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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hello, as the title suggests, I am a prospective first-time puppy owner. I'll give some context about myself, and the basics about things such as our energy level in the home, what we've been looking at, etc. I guess I'm looking for some basic breed recommendations, and tips are appreciated. If there's anything I should know, that is appreciated as well. I don't want to come off as being idealistic or super naïve, although I am a novice at dog owning overall.

My dad and I have been discussing what kind of puppy to bring into our household. He's grown up with dogs all his life, up until he went to college. Me, my older brother, and my mom have not had that experience. However, I absolutely love dogs, and virtually all animals, my entire life. I am comfortable with having a dog in our home (so are my mom and brother, although they aren't as heavily involved we are still in the research phase, and they also are open to the idea of having one), and have wanted this for years. I have had experience with my aunt's dogs from when I was little (I spent a lot of time with her, and thus, her dogs too), and I have done almost 200 hours total of internship work in a shelter handling dogs and puppies of all kinds. Although this isn't the same as living with a dog, I am very comfortable with them and am used to them.

Breed-wise we haven't narrowed anything down quite yet. We know we definitely prefer a medium-large dog. My parents are not fans of small dogs. I enjoy any and all kinds of dogs, but I do find myself preferring something a bit bigger. My dad frequently goes on long walks, usually 2 if not 3 hours, almost every day and especially on weekends. I enjoy walks myself, and would also consider easing back into jogging/running again and a buddy would be great for that. Obviously we do not want to force puppy on such long walks while it's growing, so we would plan on doing short but frequent walks in our neighborhood. We also have an average yard, around a quarter acre, with a decent amount of space for a romp. Yard time would not replace walks.

We would definitely plan to get the puppy into obedience classes as soon as it is able to. I am eager to learn every and anything I can about ensuring this puppy will not only be loved, but will grow up in a home with structure. We want it to know basic commands and we are willing to take the time to give it that training it needs to grow up into a well-behaved dog. Socialization would also be something we'd work on, as we would like our puppy to gain the social skills it would need to have a positive experience not only around different humans, but different dogs as well. The puppy would not be left alone for long periods of time at all. There would almost always be someone at home, especially when it's very young. My parents are either retired or work maybe less than five minutes away. I am a student, but I would be home for the summer which is the timeframe where we would get our pup, so that I can also have time to be with it before going back to school in the fall.

We have looked at shelters and rescue groups in our area for mixed breed puppies, but also have considered reputable breeders as well. We have been finding both sources have their own pros and cons in terms of expense, breed, and our family's ability to adapt to a dog's needs based on what kind of breed it is. My dad is a BIG fan of German Shepherds and was looking at some high quality breeders, but I am aware they are very high-energy and can be destructive and anxious if not exercised enough. I'm unsure if the long walks (and possibly jogs) would even cut it for a GSD. There's also the surprise and happiness that comes with saving the life of a pup from a shelter, and they might be more manageable based on our energy level. Still, we are continuously looking at articles, contacting places and owners, and getting as much knowledge as we can before committing to any one dog.

I am aware that puppy raising is not always cute -- there's messes, nipping, chewing, etc. I am prepared for that, and so is my dad. Even with all that we research, we also realize that raising any puppy is a learning experience in and of itself, and not everything we learn will be from what we've read or discussed. I'm excited about this aspect and am even more excited about the prospect of having our very own dog, for the first time in my life.
 

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One major consideration is how much grooming you want to do, or pay for. Also, how much shedding can you tolerate? (They aren't called German Shedders for nothing....)

You need to consider overall breed health. I absolutely love Doberman Pinschers... but with a 60% chance of developing a serious heart condition, I've decided that I just can't live with those odds.

When looking for a breeder, for a purebred dog, I suggest that you check out the AKC parent club (assuming you are interested in an AKC breed) for information on health conditions and see if they have a list of member breeders. Another option is to check out the Good Dog website at Good Dog: Find the Dog of Your Dreams from Good Breeders and Shelters, especially if you decide to go with a crossbred puppy. Good Dog has minimum health testing requirements to be listed, but not all the breeders there are ones I would recommend (although it is where I found the breeder of the Standard Poodle puppy I'm getting), so you will still need to do some homework.

And you might need to be patient... everyone and their uncle wants a puppy these days. If you find a breeder you like, then getting on their waiting list is probably your best option. I was seriously not expecting to get a puppy this fast, and figured it would more likely be sometime next year before any were available.
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
One major consideration is how much grooming you want to do, or pay for. Also, how much shedding can you tolerate? (They aren't called German Shedders for nothing....)

You need to consider overall breed health. I absolutely love Doberman Pinschers... but with a 60% chance of developing a serious heart condition, I've decided that I just can't live with those odds.

