By: Amanda Adamiak
Canine Behaviourist, VT, CTE, 6 Legs to Fitness Instructor
So the decision has been made, time for a new member of the family! That’s the easy part, now you have to decide what breed, what age, where to get the dog from, what will fit with your lifestyle, etc.
How to pick a pure breed
So you have talked it over with your family, and decided on a breed of dog you want. If you have allergies it’s probably a Portuguese water dog, Shih Tzu, Poodle, Bichon, Havanese, or Schnauzer. The reasons people choose these breeds is because they have hair not fur. Fur creates the dander that cause environmental allergies to flare up. Be cautious though, if you suffer from allergies it can also be saliva that will cause a reaction.
Now where do you get your pure breed dog? Should you go to the pet store? Responsible breeders that care about the health of their puppies do not sell to pet stores. Majority of dogs in pet stores are either from backyard breeders (people who have intact female dogs that get impregnated by an intact male dog in the neighborhood) or an accidental breeding, which means they cannot get top dollar for the puppies. Most commonly, pet store puppies come from a puppy mill. There are a lot of puppy mills in Ontario. These are places where dogs are kept for only one purpose, to breed. Majority of these puppies have health issues that may not surface until you have them in your home and come love them as a part of your family. More often than not they then become very ill due to medical conditions that they were born with. This is because the mothers are over bred (bred every heat) and not fed properly, not exercised, and come from parents that were in the same unhealthy situation. These dogs’ lives are lived out in a cage, only taken out for breeding purposes. It is a sad existence. Every puppy that is purchased only serves to keep puppy mills in business. I would strongly recommend staying away from Pet Store puppies. If you are tempted by cute puppies in cages at the pet store, DON’T go in to the pet store. Keep walking.
So, pet stores are 100% out of the question, so where do you get a pure breed dog from? If you are looking for a specific trait in a dog, go to a Breeder! There are great magazines available at your local library, book store or most vet clinics and there is a list of reputable breeders registered with the CKC (Canadian Kennel Club). In order to have their dogs registered with the CKC breeders have to meet certain standards concerning the health of the dogs and conditions of the kennels etc. That does not mean you have to get a show quality dog. You can sometimes get a retired show dog if you’re looking for an older dog, or a puppy that doesn’t meet show quality (too many freckles, or some other cosmetic imperfection).
Talk to people in your neighborhood! Where did they get that Lab you adore? If they have had a positive experience they will be gushing to tell you all about where they bought their 4 legged friend.
Once you have chosen what type of dog you would like and have investigated several breeders, go meet them! If you can’t see the adult dog or dogs, this is a HUGE red flag. It is common to not have the male on site, however, you should always be able to meet the mother and the litter of puppies! Ask the breeder lots of questions such as: How often are the dogs bred? What are the living conditions of the dogs? Are they a part of the family or kept outside? ALWAYS go with your gut instinct, and don’t purchase the first dog you see. Bringing a dog into your family brings with it a 10-15 year commitment so take your time! You don’t want to have regrets later.
Make sure that the breeder offers a health guarantee and that you take your new dog to the vet with a fresh stool sample as quickly as possible. There is usually a 48 hour window where you can return the dog if there are health issues you do not wish to deal with.
Pre Pet counseling is available through Wonder Dog Creations Canine Education and through Erin Mills Pet Hospital to help you through the process of adding a new dog to your family.