Most people take more time when choosing a new car than they do choosing a puppy. It is vital that you do some research before you make your selection.
First, the don’ts
- Never buy a puppy on impulse
- Never buy a puppy as a gift
- Never buy a puppy you feel sorry for
- Never choose a breed based on an individual dog you have met
- Never (ever!) get more than one puppy at the same time
- Never take a puppy under 8 weeks old
- Never buy a puppy from a pet shop, a dealer or over the Internet
- Consider your (and your family’s) energy levels
- Consider your reason for wanting a dog
- Research the breed/s you are interested in extensively
- Buy from a registered breeder
- Chat to a number of breeders of your chosen breed
- Visit a number of litters before making a selection
- Meet both the parents of the puppies
Selecting the right breed for you
Dog breeds are divided into various groups according to the original purpose that the dog was bred for.
This group includes breeds originally bred to assist hunters. Some popular members of this group are: the Labrador, Golden Retriever, Cocker and Springer Spaniels, Setters and Pointers. Most gun dogs make excellent family dogs if your family is active and enjoys the outdoors. Males can be very boisterous and busy.
This group includes breeds that were bred to herd livestock. Some popular members of this group included the Border Collie, Rough Collie, Belgian Shepherd and Australian Cattle Dog. Herding dogs can also make excellent family dogs as long as they are given a job to do and lots of stimulation. Border Collies are only suitable for owners who love dog sport (flyball, agility, herding, competition obedience) as they are workaholics and can develop problem behaviour if they become bored.
This group includes breeds that were originally bred to fight and kill vermin. Some popular members of this group included the Staffordshire Bull Terrier, Bull Terrier, Pitbull Terrier, Scottish Terrier, Fox Terrier and Jack Russel. Terriers are affectionate, people dogs but bear in mind what they were originally bred for as many are game for a fight. Lots of socialising with other dogs from the day you get your puppy is essential. Some can be stubborn!
This group includes breeds that were originally bred to do a job usually guarding, pulling loads and in some cases, herding. Some popular members of this group included the German Shepherd, Dobermann, Rottweiler, Siberian Husky, Bull Mastiff and Boxer. Working dogs are not for first time dog owners unless you are looking for a new hobby. Many working dogs have “”high drive” which is a passion for high energy, stimulating activity. These dogs need a firm (but kind) hand and basic ground rules for what behaviour is acceptable at home. They require lots of socialising as they are often “one man dogs” who prefer their owner to anyone else. Males can be confrontational with each other. All have a high prey drive and need lots of socialising if they are to get along with other small animals. Huskies for example are known for killing cats.
This group includes breeds that were originally bred to run in a pack with hunters. Some popular members of this group included the Ridgeback, Beagle and Basset. Hounds are more laid back then some of the other groups and can be quite independent. These are the dogs to choose if you are not looking for a dog who hangs on your every word.
This group includes breeds that were originally bred as companion animals for the wealthy. Some popular members of this group included the Yorkshire Terrier, Chihuahua, Miniature Dachshund and Toy Poodle. These dogs can make excellent companions and don’t need a large property. They need lots of socialising as they can be shy and snappy.
These are intentional crosses between two breeds. Examples are the Labradoodle (Lab cross Poodle), Cockerpoo (Cocker Spaniel cross Miniature Poodle) and Puggle (Pug cross Beagal). Amazingly these cross breeds aften sell for more than a pedigree! If any of these breeds appeal to you, rather purchase a pure bred dog instead of an overpriced cross breed.
These might be a combination of any two or more breeds of dogs. The puppies might inherit the breed characteristics of one or other of the parents, it is impossible to predict which. Mixed Breeds tend to be healthier than their pedigreed counterparts.
Once you have narrowed your search down to a few breeds, it is time to find a good breeder. Never buy a puppy off the internet or from a newspaper advert. It is essential that you are able to see the litter with their mom (and preferably the dad too). Do not buy from puppy dealers or from a pet shop.
Finding a Breeder
How do I find a good breeder?
- Visit a Kennel Union Breed show. Visit www.kusa.co.za for upcoming show dates.
- Contact the relevant Breed Club. (The KUSA website has links)
- Ask your vet for a referral
- In the case of German Shepherds, contact the German Shepherd Federation
A good breeder is someone who breeds to improve their chosen breed and not for financial gain. They should be informed about their breed and enthusiastic to share information with you.
How do I know if the breeder I found is a “Good” breeder?
- The breeder only offers one breed of dog
- The puppies are raised in their home or close to their home (not in a run at the bottom of the yeard)
- The breeder’s adult dogs are healthy, friendly and calm
- The breeder is informed about their breed with respect to helath problems and temperament
- The breeder is involved in the improvement of their breed e.g belongs to a breed club, shows their dog at dog shows or is involoved in dog sport.
- The breeder offers a sales contract
- The puppies stay with the mother until 8 weeks of age
- The puppies receive their first innoculation before leaving the litter