When looking for a breeder, for a purebred dog, I suggest that you check out the AKC parent club (assuming you are interested in an AKC breed) for information on health conditions and see if they have a list of member breeders. Another option is to check out the Good Dog website at Good Dog: Find the Dog of Your Dreams from Good Breeders and Shelters, especially if you decide to go with a crossbred puppy. Good Dog has minimum health testing requirements to be listed, but not all the breeders there are ones I would recommend (although it is where I found the breeder of the Standard Poodle puppy I'm getting), so you will still need to do some homework.

And you might need to be patient... everyone and their uncle wants a puppy these days. If you find a breeder you like, then getting on their waiting list is probably your best option. I was seriously not expecting to get a puppy this fast, and figured it would more likely be sometime next year before any were available.
Shedding isn’t a big problem, not for me anyways. Getting a dog means we’ll expect them to shed (some more than others of course haha). I’m more than willing to do some extra sweeping/vacuuming here and there but I’ll expect to always find hair wherever I go. I guess that’s where doing our homework comes in, with the grooming. I know some breeds require more maintenance than others, so it’s basically up to whether we are comfortable with basic grooming (brushing/nail trims, etc) or if we would be willing to pay for the dog to get groomed regularly by a professional, if needed.

Although it’s not set in stone, the breeders we did look at were pretty solid (dogs AKC registered, thoroughly health tested, stellar testimonials, my dad reached out to one and they had open communication, but of course this doesn’t always tell the whole story. We hope to pay a visit sometime, if the pandemic eases up a bit or they allow appointments..) Not all breeders are created equal and I’m aware of the heartbreaking realities of health issues, particularly ones that occur in purebred dogs. That’s something we need to be aware of if we decide to go this route.

Thank you for the link, too! Definitely will check it out. And I also will check out the AKC website for the member breeders as well. I’ve been checking the AKC website for resources on training tips and breed info too :)

Patience is key for sure! I’m quite excited but I need to remind myself that this dog,whether rescue or breeder, mutt or purebred, is a lifetime commitment. This should not be an impulse decision. Thank you for your response and helpful info! I appreciate it!
 

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So- just a training comment- remember to train with love and respect, be a leader. But if the trainer you go to starts to talk about "alpha" or "dominance", leave- those are disproven and dangerous.

Puppy breed: Do you have your heart set on a purebred? I'm a rescue person, so I'd recommend that unless you want a purebred with a pedigree, go to a shelter/ SPCA. Or try looking on petfinder. You can find breed-specific rescues if you decide on a specific breed, but I encourage you to go looking for a puppy (or even an adult, of you want, but you seem to want a puppy) at a rescue. You can meet the puppy and find one that seems to have the right energy level and seems to like your family. With a rescue, you are saving a life, (or two, since you free up more space in the shelter) getting a dog that is a mix, (many purebreds are more susceptible to health problems) and can see many different types of dogs in one place.
It sounds like your family would be great for a more high-energy dog such as a spaniel, setter, husky, aussie, cattle dog, Weimaraner, Dalmatian, lab, boxer ,or shepherd. These dogs sometimes have a hard time getting adopted, or get left at a shelter because a family couldn't handle the energy. But with enough exercise and training, they are some of the best dogs. Just be sure to provide mental exercise through games, scentwork, puzzles, and/ or training. High-energy dogs need mental stimulation too, even more than the lower-energy ones.
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
So- just a training comment- remember to train with love and respect, be a leader. But if the trainer you go to starts to talk about "alpha" or "dominance", leave- those are disproven and dangerous.

Puppy breed: Do you have your heart set on a purebred? I'm a rescue person, so I'd recommend that unless you want a purebred with a pedigree, go to a shelter/ SPCA. Or try looking on petfinder. You can find breed-specific rescues if you decide on a specific breed, but I encourage you to go looking for a puppy (or even an adult, of you want, but you seem to want a puppy) at a rescue. You can meet the puppy and find one that seems to have the right energy level and seems to like your family. With a rescue, you are saving a life, (or two, since you free up more space in the shelter) getting a dog that is a mix, (many purebreds are more susceptible to health problems) and can see many different types of dogs in one place.
It sounds like your family would be great for a more high-energy dog such as a spaniel, setter, husky, aussie, cattle dog, Weimaraner, Dalmatian, lab, boxer ,or shepherd. These dogs sometimes have a hard time getting adopted, or get left at a shelter because a family couldn't handle the energy. But with enough exercise and training, they are some of the best dogs. Just be sure to provide mental exercise through games, scentwork, puzzles, and/ or training. High-energy dogs need mental stimulation too, even more than the lower-energy ones.
I forgot to clarify — we did look at purebreds from breeders but we are more than happy to open our hearts to a rescue as well! We even looked at quite a few puppies at some local shelters. We also don’t mind mixes as well, we’ve looked at Australian Heeler mixes, GSD mixes (so frickin cute), Boxer mixes and some wonderful Golden Retreiver, Lab mixes too. My dad’s main concern (although I don’t necessarily find it a major concern myself seeing as these are puppies who can likely adjust fine) is that because these rescue puppies are often transported from out of state to these shelters, he worries they could have trauma from the stress of the move and that can lead to possible behavioral issues. Provided the puppy gets love, care, and socialization/training from the time he comes home, I don’t see this as being a huge problem, especially for a puppy so young. We are looking anywhere and everywhere (so long as it is reputable and has a good foundation, good reviews from buyers, adopters). I hope that clears up some things, we are open to all kinds so long as they are medium/large :)

