How to Choose Your Dog

Before buying a dog, you should consider the following questions: What is the purpose of the dog? Do you want a watchdog or a companion? Some breeds are aloof and wary, others are friendly and playful. You should also consider how the dog responds to other pets and to children.

Do you want a male or a female? Males tend to be more aggressive than females and can be more difficult to train. However, they are more even-tempered. Do you want a purebred or a mixed breed? Purebred dogs are almost always more expensive to purchase. Appearance, temperament, and size are more predictable for purebred dogs than for mixed breeds. Do you want a long-haired or short-haired breed? Long-haired breeds need more grooming than short-haired breeds but are often hardier and better suited to cold climates. Do you want a big or small dog? Large dogs require more exercise and space than small dogs. Do you want a house dog or an outdoor dog? Some dogs do well in apartments, others need access to a yard.

In choosing a puppy, look for one that is fully weaned (at least eight weeks old); at this age it is able to eat solid food and drink water, and is fairly independent. The puppy should be healthy and alert. Do not buy a puppy that has a runny nose, watery eyes, or a fever—all are symptoms of diseases. Observe the behavior of the puppy: the traits that a dog shows as a puppy will probably be those that it displays as an adult. Hold the puppy to determine its responsiveness to petting and attention.