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Published: Oct 14, 2011

Getting a new puppy involves more than simply selecting the cutest one at the breeder or shelter. According to, potential dog owners need to consider each puppy carefully before making a final selection, as sometimes the best looking pup isn't the healthiest.

Most responsible breeders belong to the national parent club for the dogs they breed as a way to prove they take the necessary precautions to mate healthy dogs. As pure-bred dogs come from a more limited gene pool, they tend to be at a higher risk of developing health issues like hip displaysia, allergies or cancer. According to, if deciding to buy a dog from a breeder, potential owners should make sure the breeder is aware of specific health problems that can affect their breed of dog and that, when possible, appropriate screening and testing has been performed on their breeding dogs and/or puppies. It is prudent for a potential owner to inquire about the health and medical history of the breeders dogs and also ask about the breeders policy if a puppy develops a problem with a congenital or hereditary medical condition.

Once settled on a breeder, potential owners will need to assess the health concerns of the litter they view. Puppies in the litter should have healthy, shiny coats that are free of parasites and hair loss. None of the pups should be coughing, sneezing or have nasal discharge, vomiting or diarrhea. The animal's gums should be pink in color. A puppy that has noticeable breathing problems such as excessive wheezing or snorting may have health problems, so if choosing this pup, potential pet owners should make sure they are prepared to care for a puppy that may require extra medical attention from a veterinarian.

Once a healthy puppy is selected, owners must start socializing them right away to ensure a well behaved puppy as well, VCA Animal Hospitals reports. The first 12 to 16 weeks are the most important time to expose the canine to new relationships and teach it about its new environment. Appropriate socialization at this time, and continuing throughout the first year of life, may help dogs from developing a fear of the unknown or from becoming timid or aggressive to people or new situations.