You have done your research and are now ready to bring home the best dog for your family. (If you haven’t already decided on what breed of dog is best for you, read our blog post How to Choose the Right Dog for Your Family.) Locating the right dog for you is almost as hard as choosing the right dog. Unless you have selected a common breed, bringing home a dog may not be an immediate thing. Uncommon breeds may be more difficult to locate or there may be a waiting list for a puppy or dog. Take your time and research where to acquire your new family member by using the tips below.
Breeder Or Rescue
There is a big controversy as to whether a dog should be rescued from a breed rescue organization, a general rescue organization, the shelter or purchased from a breeder. Any of these can be good, it just depends on the individual situation.
The advantage with responsible breeders is that they consistently do health tests for their dogs, and have a solid understanding of their breed and any issues that might occur. They will have a good idea of what to watch for and will not breed dogs with health or temperament issues. Also, they frequently know the lineage of the puppies or dog, allowing them to more readily place puppies into appropriate homes, as they know how the dogs will mature and what to expect. Puppies and dogs from a breeder will also be registered, so anyone interested in competing in any of the many dog sports will be able to do so more easily. With a pedigree, a person can more readily research the parents, grand parents, etc., of their dog.
Rescues are good for those who are looking mainly for a companion dog and are not as particular about knowing if it is a purebred dog or not. A breed rescue will be familiar with the particular breed that they specialize in, with the advantage of having a good idea of any quirks that may occur in that breed. Some of these dogs may be placed in a breed rescue because the owner is no longer able to keep the dog, so the dog will have some history with it. The dogs are frequently placed in foster homes, which allows the rescue to learn about any peculiarities of the individual dog.
A general rescue or shelter can also be a source for a puppy or dog. But with any of these organizations, caution should be used before committing to bringing home a puppy or dog from one of them. With no history or health tests, and no proof that it is purebred, other concerns may show up unexpectedly. The puppy may also grow to be much larger or smaller than expected or have a temperament that is not the same as the breed that it appears to be. If rescuing a puppy or dog, do not be surprised if they come with issues.
Clubs, Registries and Associations
Breed registries, clubs and associations are an excellent source for purebred dogs. Members who are associated with the clubs will be held to a higher standard and a code of ethics. These clubs represent a good contact for finding responsible breeders, as most of the members actively participate in the various breed activities. And if they are not in your area, they can frequently recommend someone who lives closer to you.
Associations that specialize in a particular dog sport can also be a good reference. These include hunting dogs, bird dogs, herding dogs and sled dogs. They will frequently have a breeder or puppies available page or listing. One distinct advantage to these associations is that if you are looking for a working dog, you will know that the breeders are familiar with the sport they participate in, and the puppies will come from working parents.
Internet and Social Media
Use these two resources with caution. Both can be an excellent resource when used correctly. Puppies can be found by searching for the breed you want and your location. Be very aware though that puppy mills can put up a good front on the internet. Most responsible breeder’s websites will supply any health tests given to their dogs and if they are active in any dog sport, they will frequently have brag pages and tons of pictures that include show photos, working photos and photos of the dog interacting with the family.
There are several websites dedicated to certain types of working dogs also, such as hunting dogs, bird dogs, terriers, livestock guard dogs, herding dogs, etc. On these sites you will be able to “meet” people who are actively involved with the breed you are interested in, learn more about them, as well as be able to locate breeders. Some may be more breed specific while others may be more general but within the same use.
Social media includes Facebook, Yahoo groups, etc. There are frequently specific pages and groups created around certain breeds, which makes contacting potential breeders easier as you can “meet” the people and get a general feel for them and their dogs. Photos and other interesting tidbits are posted frequently, so you can get an idea of who has what, and if you like a certain look or usage, you can see who may have that in your breed.
Veterinarians & Local Dog Trainers and Kennel Clubs
Veterinarians, local dog trainers and kennel clubs can be a potential resource. Responsible breeders will build a solid relationship with their veterinarian. Those who are active in training will also have a relationship with any dog training locations. Local kennel clubs may hold training classes as well as larger shows, so will frequently know if there are any breeders in their area and what they breed.
While magazines that are dedicated to dogs have disappeared or changed, advertisements can be found in those that are remaining. Magazines devoted to a particular hobby or area of interest may offer a source of breeders too, for example, Hobby Farms or Western Horseman could be a source for working dogs. Puppies or dogs can be found in the local newspapers, although most responsible and reputable breeders don’t advertise in this medium very often.
If possible, take advantage when a dog show comes to your area. Not only will you be able to see your breed in person, you can talk to those who have the breed you want and learn potential sources from them. Dog shows can be found by looking on the AKC or UKC websites. Larger cities have them more frequently while smaller or less populated areas may only hold one show a year.
Word of Mouth
If you happen to know or encounter someone with your particular breed, ask them where they purchased their dog and if they would recommend the breeder. Word of mouth is an excellent way to find reputable breeders, as the owner will usually tell you the truth if they have encountered any problems with the breeder or their particular dog.
As with the purchase of anything that has a long life span, use caution when bringing a puppy home from any of these sources. Talk to and visit as many kennels or breeders as you can. Do not be afraid to ask questions. Ask to see where the puppies live and if their dam or sire is available to see. Watch them interact with the owners and other dogs. Visit several times if possible. Avoid buying a puppy or dog on impulse. Do your due diligence and you will have many years of enjoyment with your new companion.