Choosing a Breed
We feel that when you decide to add a dog to your family that the first major decision you need to make is what breed is best for you. As you might expect, we do promote purebred dogs. However, with that said, we should also say that many an excellent companion can be found at your local shelter.
As of September 2012, there are 175 breed recognized by AKC. In addition, there are 16 breeds currently showing in the miscellaneous class. AKC also offers Foundataion Stock Service (FSS) for another 47 rare breeds that may eventually move up to official recognition by AKC. With all these breeds, there is bound to be one that is just right for your family.
You can learn the basics about all these breeds via your computer. I recommend starting at www.akc.org to see photos and the breed standards. Next find the website of the parent club for breeds that interest you. For example, the parent club for Mastiffs is The Mastiff Club of America and their website is www.mastiff.org. The parent club websites should provide detailed information about the breed i.e., physical description, temperament, the pros and cons of the breed, health issues, club events, etc.
Next search for breeders. Contact several to ask about the breed in general. A reputable breeder should be willing to discuss the breed and invite you over to meet dogs whether or not they have puppies planned and whether or not you are ready for a puppy.
Go to a dog show in your area where you can see lots of dogs and lots of different breeds. Wait until after the dogs are judged before trying to ask questions of the owners/breeders. They are usually too busy before they show to visit. Many shows have meet the breed activities where you can talk to owners and meet their dogs.
Every puppy is an individual, but knowing their generic heritage and breed characteristics is critical in finding the right dog for you.