Last Modified: 03/26/2015
Selecting puppies is not a simple matter of choosing the cutest or "most adorable" puppy in the litter, although this is the principle many people choose to go on. We all tend to fall in love with a cuddly mass of fur with those huge puppy-dog eyes, but that is not the way to go about selecting a friend and companion that will hopefully be a part of your family for years to come.
There are many factors that come in to play when selecting puppies; unfortunately, many people do not give this the thought it deserves. While puppies are cute and adorable (and fun to play with), there is a lot more to it than that. In order for the puppy - and the humans - to thrive, it is important not only to choose the right breed of dog, but to consider where you live, whether the breed is suitable for children, and what type of lifestyle you live among other things.
First of all, why do you want a puppy?
Are you getting a puppy for companionship for yourself, as a playmate for your children or for protection and security? Remember that puppies grow up to be adult dogs, so they won't always be that cute, cuddly little fellow you chose on looks alone. There are certain breeds that are best for your needs, so do some research if you are looking for a puppy that will provide you with protection when he is full grown.
Be sure that you are ready to put in some hard work and time. Puppies are like children; you want them to obey you and be well-mannered as adults. Selecting puppies involves more than taking them home and feeding them. For a well-behaved and house-broken dog, you will need to invest some of your time in training and socializing. If you believe that caring for a puppy is a "piece of cake," you are in for a rude awakening!
However, if you are prepared to invest some of your time in training your puppy, both of you will feel well-rewarded as it grows into an adult dog. Contrary to what most people believe, dogs are happier and feel more loved when they are obedient and make their master happy.
Selecting puppies requires careful thought and consideration
Most people are naturally drawn to one particular puppy when faced with the entire litter. One may seem shy, while another is frisky and outgoing. Still others may seem to exhibit behavior or health problems. Consider how much available time you have and how much time and effort you want to put in before choosing a puppy with problematic behavior or health problems. Those who have time to work with a puppy with problems will find it extremely rewarding; those who have little time will find it a headache, and it really isn't fair to the puppy.
The point is you need to screen the litter as much as possible so that you can select a puppy that suits your personality and lifestyle. While there are no guarantees that screening the litter will result in the perfect puppy, it is best to observe the puppies and their actions instead of choosing one on looks alone.
ASPCA - http://www.aspcabehavior.org/articles/51/Choosing-a-Puppy-from-a-Litter-.aspx
Consider your location and lifestyle when choosing a puppy
Do you live in a rural area or in a metropolitan area/large city? Certain breeds of dogs are more suited to a rural area where there is ample room to run and play, while others are fine for apartment living or those living in a suburban neighborhood where yard space may be limited.
Also think about how busy your family members are, or your own lifestyle if you live alone. Is the house empty most days as you, your spouse and your children go off to school and work? If no one is at home the majority of the time, you may want to select a puppy that will be suited to the outdoors.
Most puppies are small, and their small size is no indication of how large they will be when fully grown. Think about how big the puppy will be when it grows up. If you want a dog that is small or medium-sized when fully grown, it isn't likely you will be happy with a Great Dane or St. Bernard.
Dog Guidance - http://www.dogguidance.com/puppies/lifestyle.htm
Raising Spot - http://www.raisingspot.com/intro-choosing-puppy
What breed of puppy is best for your family?
When selecting puppies it is essential that you keep your family members in mind, especially children. While many people believe there are some breeds that are not good with children, the truth is that highly trainable breeds are excellent choices for families with children. Some breeds require more exercise or grooming than others, and certain breeds are easier to train. Like humans, grown dogs have different temperaments so it's important to keep this in mind when choosing your puppy.
Labrador Retrievers and Golden Retrievers are highly popular breeds for family dogs. If you have small children, you may assume that you need a puppy that will be on the smaller side when fully grown; actually, the opposite is true. Larger breeds are tougher. Even as puppies, a larger breed dog is less likely to bite or snip at a child who steps on a tail or tugs on the puppy's ear. All breeds are safe for children if properly socialized.
Certain breeds of dogs are more energetic and active than others. When selecting puppies, its important that you keep your family's energy level in mind. If you are the type of family who would enjoy running with your dog in the park or playing fetch every day, many of the working breeds are high-energy. Herding and sporting breeds are perfect for those who expect to enjoy an active lifestyle with their dogs. Border Collies, German Shepherds, Australian Cattle Dogs and various sheepdogs are good choices if you want an energetic breed.
If your family would do well with a calmer, more relaxed breed of dog there are many options. While a Saint Bernard is large in size, it is typically calm and quiet, but smart as well. A Basset Hound is also docile, and will be content to submit to your impulse to scratch its head. Pugs are another breed that are good for those looking for a quiet, calm temperament that works well for apartment living. When choosing a puppy, take all of these things into account. The breed of puppy you choose will make a difference in the fulfillment of both your lives as it grows into a happy, well-adjusted dog.
WebMD - http://pets.webmd.com/dogs/guide/the-best-dog-breed-for-families-and-children
Just Dog Breeds - http://www.justdogbreeds.com/herding-dog-breeds.html
Essortment - http://www.essortment.com/laid-back-dog-breeds-22970.html
Where is the best place to buy a puppy?
Some people choose to go to a local pet store and buy a puppy, but this is not the best idea. The best option is to buy your puppy from a highly respected breeder. Why? Those in the business of breeding offer better care for their dogs and usually work to improve the breed. Individuals who breed puppies have a special love for the animals, and work to ensure that the dogs they breed are healthy and of a good temperament for their breed.
Of course you shouldn't just choose a breeder out of thin air. It is important that you screen the breeder, ask for references and watch the interaction of the dogs with the breeder in their environment. Do the puppies seem to be outgoing and happy with the breeder, or do they seem intimidated?
A breeder with a true love of their work and their dogs will work to provide a happy home for their puppies - so don't be surprised if you find the breeder is screening you as well, asking questions and delving into your life.
American Kennel Club (AKC) - http://www.akc.org/future_dog_owner/about_buying_a_dog.cfm
One thing you do not want to do is to go to the home of someone who has an ad in the newspaper, then randomly choose a puppy on the spur of the moment. This has led to many unhappy owners, which essentially means unhappy puppies. It isn't fair to either one of you, so perform your due diligence and keep the above factors in mind when selecting a puppy that will be suitable for your family, personality and lifestyle.
As you can see, there is much more to selecting puppies than meets the eye. This is something that should be given plenty of thought and should not be done on a whim. By taking your time and finding the right puppy, you will enjoy an additional member to the family - and your puppy will grow to feel that it has the perfect family as well.
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