Deciding to get a pet of any kind is a big responsibility, but getting a dog is an even a bigger job. First you need to decide if a dog fits your lifestyle, and if so, what kind of dog. Below are some helpful tips that will get you started in your search for finding the perfect dog to fit your lifestyle.

Questions to ask yourself

  • Dogs are not good gifts. Make sure the whole family is in agreement of getting a dog. It is everyone's responsibility!
  • Do you have the time to spend with a dog? The average family is gone 8-10 hours per day, does a dog fit into your lifestyle?
  • How big is your family? Are there kids? If so, will they be a part of the training and companionship of this animal?
  • Can you afford it? Whether you buy a dog from a reputable breeder or adopt from a rescue, you will still have costs associated with it. Veterinarian costs, training, food, licensing, crates, toys etc. You always have to expect the unexpected.

What is the right type of dog for us?

  • small, medium or large?
  • shedding or non-shedding?
  • there are 7 groups of dogs: Working, sport, non-sporting, herding, hounds, terriers and toys. Each breed has their own natural traits to consider, these traits cannot be changed. For example, Border Collies are bred for herding, some larger breeds were bred for carting, etc.
  • how much space do we have?
  • do I want a casual pet, less active or a dog for competition that is high energy?
  • how much time am I willing to spend on grooming?
  • dogs are natural protectors, am I looking for a dog with stronger instincts?
  • rescue animals sometimes need more training, am I willing to take the extra time and expense in dealing with the dog's behaviours?

Where should I get a dog?

This is a question many people ask, and presents a buyer beware scenario. Don't be fooled by flashy gimmicks or price slashing! There are 2 options, a reputable breeder or a rescue group (Animal Services, Humane Societies, all breed rescues, etc.).

If you are not particular about having a purebred dog, then go to a rescue, humane society or your local shelter. There are lots of dogs that need a good home, give them a chance.

If you are interested in a purebred dog, the following list will provide you with information on how to find a reputable breeder.

Tips on finding a reputable breeder:

  • breeders breed for temperament as a number one priority
  • breeders should be a member in good standing with a major kennel club (CKC, AKC etc.)
  • they follow the code of conduct and ethics laid out in the by-laws from the kennel clubs
  • they should be very knowledgeable about their breed and can answer all your questions
  • reputable breeders will have only 2 - 4 litters per year from different parents
  • reputable breeders will give you references of other buyers
  • reputable breeders test all their breeding stock against genetic deficiencies
  • reputable breeders will give you the opportunity to meet the sire, dam or both
  • depending on the breed, the average price ranges from $800-$1300
  • a purebred dog comes with CKC or AKC papers. It is illegal to sell a purebred dog without these papers. These papers are the Sire (father) and Dams (mothers) lineage (family tree).
  • reputable breeders will have you sign a non-breeding contract. This guarantees that the animal will be sterilized.
  • a reputable breeder is available for support throughout the life of the dog
  • reputable breeders should give you a minimum 2-year health guarantee against any genetic defects. If there is a problem they will either assist with the vet bill, replace the dog or refund your money.
  • a reputable breeder will always take back the dog if something occurs where you are unable to keep the dog.

Be careful when looking for a breeder.  Just because they advertise and have a flashy website doesn't mean they are reputable.

For more information on choosing the right pet/breed and for breeders in your area, speak with your local veterinarians, dog trainers, or visit the following websites:

The Canadian Kennel Club

American Kennel Club

Ontario Veterinary Medical Association

Canadian Federation of Humane Societies

Guide to Choosing the Right Animal

Costs of owning a Pet