How Do I Pick The Perfect Puppy?
It is very tempting to pick up the first cute puppy you see. But it could prove a disaster. Your puppy is going to grow, and he will be part of your family for more than a decade. You need to thoroughly research and double-check, before you commit yourself. Only then can you be sure that you’ve brought home the puppy that’s the most suitable for your family and lifestyle.
Listed below are some of the important factors that you need to take into account.
Gender of the Puppy
Unless you’re considering spraying or neutering your pet, deciding on its gender, is very important.
Female puppies are usually smaller, they wander about less, and they tend to be less aggressive than male puppies. They come in heat twice a year and you will need to guard her against accidental pregnancies. And in case, she does get pregnant, you‘ll need to spend a good amount of time and money through her gestation period, her delivery and weaning. You absolutely do not want to get yourself into such problems.
Male puppies too need to be treated with care when they mature. They tend to become more aggressive and dominating. And they try to escape out of the house is quest for a mate. You should be capable of keeping a check on your dog, when he reaches his prime. Early training can help reduce such problems, so if you want to get a male puppy be responsible and prepare for necessary puppy training.
When you bring home a puppy, it is the beginning of a new relationship. You need to be clear on what kind of dog you want in your house.
Do you prefer playful and active dogs? So is a more submissive one suitable? Do you want a dog which needs a lot of attention? Or do you like quiet dogs which are comfortable staying alone?
Your answer to all these questions depends largely on your own personality type, and your family atmosphere. So make sure you answer these questions honestly. You can then choose a dog whose temperament is congruent to your lifestyle, and who’ll fit in easily.
Dogs are extremely physical animals. They need a lot of room and open space. Even though your puppy is small now, he will eventually grow to his full size. So when you consider buying a puppy, you need to be sure as to how much space he will require when he becomes an adult.
Once you have a clear picture of his eventual size, take an honest evaluation of your house and decide on whether there’s enough of space for him.
Getting the puppy of a large breed, like a St. Bernard, into your modest-sized apartment or condo is not advisable. The dog will get restless and unhappy, and can even fall ill.
You also need to consider your own age and fitness levels. Huge and active dogs need a lot of exercise and you should be capable of physically restraining them. If you’re not sure you can handle these dogs, you’re better off taking a puppy from a smaller and milder breed.
All dogs need to be brushed every day, shampooed once a week, and groomed once a month. This requirement may vary depending on the breed of the dog and his coat type.
Dogs with long haired coats may look beautiful and appealing, but they require a lot of maintenance. They are more likely to get their hair tangled, catch fleas and ticks, and get smelly. You’ll need to invest a considerable amount of time and money in ensuring their cleanliness.
Also, dogs shed their hair in clumps, throughout the year. Again, depending on the breed and coat-type, the quantity and frequency of shedding varies.
If you feel you don’t want to spend too much time and energy cleaning your house, you should consider getting short-hair coated dogs. These dogs are easy to maintain, and shed minimally.
Dog hair allergies are also common among people, especially young children. Do ensure that no one in your family is allergic to the breed you’re planning on choosing.
Different dogs are specialised to serve different needs. Certain breeds of dogs are genetically programmed and physically suitable for particular purposes. Getting a puppy by random and trying to train it for a task not suitable to its breed, is an exercise in futility.
Few of the common reasons, for getting a dog, are:
Show dogs, are typically the product of selective breeding. These pure breed animals are the result of the mating of the best gene pools. These breeds (like the Golden Retriever) usually participate and win in dog shows.
If you intended to buy a puppy and raise him for championship purposes, make sure you go to a reputed and responsible dog breeder, and research exhaustively on the puppy’s parentage and genetic history.
Certain breeds of dogs are genetically excellent at herding sheep, cattle and other pastoral stock. If you own a farm, and you’re looking at getting a dog to guard your domestic animals, then you should go in for a herding dog.
Australian Cattle Dog, Border Collie, The Koolie, The Welsh Corgis, and The Old English Sheepdog, are some of the predominant herding breeds. They can be easily trained, and they learn their duties very quickly.
Guard dogs are breeds of canines which specialize in watching and protecting the house. These dogs are usually large in size, have intimidating looks and deep barks, and are highly alert.
Sentry breeds include the Rottweiler, Doberman, The German Shepherd, American Bulldog, and the Bullmastiff. Most of these breeds are also extremely intelligent and are used as police dogs.
These dogs are reared solely as members of the family, and not for any working purpose. Companion dogs are friendly, loyal, attached to the family and home, and are very affectionate. Golden Retrievers, Dalmatians, and Terriers are among the common family pets.
There is also another popular group of companion dogs called ‘Toy Dogs’. These lap dogs are small and decorative looking canines which are visually very appealing. The Pug, Poodle, Pomeranian, Pekingese, Chihuahua, and Maltese are the most preferred toy dogs. These dogs are very endearing and make wonderful pets.
