Purebred dogs are found in an impressive variety of sizes, shapes, colors, and personalities. Some breeds are old, others are new, and all have been molded over time to serve humanity in some capacity. Thus we have hunters, guards, trackers, shepherds, sled dogs, and above all, companions. We have energetic dogs, sedate dogs, extroverted dogs, and those that prefer the fellowship of one or a few familiar faces.
Choosing the purebred dog that’s right for you requires some work. There is no substitute for making a careful study of each breed’s characteristics and narrowing down the field until you are left with the one that best suits your temperament, lifestyle, accommodations, and taste. Unfortunately, many people purchase their puppy on impulse, without pausing to consider its eventual size, appearance, and personality—traits that are well established and largely predetermined by breed. Before you buy any puppy, be sure you fully understand what the future holds in store. Will the adult dog be large or require extensive grooming? Is it likely to need lots of outdoor exercise? Don’t forget to ask yourself whether its temperament will be appropriate for your family, especially the children.
Once you’ve decided what pleases you in a dog, turn to the section of this book that describes each breed with a photograph, a historical account, and the official AKC standard. The all-important standard is a detailed description of the ideal breed specimen. For example, if you are interested in Labrador Retrievers, the standard describes color (yellow, black, and chocolate), size (sixty-five to seventy pounds at maturity for males), and general temperament (kind, outgoing). The breed history explains why Labrador Retrievers have a special affinity for water. Additionally, the photograph shows you a typical dog of that breed—handsome, strongly built, shorthaired, and alert.
A visit to one or more dog shows, companion events, or field trials is very helpful when selecting a breed. These events offer an opportunity to compare good representatives of various breeds, and you will also be able to talk with breeders, owners, and handlers. Other options include visiting kennels to interact with puppies and adult dogs and to discuss them with a knowledgeable breeder. It is also helpful to ask the advice of a veterinarian.
A fundamental decision is which sex you plan to buy. Males are typically larger than females. For this reason, some people prefer to own a bitch. On the other hand, a bitch that has not been spayed will come into season approximately twice each year, at which time you must take measures to isolate her from males and prevent staining in your home. If you do not expect to breed or exhibit your dog at shows, we recommend having it spayed or neutered. These procedures do not change a dog’s personality, but they can help preserve its health.
Another major consideration in choosing a breed is what you envision doing with the dog. If you anticipate entering it in shows or field trials someday, or if you plan to breed, the pedigree of the puppy you select takes on greater significance and you should learn as much as possible about the dog’s ancestry.
Today some people want to own a good watchdog. Certain breeds were specifically bred to guard their owner’s home and property, but in fact, most dogs naturally bark at unusual sights or sounds. If, however, you want a specially trained guard or apprehension dog, such as those used for police work, be aware that a dog trained to this extent is safe only in the custody of a person who is equally well trained.
Once you’ve decided on the right breed, you should make every attempt to find the right breeder, someone you can communicate with and trust. The right breeder will advise you on your choice (perhaps even point you in another direction) and will guide you through the selection process. The breeder will also continue to provide information and support as your dog matures, and should be able to answer your questions and address your concerns about issues such as housebreaking, leash training, grooming, and feeding. Someday this same person may guide you through your first effort at whelping or applaud your dog’s first venture in the show ring.
How do you find a quality breeder? By attending dog events, reading breed publications, contacting local breed clubs and veterinarians, asking other owners for recommendations, and visiting the “Breeder Referral” page at akc.org. If you call a breeder for information and discover you are answering as many questions as you ask, that’s probably a good sign. Responsible breeders screen buyers very carefully because they want to ensure that their puppies go to suitable homes.
Many puppies are sent to their new homes when they are about eight weeks old. The minimum age is six weeks. Your puppy should be fully weaned, appear healthy and alert, and be clearly ready for independence from its mother. Do not select a puppy that appears ill (signs include nasal discharge or watery eyes) or one whose littermates seem unhealthy. A cowering, trembling, shy puppy, or one that seems snappy and bad-tempered, should be avoided. As soon as possible, bring the new puppy to your own veterinarian for a complete physical examination and any necessary inoculations or dewormings.
