Unconditional, tail-wagging love - there's a special dog out there for you. Here are some things that the Westminster Kennel Club would like you to think about as you try to find that special four-legged companion for you and your family.

To begin, take your time, do your homework, and find a dog that matches your lifestyle. Owning a dog is a very special experience. The reality is that you are adding a member to your family, as a healthy dog can live for 12-15 years or more. It is important that you give a lot of thought to this process.

Don't get a dog on impulse. Don't get a dog to be trendy. Trends come and go, but your dog will be with you for a long time. The stars of "101 Dalmatians" and "Frasier" and "Beethoven" are wonderful dogs, but they aren't for everyone and they may not be the right dog for you or your family.

Envision the dog as an adult. Every puppy is a cute ball of fluff, but you need to know what it will grow up to be. This is the essence of the purebred dog: predictability. You will know what that puppy will grow up to be in terms of size, personality, conditioning and grooming needs.

Study the breed's history. All breeds were developed to perform a specific function. If you know that purpose and the history of the breed, then you will be best prepared for a successful relationship.

Make a commitment. Having a dog creates responsibilities. Be sure that you will have quality time to spend with the dog.

There are many resources to help you. At the Westminster website ( you will find descriptions of each of the 165 breeds and varieties currently recognized by the American Kennel Club, and links to all the parent club web sites (e.g., Golden Retriever Club of America).

Here are some other suggestions:
  • Watch the Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show on USA Network in February.
  • Look at books, magazines, web sites and videos.
  • Consult with your local all breed club, boarding kennel, or veterinarian.
  • Go to a dog show and visit with breeders and owners.


An ethical, responsible breeder breeds to improve the health of the breed, not just to create a product for re-sale. They know their stock, they study pedigrees and they do extensive health screening.

An ethical, responsible breeder is not offended by your questions and in fact will have lots of questions for you. Responsible breeders want their dogs to be in good homes.

An ethical, responsible breeder will have an active history in shows or other competition, and should be involved in a club or rescue activities.

You should visit in person the facilities where the puppy was raised, as this will play a role in the future health and personality of the dog. You should also try to see at least one of the parents and some of the littermates.

An ethical, responsible breeder will provide a contract with health guarantees and will provide papers for you to register your dog. Remember, when you buy a dog from a breeder, you are also buying that breeder, too, someone who should be willing to be a valuable resource and a mentor for you for the life of the dog.


We like to say that there are no bad dogs, only bad owners. Have fun with your dog. Love your dog, include them in your life.

Know the laws for dogs where you live. License your dog, use permanent identification such as a tattoo or microchip. Practice good manners and dog owner etiquette: be respectful of your neighbors and their dogs. Clean up after your dog, and control barking and behavior issues.

Take them to some basic training and help them be a responsible member of your family. A trained dog is a happy dog.

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