Ask AKC with Lisa Peterson
March 2006

All dog owners need expert advice from time to time to meet the challenges of caring for their canines. The American Kennel Club aims to provide you and your purebred dog with the help you asked for.

Dear Lisa:  I'm a 12-year-old-girl and I want to get a dog, but my dad won't let me. I've written a seven page essay on why I should own a dog but that didn't work. Any suggestions? – Pining for a Puppy in Portland

Dear Pining: Owning a dog is a big responsibility. There are many things to consider before you get a dog. The best way to convince your Dad that you are ready for a dog is to get one. A stuffed toy dog that is.

Go to a toy or department store and buy a plush dog. If you find one in a color or of a certain breed that you like even better. Then pretend that dog has the same needs as a real one. 

If your new dog is a puppy you have to take it for a potty break about every two hours for the first few weeks. Set an alarm clock for every two hours and then you'll know how much attention the pup needs just to housebreak him. Next set aside two to three times a day to feed the puppy and at least 30 minutes in the morning, midday and evening to walk the puppy. 

Save Your Pennies
Next, start saving your allowance to pay for dog food, maybe $30 per month, trips to the veterinarian for shots at least once a year, at least $200, and extra for any medical emergencies. Don't forget training classes so you and your dog can learn how to walk on a leash, come when called, sit and lie down when told, maybe $150 for an 8-week course.

Another thing you have to consider is how will the puppy go to the bathroom while you are at school and once it's an adult who will entertain it during the day? If there is no one home to care for the dog then you may have to save more money, as much as $20,  to pay a dog walker to stop at the house and let the dog out during the day.

If you can show your Dad that you took care of your "puppy" on that schedule for a whole month and saved up some of your own money for his care, then maybe your Dad will reconsider your request as you proved you have what it takes to be a responsible dog owner. 

Dear Lisa: My question regards breeding. I have a young male Beagle, about a year and a half, and I'd like to breed him with another beagle. I am told by my veterinarian, who has bred beagles extensively in the past that it is next to impossible for a breeder to accept my dog as a stud unless he were of championship quality. Now keep in mind that my objective is not to make money on this arrangement, but to allow my pet to have some measure of fullness of life and to perhaps have descendents. So how do I go about finding an interested owner of a female beagle?  – Bachelor Beagle Blues in Biloxi

Dear Bachelor: Responsible breeders choose mates for their dogs and bitches because they are trying to improve their breeding stock and create better dogs according to a written standard of the ideal Beagle.  

Breeders go to dog shows to get the expert opinion of judges. In theory, those animals that obtain their championships are given the go-ahead that their DNA should be added to their breed's gene pool. To pass along worthy traits, such as excellent temperament, sound conformation, good hunting ability along with beautiful markings and color, is what good breeding is all about.

Why Breed?
I'm curious about why you want your dog to experience a "measure of fullness of life" or to have descendants. Many times owners tend to anthropomorphize their feelings onto their pets. I doubt a neutered dog misses those hormonal urges to breed. And to breed a dog just so he can have descendants sounds more like your wish than his. 

Do yourself and your dog a favor and forget about breeding your pet. Most breeding decisions are controlled by the owner of the bitch and unless you can present a stud dog with stellar credentials, such as all his health clearances and some measure of success in the show ring such as a championship, not to mention if your dog complements the bitch and can improve upon any faults she may have, your vet is right, there isn't much you can do to entice a responsible breeder to breed to your dog.  If your heart is set on becoming a responsible breeder, then visit a dog show near you and find yourself a breeder as your mentor.  

Lisa Peterson, a long-time owner/breeder/handler of Norwegian Elkhounds, is the AKC Director of Club Communications. If you have a question, send it to Lisa at and she may select it to be answered here in Ask AKC. Due to the high volume of questions we receive we cannot offer individual responses.  

Lisa Peterson, a long-time owner/breeder/handler of Norwegian Elkhounds, is the AKC Director of Club Communications. If you have a question, send it to Lisa at and she may select it to be answered here in Ask AKC.

© 2006 The American Kennel Club, Inc.