There are three kinds of places to get dogs: breeders, animal shelters, and pet stores.

1. Breeder. You can find breeders by looking in the classified ads in your newspaper (the prices are usually pretty steep, ranging from $100 to $3000, depending on the breed and the quality of the puppies). Alternatively, you can call the American Kennel Club at 1-900-407-PUPS. The breeder reference person will put you in touch with reputable breeders in your area. Breeders are a good route because you'll get someone who knows all about your breed of dog, so if you have any questions, you'll have a new friend to ask. Also, breeders generally take very good care of their dogs. The drawback about using a breeder is the price - you can get a puppy for free at a shelter. But if you're looking for a pretty puppy that you might eventually want to breed or take to dog shows, using a breeder is the way to go.

2. Shelter. Also known as "the pound," shelters are connected with purebred rescue programs, giving you that purebred chic look combined with the satisfaction of rescuing a homeless dog. The benefit of a shelter is that 1) it's free (or really really cheap), and 2) you're saving a dog's life. The main drawback is that the dog could have some kind of personality or health problem (based on how it was treated before you got to the pound).

3. Pet stores. Here's a way NOT to get a dog. When you see those little puppies in mall pet stores, our advice is: run away. Many pet stores sell dogs from puppy mills. If you thought that the plight of veal calves was bad . . . well, you're right, it is. But puppy mills are right there with it when it comes to wholesale animal cruelty. They basically churn out puppies for pet stores, kill the ones that don't look like they'd sell well, and keep the live ones in awful living conditions.

SoYouWanna know more? Check out our full-length article SYW choose the right dog for you?