A helpful article reprinted by permission of the American Kennel Club for people interested in obtaining the right dog for them.
Finding The Right Breed
A good place to start your research is the American Kennel Club's "The Complete Dog Book", available at most bookstores and libraries. It describes all breeds currently recognized by the American Kennel Club. These descriptions, or standards, include information on the size, weight, accepted colors and other physical characteristics and temperaments of the individual breeds. There is information on each breed's origins as well. Because so much is known about every breed's ancestry, we are able to predict how your puppy will grow to look and act. By learning all you can about your prospective pet's heritage and seeing his parents, you will get a reasonably accurate idea of what your pet will look like, how he will behave and what instinctual abilities he will possess as an adult. That's one of the great advantages of owning a purebred dog ... their predictability.
Another good tool that can assist you in your decision-making process is a visit to an all-breed dog show. It will give you an opportunity to view firsthand virtually every breed recognized by the American Kennel Club. In addition to seeing a variety of dogs, you will have a chance to talk with real breeders, people concerned with the welfare and advancement of their chosen breed. Ask questions and learn from these friendly, knowledgeable and dedicated folks. They enjoy sharing their knowledge and experiences with people like you.
To find out where a dog show will be held in your area, contact a local dog club. If you don't know how to get in touch with a local club, contact the American Kennel Club's Customer Service Department at (919) 233-9767, or write to the AKC at:
American Kennel Club
5580 Centerview Drive
Raleigh, NC 27606
We can supply you with a geographical list of Dog Clubs, including clubs in your area. The AKC is also on the Internet, and our Web site includes a list of AKC events held around the country. Our address is: http://www.akc.org, or click to e-mail us.
Another helpful source is your local veterinarian. They may be familiar with many different breeds and may be able to answer questions you have regarding the suitability of a particular breed to your lifestyle and environment. They may also be able to answer questions relating to health concerns of a particular breed you are considering.
Asking The Right Questions
What questions should you be asking? Temperament is a primary concern. Most breeds were developed with specific functions in mind. Some were bred to hunt at the side of their master, while others were left to guard herds of sheep. The job your prospective pet was bred to perform may give you insight into how well he will accept visitors into your home or how he will behave around children. So be sure to find out all you can about your pet's origin.
It is important to consider the size your dog will grow to be. Size is especially a concern if you live in an apartment or a planned community. How much exercise will your dog require? Some dogs are very athletic by nature and are happiest with a good deal of exercise. While all dogs need regular exercise, some breeds are happy with frequent walks, while others need room to run.
How much care will your dog need? While all dogs need care, some breeds require frequent grooming to continue to look their best. Long-coated dogs are beautiful, but keeping their coats in good condition requires work or regular visits to a groomer. So make sure you know how much coat care your dog will need before you buy.
Training your dog is also a consideration. Basic obedience training is essential for all dogs. While some breeds are better suited for more specific types of training, a well-mannered dog makes the best companion.
What health issues exist in the breed? What type of health screens have been developed to test for these problems? Like people, all animals need occasional health care. These are important considerations that must be resolved before choosing a breed.
Once you have identified the breed that suits you and your lifestyle best, review your choice. Make sure you have a clear sense of the responsibilities involved in owning a dog. Becoming a pet owner is a long-term commitment. Be certain your chosen breed will suit your environment and way of life. It's a choice you will live with for years.
Now that you have identified the breed that you feel suits you best, it's time for some "fieldwork".
Finding The Right Breeder
The next step in the process is finding a responsible breeder. Some people breed dogs only to produce puppies to sell. These individuals have no regard for the advancement of their breed; they are motivated solely by profit. Responsible breeders will never breed a litter without the advancement of the breed in mind. Each litter should improve the quality of the breeding stock, resulting in healthy puppies whose physical attributes are an advancement toward the ideal.
The best way to find a good breeder is to get in touch with the appropriate AKC-affiliated breed club. The American Kennel Club provides several ways to do this. You may call the American Kennel Club's Customer Service Department to request a list of breed clubs.
