View Full Version : I want a dog, where do I start?
I've been sitting down with my wife and we are finally ready for the true family pet. We are after an English Bulldog. :D
Who knows where I can find a reputable breeder? We've seen many through Google, but figured someone here must have an idea on how to go about getting a dog that isn't at my local SPCA/pound. Got any good input?
That's cute, but also kind of gross, because you just know that it will drool all over the place.
Yeah, I could never get a baby.
I would suggest shelters, always shelters, and go for something that is not a full pure breed. Although I don't share your love of bulldogs that advice applies to all dogs. Any pure breed is prone to weaknesses both with regards to illness and also physical deficiencies. They are also likely to have worse temperaments than something which is either 99% pure or a full on mongrel.
Personally if you want a dog which will behave well with kids, among other great character traits, I would avoid bulldogs, Old English sheepdogs etc. and go for Labradors / Retrievers and the like. :)
Price alone seems to be heading us in the direction of something not pure. I had no idea they could cost so much. We don't want papers and we don't care to breed either. There is one for sale locally, but it's a female and we want a male instead.
Everything we've read about the temperament of the Bulldog has been great with kids. This is actually one of the reasons we are looking at one. Plus, how an you not like the look of one of those dogs? Any dog designed to bit the nose of a bull is pretty cool really. :)
We are ok with a Lab or Retriever, but not really interested in one right now. The smaller size of the Bulldog seems better suited for our current kids etc.
Am I the only one who thought it a bit weird finding this under "Purchasing Advice" :)
Price alone seems to be heading us in the direction of something not pure. I had no idea they could cost so much. We don't want papers and we don't care to breed either. There is one for sale locally, but it's a female and we want a male instead.
Purebred dogs are expensive in general, but "specialty" breeds are even worse. An English or French bulldog or a Chinese crested can go for well over $1,000 in my area, and that's if you buy from a breeder. God help you if you're buying with pet store markup added on.
The only way you're getting a purebred dog cheaply is to buy from a rescue shelter, but a rescue dog takes a special kind of person. I personally wouldn't have a rescue around my kids either, but that's just me. I've heard others say the opposite plenty of times.
If you want a smaller, purebred dog, I'd recommend a beagle. Just be aware that they don't really listen to what you say, and they will never be fully house trained. But they are the most sweet and fun dogs out there, IMO, not to mention the absolute cutest! And even though they're a purebred, they have generally have excellent health.
I miss my beagle...
Labs and retrievers have a lot of health problems, which is really unfortunate because they're wonderful breeds.
I'd also look at a local shelter for a dog. I see more and more mixed-bred dogs in our neighborhood, and most of them seem to have excellent temperaments and they're cute as hell (there seem to be a lot of the that are part beagle, so I'm biased ;) ).
If you or your wife haven't been the primary care-givers for one before, make sure you research what owning a dog is all about before you take the plunge. They're a lot of fun and they're great companions, but they're a fair bit of work as well.
Edit: Of there's anything cuter than a pocket beagle, I don't want to know about it.
my sister has two english bulldogs that she bought from a breeder. the issue with not going with a breeder is you might lose vital information about litter/parent health that could go a long way to preventing untimely death. my sister's younger bulldog has multiple medical issues that have been able to be dealt with before becoming serious since she is in contact with the owner of the mother who is in contact with the rest of the owners...
But non-pure breeds have less genetic flaws...
Best. Chewtoy. EVER!
I'm a fan of mixes myself - my brother has had three pure-bred, papered Bernese Mtn dogs, and... well... let's just say they pay more in vet bills *every month* than I do in medical bills for my spouse and I *in a year*. The first one died from pervasive cancer at the age of 4, and the other two have been really medically screwed up. Nice dogs, but holy cow. Pure-bred = genetically fucked, IMO.
I'd much rather have either a mutt, or a breed closer to wild, such as a Carolina Yellow Dog (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Carolina_Dog). Many less medical issues.
I've heard of people even buying pet insurance. Yeah.
*dies from cute overload*
I'm ok with a mixed breed. I have to say though that I'm loving the body and head on bulldogs. If I can find one that is mixed and that body style I'm all for it.
My wife and I have had pets before, this won't be our first time. It will be the first time with kids too though. I'm pretty sure the kids will be ok with the dog, just need to be sure the dog is ok with the kids.
