If you've been thinking about getting a dog for a while and finally have succumbed to puppy fever, there are a few things you should do to ensure your new four-legged family member fits in from the start!
Decide on the Right Breed
Firstly, you need to decide on what breed of dog is going to be best fit for you and your family. Below are a few suggestions to help guide you in your decision-making process:
Visit a Dog Show (virtually)
There are many dog shows you can visit without even leaving your home! Watch recordings or live-streams of dog shows in your area.
Speak With a Breeder
Talk to breeders of breeds you may be interested in. Ask questions about their breeds’ personality, health issues, grooming and exercise requirements, and ease of training.
Get Some Practical Advice
Use this page on the AKC website, “What Dog is Right For Me?,” to help guide you in your decision-making process.
Visit Parent Club Websites
Every AKC recognized breed has a Parent Club which is responsible for the health and well-being of their breed. These websites are a wealth of information about the breed as well as a source of experienced breeders. Every Parent Club requires that certain health tests be passed by prospective breeding dogs. These requirements will be posted on the website.
Make sure the breed you choose is a breed that is known to be a good dog for children. Not all breeds are recommended for young children.
You’ve Chosen Your Breed, Now Choose Your Breeder
Once you have chosen your breed, contact breeders and ask them questions about their breeding programs. You are looking for a breeder who breeds for temperament and health FIRST. You want a puppy whose parents and grandparents had outstanding health and temperament and were good pets for children.
1. Visit the breeder BEFORE the litter is born. See their kennel set-up and where the puppies are born and raised—and most important— meet the parents of the prospective litter. If the breeder doesn’t live nearby, ask for videos and verbal descriptions.
2. Ask to see a pedigree of the litter. Notice how many AKC Champions are in the pedigree. A dog who earns an AKC Championship is more likely to have good health and good temperament than a dog who is not an AKC Champion.
3. Ask how the puppies are raised and trained before they go into new homes. You are looking for a breeder who match the temperament of the puppy to the requirements of the new home.
4. Make sure the breeder is willing to be available to you for the life of the puppy if you have questions about the puppy’s care.
5. Many breeders have waiting lists for their litters—which is a GOOD sign!
6. It is very expensive to breed outstanding dogs—dogs with required health clearances and AKC Championships. Therefore, the puppies from such dogs will be expensive too. Understanding the cost of the first year of owning a puppy is key to knowing if you're ready to bring one home. Healthy puppies raised by experienced breeders are more expensive to buy but LESS expensive to raise than “cheaper” puppies raised by breeders who do not show or health test the parents.
Prepare for the Unexpected
As a new puppy owner, you may be shocked by the stories of unexpected accidents and illnesses costing thousands of dollars in veterianry care. AKC Pet Insurance wants to help with those costs by offering 30 days of pet insurance. This benefit of AKC registration provides newly registered puppies with 30 days of accident and illness insurance coverage, included with their registration at no additional cost. Instead of worrying about vet bills, you can focus on welcoming your pup into his new home!