***Looking for a gift to blow your new dog's mind? Spoil them with a BarkBox! Every month BarkBox delivers 2 original toys, designed in-house, 2 full bags of all-natural treats, and a chew. Sign up here and receive a free extra toy every month. <-- This deal is worth up to $120 in value if you sign up for a 12-month subscription! :)Congratulations on your decision to add a new dog to your family! While it will surely be one of the most rewarding experiences of your life, there is also a lot to consider. For one thing, where should you get your new dog? Should you adopt from a shelter? Work with a private rescue group? Or maybe you have your heart set on a purebred puppy from a local breeder? Doing your research will help ensure the dog you choose is the best possible fit for your home and lifestyle.
What Are Your Options When Searching For Your New Dog?When it comes to selecting a new furry friend, you have four main options: pet stores, breeders, shelters, and private rescue groups. Let's explore each one to help you determine the right choice for you.
Pet StoresPet stores can be deceiving. While the dogs may look cute and healthy, they typically come from cruel, inhumane "puppy mills." Since the pups have monetary value, they receive some basic care and are cleaned up before being sold to pet stores. It is their parents that truly suffer. These dogs are kept in tiny, filthy cages. They are overbred, underfed, and only valuable to the breeder if they continue to produce saleable pups. They are often kept outdoors, with only minimal shelter from the elements. Puppy mill breeding dogs receive little physical attention and even less veterinary care. When they become too old or sick to breed, they are simply discarded. When - and if - they are rescued, these dogs are usually sick, matted, and covered in parasites. Some have never felt grass under their paws.
What Is Being Done To Improve American Pet Stores?The good news is that more than 290 cities and towns across America have banned the retail sale of puppy mill dogs. California and Maryland are the first to issue statewide bans with New York and several other states considering similar legislation. Thanks to these laws, pet stores are filling their displays with puppies, kittens, and other pets from local shelters. Instead of purchasing an inhumanely bred pup, you can shop for a rescue dog instead! Visit Best Friends Animal Society for a state-by-state log of municipalities in the United States and Canada with retail pet sale bans.
BreedersDespite the horror of puppy mills, not all breeders are money-hungry villains. In fact, there are responsible breeders in every state if you know where to look. Here are a few tips to help you find the right breeder:
Ask for RecommendationsThe internet is full of gorgeous purebred puppies and trendy designer mixes, but photos can be deceiving. The best way to narrow down your list of potential breeders is to ask for recommendations from those you trust. Many veterinarians keep lists of good (and bad) breeders in their area. Of the breeders their clients have dealt with, they can tell you which produce healthy pups. You can also reach out to friends or family who have dogs of your favorite breed. Don't know anyone personally? Chat with folks at the dog park or pet supply store. All dog parents love to talk about their pups!
Visit the Breeding FacilityBefore you purchase a puppy, make sure you visit the breeder's home or breeding facility. You want to see where and how the dogs live, as well as get a look at both parents. If the breeder tries to talk you into meeting on neutral territory, or is in any way hesitant to show you how the animals are cared for - run.
Be PatientResponsible breeders know that overbreeding is not in the best interest of their dogs. Instead of churning out litter after litter, they plan each one carefully. This may mean there are no puppies available at the time you begin your search. The breeder may even ask you to join a wait list. If you are truly devoted to a specific breed, a healthy puppy should be worth the wait!
Trust Your GutOnce you have found a breeder you want to work with, ask yourself the following questions before making your final decision:
How are the living conditions for the puppies and adult breeding dogs? Is their area clean, comfortable, and safe?
How are the dogs and puppies treated? Do they have healthy food and clean water?
Do the dogs have plenty of room to move around and play? Are there toys?
At what age are the puppies sold? (Pups should ideally stay with their mothers for about eight weeks)
Good breeders typically commit to one specific breed. Do you see several different breeds on the property? It may be a red flag.