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Buyer Beware- Searching For The Perfect Dog

Updated on November 13, 2011

Don't let finding a dog or puppy turn into a daunting task. What should be a fun experience can end up a heartbreaking challenge if you are unprepared and lack the right information.

Find out why you shouldn't buy that cheap puppy from the newspaper listing, and why you shouldn't purchase a dog from a website.

You might be surprised.

Why shouldn't I get a puppy from the newspaper?

What about those websites that advertise puppies and ship them next day? Why are they so bad?

Puppy mills and backyard breeders, that's why. Whether they advertise on a commercial site, or a newspaper, the two evils are one. There are plenty of pups and dogs looking for a home in adoption shelters near you. For many of these dogs, time is running out.

Fact: when a dog is taken into a shelter, depending how overcrowded the operation is, that dog or puppy will have a certain amount of time (a week if they're lucky), to find a home. If they're still unadopted with no prospects, they get destroyed.

Puppies have an easier time getting adopted - for obvious reasons. The other dogs, adult to elderly, have a horrid time. I've never understood why adult dogs have such a tough time when an adult can be much better suited for you over a puppy. Adults are already potty trained, aren't teething and likely to chew up your whole house, and are already wonderful companions. Some might even know tricks. Just because an adult dog is in the shelter, doesn't mean it was put there for behavior problems or aggression. Many people have to pick up and move and can't take their pets, it's sad but true. Some just tire of their pets so off they go to the pound. It's a sad reality, and it's awful. Unless we humans change our ways, it will only get worse.

Say you get a puppy. It is your responsibility to train that pup, and that is a very big burden. You must keep on top of that puppy at all times teaching him/her right from wrong, and keeping that pup occupied so it doesn't get bored and destroy things. You have to train, and you have to socialize. The more you put into that pup, the more you will get out of a dog - and this is where I've seen so many doggy parents fail, they simply lacked that drive to raise the puppy right, and then where does that pup go when they are frustrated in the end?

The pound.

Puppy mills, backyard breeders, they are the same to me. Both despicable and heartless many times over. Many of the dogs filling the pounds are from mills and these irresponsible breeders. They don't care who buys their dogs as long as they get the money. They'll sell to dog-fighters, the young, and old without checking out a potential parent/home first.

Anyone responsible with their puppies would do as the shelters do - check out the potential adopter.

But. They are only in it for the profit, and they don't likely care if their puppies are going to be placed in homes that will crate them all the live long day, or use them as dog-fight bait.

As long as they get the money.

Maybe you want a cute puppy with big ol' puppy eyes and that sweet puppy breath, but puppies WILL grow up to be adults, and you can never judge a puppy's personality on how it will be when it is full grown. An adult dog waiting for a home could be the most perfect fit for you right here, right now. You'd be saving a life too, and the dog knows that and will be utmost appreciative.

That is the main reason I despise newspaper puppies. Not the puppies themselves, but the people behind them. It's not the dog or the puppies fault. The majority of newspaper puppies (or backyard breeders) are all puppies bred for profit. They are fed the cheapest food, who knows about their shot records and medical histories, and probably aren't socialized, if handled at all. Don't let the price fool you - maybe you think you're getting a deal on a Great Dane or a Yorkshire Terrier for only $300, but factor in the health issues these dogs probably have, and you'll be spending a fortune at the vet very soon.

A friend's friend of mine went out and thought he was getting a deal on a Doberman Pinscher. Only $400, and the dog was his. He got the puppy, but it was rife with medical issues. The puppy hadn't had any shots, and this guy found out that the dogs being bred had a whole mess of issues (cartilage deficiency, respiratory, etc). That breeder continued breeding her dogs anyway, because she knew she was making a ton of money, health of the dogs be damned. So her line of dobermans each and every one, had high-risk health issues -- and my friend's friend had to put his puppy down. He was out $400 but most tragic of all, he was out a family member and friend.
Typical puppy mill conditions.
Typical puppy mill conditions.

Ethical Breeders .

Alas, there is a ray of light for those who wish for a certain purebred dog. While there are a slew of backyard breeders, there are responsible ethical breeders out there. You just have to know where to find them.

But I still implore you to check out the shelters first. If you are keen on a certain breed of dog, there are tons of certain-breed-rescues. There are several Doberman Rescues where I live, and many of these rescues need volunteers and fosters, which is a great way to get to know the breed you're looking into.

First, and this is common sense, but many people don't do this - research the breed you are looking for. Say you want a Dalmatian. Well, why do you want one?

