Finally gave in to the idea of getting a puppy? See, just the thought of cuddling that little furball makes your heart skip a beat.
Dogs are not only man’s delightful companion but they are also beneficial to our health and well-being. Studies show that interaction with dogs lowers stress levels, regulates blood pressure, and reduces the risk of heart disease.
The question is, where to get a new puppy from?
Owning a puppy is a serious business. You and your family would have considered several factors before deciding on the type of dog breed suited to your lifestyle. It also makes sense to know that you’re getting a new pet from trustworthy sources.
Your viable options are via animal shelters and rescue groups, responsible breeders, online advertisements, and pet shops.
1. Animal Shelters and Rescue Groups
A common misconception people have about pets found in shelters is that there is something wrong with them. On the contrary, animals in shelters are properly cared for and given the necessary attention when it comes to medical care.
This is also true for animal rescue groups. The main difference between the two is that animals in the custody of rescue groups usually stay in the homes of the members or volunteers while pets in animal shelters are housed in a staffed facility.
Either way, it is best to consider adoption first before thinking of buying a puppy from a pet shop or through online ads. Why?
You will be saving a life. Each year, approximately 3.3 million dogs enter U.S. animal shelters nationwide. Chances are, the number of dogs that come in far exceeds the number that gets adopted.
Around 670,000 dogs are euthanized each year. Animal euthanasia is the act of putting an animal to death without pain or suffering.
By adopting from an animal shelter or a rescue organization, you give the animal another chance at life and possibly a new home.
You pay less. Puppies that come from shelters undergo basic veterinary exams, appropriate vaccinations, spay or neuter procedures. These medical costs alone can be a monetary burden if not taken into account.
Sometimes, adopting your new found friend is free. Some shelters even run promotional offers to encourage adoption.
In most cases, there is an adoption fee to cover the cost of medical care and operating expenses to keep the pets comfortable and the shelters running smoothly.
Adoption fees vary but often include:
- Wellness exam – $40
- Spaying or neutering – $60-65
- Distemper/Parvo (5 in 1) vaccination – $13.75
- Rabies vaccination – $13.75
- Heartworm test – $21.50
- Microchip – $28
- Deworming – $13.75
You don’t need to go far. There is no shortage of animal shelters or rescue groups across the country. You might even be surprised to learn that one is located right in your neighborhood.
You can easily locate one by going online. Fill in your zip code, city, and state. You can apply filters to indicate gender or distance to weed out the ones nearest you.
You have a choice. Due to the large number of dogs that come to shelters on a regular basis, you have the freedom to choose from a wide range of dog breeds which is best suited to your needs.
You and members of your family can also interact with the puppies before finalizing the adoption.
You become a hero of the community. Stand proud and tall. Adoption not only provides the animal a new home but also allows the shelter to free up space and accommodate new animals.
This helps the community control strays that roam the streets and prevents chances of animal attacks on residents and vice versa. This will also help against overpopulation especially if the animal has not been spayed or neutered.
You join the fight against puppy mills. Puppy mills are factory-style breeding facilities. Dogs are made to reproduce litter by the numbers and sell them off for profit.
Puppies are housed in cramped cages with no adequate personal attention and medical care.
The sad thing about all this is that it is legal. The standards in the care of dogs and cats in commercial breeding facilities are outlined under the Animal Welfare Act (AWA).
The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) is the governing body responsible for the commercial breeding industry and in enforcing this federal law.
If that is not disturbing enough, below are some of the practices allowed under AWA.
- A puppy mill could have hundreds or thousands of dogs.
- Dogs may be kept in stacked cages with mesh or wire flooring.
- Dogs may be forced to relieve themselves in their cages.
- Dogs may be confined in spaces only six inches larger than their bodies, not including the tail.
- A dog may be caged 24 hours a day for its entire life; only removed from the cage to be bred.
- Human interaction is not required.
- Unwanted animals may be killed or auctioned off.
Puppy mills continue to exist because people still buy from pet stores instead of pet shelters or reputable breeders.
There are approximately 10,000 puppy mills currently in operation in the United States. Two million puppies which came from puppy mills are sold each year.
The numbers are staggering. Hence, animal welfare groups with the support of volunteers and concerned citizens all across the country continue to lobby against these mass breeding facilities. Even prominent celebrities have joined in the fight.
2. Responsible Breeders
If you choose to get a purebred puppy, then this option is for you. Though you can also find purebred puppies from animal shelters and rescue groups, most cases they are of mixed breed or adult purebred dogs.
There are advantages in buying from breeders.
They give expert breed advice. This is helpful if you are not familiar with a particular breed and most especially, if you’re a puppy owner for the first time. Since they are breeding the animal, they have first-hand knowledge of its behavioral patterns, food, and supplements intake.
