You’ve decided to bring a new puppy into your life. Congratulations! You’d probably like to adopt a shelter dog, but you have your heart set on a particular breed or one of the new "designer" breed mixes. You’ve done your research and decided on the right breed for you, but you’ve heard so many horror stories about sickly and genetically defective purebred pups.

Nowhere is “buyer beware” more important than when selecting a new puppy. To help keep you from looking for love in all the wrong places, here are ten steps to success:

1) Check out shelter purebreds first. 25% of shelter dogs are purebreds that have been checked for temperament and common defects. Search on-line (by age, breed, sex and location) at or

2) Be patient! Breeders who always have pups may run mass breeding operations called puppy mills. These pups are often defective, poorly socialized and sick. The best breeders breed their dogs only once or twice a year.

3) Beware of bargains. Today’s bargain is tomorrow’s huge vet bill. Steer clear of dogs from pet stores, flea markets, street corners and Internet stores. Good breeders care more about your suitability as a “parent” than your ability to pay.

4) Meet The Parents! Meet the dog’s parents and get clues to the pup’s eventual size and temperament. Look for dogs raised indoors as family members.

5) Avoid backyard breeders. People “dabbling” in breeding have no idea what genetic problems they are passing along. Look for breeders who’ve studied the breed and are active in breed clubs. And always check references.

6) The terms “USDA inspected” and “kennel club papers” mean little. The USDA merely establishes minimum-care standards, and papers are no guarantee of quality, health or even lineage.

7) If possible, buy locally. Selecting a pup from a photo, even when accompanied by a health “guarantee,” is asking for trouble. Also, shipping dogs like cargo can cause permanent psychological damage and even risk the dog’s life.

8) Buy the happy, friendly pup, not the cute shy one.Temperament is everything, and is often indicative of health.

9) Beware “designer” mixed-breeds. Mixed breeds can benefit from “hybrid vigor” because common defects aren’t passed along from both parents. Unfortunately, unethical breeders now sell popular mixes. Remember: two sick parents don’t make a well pup. Be as careful when buying as you would when selecting a purebred.

10) Have your pup checked! You must have your dog vet checked before finalizing the purchase. No exceptions! Make sure the vet represents you, not the breeder. Research the breed and have the pup tested for common breed detects.

Save money and heartache by using your brain -- and not your just your heart -- to select a dog. You're making a commitment that could last decades and cost thousands of dollars. Remember: your dog’s very life--and your happiness--depend upon your making a good choice. Select wisely and enjoy one of the best experiences of your life.

Author's Bio: 

Jan Rasmusen authored Scared Poopless: The Straight Scoop on Dog Care, a comprehensive, fun-to-read book on holistic dog health and safety. Jan's book won national awards for the Best Health Care Book (of any kind) and Best Pet Care Book. Find free dog care videos, audios, and articles at Jan's Dog Care Info page: Sign up for her popular free e-newsletter and her information-packed blogs.