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Finding Puppies - The Basics

There are some basic things you need to do if you are thinking about buying a puppy.  

Understand the Commitment

Most people think it would be great to get a puppy.  Puppies are loveable, smell good, are fun to play with. You know what?  Babies are lovable, smell good, and are fun to play with.  The required commitment of responsibility of dog ownership is just like the responsibility of being a parent.  The need to be fed, bathed, have medical needs, education, exercise, and emotional support.  Babies and puppies grow up to be adults.  As they grow up you must also be willing to change your lifestyle as they do so.  If you want to take a trip, what do you do with your child?  The same hold true for a puppy .   

Would you ever consider leaving your child outside 24 hours a day with no shelter?  Then you don't need a puppy.

Would you ever chain your puppy or dog to a tree? Then you don't need a puppy or dog.

Would you ever consider trading your child for a new one?  Then you don't need a puppy.

Purebred or Rescue?

There are reasons for both choices.

  • Purebred
    • Purebred dogs are bred according to specific standards.  The main standards are size, proportion, substance, coat, color, temperament, behavior, purpose, exercise needs, and more.  Because of these standards your chances of meeting all of the needs you have for a puppy's ability to fit in to your lifestyle are generally higher. Years and years of breeding provides more consistency to the litters produced.
  • Rescue
    • Rescue dogs can be just as lovable and meet all the needs you might have when considering bringing a new family member into your house hold. You should know approximately 25% of the dogs in rescue are purebred dogs. Well if this is true why are purebred dogs in rescue at all?  The answer is two fold. First, most purebred dog breeders are nothing more than puppy mills. Secondly, some people do not get a dog for the right reasons after considering the things above.
    • Rescue dogs are typically not purebred  but have multiple breeds making up there genetics and therefore their needs for exercise, behavior, health etc.  So it is important to analyze the breed types making up the dog to make sure it "fits" into your lifestyle.

Do Your Research

Regardless of your decision to get a purebred or rescue puppy/dog, learn about the "Standards" for the breed or the make up of the dog you are considering to rescue. Learn about the previous ownership if applicable.  Once again, you are bringing a new family member into your family.  If you were adopting a child you would want to know about the parents and their health.  You would want to know about the environment, lifestyle, temperament, and medical history before you would make your decision.  Being a responsible parent is very similar whether you decide to have a child of your own or are looking to bring a new puppy or adult dog into your family.  The choice will change your life.

Know the Genetic Diseases Which Can Affect the Breed(s) You Are Considering

Purebred or Rescue, genetic disease affects the breed.  There are over 200 recognized breeds and every breed is affected by inherited disease. A good estimate is each breed averages five genetic diseases which are of concern.  Make sure you are aware of the possibilities when choosing a puppy or dog.  Multiple breed types require additional research.  The number one genetic health concern in breeds is Hip Displaysia.  The disease generally affects larger breeds but can and does affect some smaller breeds too.  This is why you should know which disease affect the breed(s) you are considering.  See genetic tests for your desired breeds.

Breed Life Span

Research shows dogs age at a rate seven (7) times faster than humans. There is a direct comparison to the size of the breed.  Larger dogs age faster and therefore die earlier in their years than smaller dogs. Extremely large breeds can have a life expectancy of as little as six (6) years.  Some smaller breeds can live long lives of up to seventeen (17) years or more.


  • Purebred - There are two types of "Purebred" / "Backyard" Breeders. One type is what we consider as reputable.  The other is what we consider puppy mills.
    • Reputable Breeders - The most reputable breeders at a minimum do ALL suggested genetic testing prior to using two (2) dogs in the breeding process.  Doing genetic testing is extremely expensive and can easily cost $500 - $1,500 to have done.  Consider a breeding program can take years to obtain the requirements of the standard, a breeder can spend tens of thousands of dollars to achieve the ultimate goal.
    • Puppy Mills - First, puppy mills and backyard breeders do not care about you, your family, how much money you spend or how long one of their puppies might live. The owners of puppy mills do not care about the ultimate health of the puppies they sell.  They are not concerned about doing any genetic testing.  Their primary concern is money.  Puppy Mills and, "Backyard" breeders do not spend any more money than they must to entice a puppy buyer to buy a puppy from them. The biggest consideration a puppy mill or backyard breeder is your emotions and your lack of knowledge about ethical dog breeding.  More on this later.

Veterinary Expense

  • Typical Expected Expenses to Expect and Consider
    • Food
    • Minor injuries, vaccinations, and healthy dog visits requiring veterinary visits
  • Unexpected
    • Genetic Diseases Dramatically Reducing the Life of Your Dog - You bought your puppy assuming it would be in your family for many years.  You may have purchased a golden retriever which typically live to be around twelve years of age when they die of old age. You may have purchased the dog believe your child will have a best friend until they are of college age.  Most of us have seen the commercial where the dog is there for all the child's life events like the first boyfriend, breakup, or marriage.  Making a wise and knowledgeable decision when choosing a puppy can and will affect your life and the lives of your loved ones.

Pay Now or Pay Later

Because our emotions play a big part in your decision making process to purchase a puppy we often forget about the most important part of the monetary consideration.  This is actually a "Cost" vs "Benefit" consideration. Let's take another look at the Golden Retriever puppy you are thinking about for your young daughter. You are considering two different puppies.

  • Puppy 1
    • Cost $500.00
    • Genetic Testing of Parents - None
  • Puppy 2
    • Cost $1,500.00
    • Required Genetic Testing Completed on Both Parents
      • Hip Dysplasia Test Complete - Results Excellent
      • Elbow Dysplasia Test Complete - Results Excellent
      • Eye Examination Annually - Passed with no issues found
      • Congenital Cardiac Exam - . No heart disease found

Your Decision is Puppy 1

You think the breeder is reputable is ethical but they are not.

  • When the dog is 6 Years Old
    • Your daughter is 12
    • The dog is blind
    • You have spent $1,200 treating this condition
  • When the dog is 7 Years Old
    • Your Daughter is 13
    • Dog is diagnosed with heart disease
    • You have spent $800.00 on medications
  • When the dog is 8 Years Old
    • Your daughter is 14
    • Dog dies of complications of heart condition
  • You have spent an additional $2,000 in medical expense and the dog dies four (4) years prematurely of typical life expectancy.

Your Decision is Puppy 2

You bought the dog from a reputable breeder.

  • Your daughter is 19
  • The dog is 13 and dies of old age
  • The dog had no genetic disease
  • You had no expenses other than the normally expected heathy dog care.

Which decision would be the best for you and your family?