But the quickest way is to dial 1-900-407-PUPS (7877). (Note: Using this service costs 99 cents per minute. The average call lasts 3-4 minutes. Anyone under 18 years of age must have the permission of a parent or legal guardian to complete the call.) This is the number of the AKC's Breeder Referral Representative Hotline. This service will put you in touch with a breeder referral representative, who will suggest a dog club through which you may find a breeder.
Make visiting as many breeders as possible a part of your fieldwork. There is no substitute for seeing real dogs in real settings, asking questions of breeders and learning all you can about your breed. Don't be surprised if the breeder asks you questions too. A good breeder is concerned about the environment the pup will live in and wants to be sure that you are a suitable owner. So be wary of anyone who seems too anxious to sell you a dog. They may want to sell puppies quickly because they breed dogs solely for profit. Good breeders spend more time and money on breeding a litter than they could ever hope to recoup, so they are more concerned about the pup's well-being than how quickly they sell.
The Right Way To Choose A Puppy
Look for healthy, outgoing puppies that are in good condition. Are they clean, bright-eyed and full of energy? Are the breeder's facilities clean, secure and well-maintained? Ask to see the dam (mother) of the puppies. If she is not available, ask why not. Ask about the health issues that concern the breed. Your homework will have made you aware of these. Ask if the sire (father) and dam have been screened for these problems. If the answer to any of these questioned have not been answered to your satisfaction, look for another breeder.
Ask about spaying or neutering and what guidance the breeder can give you on these important considerations. Be sure to ask about inoculations and how often the pup should be fed and exercised. These are all things you will want to know about your new pet.
Make sure everyone in the family takes part in the decision-making process. Mom and Dad will ultimately be responsible for the pet, so make sure they are as happy about owning a dog as the kids are.
The Right Way To Buy
The breeder of the puppy MUST be willing to furnish you with one of the three following items or you should consider finding another breeder:
- A properly completed AKC registration application.
- The pup's AKC registration certificate, properly completed, transferring ownership to you.
- A bill of sale listing the sire and dam of your puppy and their AKC registration numbers, the date the puppy was born, the puppy's sex and color, the name and address of the breeder, and the name and address of the buyer. If the seller won't furnish the properly completed AKC forms or a bill of sale, don't buy the dog.
And, remember, if you or anyone in your family has reservations about the purchase of a pet, don't buy one. Dogs are a great source of enjoyment for those who truly desire them, but they are not for everyone.
The Right Time To Buy
Whenever a new pet comes into the home, it should be the center of attention. So wait until you and your family have the time and energy to help your new pet adapt to the changes in his life before buying. Holidays, with all their hustle and bustle, are not a good time for a new pet and his new family to get to know each other. So be fair to your pup, and wait until you have time to spend with him before bringing him home. You'll both be glad you did.
So now you own a new pet. You will soon see how much hard work and research will reward you with companionship, with love and devotion ... with the right dog for you.
The American Kennel Club's Mission Statement:
- Maintain a registry for purebred dogs and preserve its integratiy.
- Sanction dog events that promote interesting, and sustain the process of, breeding for type and function of purebred dogs.
- Take whatever actions necessary to protect and assure the continuation of the sport of purbred dogs
Diverse, distinctive and devoted, purebred dogs offer a lifetime of companionship and fun. Because their characteristics and personalities vary so greatly, it's best to choose a breed suited to your own personality, lifestyle and environment, a dog you will cherish for many years ... the right dog for you.
Choosing the right dog requires some research which will prove to be both educational and an enjoyable challenge. You will learn about the distinctive physical traits of individual breeds and their diverse personalities as well.
To order the video "The Right Dog for You" or if you have questions on where to find a local dog club or need information on obtaining a purebred dog, please contact:
American Kennel Club
5580 Centerview Drive
Raleigh, NC 27606