Bringing a new puppy into your home is a commitment, so conducting research prior to purchase or adoption is essential. Many people visit a shelter or breeder on a whim and take home the first puppy they see, but such a rash decision can lead to problems down the road. Better to first define the characteristics of your ideal puppy.
Close your eyes and imagine your ideal puppy for a moment. Does a particular breed immediately spring to mind? Maybe you really loved the German shepherd your parents brought home when you were a kid, or perhaps your best friend had a Pomeranian and you just loved her to pieces.
Even if you’re going to adopt a puppy from a shelter, knowing your breed preferences will help you narrow down the options. You might even visit a rescue shelter dedicated to that specific breed, which will increase your chances of bringing home the ideal puppy.
Long Hair Versus Short Hair
Some people have allergies that a long-haired dog would complicate, while others cringe at the thought of cleaning up dog hair on a daily basis. If you are concerned about the length or thickness of hair, your ideal puppy might be a short-haired dog that won’t shed as much.
Size and Energy Level
Older dog owners might want a low-energy dog that requires less exercise, while an active family with children might want a more energetic animal. Finding your ideal puppy means examining your lifestyle. For example, if you live in a small apartment with no outdoor space, a smaller dog with low energy would probably be best.
Consider as well the amount of time you have to spend with your dog. Families that spend most of the day out of the house won’t want a dog that requires constant activity and supervision. Keep in mind that bored dogs are often destructive when they don’t receive the attention they require.
A sick or injured puppy might require thousands of dollars in veterinary treatment in order to survive. It is important to assess the overall health of the animal before choosing your ideal puppy, particularly if expenses are an issue.
The Humane Society recommends buying puppies from shelters, rescue groups or reliable breeders. This means adding more time to your search, but in the end will result in a healthier puppy. Avoiding puppy mills should be a top priority.
Aggressive Versus Submissive
It is true that any dog can be either aggressive or submissive, regardless of breed, but it is also true that some puppies are more likely to demonstrate aggressive qualities. Pit bulls, rottweilers, and Dobermans, for example, have reputations for aggression.
This is a serious issue when searching for an ideal puppy that will coexist with children or other pets. If this is the case, look for docile breeds that will start off with gentler dispositions so you won’t have to worry. But keep in mind that all dogs require consistent training and socialization to maintain proper manners.
Examining a Litter
It is almost impossible to choose the ideal puppy from a litter, but you can give yourself a better chance of taking home the best dog for your family. Although puppies behave differently as youngsters than they do as adults, you can observe a litter and get an overall sense of how that puppy behaves.
According to the ASPCA, watch how the puppies interact with one another and with people. Watch for signs of aggression as well as tendencies to guard treats or food. Interacting with each of the puppies will show you how well you get along from the outset.
The Ideal Puppy
Your idea of an ideal puppy is different from your best friend’s. Focus on the qualities you want your dog to possess, and only take into consideration outside opinions if they benefit you.
Most important, remember that even if your puppy doesn’t possess the personality or habits that you value, training and affection can instill those qualities in your dog. Every human-animal partnership requires time and attention to develop, so keep this in mind as you tour breeders, shelters and rescue groups.