Before you go into things such as: what price you should expect, who to buy from, whether you should buy a puppy or older dog and what sort of health problems can your dog have and so on first you have to consider why do you want to go buying a dog.
If this is your first time getting a dog then don’t worry too much about shows, rule changes, standard changes and the like. Instead focus on the very basics: what kind of lifestyle you have, which breed would suit your lifestyle, whether you have children (or want children) if you want a one man dog or if you aren’t home much.
It’s things like these that can make having a dog a nightmare if you don’t take them into account. Most breeds are people oriented and need to spend time with their owners. If you work 12 hours a day you might find there is not enough time to care for your dog which in turn makes it impossible for you and the dog to have a healthy relationship.
Why do you want a dog?
In cases of families most often the kids fall in love with some puppy and then they absolutely, positively have to have a dog. In this case you’re looking for a fun, low maintenance, good with children and playful dog that can live in small environments and doesn’t bark much, is easy to train and doesn’t shed.
I may have just described the perfect dog. Unfortunately you’re probably not going to be able to find all of these qualities in the same dog. Sadly, most people are disillusioned when their dog doesn’t turn out to be everything they hoped for. Why? Because they didn’t do the proper research beforehand anyway. If you’re not a family, again, I could describe the perfect dog and I would have to say there’s probably no such dog. So what you’re looking at is compromise.
Since you can’t have everything think of the most important things to you. If you want a watchdog then a quiet dog is out of the question. If you want a guard dog than a really small dog, such as a Chihuahua is, again, out of the question. If having a clean house is important to you then a heavy shedder will be a good source of frustration.
What is the right dog breed for me?
Regardless of why you want to go buying a dog you need to thoroughly research available breeds, and make sure they fit your lifestyle fully. Most people live in apartments, so they prefer smaller dogs, which are more manageable, but that doesn’t mean giant dogs can’t live in an apartment.
You probably have a clue about what type of dog you like – large or small, energetic or laid-back, long-haired or shorthaired, easy to train or stubborn, dominant or submissive and so on. You might even have color preferences (for example I like black Newfoundlands more than other kinds of Newfoundland dogs). This is helpful information that will give you an easier time deciding which dog types you like best.
Try to think of as many things beforehand as possible. Also think in advance, and realize that a puppies price is nothing compared to what you would pay for veterinary checks, vaccines, food, obedience classes and so on. But after all you are looking for a new member for your family, he deserves the best. And so do you.
A puppy or an older dog?
Many people prefer to get a puppy. Very cute and adorable, it can be very rewarding to raise a puppy all by yourself. But it is quite time-consuming and can be frustrating as well. You need to housebreak them, you need even more research to find out about different puppy stages and how the dogs behavior changes.
You also need to train them and socialize them which requires time and energy that most people don’t have. If you’re in this situation don’t despair, there are plenty of well civilized, well bred adult dogs you can get from the same breeders you would get your puppies from.
What is the deal with the breed standard?
Finally take a look at the breed standard. You have now gone through all the necessary steps and you now know which breed is the best for you. Now, how do you know which breeders have the best dogs? You know that there are plenty of scammers who try to sell you sub-par dogs who were poorly bred, mistreated and who lack health care completely.
This is where knowing the breed standard helps. Of course you don’t care if the dog is 23 or 25 inches high, but if he should be 20 inches high then somewhere there are problems you may not know about until it’s too late. Trust in officials a little bit, there’s a reason they’ve selected that standard – it’s because that’s when the dog exhibits what he should exhibit at his best. So take some time to study how the dog should look like and judge the quality based on that.
In case you’re thinking of buying a puppy ask to see the puppies parents and check them against the standard. Also check the parents health record to see if they are healthy individuals, free of the many problematic hereditary diseases most breeds suffer from. Most of the time the sire (the father) won’t be available for you to see, but a good look at the dam is good enough.
You’re well on your way to getting a high-quality dog that will be very well suited for you and will fit everything you ever wanted from your companion. Now you need to choose a respectable breeder who you can trust.