You obviously seem to know a lot about dogs. Either you're an experienced dog owner (in the right way) or you're a trainer of some sort yourself. In any case I appreciate you putting into words I'd touched on and only hinted at but never really posted.
I second what you have to say - definitely ONLY buy from reputable breeders and look for the best qualities in your dogs regarding health, temperament, ability (physical capabilities). Sadly a lot of people purchase only based on looks and frankly that's a horrible idea. You could get a cute or great looking dog but that dog could also be carrying some horrible genetics that could lead to bad hips, bad elbows, blindness, deafness, heart disease etc. I also agree that the cost of the puppy is only a minor cost compared to what the dog will cost you over the course of its life.
I paid $1000 for my newest puppy. He came from a great bloodline on both sides of his lineage though - champions and master national champions on both sides. As such I believe he's worth it and he's proving he's worth it on a daily basis. I have a 2 year health guarantee though on him and that's easily worth the $1000. People need to be aware of the fact that not all puppies that are cute and cuddly at first glance are going to become great dogs. In choosing a puppy you need to look at it as if it were a business deal. You have to decide what traits you want in the puppy and what you want it to be like when its mature. Then look for those traits in the puppy and get the one that best fits your desires. Don't just go look at the litter and pick the one that comes to you first or catches your eye first... that is a horrible mistake many people make every time they buy a puppy. Personally I look for an outgoing temperament, energy levels, eagerness to investigate something new and a willingness to do what is asked of it.
People also make the mistake of getting a puppy just because its a puppy. Some puppies just shouldn't exist. Don't buy an obviously flawed puppy unless you want to be a wet nurse for the dog for the next 10 or more years. Again look for the positive traits in the puppies AND the parents regarding good health, good temperament etc. If its a sickly puppy and the breeder/seller is telling you that if you don't buy him/her the pup is going to die don't buy it. Its a tactic to get rid of a puppy they can't sell. If its really sick let it die... a reputable breeder would have put the puppy out of its misery already anyway rather than trying to sell a sick puppy to someone else.
Most of all if you ARE dealing with a good reputable breeder trust the breeder's assessment of the puppies. If you let them know what you're looking for they'll do their best to accommodate you. They know their future business depends on their customers' happiness. There are some that will lie to you about their puppies but they shouldn't be in the dog business anyway then. Always make sure there is a health guarantee AND don't sign any ridiculous contracts (some breeders think having ridiculous contracts regarding needing to see photos of the dog every few months, needing to have your contact info where ever you may be, demanding that you feed the dog certain foods etc.). There are plenty of great breeders out there that don't require this junk and still sell great puppies.
DO NOT skimp out on training. If you're not an experienced dog trainer I can guarantee you your results will not be on par with those of a professional trainer. You can read all the books you want but you just won't be able to replicate what a trainer can do because you don't have the experience and knowledge to do so properly. Training can cost anywhere from $1500 on up to $10,000. Choose your trainer wisely and invest your money into your dog. Remember that this training will determine how your dog will behave for the rest of its life. The other thing is once your dog is trained you have to maintain that training - in other words get out there and remind the dog what its training is. If you allow the dog to stray from its training your dog will start going downhill quickly.
If I can help you out in any way - giving advice on what to look for in trainers, advice on what to look for in a puppy etc. feel free to pm me. If you let me know where you're at I might be able to recommend some trainers for you that are in your area too.
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