Oh they're so cute, with their spots! They look so cuddly too! Have you ever seen 101 Dalmatians? They seem like such amazing dogs!

Hmmm. Okay. Do you do a lot of exercising? Running or jogging?

Nah, I'm pretty lazy... I go for the occasional walk to the mail box but...


Now you're stuck with a medium-sized dog that has over-the-top energy, and is smart as a whip too. Dalmatians will push your buttons, and if not trained right, can be a huge hassle. That goes to say that any dog without training can be a hassle, but a dalmatian is one relentless dog.

Do you rent, or own? Dalmatians are on some breed-restriction lists. Do you have a big backyard? Dalmatians were bred to run alongside and protect carriages. Yes, run alongside CARRIAGES, for miles and miles and miles. They can go on forever. Is that something you can handle? A Dalmatian is not going to be happy with a a quick walk around the block. That dog could run a hundred laps around the block and not tire, if allowed.

Don't pick your dog on cute and cuddly alone. Like people, you don't want to focus on just outer beauty. Think long and hard about your kind of lifestyle and whether or not the dog you want will be perfect for you. I picked my Doberman Pinscher because I did thorough research on the breed: I loved their mean-streets look, but beneath that tough-looking-exterior they are really just HUGE babies. They're utter velcro dogs - meaning they don't want to leave your side. They were bred for personal protection, to happily stay by you in whichever room you are in (yes, bathroom included) and since they are the 5th smartest dog breed, I wanted a dog I could easily train. He's 5 months old and knows several commands already. I'm ecstatic with him - and I am a bit on the lazy side, but he is teaching me the ways of exercise, which is something I need anyway, and if it makes him happy, I'm happy. If you were someone who couldn't stand clingyness, overt alertness, attentiveness, and protection-ness, and if you wanted a laid-back, lazy dog, then it's safe to say a Doberman isn't for you.

All dogs need exercise, but some breeds like the dalmatian and doberman, need plenty of it on a daily basis. I urge you to research your breed. If it sounds like it can co-exist with your lifestyle harmoniously, then go for it!

Much of finding that perfect dog relies on whether your lifestyle will mesh with the kind of dog.

Now that you've researched your breed -- it's time to search for the ethical, responsible, breeder.

The dog you want will likely have some internet database listing of all the breeders in every state/country. Doberman Pinscher's have one on However, don't rely on this alone, because anyone who pays the fee can register their website/breeding business on this site. Then another tricky issue - some of the prettiest, well-made websites are really just wolves in sheep's clothing. Just because the breeder's website impresses you, doesn't mean they are ethical. In fact, many of the prettier websites are backyard breeders in disguise. Don't be fooled!

So how do I know the breeder I'm looking at is responsible and ethical?

They will be eager to share information with you such as "stacking" their dogs. Stacking means when they chart their dogs down from generations before, thus they track the lineage and list any diseases, etc on the dogs. A lot of breeders aren't willing to share what dogs have had diseases, but with a purebred, the healthier the line, the better in the long run. Ethical breeders also don't breed the heck out of their dogs. Two - three litters per bitch, and that's pushing it. If they continuously breed the same dogs over and over, you've found yourself a backyard breeder. If they have more than two litters a year, they're a backyard breeder. If they're breeding the same bitch back to back with no break - yep, you guessed it. Backyard breeder.

Backyard breeders have NO regard for the health of their dogs, whereas ethical breeders will only breed for temperament and health. If a dog shows signs of illness, they will not continue that line. They strive for great bloodlines to provide the best ambassadors to the breed. Something backyard breeders have no inkling of whatsoever.

Ethical breeders will also be willing to share pictures of their dogs, and their puppies, and even pictures of how some puppies turn out. They have great relationships with the adopters of their older litters. If you like the look of the dogs, and if the dogs are to standard, then kudos! I've encountered some breeder websites that all looked and sounded legit, but their dogs did not look so great, whether from countless in-breeding, I'll never know. I never found out, I immediately took them off the list of potential good breeders.

Some dog breeds have breed-specific illnesses and diseases. If you've researched your dog, ask your breeder if their lines have shown these diseases. Dobermans can get a condition called Von Willebrand's where if they are nicked, or bleeding, they can have trouble blood-clotting. In my search for my dog, that was a big concern... some breeders didn't answer all my questions and concerns, so any consideration for them went into the trash.

