When you know what breed you want, the next step is finding a reputable breeder. The two well-established registries in the United States, the American Kennel Club (AKC) and the United Kennel Club (UKC), both have breeder referral information on their websites. You can also search for local clubs devoted to the breed in which you are interested, and then call or write the secretary of the club to obtain written information and a list of breeders who are members of the club.
After you locate several breeders who have the breed of puppy you are looking for, write or call each one and explain whether you are looking for a family companion and pet, if you plan to show and/or breed, and if you prefer a male or a female. A sincere inquiry, including information about yourself, is much more likely to elicit the type of response you are looking for than a hastily scribbled note. Be prepared for the breeder to ask questions about you and your family. A responsible breeder is concerned about the future welfare of all the puppies he or she places.
It is a good policy to insist on buying the puppy pending a veterinary examination (at your expense), with a 72-hour guarantee to return the puppy if a health problem is found. Conscientious breeders who are proud of their puppies and willing to stand behind them will not object to this request. Any guarantees concerning the puppy must be discussed and agreed upon before the check is signed. Be sure to ask for and receive the puppy’s registration paperwork, pedigree, health certificate, current diet sheet, and immunization record.
If you are interested in an older puppy or an adult dog, you may want to consider adopting a dog from the local animal shelter or a breed rescue group. Each year, animal shelters in the United States receive millions of wonderful mixed-breed and purebred dogs with one thing in common: They all need good homes. Most purebred dog clubs also maintain rescue operations for dogs of their breed who are found lost, turned in to shelters, or turned in by owners who can no longer keep the dog. These groups foster the rescued dogs, update their health care, and can offer you a very good idea of the dog’s temperament and behavior.
Breeders may also have adult dogs they are looking to place. This could be a dog who didn’t work out as a show or breeding prospect but has some training and is well behaved.