This is our biggest concern with a "used" dog is that it will have more issues then we need to deal with. What if it's fine at the pound but it can't take the kids more than 30 minutes at a time? Sure I could return it, but I don't think that I would want to put the kids through that, let alone the dog.
If I can get a bulldog pup that isn't full bulldog I would love it. Now where do I find one of those too?
I've been pretty heavily involved in animal welfare recently, and your best option is to adopt a dog either from a shelter or if you want a specific breed, from a breed-specific rescue group.
The pet overpopulation problem in the US is causing literally millions of dogs to be euthanized every year. By adopting from a shelter or a rescue you become part of the solution instead of the problem. If you're determined to get a specific purebred dog, find a local rescue group for that breed and adopt from them.
I was sort of in the same boat, I really wanted a Siberian Husky. When I started looking around, I found dozens of rescue groups with hundreds of huskies available for adoption. There just isn't a good enough reason to pay a breeder for a purebred dog when you can get the same purebred dog from a rescue for the cost of vet and licensing fees.
The irony is that shelters and rescues are full of purebred dogs. People don't give up their mutts to shelters nearly as often because everybody loves their mutts. :D But so many purebreds are bought from breeders by people who have no idea what they're doing with a dog, and they get sick of the dog and give them up.
The advantage of getting a dog from a rescue group is that the rescue will know all the dog's foibles, and will be able to answer any specific behavioral questions. Additionally, people who run breed specific rescues are generally very knowledgeable about the breed, and know what to look for.
If they're a good rescue, they will grill you about your living circumstances, your past history with dogs, your yard and surrounding area, etc. They will also make you sign an agreement that states that if you ever feel like you have to get rid of the dog, you will return it to that rescue group, not a shelter. That's because the good rescues truly care about every dog they have, and oftentimes that's the best place to get a dog.
And just as an FYI: if you decide to go with a breeder, and you're looking for a puppy instead of a full grown dog: You must absolutely insist on seeing the puppies WITH their mother, and don't ever meet in a "neutral location". A reputable breeder will invite you to their house to see the puppies with their mother. If they don't, they're almost definitely a backyard breeder or a puppy mill. Stay away.
I'm a fan of mixes myself - my brother has had three pure-bred, papered Bernese Mtn dogs, and... well... let's just say they pay more in vet bills *every month* than I do in medical bills for my spouse and I *in a year*. The first one died from pervasive cancer at the age of 4, and the other two have been really medically screwed up. Nice dogs, but holy cow. Pure-bred = genetically fucked, IMO
Just a note on this: That doesn't happen because of pure breeding in and of itself. That stuff happens when the dogs are bred with no regard to genetic health, and is almost always caused by inbreeding. That means that those dogs were probably bred at a puppy mill. Good breeders are very careful to give every line of dogs new DNA so those problems don't happen. Sadly, the vast majority of "purebred" dogs come from puppy mills. Some of them come from people who just "wanted puppies" and know nothing about breeding.
It comes down to research when you get a dog. If you want a purebred dog, really do the research and make sure you're buying from a reputable breeder, learn what causes genetic problems and make sure that breeder knows how to do it right. But obviously mutts aren't going to have inbreeding issues like that, and they usually make for some of the best pets anyway. But there is a right way to do purebred dogs, it's just that the majority of them aren't produced the right way.
I'm probably just ignorant but I've always thought purebred = inbred because I reasoned that in order to select ideal mate for breeding, it is desired that the lineage is most pure, and pure lineage will be scarce relative to different lineage that has some "impurity" (for lack of better term), and the chance are that the pure lineage will be the same lineage the mate is, thus inbreeding.
A pure breed only has so much genetic differentiation - by definition, the idea is to reduce that differentiation down as much as possible to produce 'the perfect' specimen.
Yes, reputable breeders will attempt to mix it up a bit, but you're talking about 'mixing it up' within a very very small genetic pool to begin with. :\
The ones that are intended to be mixer generations, ie, *not* conform to the core characteristics of the breed, will be less desirable for people looking for a 'pure-bred'... they're a little mutty. They'll be a lot cheaper, most likely, but again, not a pure-bred by most purists purely pure definitions. :)
In which case, I say... go for a mutt, and widen the genetic pool. ;)
So now I need to find a rescue group for bulldogs then. I'm totally cool with a mutt too, but where do I find one? This is going to be the hard part. I think I'll start to call local shelters etc and see what they have in the way of what I'm looking for.
