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You’ve made the decision to get a dog, and now you have to consider what kind of dog will fit you best, and where to obtain it. Pet stores do offer dogs for sale, but frequently these dogs are the products of puppy mill breeding tactics. By purchasing a dog from them, you could possibly be supporting both the puppy mill, and run the risk of obtaining a dog that may have a significant illness or genetic disease because of inbreeding tactics. So pet stores, unless they work in conjunction with a local shelter are not always the place to get a dog.
If you can, the best and most affordable place to get a dog is your local animal shelter. In large cities, thousands of abandoned animals are euthanized each year, and it has little to do with their behavior or adoptability, but more to do with funding and space issues. Only so many dogs can be kept alive in shelters. When you get a dog from a shelter, you are essentially rescuing it from an untimely death.
Many think that shelters only have dogs of unknown parentage, but statistics do not bear this out. Shelters across the US must routinely euthanize purebreds as well as mixed species. It is true that purebred dogs may be a little harder to obtain, but it is not impossible if you are prepared to be patient.
An alternative to shelters if you want to get a dog right away is to check with animal rescuers of specific breeds. Virtually every recognized breed of dog has a group of rescuers who care for the dogs if they are abandoned or need to be returned to the breeder. Fees are not high for obtaining a rescued dog, about the cost to get a dog at a shelter, between 50-200 US dollars (USD).
Purebred dogs become more difficult to obtain when people want a puppy. You might want to do a little thinking on this issue. Puppies are, of course, cute, but they also require training. If you get a dog that is a year old, it will essentially be full grown, and if it has been trained, much of your work is eliminated.
If you must have a puppy, it’s prudent to do your research on dog breeders with reputable breeding practices. When you go to get a dog, you should be able to inspect the parents, the site in which the dogs are kept, and the breeder should in no way evade questions about the animal you wish to obtain. You should not get a dog from people who offer to deliver because they may not want you to see the living conditions of the dog. If you can’t inspect the home, don’t get the animal. Also, by asking for and investigating references, you will get a dog that has been humanely treated.
If you want a puppy but don’t care about parentage, local animal shelters may still be your best option. Puppies are frequently available. Certain breeds, even when mixed may not be the best dogs for your living situation. As well, any dogs that have pit-bull parents are now subject to greater regulations. In 2006, San Francisco became one of the first cities in the US to actually require that all pit-bulls and half-cross pit-bulls be spayed or neutered. If you rent, you may also want to inquire with your landlord whether certain breeds or crossbreeds are not allowed. Sometimes landlords will disallow several terrier breeds, as well as larger breeds.
When you want to get a dog and a fairly young dog will be acceptable, it is important to inquire about the past behavior of the dog. Again, shelters often have information based on observation of the animal about what kind of home would best suit the dog. Often shelters will allow you to try out the dog to see how it fits with your family and home environment. By being able to have the dog for a visit, you can ensure that you get a dog that will best fit you.
@ Alchemy- You may like a shepherd or Labrador. They are similar in intelligence level and temperament, and a German shepherd has a strong presence as a family guardian. I have a German shepherd and she is a great dog. She is dog-aggressive toward smaller dogs, but has never attacked. German shepherds are also smaller than the aforementioned Cane Corso's; which by the way are beautiful dogs, but I do not know much about them.
One word of advice though, is to purchase a German shepherd that comes from a working pedigree versus a show pedigree. The show pedigree dogs were bred to have a sloping back, which led to a poor gait, temperament problems, and the hip problems that the breed is notorious for. The working pedigree dogs are the type you will find that law enforcement and security firms use. They have a straight back, and a good gait.
@ Alchemy- If you are still considering getting a dog, you may want to consider a Cane Corso. They are Italian Mastiffs, but with much more athleticism, and a tighter coat than their English and French Counterparts. These smaller mastiffs have similar traits to the Am Staff/Pit Bull. They are very loyal with an incredibly even temperament. They are easy to train, and are athletic work/hunting dogs similar to the Pit Bull. If you plan to have more than one, or other animals you should make sure that you socialize them early and often because they tend to be the dominant animal in the group. They are also much bigger than a pit bull (90-110 lbs.), but
much smaller than other mastiffs. Like pit bulls, they also have English Bull dog in their lineage.
Don't let the size fool you though, they are perfectly suited for city and apartment/condominium living as long as you take them for regular walks. They are not roamers, preferring to stick by their owners side at all times, setting up perimeters and investigating much like a Doberman does. They are very beautiful dogs, but do not have the stigma of a terrier.
It’s a shame that pit bulls and other similar terriers get such a bad reputation. I personally believe it is unwarranted. They are some of the safest and most loyal dogs you can own. They are a very strong breed, and probably not well suited for the beginner dog owner, but they aim to please at every moment. They rarely bark, they have a great temperament, they do very well with children, and they are great family protectors.
I owned a purebred pit bull until she died in a car accident, and I fostered two rescue dogs for my local animal shelter. I have seriously been considering buying a new dog, but everywhere I turn, people have been banning pit
bulls. I bought a condominium from my mother, and I found out that the HOA does not allow terrier breeds. If I didn't get the place for such a good deal, I would have said no because of this clause.
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