So you or your family have finally decided to get a puppy. Did this decision come about after convincing an initially reluctant family member? Are you trying to get a playmate for a household pet? Have you always wanted a puppy and think this is the right time? Although getting one can be a very exciting time, there are several factors one must consider before acquiring one. Here are some questions you may need to ask yourself before adding a young furry companion to your family:
- What type of breed of puppy are you looking for? Are you looking for a mixed breed? A large breed? Small breed?
- Who is the puppy for? Is it for a child? Is it for an older person etc? A family pet?
- Where are you going to get the puppy from? From a breeder? A pet shop? Are you looking to adopt?
- How much are you willing to spend?
- Are you prepared for the expenses required to take care of a puppy? Food, vaccines, vet visits, grooming, etc?
- Are you prepared for the time required to take care of a puppy? House training, walking, obedience training?
These are just some of the questions one should consider prior to owning a puppy. Now let’s discuss some of these questions that I mentioned above.
What breed do I want?
The type of breed is important, especially if you are looking for a purebred dog. Some breeds are better with children than others. The size of a breed is important especially if your living space is somewhat limited. For example, having a Great Dane puppy in a one bedroom apartment probably wouldn’t work too well. The type of fur your puppy will have will make a difference as well. Puppies can come with long fur, short fur, curly fur, and even no fur at all. Certain breeds depending on their type of fur shed more than others. Also, there are some breeds that require regular grooming, so if you are not ready to invest the time or the money be careful with your consideration.
Who are you buying the puppy for?
If the puppy is for a child then you may seriously consider breeds that tend to be more child friendly. Some of these breeds may include a Beagle, Golden Retriever, King Charles Cavalier, Labrador Retriever, and English Bull dogs among others. If buying a puppy for an elderly person, smaller breeds tend be good lap dog and easier to handle vs large dogs.
Where are you going to get the puppy from?
Humane Society/Rescue Groups
Where you get your puppy from can be influenced by how much you are willing to spend. I would highly recommend that you adopt a puppy from a humane society, or a rescue organization. There are many homeless pets that would appreciate a good home like yours. The adoption fees can average from anywhere from $25-$200. One extremely helpful advantage of acquiring a puppy from one of these organizations are that they are usually well connected with several veterinarians. This proves to be especially helpful if your pet gets sick shortly after being adopted. Due to the connections the rescue groups have with veterinarians, you are likely to get free veterinary care for a period of time. This can save you a lot of money and heartache. My experience with most rescue groups that I have worked with is that they tend to go above and beyond the call of duty to help take care of pets. Also they tend to be very successful with fundraising to help care of the dogs in their program. But if you are dead set on looking for a particular purebred then it may be challenging to find one with this option. So you may need to consider looking at a breeder.
Now let’s talk about acquiring a puppy from a breeder. This is where you really need to do your research on the breeder you choose. Many of the breeders may have online reviews to help you make an informed decision. There are many ways you can get in contact with a breeder. You can look at ads in dog themed magazines, classified ads, newspapers, or newsletters. You can also look online. Once you find a breeder you feel comfortable with then ideally the next step would be to visit the breeder so you can see the parents of the puppy you wish to buy. When looking at the parents, you want to observe that the parents actually look like the breed that you desire vs more of a mixed breed. Also see if you can observe any obvious defects like a cleft palate, extra digits, and other defects. Some other defects may difficult to ascertain without a veterinarian’s help. Some of those would include an umbilical hernia, malocclusion of teeth, or heart murmur. So now if you feel comfortable with all of this the next step is to discuss a contract. I don’t recommend buying from any breeder unless a contract is in place. This will help minimize headaches if your puppy is ill from a pre-existing condition. Please read the breeder contracts carefully before agreeing to purchase. Most contracts have a health guarantee for a period of time after purchase if the pet is seen by a veterinarian shortly after your purchase. Some have restrictions on when the pet can be altered or when they can be vaccinated. Make sure you are comfortable with the restrictions noted on the contract.
Buying puppies online
Now if you decide to purchase puppy online and can’t visit the breeder, be aware of online scams. Some common online scams include the bait and switch. This is where someone claims to have a puppy and posts false stock photos of these puppies. They often request that the hopeful buyer wire money prior to having the puppy shipped. Then the potential purchaser is out of the money and the scam is successful. There are also some people who pose as sanctuary or rescue groups to appeal to heart strings in order to justify high adoption prices. So be careful with online purchases or avoid if possible unless it is by a well known breeder.
Buying from a pet store
Another option is the pet store. In the veterinary field, the pet store option tends to be the least favorable due to several reasons. In my opinion shopping at a pet store has more significant disadvantages then advantages. Some advantages (if they could be even called that) are that it allows you to find many different breeds in one place. Another advantage is many of the pet stores offer many financing options to make purchasing easier. Now the disadvantages are that despite having many breeds in one place, the parents are unable to be observed to determine potential defects. In my experience even though pet stores can offer many purebred options, they tend to be of poor conformation or quality in comparison to what breeders can offer. Now I haven’t been in every single pet store. But the ones I have been in I always observed this unfortunately. Then there is the cost factor. Despite the poor quality of the breed you still can easily expect to pay anywhere between $1500 to $3000 for a new puppy. Most pet stores have a health guarantee on their puppies but some require that you take it to their recommended veterinarian for care. This sometimes can cause a conflict of interest because their veterinarian is usually contracted with that particular store. I have personally seen some veterinarians who show bias by lessening serious illnesses or refusing to do extensive diagnostic testing to keep costs of care as low as possible for the pet store. So buyer beware! Another concern which I haven’t had personal experience with is that some pet stores have been accused of acquiring their puppies from puppy mills based on many social media and rescue group sites. So if you elect to choose this as an option make sure you do your research to determine if this is a case or not.
What will be my costs for taking care of my new puppy?
So now that you have acquired your furry companion, it is time to consider what additional expenses you will incur to take care of your puppy. Vaccines are important for your puppy and most will need anywhere from 3-4 sets of vaccines approximately 2-3 weeks apart. The costs can vary from $30 -$100 per vaccine visit. Additional costs to consider also is flea and heartworm prevention which I recommend is started as early as 8 weeks old. The average cost is ~ 10-25$ a month
Now if you have a breed that requires regular grooming like a Maltese, Poodle, or Yorkshire as an example, expect to pay a range of $30 – $60 every 6-8 weeks to maintain a proper coat.
What is required of me to care for my puppy?
Finally you need to make sure you have the time to take care of a young puppy. Most puppies require feeding 3 times daily. Also housetraining initially can be time consuming. It requires taking the puppy out several times a day until they learn the housebreaking routine. Also it will be to your advantage that you teach your puppy its basic commands like sit, stay, and lie down. This will help your pet become more manageable. This training like the housetraining requires consistent practice which can take some time as well.
So now you have considered some very important questions, the costs, and time involved in being a pet owner. Do you still feel you are ready to get a puppy? Hopefully this information helps you in this very exciting but important decision. Check out my post on basic puppy training to learn some tips for training your puppy. Look for additional posts regarding vaccines and heartworm prevention. Also feel free to comment below. Thank you for taking the time to read