Finding a responsible breeder
Dog breeding is a very serious responsibility. Unfortunately, a lot of irresponsible and reckless agencies, call themselves as “dog breeders”, and indulge in unethical and cruel dog breeding activities. They use and abuse their animals for the sole purpose of making quick money. They are neither bothered, nor concerned about improving the gene pool of the breed, or about their dogs’ well being.
When you decide to buy a puppy from a breeder, make sure you research and check-up on the breeder’s background and activities. Visit their premises and observe their breeding techniques. Don’t fall prey into the hands of dubious and demeaning dog-farm breeders.
Checklist to ensure the breeder is responsible
A responsible breeder…
- Has extensive knowledge about the dog’s breed and breeding standards.
- Is genuinely dedicated to genetic testing and gene-pool improvement.
- Is willing to clearly discuss with you the advantageous and short-comings of the particular breed
- Respects his animals and treats them with affection
- Is willing to take you around and allow you to interact with the animals
- Has complete information about the puppy’s parents and lets you meet and observe them
- Rears healthy and strong dogs i.e. provides the right dog food and required nutrition
- Vaccinates all his dogs and puppies, and makes sure they are medically fit
- Has complete files of the medical history of the puppies
- Has all the legal documents and registration papers
- Provides a written contract and bill of sale
- Provides a health, and genetic disease, guarantee
- Will be available to offer you advice, throughout the life-time of the puppy
- Will answer all your question and doubts
Questions you should ask the dog breeder
Once you’ve made sure that the dog breeder is genuine and responsible, you need to ask him a few questions. This will help you clear all your doubts and apprehensions. Below is a list of questions that you should pose.
- For how many years have you been breeding?
- What are your credentials?
- How often do you breed the dogs?
- How many ancestors of the puppy have you bred?
- How did you decide on breeding the puppy’s parents?
- How many times has the mother given birth?
- Can I meet the sire and the mother of the puppy, and observe them?
- Are the dogs registered?
- Have they been administered all the required vaccinations?
- What are the behavioural habits of this particular puppy?
- Is he completely physically fit?
- What are the short-comings of his gene-pool?
- What are his food habits?
- Have you conducted any behavioural tests on the puppy?
- If yes, what are the results?
- Can you give me a guarantee on the puppy’s health?
- What is his estimated life expectancy?
- Will you provide support and advice for the puppy’s lifetime?
- Can I contact your other customers and listen to their feedback?
- Which veterinarian do you recommend?
- Which pup would you advice me to pick?
Listen carefully to the answers of all these questions, and ask more if you’re confused. And when you’re completely satisfied with the answers, the next step is to closely observe the litter and choose a puppy.
Guide to selecting from the litter
In a litter of adorable puppies, it is hard to pick just one. What you can do is check each puppy with the following pointers, and then decide which one suits you the best.
- Check its physical appearance – there should be no unusual discharges from its eyes, nose, ears, and excretory organs
- Test his senses – his eyesight, his hearing, sniffing, and his vocals
- Make sure his legs are fine and that he doesn’t limp
- Check if he keeps scratching himself – it’s a sure giveaway of the presence of parasites
- Observe his interactions with the other puppies – it’ll give you an idea of whether he’s dominating or submissive
- Make note of his movements. Is he active and playful, or is he quiet and subdued?
- Touch him and try to get familiar. Is he scared or does he warm up to you?
When you’re satisfied with your observations, go ahead and select him. And prepare for a warm homecoming.
Basic puppy care
The first few days after you bring home your new puppy, you need to take extra precautions and care.
- Make sure all small objects, plastic, medicines and toxins are out of the puppy’s reach
- Decide on a name for your puppy and use it – he’ll pick up on it pretty fast
- Put an identification tag around his neck. Make sure it’s not too tight, or too loose.
- Prepare a warm a cosy bed for him
- He may cry and whimper the first few nights – be by his side and reassure him with your presence
- Try and get a familiar litter-mat or cloth from the breeder, which has the scent of the puppy’s mother. Sleeping with this cloth will sooth him.
- Don’t leave him alone for long stretches of time – he needs to be taken care of just like a new baby
- Take the advice of the breeder and the veterinarian and feed him with right quantities of food, milk and water – he needs the correct proportions of carbohydrates, proteins and lactose
- Take him to the vet for a thorough check-up
- Don’t introduce him to too many new people at once – it will intimidate and frighten him.
- Slowly start toilet-training him, or appoint the services of a professional
- Never leave a small child alone with the puppy. They can unknowingly harm each other.
- Have lots of patience and don’t lose your temper, whatever he does
- Never raise your hand at him, or try to discipline him in a harsh manner
Above all, love your innocent puppy the way you would love your child. He’ll be a delightful dog, a faithful friend and loyal companion for life.