Choosing a Dog Breed
It’s no surprise that dogs are one of the most popular pets to own. From constant companionship and unconditional love to a wagging tail and playful bark, what’s not to love? If you are contemplating adding a dog to your household, it’s an exciting adventure with many decisions to make.
Many factors go into selecting a dog, like you and your family’s lifestyle and activity level and whether or not you will adopt an older dog or a puppy. Another important factor to think about is the breed of your dog. By taking the time to do research, you can select the perfect breed for your household.
BEFORE YOU BRING A DOG HOME
Once you make the decision to get a dog, you may want to race out and adopt one right away, but it’s better to take some time and consider your options. If you live alone or with a family, it’s important to discuss your expectations.
For example, do you have the time and energy and the right tools for training a puppy? If you have small children, some breeds are more kid-friendly than others. Some breeds require extra care concerning their health, are you prepared for that? These are all essential things to consider before you bring a dog home.
HUNDREDS OF BREEDS
You may know that there are a lot of breeds to consider, but did you know that, depending on who you ask, there are over 300 dog breeds in the world? The American Kennel Club (AKC) currently recognizes 189 dog breeds while The Federation Cynologique Internationale (FCI), which is also known as The World Canine Organization, recognizes over 300 dog breeds.
Even though your options may be overwhelming, but keep in mind that some of these unique breeds are not a suitable fit for your family. The best way to go about finding the right breed is by consulting your list of expectations, needs, and wants, and go from there!
NARROWING THE SEARCH
No dog is created equal, and you will even find that many dogs within a breed are different as well. While you may have already determined that you want an active breed to fit your active lifestyle, here are some other characteristics and factors to help you narrow your search and find the perfect breed:
When selecting a breed, size may matter more than you think. Keep in mind that the size of your dog will determine how much food he or she eats, the type of toys and other accessories you’ll buy, and even the life expectancy of your pup.
A majority of small breeds have a tendency to live longer than larger breeds, but many people don’t like having a little dog underfoot. The size of your dog may even determine his or her temperament.
According to “Associations between Domestic-Dog Morphology and Behaviour Scores in theDog Mentality Assessment ” by Holly R. Stone, the smaller the breed, the higher the “unwanted” characteristics such as anxiety, attention-seeking, and fear. (This, of course, is a generalization to consider).
Temperament is one of the most important things to pay attention to when selecting a dog. Dogs are like friends, family members, and partners. We tend to get along with and feel most comfortable with people who are like ourselves; same goes for a dog. If you’re laid back, you’re probably best suited for a laid back breed.
When looking at dogs, ask the seller or animal shelter worker about the temperament of a dog. Despite the general information about the temperament of a particular breed, the people who interact with the dog on a daily basis will know his or her personality best.
Many people think they can “fix” a dog with a less-than-pleasant temperament. Sometimes, with patience and training, this can be achieved, but don’t attempt to bring a dog home in hopes of changing him or her if you can’t commit to him or her as is.
Your soon-to-be dog’s coat may be more of a determining factor than you think. Will your dog be spending a lot of time outdoors? Are you a self-proclaimed “neat freak”? Do you have a budget for frequent grooming? These are all important questions to ask yourself before selecting a dog who has a coat that sheds a lot or has long, fluffy fur that needs constant grooming.
Short-haired dogs, like Boston Terriers and Great Danes, require little grooming and the shedding is minimal. If someone in your household suffers from allergies to dogs, you may want to consider a hypoallergenic breed, but keep in mind that no dog is truly free from allergens.
All dogs require high-quality care and to live in a home that can financially provide for all needs, but some dog breeds require more specialized care than others. Although some breeds are known for certain health problems, it doesn’t mean that your dog will suffer from the same problem.
For example, if you have a German Shepard, who is at risk of Hip Dysplasia, by being aware of the possibility, you can provide joint supplements and other preventative care. Knowing about health risks can also make you more prepared if your dog starts to show signs and symptoms.
The average life expectancy for dogs is between 10 and 13 years, although many dogs of various breeds have been known to live well past a decade. The life expectancy of your dog has a lot to do with the care you give and the type of breed.
Although it’s never easy to think about losing a furry friend, don’t get too hung up on the life expectancy of a pup.
Many dog owners have their hearts set on a purebred pup, but mixed breeds or “mutts” can add just as much joy to any home. Purebred dogs typically cost more than a mixed breed dog, and mixed breeds are often in animal shelters looking for a forever home.
Just as you would when looking at a purebred, make sure you ask all the right questions (i.e. about temperament).
Bringing a dog home can be a fun and heartwarming adventure. By taking the time to make careful and mindful decisions, you will be homing a breed who is a perfect fit for you and your family.