Nothing is more appealing than a warm, fuzzy puppy snuggling in your arms. But which one to choose? Who ever met
a puppy they didn't love at first sight? Reality check time! Not only will these wiggly bundles of fur grow
up to vastly different sizes and appearances, but their personalities can be just as different as their looks.
Imagine the differences between a dog bred for hundreds of years to be a four pound good luck charm, or a one
hundred twenty five pound dog meant to stay alone, protecting a band of sheep from wolves, or a dog with the
boundless energy needed to run through the brush all day retrieving for hunters. Each of these dogs has thrived
because it filled a practical or emotional need. Each dog is exactly right for certain people, certain
situations, and definitely wrong for others, and the advantage of purebred is its predictability of those
Your first step in choosing a puppy is to decide which type of dog will suit your family and your
lifestyle. Ask yourself what you want your dog to be - a child's companion? a watch dog? a snuggler on your
lap? Think about your preferences - do you want a small dog, a huge one, something in-between? Do you want
no fuss short hair, or long hair that needs regular brushing, or non-shedding coat that might need professional
grooming? Do you live in an apartment, or in a neighborhood, or on a farm? Do you want a quiet companion,
a happy-go-lucky pal, or an independent working dog? Do you have time to exercise the dog, or are short trips
to the back door more your style? Should the dog greet visitors with a welcome, or with an announcing
bark? Do you want a guardian while you jog on the Greenbelt? A thought here -- if you have young children,
be sure to choose a dog who won't be alarmed when they and the neighbor children are running, chasing, shouting
and wrestling. This is *not* the time to have an overly protective dog who might get confused between friend and
foe, a playful squeal or a scream.
There are a number of ways to learn different dogs characteristics, and decide which dog is appropriate
for your home, your family, your lifestyle -- books such as "Your Purebred Puppy, A Buyer's Guide", by
Michele Welton, or from the American Kennel Club (AKC) website http://www.akc.org, from responsible breeder's
themselves, or by contacting the Idaho Capital City Kennel Club, at 388-1514. We do not list puppies
for sale, but we can provide lots of free information.
One advantage a purebred puppy offers is a certain predictability of size, temperament, and needs.
If you chose a mixed breed, knowing something about the parents may help you know what to expect. Certainly,
you may find exactly the right pet, purebred or mixed at the humane society or animal shelter. There are many
dogs there who had the misfortune to be abandoned by people who maybe didn't understand that dogs are neither
interchangeable nor disposable. Or maybe they forgot to spend time teaching and training their puppy into
a social adult -- and you definitely can teach an old dog new tricks!
When you are looking for a special breed from a well-bred background, the number one rule is:
- "Don't get puppy fever!"
- Begin by asking questions, lots of them?
- "What is this breed like to live with?"
- "What do you like best about them?"
- "What do you like least about them?"
- "How are they with children, honestly?"
- "Have these puppies been checked by a veterinarian?"
- "Did they have worms?" (No, not all puppies do.)
- "Have they been started on their shots?"
If you are feeling comfortable with the answers so far, make an appointment to go see the puppies. If your
children are coming on the visit, be sure they understand you are just looking, and not bringing a puppy home
yet. Do the puppies seem clean, bright, and healthy? Do the puppies' mom & dad seem like the kid of dogs you
want to live with? Puppies inherit not only their 'looks' from mom & dad, but a very strong dose of their
personality. If the parents are wonderful, chances are their kids will be too. If the parents seem hyper, or
shy, or aggressive, their puppies are likely to be that way when they grow up. Do the people seem to know enough
to help you with advice about housebreaking, spaying/neutering, possible hereditary problems? Remember that
anyone who raises a litter of puppies is a "breeder" - there are honest, knowledgeable "breeders", and dishonest,
thoughtless "breeders", so it is up to you to be sure.
Responsible breeders will be checking you out at the same time, making sure you understand
the characteristics of their breed, asking whether you have a securely fenced yard, how much time you can
devote to raising and training the puppy, asking about your work schedule, and your family, suggesting basic
Use your own common sense. If you feel that you have found the right puppy from the right
background, congratulations! As part of the written sales agreement, make sure you can take the puppy to your
own veterinarian for a 'well-baby check'. If the puppy doesn't pass inspection, take the puppy back, get your
money back, and look elsewhere. You should receive the puppy's American Kennel Club (AKC) registration
papers, and the pedigree (a chart of the family tree), all at no extra charge. Understand that AKC papers are
not a seal of approval, but they are a record that over the generations, each ancestor was registered as
a purebred. With the advent of DNA tests for dogs and increasing inspection by AKC, some puppymill breeders
have invented various other registries to avoid that pressure of being accurate. You, with the help of a
knowledgeable breeder and your own veterinarian, must make certain that a puppy is healthy, and looks and
acts as that particular breed should.
Remember that irresistable little puppy will grow quickly into a full sized adult dog that
is part of your family, and will be your responsibility for the next ten to fifteen years. Choose wisely
now, and enjoy!
Choosing the Right Dog for You
Where to Find a Puppy
The National Clubs for specific information about each breed of dog:
AKC's National Breed clubs
AKC's Breeder Referral
Need help with your puppy?