Guide To Buying A Purebred Puppy

Why a Purebred?

Each breed of dog was developed for a specific reason, such as to retrieve, to aid man in hunting, to guard, to herd or to simply be a companion. Therefore, dogs within a breed will have not only physical characteristics in common, but will also be similar in temperament, activity level and learning ability. While each individual dog within a breed will have small differences, all dogs within a breed can be depended on to display similar behaviors. When purchasing a purebred pup from a reputable breeder, you will therefore have an understanding of what kind of personality and traits that dog will possess as an adult. The future traits of a mixed breed dog are much more difficult to ascertain, as it is impossible to predict which of the breeds in the dog's background will dominate.

Choosing a Breed.

Once you have made the decision to purchase a purebred dog, it is helpful to think long and hard about exactly what you are hoping for in a dog. The biggest mistake people make is selecting a breed of dog based on appearance rather than what it was bred to do. The best chance of success is to match a breed of dog with your particular situation  and lifestyle.

Some things you should consider when deciding on a breed are:

  1. Your lifestyle and location. Do you live in the city, suburbs or country? Are you active or sedentary? How much time do you have available? How much financial commitment are you prepared to make?
  2. The reason you want a dog. Are you looking for a guard, playmate for the children, a companion or a worker?
  3. Size, lifespan, health issues and necessary grooming.
  4. Trainability, temperament and maintenance.
  5. Experience necessary for a particular breed.
  6. The cautions and drawbacks of each breed.
  7. Who will be the primary trainer and caretaker? Is everyone in the family comfortable with the breed?

Perhaps the most important piece of advice is not to buy on impulse, but to do your research and make an informed choice on a breed of dog.

Breed Information.

There are three good sources for learning more about a particular breed. The first is the American Kennel Club at The AKC provides a short summary of breed qualities that will help you determine whether the breed is right for you. Parent breed clubs are also an excellent source of information about a particular breed, and often provide referrals to reputable breeders. A link to a list of national parent clubs can be found at And finally, conversations with experienced owners can provide insight into what to expect with a particular breed. However, it is important to keep in mind one person's experience may not always represent the general nature of a breed. 

Choosing a Breeder.

Once you have selected a breed, it is time to choose a breeder. Whoever you decide upon, the individual should be first and foremost someone you can depend on for advice and answers to your questions for the life of the dog.

Pet stores.
Puppies found in pet stores are mass produced for profit on large breeding facilities in the midwest, often known as "puppy mills." The health and temperament of a dog is not guaranteed, and those who sell the dogs have little knowledge of the nuances of each breed, and will sell a dog to anyone who can pay for it, regardless of the suitability of a breed for an individual. In addition, the pet store provides no resource for problems or health concerns.

Shelters are often an inexpensive source for purebred dogs. However, you should understand that those working in shelters often do not know the history of the particular dog, nor do they have extensive knowledge of breed characteristics and potential problems.

Purebred Rescue Groups.
Each national breed club has a commitment to rehoming dogs surrendered by owners for reasons that may include divorce, a new baby, a move, or family illness. Dogs in purebred rescue are evaluated, fostered, spayed or neutered, and receive necessary veterinary attention for medical issues before being placed. Purebred rescue is a great source for those interested in an older dog. While there is an adoption fee, it is usually considerably less than the price of a puppy. If you are considering a purebred rescue dog, a good place to start is the AKC Rescue Network at You may also contact a national breed club for further information.

A reputable breeder has a wealth of knowledge of the breed and experience with problems and issues that may come up. A reputable breeder has performed health screenings on the sire and dam (parents) of their puppies which lessens the possibility of future health problems in the dogs. A breeder can also determine if his or her breed is suitable for your lifestyle and personality. A breeder will also select a puppy for you based the temperament of the puppy and your particular situation. A breeder is a lifetime resource for you and your dog.

Breeder Considerations.

  1. Comfort and compatibility with individual breeder.
  2. Honesty and integrity; will tell you the advantages as well as shortcomings of the breed.
  3. Reputation
  4. Understanding of breed as a whole, and own dogs in particular.
  5. Goals are betterment of the breed and selection of appropriate homes for puppies, not profit.
  6. Resource for problems and questions.
  7. Potential for longterm relationship.
  8. Proximity.
  9. Experience.
  10. Guarantees and contracts.
  11. Health clearances.
  12. Membership in breed clubs or breed rescue organizations.
  13. History of participation in shows, competitions as a means to improve breed.
  14. Referrals.

A Word About Designer Dogs
The hybrid designer dog is not a purebred; rather, it is the product of two purebred parents, resulting in a litter of mixed breed puppies. Designer dogs do not have pedigrees; therefore, there is little history on prior generations concerning health or temperament issues. The AKC's position on designer dogs is available here.