The point is that breeders who know what they're doing don't end up with dogs that have all kinds of medical issues. The specific width of the pool is irrelevant as long as the breeder knows how far outside the specific lineage they need to go to prevent problems.
I wouldn't say they're a little mutty really. They're the same breed, you can even breed two purebred champions together and get perfectly healthy dogs out of it. The two you breed together just can't be too closely related is all, and that's where the breeder's expertise comes in.
I'll always suggest rescues anyway, but if you want to buy from a breeder it's definitely possible to find one who knows what they're doing so you don't have those kinds of problems.
Turtle, as far as bulldog rescues here's a starting point:
Just scroll down to Virginia.
Here are some more:
Great links. Thank you. We are looking through them right now. Adopt-a-pet seems to have the best selection right now for us.
If you are willing to consider a Frenchie, which I prefer, check out this organization.
Those sure are cute, but not as cute as an English one if you asked me! :)
I saw other people have mentioned it, but just to drive the point home, I wouldn't even consider any other dogs until you go to your local animal rescue shelter and check out what they have. At least the local animal shelter around here (the humane league) give me a coupon for free vaccinations, spayed kitty, and put a free chip in her. In addition to that, you are giving an animal in need a good home and aiding in the rescue of other animals by giving them room in the shelter to be cared for.
Yeah, we are going to be checking out the pound/SPCA in our area. Heck, we've looked through all the web based ones and we haven't found anything that fits us.
It can take a while, but keep looking. It took me around 2-3 weeks to find Rex, and even that was a pretty short period of time to find just the right dog. You can try spreading the net around to a larger area too, a lot of good rescues are usually willing to meet you somewhere halfway if it means the dog gets adopted to a good home.
I'm a final year vet student, and I have a few things to add if you're interested.
1) English bull dogs are one of the most screwed up breeds on the planet. What has been done to them from a genetic point of view should be criminal. They have a ton of health problems (the biggest ones being respiratory and skin related).
2) If you insist on a purebreed, I would contact every dealer you can get in touch with. Talk to the American Kennel Club to get a list of breeders, then check references. If you have a vet you trust, ask the vet for advice regarding medical history. Any good breeder will give you a full medical history of the pedigree, and a breeder who is not forthcoming is one who should be avoided.
3) I'm in the minority on this issue, but I'm in favor of buying a puppy from a good breeder rather than adopting from a rescue organization. If you get a puppy, you bond with the dog better, and you can train the dog from an earlier age. You can also better socialize the dog to your environment. Also, I hate to say it, but rescue organizations are one of the reasons that so many dogs are abandoned in the first place. People who have no business owning a pet get a dog knowing that they can always pawn the dog off on someone else if the going gets tough. If people who abandoned dogs had to euthanize their pets instead, I guarantee you they would think harder about getting a dog in the first place. Rescue organizations are safety nets that help people justify to themselves that abandoning their pet is ok.
Actually, you're thinking of shelters, not rescue organizations. Rescue groups are the ones pulling abandoned dogs from shelters before they're euthanized. Your reasoning also doesn't make much sense. If somebody gets a dog and then decides they don't want it, why would the existence of shelters or rescue groups make any difference? If there were no shelters, then people would leave their dogs out in the middle of nowhere to die instead. Or shoot them. Or leave them chained up in the back yard with no food or water.
As far as the argument about rescuing vs. buying from a good breeder, there are three scenarios:
1. You buy from a breeder, then decide you don't want the dog, it goes to the shelter and you are directly contributing to the pet overpopulation problem.
2. You buy from a breeder and you love your dog and keep him, then you are neither contributing to the problem nor helping to solve it.
3. You adopt a dog from a rescue group, and you are now helping to solve the problem.
This is why I recommend rescuing over buying from a breeder, while at the same time holding the belief that buying a puppy from a good, reputable breeder is a perfectly acceptable option.
