and medical care. Breeders usually favor one breed and have expertise in the characteristics of that breed. Breeders will usually welcome your questions, as it shows that you will be a responsible pet owner. Breeders usually sell purebred dogs that have AKC registration papers that verify that they have a purebred lineage. Some breeders have a kennel of dogs that produce puppies. Visit the breeder in advance and ask to see the living conditions of the dogs. The breeders should provide a clean, loving environment for all of the dogs. Private owners sometimes will breed their pet dogs. Purchasing a pet dog from a private party is also an excellent way to buy a dog. Private owners usually have a love of their pet and love the breed they have chosen. Private owners may or may not offer AKC Registration Papers for their puppies. Private owners can be found by referral through local veterinarians or through advertising in the local paper. When purchasing from a breeder or private party, you can usually get a chance to see the mother of the puppies. It is a good idea to meet the mother, as that will give you an idea of how the puppy will look when it grows up. The father of the puppies may or may not be on the premises. If the father is available it is a good idea to see him as well. The father may live elsewhere, so this is not always possible. Private parties may or may not offer AKC papers. If registration papers are important to you, ask about this in advance. Not all purebred dogs have the registration papers. This can happen if the parentage is not verified, or if someone did not bother to register their dogs. AKC Registration details the genealogy of the dog. Registration papers detail the parentage and family lines of the dog. Registration papers are nice to have, but if you are not planning to show or breed the dog, they are not necessary.

Shelters, Rescues, Adoptions and Mixed Breed Puppies

Mixed breed dogs are not registered with the AKC, but they can make marvelous pets. Try to see the parents or at least the mother of mixed breed puppies to get an idea of what they will look like, how big they will be, and most of all…their temperament. Some people say they prefer mixed breeds over purebred dogs as most of the undesirable traits or health issues with a purebred usually doesn’t present in a mixed breed. We know that as vets, we are seeing more mixed breeds than ever before and they seem to be an extremely popular choice in today’s families. Adoption of an adult dog is a great way to get a new dog. Animal shelters and A Rescue’s are full of devoted pets that have been given up by their owners for a variety of reasons. It is very rewarding to rescue a dog from a shelter. An adult dog is probably trained and housebroken. This can be easier than training a puppy. Most dogs that are up for adoption have already been screened for behavior issues, health problems, and social temperament so they will make good pets for families of all kinds. Most of them also are up to date on vaccines, are spayed or neutered, and are de-wormed. We also know of quite a few agencies where all animals up for adoption are also micro-chipped too!

Puppy Mills….A Huge Cause for Concern

Avoid purchasing a puppy mill puppy if at all possible. Puppy mills often treat their dogs inhumanely and they live in poor and unclean conditions. The puppies sold at pet stores may or may not be from a puppy mill. It is difficult to find out whether a pet store gets their puppies from a puppy mill, so it is best to avoid the stores and deal directly with breeders and owners. Unfortunately, puppies from a puppy mill are not bred with the strongest of bloodlines. Puppy mill puppies can come with health problems that can cause heartache and cost money in the future. It is so hard to walk into a pet store and look into those sweet faces and not see anything but perfection. Please be aware that just like humans, puppies (and later on, grown dogs) are a product of their environments. Living in filth, caged 100% of the time, with little to no veterinary care as they start out life is a huge gamble to take. Buyer beware!


Adding a new puppy to the home is a lifelong commitment. The choices are endless as far as breeds and the type of puppies that are readily available out there. We ask you to make solid decisions and avoid the urge to be impulsive. This furry little guy or gal will become a trusted companion, a loyal protector, and also a great source of comfort. Pet ownership can be fun and rewarding for the whole family. A dog can bring years of happiness and delight into your life. Always take your time during the buying process to make sure you are selecting the right companion.

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