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Tips for Choosing a New Puppy

Updated on May 21, 2009
Whitney05 profile image

Whitney has over 10 years of experience in dog training, rescuing and dog healthcare.

New Puppy

When looking for a new puppy, you want to make sure that you make the right decision because a puppy is a long term commitment, lasting between 10 to 15 years, on average. Whether you are looking for a purebred dog or just a new puppy, you want to first consider adopting a puppy or adult dog from a local shelter; believe it or not but there are many purebred pups in animal rescues, but if you can't find the purebred that you're looking for in a regular animal rescue, look for breed specific rescues in your area.

If you opt to purchase a puppy from a breeder make sure that you know what you're getting into, as not all breeders are pleasant to work with, and not all breeders produce the best dogs.

Whether you adopt or purchase your new puppy it's pretty much going to be a crap shot as to how the dog will turn out. Just remember that reputable breeders will be able to help you find the puppy in the litter that best suits your family and lifestyle, but at the same time most animal rescues temperament test their dogs so that they can best match the dog to a home.

Choosing the Breeder

If you are looking to find a puppy from a dog breeder, you want to find a reputable breeder. Distinguished and trustworthy dog breeders will stand out from others because they have a lifelong passion for producing quality rather than quantity. They tend to belong to national and local clubs, which shows commitment to the breed and a willingness to network with other breeders who share health, behavior, conformation, and training information. For more information about distinguishing a reputable dog breeder, check out Choosing a Dog Breeder.

Reputable breeders register their stock with either the AKC, UKC, Canadian Kennel Club, or the American Dog Breeders' Association, which ensures that they strive to produce puppies that conform to the standards of that registry. Remember that if the puppies are listed as CKC to ask if that is Continental or Canadian Kennel Club; Continental is not a desired dog registry.

Reputable dog breeders spay or neuter dogs that who aren't good examples of the standard for the breed. Within the breeder's contract, there will be a clause for altering dogs that the breeder feels will not win competition show, agility, obedience, etc, but if there isn't a breeder's contract, then you're getting pet quality dog, which is fine for pet, but in this case you can just as easily find a breed specific rescue and adopt the same quality. Typically, you'll only purchase a dog from a breeder if you plan on competing with the dog.

The right breeder will be willing to share all his experience and will be more than willing to help you raise a healthy and well-behaved puppy. The right breeder will also be willing to give you references of his vet and past customers. He will be able to provide health clearances on the puppies and parents.

Choosing the Puppy

Here are 10 signs to look for with picking a puppy from a breeder or a shelter. When in doubt, ask the breeder or shelter worker, which puppy he thinks has the best personality and temperament that may fit your lifestyle.

  1. Look at the area where the pups spend most of their time. It's ok if they play outdoors part of the day, but they should sleep indoors at night so that the puppies can interact with people and become accustomed to hearing ordinary household noises. This builds a solid foundation for a secure, well-socialized puppy. The puppy area should be clean, well lit, have fresh water, and interesting toys.
  2. Make sure to see all of the puppies in the litter. By 5 weeks old, healthy puppies will begin playing with each other and should be lively and energetic. It's ok if they're asleep when you visit, but stay long enough to see them wake up. Once they're up, they shouldn't be lethargic or weak, as this may be a sign of illness.
  3. Puppies should be confident and eager to greet you. A puppy who is shy or fearful and stays in the corner may be sick or insecure. Although some introverted puppies will come out of their shells later on, many don't. These dogs tend to be fearful adults and aren't good choices for an active, noisy family with or without kids, or for people who have little to no experience with dogs. They frighten easily and will require a tremendous amount of training and socialization in order to live a happy life. Choose a puppy who is happy and eager to interact with you but reject the one who is either too shy or too bossy. These temperament types are a challenge to deal with and require a tremendous amount of training to socialize.
  4. If it's feeding time during your visit, all the puppies should be eager to gobble up their food. Refusing to eat may signal that a puppy has an illness.
  5. The dog's skin should be smooth, clean, and shiny without any sores or bumps. Puppies should not be biting or scratching at themselves continuously, as this can signal fleas.
  6. After 10 to 12 days, puppies should have their eyes open and clear without any redness or discharge. Puppies should not be scratching at their eyes, as this can signal irritation or cause infection.
  7. Vomiting or coughing more than once is not normal, and in this case the puppy may be ill and requires a vet visit.
  8. Visit long enough to see the puppies eliminate because you want to make sure that the stool is firm and not watery or bloody.
  9. A healthy puppy who is getting enough to eat should not be skinny. You should be able to slightly feel the puppy's ribs if you rub the abdomen, but you shouldn't be able to see the ribs protruding through the skin.
  10. Puppies should walk or run without limping. Ask if the parents have had hip and elbow displasia tests.


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    • Whitney05 profile imageAUTHOR


      8 years ago from Georgia

      I wouldn't recommend a puppy, but an adult dog at least 1 or 2 years old. Health and lifespan won't be affected as much as behavioral problems and potty training, which must be started early on. You can't expect a puppy to be able to hold it for 4 hours at a time without an accident, and it's rather hard to train if you're not home. You can't expect a puppy to not bark when bored, if he doesn't know better. More than likely, what will happen is a couped up and bored puppy who may become destructive, and when you come home hyper with pent up energy.

    • profile image


      8 years ago

      Hi, I am considering to get a puppy for me but I have a 9-5 job wid an hr brk at 1 when i can come home for lunch ... Im just worried that how will the puppy react in those hours when I am not home and wud it make a huge diff in its life span and health ... and which small breeds i can look for which dont bark too much while i am away

    • Whitney05 profile imageAUTHOR


      9 years ago from Georgia

      Adopting is always the best way to go. I just wanted to add the section about breeders bc it's important that if you're going to a breeder, you go to a serious breeder versus a backyard breeder. She is doing fine, thank you for asking.

    • Gypsy Willow profile image

      Gypsy Willow 

      9 years ago from Lake Tahoe Nevada USA , Wales UK and Taupo New Zealand

      Great hub but I have always had shelter dogs and have never had a problem with my lifetime friends. How is your puppy?

    • Whitney05 profile imageAUTHOR


      9 years ago from Georgia

      That's good you were able to choose a dog that suited your family's lifestyle.

    • jim10 profile image


      9 years ago from ma

      Thanks for the tips. When we got our dog we went to Sterling Animal Shelter. The place was great and we got to interact with all of the dogs. My oldest son wanted the dogs that were jumping all over us and barking constantly. Sure they were playful. But, my wife and younger son spotted a dog that just wanted us to rub her belly. She was very friendly and didn't jump on us at all. So that was the one for us. She has been an angel ever since and still likes to play with the boys too. My relatives are always so jealous. One of my aunts dog barks and is very protective to the point no one can get near him. My other aunt has a beautiful golden retriever but, it eats everything. Including a rock last month that had to be surgically removed. And it is very hyper. We couldn't have done better than our black lab mix. Oh and my cousin has a puggle that pees everywhere. Though she is very cute too.


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