If you're looking to buy a puppy, contact breed-specific dog clubs, veterinarians and other pet professionals to aid in the search and help lead you to a healthy, lifelong friend. Avoid purchasing a dog through a puppy mill or a pet store. Prepare for a new pup by educating yourself on various breeds so you can select the breed that best suits your lifestyle. Ensure you are prepared to provide a safe, loving home for a dog throughout the duration of his life.
What to Look For: The Responsible Breeder
Always purchase a puppy from a reputable breeder. Reputable breeders generally breed one or two types of dogs and are extremely knowledgeable about their breeds. Dogs should be kept in clean housing with their socialization and recreational needs met. Genetic testing to ensure the health of the dogs should be performed. A reputable breeder will encourage you to meet the puppy's parents, sign an agreement that you will spay or neuter your puppy and if applicable, may ask you to provide proof that your landlord allows dogs. When visiting a breeder, ask to see where the dogs are housed. Review genetic testing or registration paperwork to make sure it is legitimate. Get a written contract that spells out any conditions of the sale. Ask for references from other individuals who have purchased through this breeder.
Puppy Mills: Places to Avoid
Puppy mills operate for the sole purpose of making money, often with little or no concern for the animals in their care. Their dogs are often kept in filthy, crowded living conditions. In-breeding is common, causing health issues and behavioral problems. This can cost new owners thousands of dollars in vet bills. To avoid puppy mills, steer clear from newspaper ads, online promotions that offer a great deal and most dogs sold in pet stores, as these pups often come from puppy mills. After you locate a breeder, talk to local vets or shelters in the area where the breeder lives. They should be familiar with their local breeders and be able to vouch for their character.
Locating Reputable Breeders
If you know what breed you prefer, search online for that breed's club. Most American Kennel Club recognized breeds have their own national club, such as the Airedale Terrier Club of America or the Dachshund Club of America. These clubs have local chapters in cities across the country. Visit their websites to find the club closest to you. A list of reputable breeders is usually available. Call or email for a breeder referral.You can locate national breed clubs on the AKC's website or by searching online.
Talk to the Professionals
Talk to local veterinarians. Most vets are familiar with the dog breeders in the area and sometimes keep a breeder list on hand. Call and ask for their names and numbers. Professional groomers, pet sitters and pet store owners who do not sell dogs at their store also may know of reputable breeders. Attend a local dog show. Many breeders are actively involved in dog shows and sporting events making it a good place to get connected.
Adopting a Shelter Puppy
Adopting through a shelter enables you to provide a home for a dog who is truly in need. There are occasions when puppies -- even a whole litter -- will show up at a shelter. These puppies may end up in a shelter because their owner is unable to care for them, is moving, getting divorced or just had a baby. Nearly 25 percent of shelter dogs are purebred. If you are interested in a common breed, such as a Labrador retriever, you may be able to find a puppy or young dog relatively easy. If you are looking for a less common breed, consider adopting through a breed-specific rescue. Visit or call local shelters and ask about the dogs available in your area.