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Okay, so after much thought you’ve finally decided that you—or you and your family—are ready for a dog. But how do you decide what breed is right for you? In this edition of Animal Facts, we’re going to cover the most important factors to consider when choosing your “best friend furever.”
The process of selecting a dog should begin with an analysis of your lifestyle. They say “home is where the heart is” and never will this saying be truer than when you bring your pup home. So, shouldn’t your home be just right for your four-legged little heart? Make sure the breed is a good fit for your daily activities and family, including your other pets.
If you live in an apartment, you’ll probably be more comfortable with a small breed dog. They don’t need much space to move around, so they’ll be less likely to knock over your family photos, glassware, and knick-knacks. They’re also very portable, so if you need to pick them up for whatever reason, you won’t need a back brace to do it.
Do you live in a house? Or better yet, a house with a yard? Well, if you do, you live in the perfect place for a medium to large breed dog. Big dogs need lots of room to roam, romp and rove, and a single-family home will likely have enough space inside, but a nice yard to cut loose in, is like heaven on earth for any dog.
Your activity level should also factor into your selection. If you enjoy activities like jogging, cycling, hiking or swimming, then a lap dog would not be the best choice for you. You should instead consider a dog with a high energy level, like a Dalmatian, Jack Russell, Labrador Retriever, Boxer or Beagle.
If you tend to be more sedentary, then a dog you can curl up with while enjoying a bag of cheese curls is the ideal buddy for you. A breed like the Boston Terrier, Shih Tzu, Pekingese, or Pug would be perfectly content helping you read your new novel or binge watching the latest hit T.V. series with you.
Kids and Dogs
Kids and dogs go together like peanut butter and jelly. You just have to make sure the jelly is the right flavor. In other words, there are dogs that are a better match for young children than others. Children under 10 years-old can be easily injured by large or aggressive types, and a high-strung dog that barks constantly could make them anxious, and in turn, make you anxious. On the flip side, a child younger than eight may be more likely to unintentionally hurt its canine sibling. Also, a dog that is too energetic may prove difficult for your youngster to keep up with.
Gentle, patient, yet sturdy breeds like the Border Terrier, French Bulldog, King Charles Spaniel, Havanese, and Labrador Retriever make wonderful playmates for the real ankle-biters.
Perhaps the most important thing to consider when choosing a dog is how much time you can devote to its care. Training, grooming, and exercising your canine regularly are requirements for every responsible dog owner.
A dog that is stubborn, lacks focus, or is slower to learn commands will take longer to train, and will also take up more of your time. Be sure that the amount of time you have to devote to training, coincides with the estimated amount of time it will take to get the job done. The Chow Chow, Basset Hound, Beagle, Akita, Shar Pei, and Afghan Hound are among the breeds that are notorious for being difficult to train.
If you get a long-haired breed, or one with a thick, fluffy coat but don’t have the time to bathe it or brush its coat frequently, then you’ll end up with a matted mess. The Old English Sheepdog, Komondor, Cocker Spaniel, Yorkshire Terrier, Puli—and the poster-dog for grooming, the Poodle— are among the breeds whose coats require constant maintenance.
No time for a workout? Then your dog of choice should be easygoing and have a low-to-moderate energy reserve. Live-wire types like the German Shepherd, Dalmatian, Australian Shepherd, Boxer, Weimeraner, Siberian Husky, and most Terriers need lots of exercise, attention, and something to do at all times or they will get bored—and a bored dog will find something to do…usually at your expense.
Age of the Dog
Think age is nothing but a number? Well, when it comes to the age of your new best friend, it can be a deal maker or breaker. If you want to raise your dog from a puppy, keep in mind that you will give up a significant amount of your spare time to housebreak, train, and socialize your furbaby. Be prepared to be patient…success won’t happen overnight.
Puppies may be cuter and more pliable than adult dogs, but there are several advantages to choosing a grown-up pup. Most mature dogs are accustomed to being around people and other animals and many have some degree of training, so you won’t have to devote as much time to socializing or teaching commands to your canine compadre.
There are also no surprises when you take home an adult dog—you know what you’re gonna get. While your sweet, adorable, little angel may grow up to be a mischievous, maniacal, rabble-rouser—although it’s likely to still be adorable.
When mulling over their choices, most people don’t think about giving a senior dog a “furever” home—because, well frankly, “furever” will probably only last for a few years. But if a dog with a lower energy level is more in tune with your own, forget about new tricks…get yourself an old dog.
When you adopt a senior dog, not only are you gaining a companion but you’re also saving a life. Shelters are filled with older dogs who never get adopted and are eventually euthanized. These pups still have a lot to offer someone, including affection, comfort and companionship.
That said, keep in mind that senior dogs tend to have more health issues and that means more vet bills. Even if you don’t have as much time with them as you would with a younger dog, you can make sure their quality of life is the best it can be—so, budget accordingly.
Purebred vs Mutt
Purebred pups will always be popular because each type has their own set of physical characteristics, and although every dog has its own personality, there are certain characteristics that are commonly seen in each breed. But if you love surprises, get yourself a mutt.
A mixed-breed dog is likely to possess the character traits of several different breeds and may have a more balanced personality, as well as its own unique look. As a matter of fact, the puppy that you take home may morph into an adult that looks like a completely different creature.
Mutts are also less likely to develop the major health problems that many purebred dogs do. So if you want a dog that won’t break the bank in vet bills, get yourself a Labradoodle, Havapoo, Puggle or whatever combination strikes your fancy—as long as you can create a cute crossbreed name out of it.
Puppy or senior, purebred or mutt, whatever dog you decide to get, just make sure that it fits your budget, lifestyle and personality. If you do, you’ll make the best choice for yourself, your family…and your new pooch.