Rescue groups are safety nets for the dogs, not for irresponsible owners. The truth is that we can't make people into better pet owners. There will always be a massive number of people who have no business owning a dog or any pet. In response, there are those of us who believe the pets are not to blame and will do what we can to save their lives. We don't like irresponsible owners either, but without the option to force them to educate themselves about pet ownership, all we can do, realistically, is try to save as many animals as we can.
The pet overpopulation problem is absolutely massive in the US. An estimated 10 million dogs and cats are euthanized every single year. There are so many dogs and cats in shelters and rescue groups that desperately need homes that it seems borderline irresponsible to recommend not getting a pet from a rescue group or a shelter, keeping in mind that any halfway decent rescue group will have experience both with the specific breed and with the specific dog you're looking at, and will be able to tell you up front about any potential issues.
The biggest contributors to the problem though, are puppy mills and backyard breeders. I think we can probably all agree that nobody should ever buy a dog from a mill or a backyard breeder; or specifically, from a pet store since puppy mills are where they usually get their dogs. Consequently, those dogs are the ones that tend to have the most problems, behaviorally and physically - and worse, by buying a dog at a pet store, you are indirectly funding the continuing operation of the puppy mill they got the dog from.
So I don't see the logic in recommending against getting a dog from a rescue group, if your argument is that rescue groups are only supporting bad owners. Quite the opposite, not only do rescue groups not support bad owners and will actually refuse to adopt dogs out to potential bad owners, but the rescue groups are the ones keeping the dogs alive so they can be rehomed to people who will actually care for them.
If you want an example, my application to adopt my dog Rex from a rescue group was almost denied. Not because they thought I was a bad owner per se, but because I live in Las Vegas and I had applied to adopt a Siberian Husky, which is a cold weather dog. Even though I had explained to them that Rex would be inside in the A/C all day and would be able to go in and out through a dog door as he pleased, they still almost voted against it. Why?
Because most rescue groups care about their animals. I was allowed to adopt Rex by a vote of 3 to 2, and I had to sign paperwork that states that if I need to give him up for any reason, I am legally compelled to bring him back to the rescue. Not a shelter, and not a friend - the rescue. Additionally, he is microchipped to the rescue, not to me. If he ever gets lost, whoever scans his chip will call the rescue first, and not me.
Any good rescue will scrutinize you, your home and your family before adopting a dog out to you, specifically because they are in the business of solving the homeless pet problem and are going to some pretty good lengths to make sure they're not contributing to it. And as a potential adopter, it is in your best interest for a rescue group to scrutinize you like that. It's better for you, for them, and for the dog.
And that is why I always recommend rescue groups if you want a dog or cat.
Amen on rescue. I've had four pets, 2 cats and 2 dogs. The first dog we had to give up because six months after we got him my mom's health took a critical and sharp decline and she was hospitalized for over six months; not a condition in which one could keep a pet (since I was what, 5 at the time? no way could I take care of a full grown Lab.) But both my cats were shelter adoptees, although I did get them as kittens, and my Beagle was an 8 year old shelter puppy. None of us could stand the idea of getting an animal anywhere not from a shelter, with the overpopulation and unwanted problem as bad as it is.
Hey, I said I was in the minority regarding adoption from shelters/rescue. :)
Here are the arguments against adoption:
1) you have no idea about medical history. Contrary to popular belief, mutts do get sick, and they can have congenital problems. To be fair, they are more likely to be healthy than a purebred dog as far as genetic conditions go.
2) you have no idea about behavioral history. The best way to determine how your dog is going to behave is to meet the parents. Can't usually do that in a rescue/shelter dog.
2a) you have no idea if your dog has a history of abuse/trauma. This isn't always the case (especially when dealing with rescue animals), but it is most often the case
3) unless you get the dog as a puppy, you've missed the most important socialization/bonding phase of growth.
If you want to adopt, more power to you. I know some great animals that have come from rescue groups and shelters. But you also have to realize that you are rolling the dice when it comes to adoption more so than when you buy from a good breeder.
Finally, when it comes right down to it, YOU are the one getting a pet. Don't be guilted into adoption because it's the trendy thing to do (and I'm not accusing anyone here of that). If you find a dog in a shelter that you are comfortable with, great. But if you don't, don't settle for one you don't think is perfect just so you can "save a life." That's one reason why people end up with pets they don't like.