Speak to the breeder!!! An ethical breeder will never be annoyed at the questions you ask. So talk with them as often as you like, and if they seem concerned only on when you can pick up the puppy and the payment, you've found a backyard breeder. The breeder should be just as interested in you and your home life as you are interested in the puppy and the breeder. Ethical breeders will often have you fill out an Adoption Questionaire, and some even want to visit your home to see if everything will suit the needs of the dog. Don't be insulted if they want to check up on all of that, the best breeders want to ensure that you will be a great fit for their dog. It might seem like the quest for your puppy via the ethical breeders route is like jumping a bunch of hurdles, it is worth it for the quality of pup you get.

Check out breed forums. There are tons of forums for specific breeds out there, and I'm on a couple Doberman Pinscher ones. The people you meet there are so helpful, and you can even request responsible breeder information for whichever area you live in.

Common sense is your best weapon. If the website seems fishy, if the breeder acts suspicious, if some of the pictures the breeder sends you are odd, or the puppies and dogs don't appear happy, don't walk. RUN! Be mindful of scam artists as well. Never send a deposit to a breeder unless you are ABSOLUTELY sure they are legit. Many people have lost loads of money on a deposit alone, don't be one of those!

Sadie, my 4 year old shelter baby.
Sadie, my 4 year old shelter baby.

I will always advocate shelters and rescues first. If you can't find what you want in a shelter, wait awhile and try again. It's almost impossible for me to walk into a shelter and not exit without an animal. I'm one of those people who can't resist such hopefull faces on the cats and dogs hoping for a home.

Before the search for that perfect puppy, or even a purebred, please go to your local shelter and see what abounds. What you find might surprise you. And there are plenty of perfect dogs in the shelter.

All they need is a little TLC.

Helpful Hubs:

What Dog Should You Buy?

Dog Training

More About Puppy Mills

How To Find A Reputable Dog Breeder


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    • PDXKaraokeGuy profile image

      Justin W Price 6 years ago from Juneau, Alaska

      Christine. I'm torn. I really want to get a puppy when my dog passes away but my wife really has a heart for older dogs and they're the hardest to adopt. Hopefully i won't have to decide for awhile!

    • christinepurr profile image

      christinepurr 6 years ago

      Thoughsandwiches, thank you for the sweet comment and all the votes! :) Is Truman your avatar picture? I love doggie-snout pictures! I can tell we're going to have great fun together. :D

      Homesteadbound, awwwww that is such a sad story about Angel! Thank goodness you got her! Adopting pets is such a noble road, and you took in two! Sad story about your Tawny, too. :( But she and Angel are so lucky to have you - my Sadie was like that at first, very nervous around people, she would shake and shiver at the slightest thing. Thankfully she's gotten over that. I couldn't imagine a day without her now!

    • homesteadbound profile image

      Cindy Murdoch 6 years ago from Texas

      One of my dogs, Angel, is a pom (mix?) that was a puppy mill mom rescue. The vet is not able to tell me how old she is because, she chewed the bars of her confinement so much she has few teeth. Even her canines are worn half away vertically! She is such a sweetheart and it is so sad that she would be in that predicament. I love her so much!

      My other dog, Tawny, is a golden retriever mix, that I got from the SPCA. I am her 3rd SPCA owner. She was soooooooo abused by someone that she cowered around everyone. She still hides from everyone except my husband and me, and it is sad.

      But we have been able to give both of them a good home and we love them to death.

      Great Hub!

    • ThoughtSandwiches profile image

      ThoughtSandwiches 6 years ago from Reno, Nevada


      I like you my friend! Excellent indictment of the foulness that is puppy mills and very useful information to anyone making this important decision!

      I got my boy (Truman) from the local shelter and have never regretted it...except maybe when he ate the couch...but that was dog specific...not shelter generic I think...

      Welcome to Hubpages! I am giving you all the Up votes!


      PS...Sadie is very cute.

    • christinepurr profile image

      christinepurr 6 years ago

      Thank you for the comment! I'm with ya there -- it's extremely hard to look/watch animal mills. There are some pretty shocking documentaries out there and it just breaks my heart. Thank you for adopting! :) My Sadie lady was from the shelter, and she's such a character - couldn't imagine life without her!

    • PDXKaraokeGuy profile image

      Justin W Price 6 years ago from Juneau, Alaska

      it's hard for me to look at puppy mills. I love my dogs so much. I have a 12 1/2 yr old chow mix rescue that I got when she was a year old. Except for food aggression 9which is common with her breed) she's been a joy and delight and wonderful companion. Thanks for sharing this!


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