yourpurebredpuppy logo

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

By Michele Welton, Dog Trainer, Breed Selection Consultant, Author of 15 Dog Books

I just got a new puppy. Which pages should I read first?

  • Puppies need to learn exactly what you want them to do and don't want them to do. Start with my puppy training schedule, dog training methods that work, and respect training (which is much more important than regular obedience training.
  • Just as important as training is feeding the right dog food and getting the right vaccinations (but not too many, and not too early). What your puppy grows up eating, and whether he is over-vaccinated or not, can make a big difference in his health and longevity.
Puppies of different breeds

It's tempting to think that one's own breed is "different" from all other breeds. And in some ways (like grooming), they are. But all breeds need the same basic raising, training, and health care. I train and care for my Chihuahua in the same ways I train and care for my German Shepherd.

My dog needs obedience training – how do I find a good trainer?

The good news is that you probably don't need a trainer or a training class. Because most dogs need very little obedience training – and I've been an obedience instructor for 40 years, so I wouldn't say that if it wasn't true. The truth is that for a family pet, respect training is far more important than obedience training.

How do I housebreak my dog?

The two keys to housebreaking your dog are (1) confinement (so he can't go to the bathroom on the floor of your house) and (2) frequent or constant access to the place where you want him to go to the bathroom. Visit Housebreaking Your Puppy or Adult Dog.

Do you have any tips for fixing my dog's behavior problems?

Just one. The only one you'll ever need. You stop behavior problems – permanently – by teaching your dog what "No" means.

What's the best food to feed my dog?

Homemade dog food. Visit The Best Dog Food For Your Dog. If you can't feed homemade dog food, check out The Second-Best Dog Food For Your Dog.

I have to take my dog to the vet soon for shots. Which vaccinations does he really need?

The vaccinations that dogs need have changed dramatically. The biggest change is that yearly booster shots are no longer recommended. Sadly, most vets are not telling you the truth about this, because their income is dependent on giving lots of vaccinations. So you'll need to take charge of this yourself.

What are the pros and cons of spaying and neutering, and when should it be done?

Spaying a female and neutering a male are often recommended far too early in the dog's life. This can lead to health problems later in life.

My vet doesn't agree with some of your opinions.

Ah, but they're not my opinions. They're the opinions of other veterinarians and veterinary immunologists who hold the same licensed credentials as your vet.

You see, there are two veterinary medical associations in the United States, each with different philosophies about a lot of canine care issues. The recommendations on my website come from one of those veterinary associations. If your vet disagrees with them, it's a pretty sure bet that he belongs to the other association.

As our dog's guardians, it's up to us to look at those two philosophies and choose our veterinarian based on the health care philosophy he follows. That one decision can make all the difference in your dog's future health and well-being.

I don't have a dog yet. How do I choose the right breed for my family?

Ah, that's a tough one. Occasionally I accept new clients for my personalized Breed Selection Service. But currently those slots are completely full, with a long waiting list. And with a new book project waiting in the wings, I'm afraid I can't accept new names for the list.

What about all those so-called breed selector quizzes on the internet? Sorry to say, but I've never seen one that's worth a darn. The questions are useless, and the list of "matching" breeds is often silly. One quiz told me that if I wanted a light- to average-shedding breed, I should consider a.... German Shepherd. Yes. A breed that sheds constantly and heavily. Just come take a peek at the upholstery in my living room.

Laughing-crying emoji face

So where should you start? Dog Breed Reviews breaks down 180 breeds into sizes from tiny to giant, so if you already know what size dog you're interested in, you might start there.

If you're not sure about size, or grooming, or shedding, Dog Breed Traits will give you some tips.

If you're wondering whether a purebred, crossbred, or mixed breed might be best, start with The Truth About Purebred Dogs and then go on to The Truth About Crossbred Dogs and The Truth About Mixed Breed Dogs

Do male dogs or female dogs make better pets?

Ah, let the debate begin! Honestly, male dogs have pros and cons, and female dogs have pros and cons. Find out what those pros and cons are: Male Dogs vs Female Dogs

If I just want a dog for a pet, not for showing or breeding, does it matter whether he has AKC registration papers?

First you need to know what registration papers really mean – and more importantly, what they don't mean. You might think you know, but you might be wrong! Find out the truth about AKC Registered Puppies: Are AKC Papers Important?.

There's an adorable puppy at the pet shop. The store manager assures me they only buy from responsible breeders. Could this be true?

No. There are NO responsible breeders – none whatsoever – who would ever place one of their puppies in a pet shop for resale. If you were thinking about looking for a puppy at your local pet store, this might be a downer of an article, but it sure might make you change your mind: Pet Shop Puppies: Buying a Puppy From a Pet Store.

How do I find a good breeder?

It's hard! The sad truth is that the majority of people offering puppies for sale should never have allowed their dogs to have a litter. These unknowledgeable and irresponsible people are to blame for most of the poor, unwanted dogs in our animal shelters. Learn more about breeders here: Dog Breeders: How To Find a Good Breeder.

How do I pick the best puppy from a litter?

You can do puppy personality tests. Visit How To Choose a Good Puppy.

I'm interested in adopting a dog rather than buying from a dog breeder. How do I find dogs for adoption?

You can find dogs available for adoption from dog rescue groups or from the animal shelter. Visit Adopting a Dog From Rescue and Adopting a Dog From The Animal Shelter.

I have a question about dogs that I don't see answered on your web site.

It's probably answered in one of my books!

Michele Welton with BuffyAbout the author: Michele Welton has over 40 years of experience as a Dog Trainer, Dog Breed Consultant, and founder of three Dog Training Centers. An expert researcher and author of 15 books about dogs, she loves helping people choose, train, and care for their dogs.