Buying a puppy is a big investment!
Even if your puppy is free, or doesn't cost very much, you will have this puppy for anything up to the next 15 years if you are lucky, and maybe even a little longer. So it is a big investment when you think of it this way.
Over this time you will need to invest more money in feeding your puppy, raising and training your puppy, exercising your puppy, vaccinating, worming and keeping your puppy free of parasites. Well that's quite a lot of investments!
In return of course you will have a companion for yourself and maybe other family members, a great source of entertainment, and maybe you will engage in some dog sports, show activities or even have puppies of your own.
For most people the return most being aimed for is a wonderful companion.
For some people the return gained is a dog that barks, destroys things and is not sociable.
Can I avoid getting a dog that doesn't suit me?
Now the answer to this is a little complicated. We have to consider a few factors such as:
- Suitability of the breed to your situation
- Suitability of the individual pups nature to your situation
- Receiving a puppy from healthy parents
- Receiving a puppy that has been well socialised in the critical periods (6 weeks begins the peak for this)
- Having everything ready to start your puppy off well
- Being prepared to socialise and train your puppy to be well mannered
- Feeding and exercising your puppy adequately
- Being consistent with your puppy
Hang on you may say - some of those things are about me, not about getting a dog to suit me?
YES - the first 4 points on the list are incredibly important - however, the second 4 are at least as important and in fact can become even more important apart from starting with a sound puppy from healthy parents.
Many people don't realise the importance of diet and exercise, combined with good mental and physical stimulation to raise a confident, calm, happy and social adult dog.
There are many articles on this site to help you examine each area of importance in raising puppies, so you have lots of help and resources here. Use the menu of links at the top of the page called PUPPY MATTERS to find more information.
Where should I buy a puppy from?
How can this be said more clearly than - DO NOT BUY A PUPPY FROM A PET SHOP!
In 2010 - 2011 financial year the Australian RSPCA took in over 67,000 dogs. 24,000 were reclaimed by their owners, leaving 43,000 dogs that were now unwanted. Less than 20,000 were found new homes. These figures are fairly similar every year.
So why wouldn't you buy from a pet shop?
- Pet shops are well known as a way to encourage people to "impulse buy" puppies.
- Pet shops commonly give outright incorrect or at least misleading information about the breeds they sell including:
- How big it will grow
- How much exercise it will need
- How much it will bark
- How much it will eat as an adult
- Pet shops are the leading method for puppy mills to sell to the public.
You see this really cute, and I mean really cute, puppy in a store window, and the eyes are so soft and adorable. Actually nearly all puppies are cute, but all puppies grow up into adult dogs and the size of the puppy may tell you little about how big that dog will grow. If you have children or other family members that see the puppy they can start to put pressure on to bring this cute bundle of fluff home.
Does the breed matter?
You don't need a 'pure bred' or 'registered' dog by any means to end up with a wonderful pet. But knowing something about the characteristics, size and exercise needs of breeds can certainly help you to choose the right puppy for your situation.
If you see a cute puppy that will grow into a 50 kg dog, and you only have a small yard, work long hours and have little time to exercise with your dog, you may well find your gardens destroyed, your yard dug up, everything in sight chewed up, or the dog barking constantly or even escaping. Some breeds really need a lot of stimulation and running area to stay happy, whilst other breeds are able to thrive in smaller spaces with a few toys to play with on their own.
Puppy mills or puppy farms
Puppy mills or puppy farms are something you should NOT SUPPORT.
These are situations where dogs are kept in large quantities purely for breeding puppies to sell. They are kept in small spaces, and bred as often as possible, with no regard to the life the animal is living, the health of the animal and with the bare minimum needed to produce the puppies to sell. The adult dogs are destroyed as soon as they are unable to continue producing puppies.
Even the best puppy mills are an awful place for a dog to live and buying from one only tells them they are doing something that can continue to make them money. Read more about puppy mills here.
What should I do to buy a puppy?
- Think carefully and discuss with your family if applicable what you want from a dog
- Think about how that could realistically change in the next 5 - 10 years
- Research the breeds that will suit you, and what you like most of those breeds
- Talk to breeders and ask a lot of questions
- Be prepared to wait for the right puppy, don't just buy one on impulse
- Visit breeders and spend time with their dogs and really look at what their dogs are like
So how do you go about researching the breeds that will suit you?
You can download a great tool here to help you start to work out the right breed for you.