Options for Where to Get a New Dog

Jocelyn Bishop
February 29, 2016

Pet Parenting, Travel

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Want to get a new dog? Congratulations! Wanting to become a pet owner is a big life decision that requires some time and planning, but offers plenty of benefits.

Before you get started on your journey, you should ask yourself a couple of questions and make sure you’re ready to be a responsible pet owner.

1. Do you have all the equipment? Click here to find all of the must-haves you’ll need to get your house ready.

2. Do you have the patience? Getting a new dog is an adjustment, for both you and the dog. They’ll need some time to get used to a new surrounding and you’ll need some time to make their space ready.

3. Do you have the time? Many breeds of dogs need regular exercise. Whether you take them on a walk every day, spend time at the dog park or beach or head to agility competitions, the more time you spend with your dog helps to strengthen your bond.

4. Do you have the love? Get ready for snuggles, endless photos on your Instagram feed, and those “puppy dog eyes” (because we sure are!).

Once you’ve got those sorted out, now it’s time for the big one:

Where Do I Get A New Dog?

Generally speaking, there are three common ways to get a new dog. You can purchase one from a breeder, pet store or shelter/rescue group. If you want a specific breed, you can start with the American Kennel Club. They have lists of breeders that meet or exceed their standards. Additionally, they list the National Parent Clubs for all of the breeds (189!) in the United States. Regardless of whether you want to purchase a puppy from a breeder or a rescue, the AKC breed selector is a great starting place to research the standards and specific temperaments of different breeds and can help pick a dog with characteristics that are right for you!

Getting a  New Dog from a Breeder

The first thing to know about getting a dog from a breeder is that there are two types of breeders: hobby breeders and commercial breeders. Generally speaking, commercial breeders sell their puppies to pet stores, not directly to customers, so we’ll cover them in the next section.

Hobby breeders (also known as breed enthusiasts) are an incredibly passionate community of people who absolutely love and are extremely knowledgeable about their breeds. These are the people you’ll meet at dog shows who are actively committed to improving the health of the dogs they breed. Some advantages to purchasing a dog from a hobby breeder are that you’ll get to meet the mother (and potentially the father) of your new dog. This can give you a good idea of what their temperament will be like as they age.

If you’re curious about picking a dog from a breeder, long-time Dalmatian breeder Patti Strand has some great advice. ““Make sure that you’re comfortable with the breeder. If you feel comfortable interacting with the breeder and the environment that the dogs live in is clean and safe, you’re off to a great start. Additionally, most hobby breeders do health testing on their parent dogs, so you can ask for a copy of the paperwork for your records. For example, deafness can occur in Dalmatians so breeders (like myself) have their dogs’ hearing tested (both ears).  Although the incidence of hip dysplasia is quite low in Dalmatians, we also X-ray parent animals for hip dysplasia.”

Hobby breeders are also committed to making sure that their litters end up in fabulous homes. Mrs. Strand explains “Just as you’re asking the breeder questions about how the puppy has been raised so far, the breeder will be asking you questions to make sure that a prospective buyer can provide a great home and a great life for the puppy.”

Getting a New Dog from a Pet Store

Many new pet owners get their pets from pet stores all across the country. Good pet stores have standards for the breeders they purchase from. Examples of these standards include having breeders be in compliance with all federal and state laws and regulations related to dog care, safety and housing and nutrition. Breeders must provide appropriate socialization and exercise specific for the breed. Lastly, the breeders work with a veterinarian to provide good medical care, preventative health measures, and provide stores with a state-issued health certificate and health records. This means that the store can give the new customer complete health records and history for their pet.

Gary Newman owns and operates two independent pet stores that sell AKC registered puppies in the New York area. He offered some advice for potential pet owners looking to find a reputable pet store. “When looking for a good store, ask yourself a couple of questions. Is the store clean and organized? Are the staff knowledgeable and friendly? Does the store have good record-keeping with vet references?”

Mr. Newman stressed this last point as the most important, “Making sure you’re comfortable in the store will speak to the quality and temperament of the dogs offered.”

Getting a New Dog from a Shelter or Rescue

Want to get a new dog from a shelter or rescue? There are many wonderful shelters and rescues across the country that help to find pets wonderful homes, like yours.

If you’re looking to acquire a specific breed from a rescue, some rescues cannot guarantee having that breed. One way to get a specific breed is to look up the parent club for that breed on the AKC website or go to the AKC rescue network and retrieve the contact info. The officers of the club can give you a referral for a breed-specific rescue and help you get your new dog!

If you’re not set on a specific breed, check that your potential pet is healthy and clean. If you can, ask why the animal was given up. What was their history? Asking these questions can help you ascertain what their temperament is and decide if the dog is right for you and your home. Most shelters will make sure your dog is up to date with their shots, so ask for a copy of their health paperwork as well. Make sure to spend some time with the dog before you take them home. Many rescues have foster programs or opportunities for potential pet owners to take dogs for walks to get to know them better. If you’re getting a new dog from a foster home, ask the foster family what the dog was like in a home environment. See how the dog socializes with other humans and dogs on your walk. Clueing into a dog’s’ behavior is an important part of being a pet owner, so take these opportunities to practice!

Bottom line, wherever you get a new dog, they are lucky to have an owner like you who cares about their well-being and health. Congratulations on your new, furry family member!


All data and information provided on this site is for informational purposes only and reflect the views of the authors alone, and do not necessarily reflect those of the organization. Redbarninc.com makes no representations as to accuracy, completeness, timeliness, suitability, or validity of any information on this site and will not be liable for any errors, omissions, or delays in this information or any losses, injuries, or damages arising from its display or use. All information is provided on an as-is basis. Please note that each situation is different, and you should always consult your veterinarian should you have any questions about your pet’s health.

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