If you are thinking of getting a dog from a breeder you will find that it is quite different from adopting a dog in most ways. Purebred dogs are intentionally bred for specific reasons. Each breed originally had a purpose, even if the dogs are no longer used for that purpose today. Breeders and breed clubs keep extensive information about their dogs, the history of the breed, and their health. If you are planning to get a purebred dog you should ask the right questions about the puppy or dog you’re considering, especially about the dog’s health. The knowledge available can help you choose a dog who has a better chance of living a long and healthy life.

Before you get a purebred dog
Before you get a purebred dog – or any dog – you should ask yourself some basic questions:

• Do you have time for a dog right now?
Dogs require lots of time and patience. They need love and attention, as well as training. You also have to make time to feed and groom them. Everyone’s excited about a dog in the beginning but you may have a dog for many years and you have to go on caring for them.

• Is it a good time to get a dog from a financial viewpoint?
Dog food and vet care get more expensive each year. In addition to vaccinations, your dog will also need flea and tick preventive as well as heartworm preventive on a regular basis. Dogs also need toys, chews, grooming supplies, beds, collars and leashes – the list goes on! Some breeds need to be professionally groomed every few weeks. Dogs also need training such as a class you take with your dog or an investment in books or CDs so you can train your dog yourself. All of these things add up in terms of dollars each year.

• What about your family?
If you have a spouse or family, are they on board with you getting a dog? No matter how much you love and want a dog, if your spouse or family are opposed to the idea, it can cause a lot of tension in the home. Maybe you have kids who swear they will take care of the dog. Sometimes they do and sometimes they don’t. Are you prepared to take care of the dog if your kids slack off?

These are some of the things you need to consider before getting any dog. There are other things, depending on the size and kind of dog you are interested in. For example, if you live in an apartment, consider carefully before getting a very large dog. Some large dogs, such as Greyhounds, can be very laid back and adapt to living in an apartment or small house, but they do require regular runs and exercise. But other large dogs do better with a yard of their own. Other dogs, even small dogs, do not do well in an apartment because they are active and they bark, such as Beagles. Make sure you know the pros and cons of any breed you are considering so you will know if it suits your situation.

Advantages of getting a purebred dog
There are some definite advantages to getting a purebred dog. Many things about a breed can be predicted with some assurance such as their usual temperament, how large they will become, what kind of coat they will have, their activity level, their instincts and what kind of things they will enjoy doing, and some things about their health. If you work with a good breeder you should also have an expert in the breed to help you throughout your dog’s life. This means that if you have any problems with your dog, you should be able to contact the breeder for advice. This can be very helpful with training, health issues, and other matters. Some breeders are even willing to board one of their dogs for you when you go on vacation if you keep in touch with them. Many people find that they develop good friendships with their dog’s breeder and return to the breeder years later when they are looking for another dog.

How to find a good breeder
The easiest way to find a good dog breeder is by contacting the breed club for the kind of dog you are interested in. You can visit the breeder referral search page on the American Kennel Club web site: http://www.akc.org/breederinfo/breeder_search.cfm This page lists all of the AKC breed parent clubs with links to their web sites. Visit the parent club for the breed you are interested in. The appropriate contact person can put you in touch with breeders who are expecting a litter.

You can also visit a local dog show when there is one in your area. Watch the show to find breeds you like. If you already know which breeds you like, watch them show and pick out which dogs you like. You can find the owners after they have finished in the ring. The owners and their dogs will be back in the grooming area after they have finished showing and you can speak to them then. (It’s best to wait until after people have shown when they are more relaxed.) Some of the people showing dogs are professional handlers but they can still provide you with information. Or find some of the owner-handlers to speak to. Ask them your questions about the breed. Most people are happy to be helpful.

Questions for breeders
Once you have found some breeders with puppies or dogs you like, you can contact them directly. Many breeders have web sites about their dogs so you can check them out online. This will probably give you some of the information you want. Questions that you should ask include:

• How long have you been breeding?

• How many dogs do you have?

• Tell me about your dogs. (Most breeders are happy to tell you LOTS about their dogs.)

• What kind of health tests have your dogs had? (You should already know which tests are common for the breed. Different breeds use different tests.)

• What were the results?

• What kind of contract and guarantee do your puppies have?

If you are interested in a puppy, you should say so. If you want a pet, you should say so. Do not tell a breeder that you want a top quality show prospect puppy when you don’t intend to show the dog. It’s not fair to anyone to lie about your intentions. A top quality show puppy needs to be shown so allow the breeder to place the puppy in the correct home. What’s the difference between a pet and a show puppy? It’s often something you would never notice. It could be something like a patch or the color of the markings. It doesn’t make the puppy inferior in anyway. It would just make the puppy less desirable as a show dog so the breeder wants to place the dog in a pet home.

Breeders also have adult dogs looking for homes sometimes so if you are interested in an adult dog, you should mention this fact. A breeder might have a retired male champion, for example, or they have decided they have too many dogs and they need to place one so they can keep a puppy. Breeders love their dogs and they will only place one of these dogs in a very good home, but if you are interested in an adult, go ahead and mention it.

As you can guess, people who call up and start off by demanding to know how much a puppy costs don’t usually get very far with a good breeder. You can expect a breeder to ask you a lot of questions about yourself and your home, too. They want to make sure they are placing their puppy or dog in the very best home possible. Some breeders will has to do a home visit first.

If you like a particular breed and you like knowing as much as possible about a puppy or dog before you get him, then getting a purebred dog is often a good choice. It also helps to work with a good breeder who is able to stand by the dog and answer your questions. No dogs are perfect, of course, but a purebred dog can make a great pet.

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