I'm pretty sure nobody thinks adoption is the trendy thing to do. Most people get dogs from pet stores or from backyard breeders, and that is the trend that needs to stop. And a much larger reason people end up with pets they don't like is because they:
- Don't do the research on the breed
- Buy from a pet store/puppy mill and end up with a dog that has serious genetic issues then decide they don't want to deal with it
- Buy from a breeder then decide they didn't want a dog after all, or that specific dog, or that breed
Which of course is all the human's fault, not the dog's.
People who adopt from a shelter or a rescue group are generally going to be more informed because they're obviously willing to make more of an effort. It's easy to get a "purebred dog" from the guy with a box of puppies in front of 7-11, or from backyard breeders on Craigslist, or just go to the local PetSmart, but what a lot of people don't understand is that you're rolling the dice with those dogs just as much as you would be with a rescue dog, if not even more so.
Simply being more informed could save a lot of lives as well as help your chances for success when picking out a dog. As to your arguments against adoption:
1) According to HSUS, 25% of all dogs in shelters are purebred (http://www.humanesociety.org/issues/pet_overpopulation/facts/overpopulation_estimates.html), so the mutt vs. purebred argument in relation to shelter population doesn't hold up very well. In addition to that, a lot of the purebred dogs in shelters are there because they have behavioral issues or physical defects due to being inbred because they came from a puppy mill.
2) Not always true, some dogs do come with a history.
2a) Also not always true.
3) Missing that phase of the dog's life does not prevent him from bonding to you afterwards. Generally speaking it takes about 6 months for most dogs to completely integrate into a new home with new people. And if you are a good dog owner and use positive reinforcement, the dog will love you for the rest of his life. This is going to be even more likely if a dog had been abused prior to being dumped, and there is nothing like the feeling of gaining a beaten dog's trust. Those make some of the best companions you could hope for.
And by the way, I'm still not arguing against getting a dog from a good breeder, emphasis on "good". If you know how to raise a puppy correctly and you get him from a reputable breeder you will very likely have a great dog. However, I am differentiating between good breeders and everybody else - backyard breeders, puppy mills, pet stores. That said I still recommend getting a dog from either a shelter or a rescue, for two main reasons:
1. Like it or not, it is the responsible thing to do. There are literally millions of dogs being killed every year because shelters don't have room for them.
2. Because there are so many dogs in shelters and in rescue groups, the odds of finding one you like are actually fairly high. Luckily for us, we're living in the future and we have the internet to help us with that. :lol:
And to reinforce a point, rescue groups usually do have a lot of very specific info on each dog that they have. You should absolutely not stop looking until you find what you want, but don't be scared off by thinking rescue groups are clueless about all the dogs they have. They're not. In fact most rescues pay for full medical workups on each dog that they have, in addition to whatever history comes with the dog.
Finally, from a personal standpoint, I work with rescue dogs. Not all the time, but I volunteer my time when I can. I have wanted to take so many of them home it's ridiculous. Not because "it's the right thing to do", but because I LOVE them. I think people sometimes shy away from rescued dogs because maybe they see them as rejected, or damaged goods. But the fact is that with most of them, at least in my experience, all they want is a home with people who love them. And isn't that why people want a dog in the first place?
I try not to force my beliefs on people. All I really want to do is educate so people can make informed decisions. Even if all I accomplish is that you know to avoid pet stores when looking for a dog, that's good enough for me. :)
I agree with most of what you say, Xaqtly. Your point about puppy mills being terrible is spot on. We are on the same page. I just wanted to point out that there are drawbacks to adoption that people should be aware of. The more informed a potential dog owner, the better.
Most of the points for why you'd want a new puppy are the reason we lean that way. We have small kids and will be having more (I should be rabbit instead of turtle ;)). Anyway, the side issue we've seen with most of the dogs we've found though the web and local contacts are the inability for us to break a chewing habit early.
Sure all dogs chew and this bulldog breed can be pretty bad but it can be trained too. The other side of the used model is that it doesn't know our family and we don't know how it'll react with the little ones.
I love the idea of a rescue, but it'll have to be very young before it can really be viable for us. I don't want something from a puppy mill either though. I'd rather get something from a local breeder for that matter.
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