They can give you tips on proper handling and care. They can also actually tell if you and your puppy are a match made in heaven.
They keep the breed true to its name. Every dog breed has its own physical and behavioral characteristics and a good breeder conforms to the breed standard. Physical traits include its size, coat length, color, height, and weight. Behavior refers to the dog’s temperament and social disposition.
This is in line with keeping the animal close to its nature so that if you want a herding dog, you go for collies. If you like poodles, rest assured that your puppy will grow up to have curly hair like a poodle should have.
They can tell you about the puppy’s history. Breeders study the breeding dog’s lineage to know its relatives and find possible matches. This helps the breeder produce healthy puppies that manifest the characteristics inherent of that breed.
They let you meet the parents. Meeting your future puppy’s parents and possibly relatives too can help you picture how your puppy would look like or act when it grows up.
They issue a health guarantee. A health guarantee generally states that in the event your puppy develops a disease covered by the agreement, the breeder may issue a refund, offer a replacement puppy or give a percentage of money for its medical treatment.
Conditions may vary from one breeder to another so ensure that both parties have the specific conditions clearly defined.
They offer lifetime expert help. Good breeders care for their animals more than you can imagine. They would extend assistance long after you’ve taken your puppy home.
They’re the best resource to ask advice on your pet’s nutrition, training, grooming, and so on.
What are Tell-tale Signs of a Good and Responsible Breeder?
Do be warned that there are so-called backyard breeders. These type of breeders are amateurs.
It could be that their intention is not completely profit-oriented but since they don’t have the knowledge and expertise, their breeding practices are substandard. These result in poor breeding conditions and unhealthy puppies.
Breeders may have the license but that does not guarantee a good and responsible breeder. Keep in mind the following guide to spot one that rocks the world of dog breeding.
- A breeder that lets you visit the premises
Good enough? Not quite. Look around. Is the environment clean? What about the kennels? Odor-free?
Observe the animals if they look well-fed and in good condition. Healthy pups usually look lively and eager to socialize; not shy, afraid or aggressive.
You should be able to interact with the puppy and see the puppy’s parents as well. This way, you can gauge the kind of temperament your puppy will have in the future.
- A breeder that keeps only one or two breeds in their
This is the ideal set-up to ensure that the animals are well taken care of. If you find yourself in the company of a hundred dogs instead, it’s a good chance you just invaded a puppy mill.
Do your share and walk out the door.
- A breeder that has a good rapport with the animals.
Pay attention to how the breeder interacts with the animals. As with people, you can tell if they get along well and have a good relationship.
- A breeder that answers and asks questions.
A good breeder has the answers to all your questions. This proves that they have the technical know-how. They are well aware of what goes on with their animals.
Now, don’t be fazed if the breeder starts asking questions. They would probably ask about your living situation, your work or household members.
It’s actually a good sign. It means the breeder has a genuine concern for their puppies and would want the best possible home and owners for them.
- A breeder that gives out referrals.
If it turns out you are not a good fit for the breed you’ve chosen, the breeder will not hesitate to suggest certain breeds that are more in tune to your needs. They would go as far as to refer you to other reputable breeders and give out contact details.
Tips on Finding a Responsible Breeder:
- Ask breed clubs
- Ask dog clubs
- Go to dog shows and events
- Ask your local veterinarian, dog trainers or groomers
The cost of well-bred puppies vary from one reputable breeder to the next. This would depend on the breed, its pedigree, and operating expenses related to breeding and medical care.
For example, the cost of a Labrador retriever puppy may range from $700 – $1,500.
- Online Advertisements
It is understandable that we turn to Mr. Google for help any chance we get. However, most ads you see online are from puppy mills and backyard breeders.
If it can’t be helped and you seem particularly attracted to a well-presented advertisement, we highly advise you to visit the premises and ascertain the conditions of the puppy before finalizing a sale.
- Pet Shops
We know the feeling. How often do we stop and look adoringly at those puppy dog eyes staring back at us through the shop window? How many cards have been swiped to make a purchase because dog lovers just can’t resist?
Cute and adorable they may be, we need to be reminded that most pet stores don’t provide support or any information about the animal like its lineage. This is primarily because they are sourced from puppy mills.
We learned that puppy mills are not the way to go and buying from pet shops only feeds the puppy mill industry. If you are really determined to get one from a pet store, go to one which is identified with animal shelters or rescue groups.
We do hope you have picked up a thing or two and can confidently make a well-informed decision on where to get a new puppy from. It’s always a cause for celebration when a new member of the family is about to join.
We are pretty sure little paws will be running in and out of your home very soon. Best of luck finding your little bundle of joy!