Many people contact us saying: are there specific questions to ask when buying a dog? Buying a dog is a big decision to make, and should be researched thoroughly before making any decisions. The main questions we will cover in this article can be broken down into 3 steps.
- What dog breed fits my lifestyle?
- Where shouldn’t I buy a dog from?
- Where do I buy a dog from?
1.) What Dog Breed Fits My Lifestyle?
The first question you should consider is: what dog breed is the best fit for me? Some dogs are active and energetic. Other breeds are relaxed and require very little exercise. If you have a family, you should consider if the breed is good with children. You want to research each breed group and explore what each group has to offer. Once you narrow it down to a specific group, you can research specific breeds within that group. You can read about each group and the characteristics of each group the AKC recognizes at the following link: The Seven Dog Groups.
2.) Where not to Buy a Dog From
Once you have decided on the group that works best for you, the first question you will want to consider is where can I buy a dog? You will want to research places to avoid and the best places to visit when researching where to buy a dog. This is a very important part of the process that many new dog owners overlook.
Buying a Dog From a Pet Store
The first place most people resort to buying a dog from is pet stores in malls. You do not, I repeat, you DO NOT want to purchase a puppy at these pet stores. Pet stores get their supply of puppies from mills known as puppy mills. Puppy mills are essentially a location where dogs are bred in bulk with unethical practices. You can read detailed information on the reasons to avoid buying a dog from a pet store at the following article: 8 Reasons Why You Shouldn’t Purchase That Puppy In The Window.
3.) Where to Buy a Dog From
It can become overwhelming these days. There are so many different places you can purchase a dog. Now that you have found the perfect breed that fits your lifestyle, and you know puppy mills should be avoided, you may be wondering, where is the best place to go to find the perfect dog? There are 2 sources that will give you the greatest likelihood of finding a healthy and happy dog.
- Dog Breeders
- Rescue Groups
Buying a Dog from a Breeder
The first place many potential dog owners look to is dog breeders. Dog breeders are a good choice but not always the best choice. It is critical to ask the breeder specific questions and research reviews about the breeder. The more information you know about the breed, the better. The following list offers some questions to ask when buying a dog from a breeder to see how qualified they are.
- How long have you been breeding the specific dog breed?
- Why do you breed dogs?
- Do you take part in any activities with your dogs? Activities like exercise, training, or socializing the dog?
- Are there any guarantees or contracts? Do you guarantee the dog will be healthy for x amount of time?
- How long do we have to wait until we can take the puppy home?
- How can we contact you with potential issues in the future?
- As a reference, may we contact past customers who purchased a puppy from you?
- Do you cover all the shots and papers necessary for a puppy?
This list is a solid foundation to investigate where the breeder stands. Question 1 will test their experience with breeding dogs. Question 2 will allow you to see their true reason for breeding dogs. If they respond with an answer involving solely financial gain, it may be a sign that the breeder does it for the wrong reason. You want to hear that they want to breed healthy dogs and solidify the breeds longevity and health for dog owners to enjoy. Question 3 and 8 will provide information as to how dedicated the breeder is in creating a healthy and positive foundation for the dog to grow. Question 4 and 7 assesses whether the breeder is confident or not in his/her breeding skills. Question 5 will analyze if they follow the proper rules when breeding. No breeder should ever allow a dog to go home within 7 weeks. The final question checks to see if the breeder is willing to work with you if any potential issues arise or if they are only interested in closing the sale.
Pros of Buying a Dog from a Breeder
The pros of buying from a dog breeder are important. When buying from a reputable breeder, you can be confident that the dog will be healthy. If you find you are unhappy with the dog, breeders will take the dog back. Lastly, you are able to shop until you find the exact dog you are looking for.
Cons of Buying a Dog from a Breeder
This option is not perfect though and does come with some cons. A reputable breeder will want to ensure that the dog will be going to the right home. In order for this to happen, dog breeders will ask for a lot of information from you which can become repetitive and tiresome. If the breeder feels you are not the right type of person or home for the dog, they may deny you from purchasing one of their puppies. They also do not take part in over breeding so it may take time before a dog is bred that will work for you. The final, and most important con, is that you are buying instead of saving a dog’s life at a shelter. Many dog enthusiasts (including the crew at Dog Lover Store) feel it is unfair to purchase a dog when you could save a dog’s life. There are many no-kill shelters around but not all dogs are that lucky. Shelters and animal pounds still euthanize dogs who have not been adopted after X amount of days. The innocent lives of these dogs are being ended because they haven’t been chosen to be a part of a loving home. Dog enthusiasts believe you should look to rescue groups first to try to find a dog that needs a new home.
Buying a Dog from a Rescue
Each year nearly 3 million pets are euthanized. The amount of pet owners giving up their animals trump the amount of potential pet owners looking to adopt. When you consider this, buying a puppy from a breeder may feel unjust to some. There are many myths out there about pets from shelters and rescue groups. Some may think that a dog who was abused may be skiddish; an untrained dog may be aggressive; or a once malnourished dog may have future health problems. The following list will put these myths to rest.
Pros of Buying a Dog from a Rescue
- Animal shelters and rescue groups work hard to rescue pets, and bring them back to health and happiness. Adopted dogs are not unhealthy or violent. They are socialized, loved, and nourished.
- Adopt and you will avoid supporting puppy mills that use unethical practices.
- Adopting a pet makes you feel good, you saved an animal in need.
- Shelters and rescue groups charge a reasonable fee that is much more affordable than pet stores and breeders. Shelters and rescue groups spay/neuter and vaccinate pets prior to putting them up for adoption. This adds to the value as well.
Cons of Buying a Dog from a Rescue
Just like any other option when buying a dog, there are pros and cons. Cons when adopting a dog exist. You may have to visit multiple shelters and travel in order to find the right dog. In the end, you may not be able to find the exact dog you are looking for. You have to supply the organization with information so they can examine whether you are a good fit or not. Lastly, dogs can act differently in your home than at the shelter. Dogs become acclimated to their environment and may appear calm and happy in the shelter/rescue’s facility. When you take that dog out of it’s environment and bring them into a new environment, they may act differently than you anticipated. Whether you choose to buy or adopt, this is a factor you must always consider when bringing a dog into your home.
Every option has it’s pros and cons. Regardless of which path you go down, the most important thing to remember is it all comes down to you! If you research various dog breeds and research breeders/rescue groups/shelters, it will always be a positive outcome. The key is to research, research, and research! I can’t say it enough. Information and knowledge is power! Don’t make the mistake of basing your decision on the cutest dog. Consider your lifestyle and what you enjoy. Ask yourself questions about potential outcomes. Then apply that to various dog breed’s lifestyle. Once you decide on the breed, then you can choose where to buy/adopt. Visit shelters, rescue groups, and breeders. Which one offers the dog you are looking for? Ask questions and be choosy. They are there to help and you know what’s right for you! You should never feel pressure to choose a dog. It’s a big decision because the dog you choose will become a new member of your family.
John is the co-owner of DogLoverStore with his wife Kimberly. He enjoys working with computers, listening to music, learning about dog breeds, perfecting the art of coffee brewing, and anything that brings him back to childhood! He received his BS in management information systems at the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth.