How to pick the right puppy

By Vera Lawlor for (201) Family    
When picking a puppy, select a breed with characteristics that match those of your family.
NICK MESSINA/staff photographer
When picking a puppy, select a breed with characteristics that match those of your family.

Meredith Vincent was on a quest to find a new puppy for the family. She knew that to fit into her household the dog needed to be friendly with children, other dogs and cats. She also knew that since she and her husband work full time, they needed a puppy that was housebroken and could handle being home alone.

Vincent found Roxi, a 6-month-old Labrador-boxer mix, through Closter Animal Welfare Society (CLAWS). The dog was described as a hyper, excitable pup that would benefit from training

“I wasn’t worried about the characteristics because I knew those were true for all puppies and I was comfortable with the breed mix because I had grown up with these breeds,” says Vincent, a resident of Saddle Brook and mother of two children.

At the recommendation of CLAWS, the Vincent family spent the first few weeks working with a trainer. Now, almost a year later, Jillian describes Roxi as her “best friend.”

“There’s no joy in the world like a pup can bring, but with this joy comes housebreaking, chewing and a need to provide lots of training,” says Mary Burch, a certified applied animal behaviorist and director of the AKC Canine Good Citizen program.

Leanna Desheplo, board member and volunteer at CLAWS, says that Roxi found a forever home thanks to the commitment of her new family. “I think one of the biggest mistakes that families make is thinking that because a pup is so little and so cute, it will know exactly how to behave in the home,” says Desheplo. “Adding a puppy to the family can be a very rewarding experience as long as that puppy receives the necessary exercise and training.”

Once the family understands that responsibility, then the next step is to choose a breed or breed mix with characteristics that match those of the family, says Burch. 


What to consider before bringing home a new pup

Temperament: This dog is going to be part of the family for a long time, so you need to make sure that he or she has a “personality” you can live with. 

Size: Toy breeds are not a good match for small children. Young children may be too rough for the tiny breeds, and those little canines can be nippy. On the other hand, even large breeds can be small as puppies, so consider the likely size of the adult dog before picking a pup.  

Coat/Grooming Needs: Dogs need to be groomed regularly. Some dogs shed more than others. Make sure that you are comfortable with your pup’s coat type. 

Male or Female: In general, there is no significant difference in temperament between male and female dogs. If you are getting a dog for a pet, you will want to have your dog spayed or neutered, which will eliminate most minor differences anyway.

Puppy or Adult: Besides the cuteness factor, the advantage of getting a pup is that you can participate in its training and socialization every step of the way. The disadvantage is that training a puppy requires a great deal of time and patience.

Health: Some breeds may be prone to hereditary diseases or conditions. Make sure you are educated about the health considerations of your chosen breed.

Source: The American Kennel Club

Start Your Search

The American Kennel Club provides a list of 150 breeds and breed characteristics; this site also provides a list of reputable breeders through its Breeder of Merit program. To adopt a puppy, go to the Breed Recue Group section of the AKC website or visit a local shelter or rescue group.

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