Quick edit: thanks for the heads up! I definitely don’t agree with the whole alpha/dominance stuff, so I’ll make sure wherever we go that they don’t teach that. And giving the pup mental stimulation sounds fun for me too! Any ideas/resources on possible fun activities in particular? Or do you recommend any specific toys or things I could make that could be a fun and challenging game for the dog?
 

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I forgot to clarify — we did look at purebreds from breeders but we are more than happy to open our hearts to a rescue as well! We even looked at quite a few puppies at some local shelters. We also don’t mind mixes as well, we’ve looked at Australian Heeler mixes, GSD mixes (so frickin cute), Boxer mixes and some wonderful Golden Retreiver, Lab mixes too. My dad’s main concern (although I don’t necessarily find it a major concern myself seeing as these are puppies who can likely adjust fine) is that because these rescue puppies are often transported from out of state to these shelters, he worries they could have trauma from the stress of the move and that can lead to possible behavioral issues. Provided the puppy gets love, care, and socialization/training from the time he comes home, I don’t see this as being a huge problem, especially for a puppy so young. We are looking anywhere and everywhere (so long as it is reputable and has a good foundation, good reviews from buyers, adopters). I hope that clears up some things, we are open to all kinds so long as they are medium/large :)
I doubt there will be an issue with that- if you see a puppy exhibiting signs of trauma, move on, but: #1, a puppy can move on a lot quicker than an adult. #2, you may be able to do a foster-to-adopt program, depending on the rescue. #3, the rescues do take care when transporting dogs, so while it's not ideal, most dogs are just fine after transport. #4, it's unlikely that any issue will be too great for you to simply train out of the dog.
My cousin just got a puppy that was shipped from Texas. The dog is doing great. Not saying this is always the case, that's definitely a valid concern- but a traumatized puppy is more the exception than the rule.
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
I doubt there will be an issue with that- if you see a puppy exhibiting signs of trauma, move on, but: #1, a puppy can move on a lot quicker than an adult. #2, you may be able to do a foster-to-adopt program, depending on the rescue. #3, the rescues do take care when transporting dogs, so while it's not ideal, most dogs are just fine after transport. #4, it's unlikely that any issue will be too great for you to simply train out of the dog.
My cousin just got a puppy that was shipped from Texas. The dog is doing great. Not saying this is always the case, that's definitely a valid concern- but a traumatized puppy is more the exception than the rule.
I would agree, thanks! I think if my dad gets a chance to see these pups in person he might be further convinced they won’t be forever marked by their rough start to life. From what I’ve seen, puppies are pretty flexible in that they do tend to recover quickly. The rescue we’ve looked at is where I interned — puppies would come in, get spayed/neutered, and a few hours later you never would’ve though they had been in a rough place in their lives, hopping around with tails wagging and ready for their forever homes. Definitely something I’m open to!
 

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One caveat about the AKC Marketplace. The only requirement to advertise there is that you not have your AKC privileges suspended, so you can find everyone from backyard breeders to high volume commercial breeders (aka puppy mills), to good, ethical breeders there.
 

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On the AKC website under breeds there's a place where you can go through and put in info about what you're looking for, and they pop up some breeds that fit your requirements. There are a lot of other sites like this, but I figure with AKC they're telling you what the breed club says about that breed, not somebody who never met one.

Dog Breed Selector - What Breed Of Dog Should I Get?

However, the effect of these Covid times is definitely a factor. I'm thinking about a puppy myself and originally thought maybe a Shiba Inu - smaller than I was originally thinking about and harder to train, but otherwise a good possibility. The problem is breeders recommended by the breed clubs have waiting lists of over a hundred. Less well known local breeders only breed every couple of years, and litters are 1 to 4 puppies - breeder wants to keep one, friends want this or that.... I've pretty much given up on that idea, and I bet there are availability issues in other breeds. It sounds like even some shelters are down to the hard adopts.

You have to wonder if there's going to be a flood of available dogs in another year or so when this is all over. Some states look to be opening up right now, and I'm among the oldies who already have one vaccination and an appointment for the second. Of course age is why I can't get on a 10-year waiting list for a Shiba.
 
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