Is Puppy Love the Perfect Present?

This idea rates somewhere between a festive thought and famous last words. Why? Gift giving is tough, but picking a pet-present is an art form, and the holidays may not be the best time to do it. It's a hot topic on the Pets message boards this month, and according to you, it all comes down to three things:

1. Research which breed of dog will be best for your family.

"If you are looking for a purebred, make sure the breed is right for you. Don't get a Chow Chow if you want a dog that's good with all children and strangers (I know Chows that are wonderful with everyone, but as a general rule they are not good with kids.) Breeds have different characteristics for reasons. That's why we train German Shepherds and not Springers to be watchdogs. Keep this in mind when deciding on a breed." --chi.stratdogz

"Usually the best dogs are mixed breeds, and a pound or shelter is the best place to find them. I have a Terrier mix who is a wonderful dog. She's very smart and obedient, but not yappy like most Terriers." --summer710

"I don't think any dog is more outdoor than indoor, so don't worry about this when making your decision. Generally, most dogs like to play outside but come inside for love, lounging, food and sleep." --parties4u

"How about a Yorkshire Terrier? Miniature Pinschers and Chihuahuas might be snappy and irritable, but Dachshunds are good with children. They may have too much energy, but perhaps that's just what you need for a young child." --summer710

2. Know where to look.

"How about rescue adoption? We adopted a male Basset from the Basset Hound Rescue when he was 18 months old and housebroken. He had some medical problems that we took care of ASAP and now he's is my four-year-old's best friend and my eight-year-old's baby. There are tons of rescue groups around. Start by asking around." --xtratime

"Try a shelter. Puppies aren't always available, but there might be an adult dog that is perfect for you. It's at least something to think about." --chi.stratdogz

"If you go to a breeder, make sure that they're reputable and can offer a health guarantee. They should be willing to take the dog back if it doesn't work out. They should also refund your money if it develops a devastating genetic disease. (I have known far too many people who have paid hundreds for a dog only to have it die a soon after due to parvo or a genetic disease)." --nahboi

3. Above all, remember that timing is everything.

"Instead of introducing a puppy on Christmas day, make a puppy photo album and put it in a stocking with some toys. Then put some puppy food and treats under the tree for the kids. After the holidays, including January 1, take the puppy home. When the tree is down and all dangerous toys and decorations are put away, everyone will be ready for some quiet playtime with the puppy. I used to do this as a breeder, and to this day, I still get Christmas cards from owners with pictures of my puppies. It always gives me the warm fuzzies at Christmas." --willagay

"If you live in a cold climate, think about housebreaking in the snow. Having had a winter puppy, I can say that warm weather is a lot easier on everybody." --mycodyboy

"As an operations manager for an animal shelter, I can tell you that we close down for adoptions the week before Christmas. Too many of our animals are adopted as gifts (without our knowledge) only to be returned after the holidays. Animals are not disposable and should not be thought of as items that can be exchanged or returned." --chi.stratdogz

Whether your Christmas list includes puppies, purebreds or mutts, we wish you the very best of health and happiness during this holiday season. For more advice and insight on pets at any time of the year, visit the Pets message boards.

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