What breed of dog is right for me?
Are you scared crazy thinking about the 10-20 year commitment you are about to make by getting a dog and petrified that you are going to pick a monster instead of a blessing? Worry not, Carrie will walk you through everything you need to know about getting the right breed of dog and make you a “hero” and not a “zero”. After you get a puppy or dog check out the free Puppy Training Videos.
So, you are looking to get a dog. Before you pick the first fuzzy dog you see, it is a good idea to research different breeds to determine which one will fit best into your life. There are several things to consider when choosing a dog and this article will try to touch on most of them.
Mix Breed vs Pure Bred
1. Size: Size will play a role in many aspects of your life; how big your yard/home is, the cost of food for a big/little dog, and even the cost of crates, collars and sometimes boarding. Little dogs are obviously more portable but are less likely to scare away an intruder. Big dogs eat a lot and take up more space. You will need to consider whether or not you have a home and yard big enough for a large dog. Make sure you decide the weight range you think is best for you and begin your search for a dog using this criterion.
2. Male or female: The sex of the dog should also play a role in your decision as to what dog to get. For the most part, there is not too much difference in personality from one to the other. One difference will be the cost to spay or neuter. Males tend to be a bit cheaper to neuter and you don’t have the added risk of having a pregnant dog. However, it is still very important that you, as a responsible owner, have your dog spayed or neutered when it is of appropriate age in order to prevent unwanted litters. If you do decide to breed, sex will play a definite role in which you choose. For obvious reasons, males are easier when it comes to breeding but you will definitely have to take precautions with both sexes when a female is in heat. Males can have a tendency to mark more than females so, take that into consideration as well when deciding on which sex is best for you.
3. Health: Different breeds are prone to different diseases or hereditary problems. For example, Shar Peis usually need a surgery similar to an eyelift to help keep their eyelashes from scratching their eyes at some point during their lives. Some breeds are more prone to hip or eye problems. Drop eared dogs are usually more prone to ear infections. Research the breeds you are interested in to learn more about what that particular breed’s problems can be. Just remember, that just because you get a particular breed, it doesn’t mean that it will definitely have problems. Good breeding by a responsible breeder can often times nearly eliminate hereditary problems common to a particular breed.
4. Coat: The coat of the dog is another factor to consider when deciding what breed is best for you. Do you mind having a dog that sheds or do you insist on having a dog that doesn’t shed at all. How about grooming? Unless you plan on grooming the dog yourself, monthly trips to the groomers to have your dog trimmed can get expensive. Do you want a dog that can go camping and swimming with you? Particular breeds have coats that tend to pick up a lot of stickers or brush when out in wooded areas and some breeds have coats that are water resistant and, therefore, great for swimming. Consider your lifestyle and maintenance you are willing to put towards your dog’s coat to help you determine what breed is right for you.
5. Temperament: Temperament should be the biggest factor in determining the right breed for you. Knowing what a particular breed was bred for in the past will help you to know what their temperament and energy level may be. A herding dog, like a Border Collie, is extremely intelligent, but will require a couple hours of exercise a day. A Shih Tzu was bred to be a lap dog, so, as the dog gets older, you can anticipate a low energy dog. Some breeds do OK with the owners being gone several hours a day while other breeds will destroy the house due to boredom if not kept busy. Also, if you have children, you need to consider the breed carefully. There are several breeds that are notoriously great with children and some are not. Some breeds tend to be one person dogs while others love being with everyone. Some breeds were bred for protection and, therefore, are far more guarded around people they don’t know. Some dogs are easy to train while others tend to be more strong willed and stubborn. Research carefully, especially if you have small children, to ensure you are setting your family and your new dog up for success. Check out our temperament testing section for more information on picking the right puppy from a litter.
6. Age: The age of the dog will make a difference in the time spent with the dog, especially in the beginning. If you get a puppy, you will be getting up in the middle of the night to potty them. They will bond easily to you and you will be able to train them from the very beginning. They will go through phases of nipping, chewing, and overall silliness that is the very essence of a puppy. With an adult dog, you may be getting a dog that has already had some training but may also have some bad habits established. You will not have to deal with frequent potty breaks and an older dog has less silliness and more attention span to train behaviors. Some may even come to you potty trained, which is a huge plus. Depending on how much time you have to devote to the dog will help you make the decision on what age is best for you and your family.
7. Future plans: Depending on what your long-term goals for the dog are going to be will depend on what breed you decide on. If you have plans to compete in any dog sport, you will want to consider the breeds that excel in that particular sport. If you plan to hunt with your dog, you would not want to get a Chihuahua, for example. Some breeds do better than others in agility and obedience competitions and should be considered first if your future goals are to be highly competitive in a particular dog sport. That is not to say, however, that you couldn’t take any breed and train them to be an agility or obedience champion. I have seen several breeds not common to agility, for example, do exceptionally well and even get a championship. Overall, however, you will want to take breed into consideration if competing is your future goal.
8. Pure bred or mixed breed: Not to be forgotten are mixed breed dogs. Education on breeds in general will help you make a decision if a particular mixed breed is the right one for you. As mentioned earlier, size, coat, and temperament will all play a factor when looking at a mixed breed dog. Don’t discount a mixed breed as the perfect breed for you. Many a mixed breed has made the perfect family pet, retriever, or competition dog. The added bonus is, if you get it from a rescue, you may very well be saving its life! The one down side to a mixed breed puppy is, you can never truly tell what size he/she will end up being. At least with a pure bred dog, you will have a pretty safe weight and height range as an adult.
Remember, that even after you narrow down the hundreds of breeds to your one perfect choice, it is still important to get to know the puppy or dog before you take them home. Just because a breed standard is a certain way doesn’t mean that every puppy will be a carbon copy of that standard. There will be stubborn dogs in a willing to please breed; there will be high drive dogs in a typically low drive breed. Puppies and dogs are individuals, like us, and cannot be categorized 100% within a standard. Selecting the breed of your choice is step number one. After that, you must decide where you will get your dog from and come prepared to temperament test the dog before deciding if he/she is the one. Good luck in your search and remember that every dog needs exercise, attention, and training, no matter what the breed!