THE AKC AND REGISTRATION
Registering a Litter
A litter is eligible for registration if it is the result of a mating between an AKC-REGISTERED sire (male) and an AKC-registered dam (female) of the same breed, and if it is whelped (born) in the United States or its possessions or territories (Puerto Rico, Virgin Islands, Guam, and the Mariana Islands).
To register a litter, the litter owner should complete an AKC Litter Registration Application.
The application requires basic information such as the date of birth, number of males and females born, and the registered names and numbers of the sire and dam. The application must be signed by all the owners and co-owners of the dam and by one owner of the sire. Failure to complete the application properly will result in processing delays.
Processing fees are nonrefundable, and all fees are subject to change without notice.
When completed, the application should be submitted to the AKC with the proper fee. Applications can be mailed. You can also register your litter online at akc.org. The AKC will mail the litter owner a “litter kit.” The litter kit will include an individual registration application for each puppy in the litter, as well as a form for record keeping. The litter owner should examine the kit thoroughly for errors before issuing the papers to puppy buyers.
Each person or firm who owns, breeds, or sells dogs that are AKC registrable must keep accurate, up-to-date records of all transactions involving these dogs. There must be no doubt as to the identity of any individual dog or as to the parentage of a particular dog or litter.
The AKC recommends commonsense practices for those who regularly have multiple dogs or litters on their premises, including:
Permanent identification of each dog, with tattoos, microchips, marking, or tagging.
Isolation of bitches in season.
Segregation of litters whelped near the same date.
The AKC requires that the owner of an AKC-registered dog maintain the following information on the dog:
Registered name and number (or litter number if not registered).
Sex, color, and markings.
Date of birth.
Names and numbers of sire and dam.
Name of breeder.
Name and address of person from whom directly acquired.
Date of acquisition.
Date and duration of lease, if any.
The owner of a dog that is bred must record:
Date and place of mating.
Names of persons handling mating.
Registered name and number of dog to which mated.
Name and address of its owner.
The owner of a litter must record:
Date of whelping.
Number of puppies whelped by sex and by color and markings.
Litter registration number.
Date of sale, gift, or death of each puppy so described.
Name and address of person acquiring each puppy so described.
Kinds of papers and date supplied.
Registered name and number of each puppy registered by breeder.
Failure to uphold proper record-keeping procedures could lead to penalties, including the suspension of AKC privileges. See the “AKC Procedures for Registration Matters” at akc.org for complete information.
Registering a Dog
A purebred dog is eligible for AKC registration if its litter has been registered. When you purchase a dog said to be AKC registrable, you should get an individual Dog Registration Application from the seller. Once the application has been completed, you should submit it to the AKC with the proper fee. You can also register a dog online at akc.org.
The Dog Registration Application must be filled out jointly by the litter owner and the new owner of the dog. The litter owner must fill out most of the application, including the following information:
Sex of dog.
Color and markings of dog.
Registration type (Full or Limited).
Name and address of all new owners and co-owners.
Signatures of all litter owners.
The new owner of the dog must fill out the following:
Name of dog.
Signatures of all owners and co-owners.
Registration options (for purchasing pedigrees and videos).
Processing fees are nonrefundable, and all fees are subject to change without notice.
Please note that each litter owner and each new owner must sign the application individually. It is crucial that all sections of the application are filled out correctly. Failure to properly complete the application will result in processing delays.
If you did not acquire the dog directly from the litter owner(s), you must include a Supplemental Transfer Statement for each intermediate transfer with the application.
When the application has been received and processed by the AKC, a Registration Certificate will be mailed to the owner. The owner should examine the certificate carefully and report any errors to the AKC.