I WANT A PUPPY  !  !  !

by Suzanne Phillips


Should I buy a Purebred or Mixed-Bred?  http://www.yourpurebredpuppy.com/tutorial2.html  This site will provide you with information to help with this decision. 

            There are 3 vital considerations when acquiring a new pup to help insure the pup you get is right for you. Some of the below considerations pertains to mixed-breeds; all three pertain to purebreds.

            (1)  Breed:  NEVER buy a puppy “on impulse” or because he is “cute”.  Most puppies are cute, and many grow up to be “not so cute” adult dogs.

            One couple I know fell in love with and purchased a darling Akita pup. But once he was full-grown, they found it necessary to keep him on a lead that was tied around their stairway newel post while their elderly Norwegian Elkhound was similarly tied to the leg of a dining room buffet.  This tethering was necessary to prevent interaction that would have resulted in tragedy. Also challenging was encountering other people or pets while walking this large, strong-willed guy in their suburban neighborhood.  And as much as they loved this dog, I suspect they wished they had learned more about his natural characteristics before adding him to their family.      

            Every breed has certain characteristics that you should know about before deciding that “this is the dog” for you.

             Josh is a magnificent Newfoundland who won the 2004 Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show.  As I heard the crowds wildly cheer this Master Showman, I cringed, thinking…. how many people are going to rush out and buy a “Baby Josh”, then be horrified to discover that, along with all his numerous, wonderful qualities, they have also acquired an automatic slime-making machine.  These guys drool…big time, so you need to have a “drool towel” handy, at all times, and not mind wiping drool off yourself, your walls, your furniture, your clothing etc.

             My Pyrs bark (A LOT!!!) and shed (A LOT!!!!).  I never seem to make it out of the house without a few white hairs on my clothing, and my carpets NEVER look freshly vacuumed.

            Chows are very strong-willed and require a loving, but “firm” master.

              If you are a couch potato, you will not do well with a high-spirited dog that requires much exercise.  If your life style is such that you have many people in and out of your home, you should look for a breed that is very laid back and not into “guarding” behavior. 

            So before selecting a certain breed, make sure that you and your family will be at ease with his natural behavior and that it will fit in nicely with your lifestyle.  Remember, this new pup will, hopefully, be a family member for 10 – 15 years, so it is important that this time be rewarding and comfortable for all concerned.

            You can locate information about a large variety of breeds at:    http://www.yourpurebredpuppy.com/dogbreeds/index.html                                                                    http://www.akc.org/breeds/,              

            (2)  Breeder:   Among breeder referral sources are: http://www.akc.org/breeds/, local veterinarians, dog trainers and Kennel Clubs.

             Once you have learned the names of some breeders, visit their place of business.  Is it clean?  Do the dogs look to be in good condition, happy, loved and well cared for?

             Steer clear of any breeders who find ways to keep you from coming to their kennel.  Many breeders who operate puppy mills (http://www.prisonersofgreed.org) will arrange to meet you at a “convenient location” to keep you from viewing the deplorable conditions in which her/his dogs and pups are kept. 

            Call area Rescue groups for the breed to see if they have any good or bad information on the breeder.

             Does this breeder require that you spay or neuter non-show dogs in order to receive the AKC papers?  Most consciences breeders do this to help prevent “unknowledgeable” people from breeding and possibly producing pups with temperament and health problems.

             Ask for names of previous clients, and then contact them to learn their feelings about this breeder’s stock and willingness to assist after their purchase. Was she willing to take back the pup if any situation occurred that resulted in them no longer being able to keep the dog, was she there for guidance and support if they had questions or concerns.   

            Avoid purchasing a pup from a pet store. Many pet stores acquire stock from puppy mills. Do not feel offended if the breeder appears to be very inquisitive.  She is only doing what any reputable breeder will do…finding out as much as she can about you, your family and lifestyle so she can be sure she is placing one of her precious pups in an environment where the “fit” will be right for both you and the dog.

            (3)  Pup:  Many breeders will help you in your selection.  After evaluating you and your family, an experienced breeder will often be able to select a pup that will best meet your needs.  After several weeks of viewing the pups, their interaction with one another, and their reaction to various situations, the breeder will have formed an idea about which pups are assertive, which are more passive, which are “show quality”, which will make good family pets etc.

            Keep in mind your needs.  If young children or seniors are part of the family, you should look for a dog that is subdued.  If you are looking for a watchdog, you should consider a puppy that appears dominant and independent.  Families with teens may want a playful and active dog.

            To help you evaluate likely personality traits of pups, there are detailed personality tests you can locate…either in books, or in an “online search”.  And while none of these tests will guarantee you accurate results, they can provide additional information for you to consider.

            A basic test to help determine if the puppy is submissive or dominant could be:

            Individually, take each puppy that interests you to a removed, quiet area.  Be gentle with him and do not praise or scold him during the test.

(1)  Squat down and gently roll the puppy on his back.  Keeping one hand on his chest, hold him firmly in place for 30 seconds.  If he frantically struggles the whole time, he is likely to be dominant.  If he does not resist at all, he is submissive.  If he struggles at first, then relaxes, he is “middle of the road”.

(2)  Leave the puppy on the floor and walk away, making sure he sees you doing this. If he doesn’t follow you, he is independent. If he follows you with his tail up, biting at your feet, he is probably dominant. If he keeps his tail down and follows you, he is probably submissive.  If he follows in a hesitant fashion, but keeps his tail down, he is “middle of the road”.

(3)  Place the puppy in the center of the room and walk a short distance away, in a direction away from the door you used to enter the room.  Kneel down and clap your hand.  This should gain his attention. If he readily comes to you with his tail in the air, and jumps at your hands, this indicates a dominant personality. A pup who readily comes, with his tail down, and who does not jump, is probably more submissive.  A pup who readily comes, with his tail up is “middle of the road”.

More detailed tests which may help determine certain personality traits can be seen at: http://animalcontrol.co.la.ca.us/html/pages/adoptions/Puptest.htm  

 http://www.golden-retriever.com/puppy_aptitude_test.htm    (this can be used for breeds other than Goldens)