When you have decided on a breed, or have realized that a specific breed is not important to your family, you must decide where you will find you new dog or puppy. There are only two ethical ways of obtaining a new dog and that is through a reputable breeder, or from a rescue or shelter.
Many people will look in their local paper's Classified ads and choose a puppy that way, or go to a pet store, but they shouldn't. Those advertising in a paper and supplying pet stores are 'Backyard Breeders' who do not care about the welfare of the animals they breed, they are only trying to make money. Again, research needs to be done - this time into the breeder's standards; are they breeding a bitch every time it goes into heat? If so, you shouldn't buy a puppy from them. A bitch should be given time to recuperate after having a litter. Do they do medical tests on all animals they breed? Tests for the hereditary problems of the breed must have been done prior to breeding; you'll already know these problems from all your research! Are they breeding to improve the breed, or simply to make a fast profit? Reputable breeders will show their dogs, and they will come from long lines of dogs that have been shown. Reputable breeders will also breed only one breed of dog, and will never mix two breeds to make a so-called 'designer dog'. Do they have a spay/neuter contract for the puppy? This contract is very important as it helps keep the pet overpopulation problem at bay. Most reputable breeders, breeding show quality dogs, will only allow those show quality dogs to be bred. Chances are that if you aren't planning on showing the dog, you will get a 'pet quality' animal - there is nothing wrong with these pets, they simply may have some of the wrong traits for the show ring, i.e. their conformation is not perfect. In this case, the pet quality dog will have to be spayed or neutered by a certain age to ensure it is not bred.
If you want a specific breed, but have decided an adult dog is best for you and your family, the ideal thing to do is search for a breed specific rescue group in your area. It is simple to do on the internet - say you are looking for a Boxer in the San Antonio area. You would simply put 'Boxer rescue San Antonio' into a search engine and you would receive many results. Another good idea is to visit your local shelter or pound because, surprisingly, 25% of all dogs in shelters are purebred and you might just get lucky and save a life at the same time!
If you do not mind what breed of dog you get, a shelter is perfect as well. The workers at shelters know the personalities of the dogs they are caring for and can easily match the personality of the dog with your family. Shelters are also fantastic because you can visit a dog and take any other pets, and your children with you to meet it prior to taking it home in order to be sure they all get along. Perhaps the most fantastic thing about shelters is that you are saving the life of an animal, and that animal will love you unconditionally for doing so.
Another great thing about shelter dogs is that most dogs will have been spayed or neutered before leaving the shelter unless they are too young. If that is the case, their being spayed or neutered will be part of the contract you sign to take them home, but most often the adoption fee will cover the cost of the surgery once they are old enough.
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