Part 5: Where to get your dog

There are several places where you can get a dog. The option that is best for you will depend on your budget, your preference for mixed-breed or purebred dogs and other personal considerations such as the desire to have a show dog or to adopt a homeless one. Each option has some pros and cons, which are outlined below:

Rescue Groups

Rescue groups come in a variety of forms and have varying policies. Some only make referrals from current to prospective owners, while others have facilities (shelters) to keep dogs while they search for new homes. Rescue programs generally offer healthy, adult dogs at reasonable prices and their staff and volunteers do a lot to ensure that you and your dog are a good fit — including interviews and (in some cases) home visits.

If you are looking for a purebred dog but are not interested in showing, and if you are open to the idea of adopting an adult dog, a breed rescue group could be an ideal option. Breed rescue groups specialise in a particular breed and their staff are usually very knowledgeable about their breed; they can provide you with a great deal of information about your dog’s traits and the best way to raise them.

Dogs that are given to a rescue program are fostered for some time while volunteers determine its temperament and what kind of home would be a good fit for it. All available information — from the owner, foster home and/or staff — is gathered, put into the dog’s file and used to find a good home, then given to the new owner.

Professional breeders

If you want a purebred dog, and especially if you are interested in showing it in dog shows, it is best to work with a professional breeder. Dogs bred by responsible breeders meet the breed standard, and good breeders are highly knowledgeable about their breed’s hereditary problems and characteristics. They work to breed healthier dogs through selective breeding and can provide you with a great deal of information about what to expect from your dog as an adult.  Good breeders offer health guarantees and will either replace or help defray the cost of treating your animal in case of medical problems. If you must give up your dog due to unforeseen circumstances, your breeder will help you find a new home for him.

For all these reasons, buying a puppy from a professional breeder can be expensive, depending on the dog’s breed, its popularity and the dog’s specific background. It’s important to distinguish between a good breeder who improves his litter through careful breeding and a casual breeder breeding his own pets, looking to make a quick buck. The best way to find a good breeder is through referral by the national breed club. You can also visit dog shows in your local area; this is a good way to meet serious breeders and ask preliminary questions.

Shelters

Animal shelters are usually run by organisations such as the Department of Animal Control. Shelters may be kill or no-kill. No-kill shelters generally do not take in dogs that have noticeable problems that make them unlikely to be adopted, so you are quite likely to find healthy dogs there. However, dogs can stay in no-kill shelters a long time and develop health or behavioural problems that may not be immediately apparent.

Adopting a dog from a shelter is a great way to save a dog’s life and give it a loving home. Many dogs adopted from shelters become loving pets and give their owners years of joy. But do remember that you will be unlikely to find too much information about your dog’s parental or personal history at the shelter, so do your best to spend as much time as possible with the dog you like before deciding to bring him home. Also note that some shelters charge a small fee for spaying/neutering and medical care of your dog before sending him home with you.

Places to Avoid

Puppy Mills / Puppy Farms

Puppy mills are commercial breeding facilities where dogs are bred and housed in poor conditions with the primary object of making money. Puppy farms over-breed females in substandard conditions, sometimes during every heat cycle, and neither the mother nor her puppies have optimal care or quality food. Puppies are often poorly socialized, unvaccinated and may suffer from health problems due to poor selective practices and their mother’s health and living conditions. Even with all that, puppies from mills are often expensive.

Puppy farms advertise in magazines and sell through pet stores, thriving on uninformed customers who buy puppies based on emotional factors alone. Avoid puppy mills and educate your friends who may be looking to adopt a pet; there are better places where you can get healthier animals at cheaper prices.

Image courtesy of vocabulicious

Buying Guide

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