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Choosing a Dog Breed

Dogs are as individual as people. Just as you wouldn't choose your human friends based upon their baby pictures, you shouldn't choose a canine friend based upon their cute puppy appearance. The choice of a canine companion should be based upon research into a breed's temperament and needs, and consideration of how those requirements fit into the lifestyle and personality of you and other people or animals in your household. A dog is a commitment of love, time, and money for many years and should be both a valued member of your family and included in your daily activities. Choosing the right dog for you through research and careful thought ensures that you and your new canine companion will be faithful friends in the years ahead.

Some of the most important questions to ask yourself include:

  • What is the adult size of the breed?
  • What are the space requirements, both indoor and outdoor, of the breed? If my home does not provide adequate room for outdoor exercise, am I prepared to bring my dog regularly to a location that does?
  • What is the activity level and exercise needs of the breed? Am I prepared to provide my dog with a task or activity, such as obedience, agility, or herding?
  • Do the temperament and personality of the breed match mine and fit into my lifestyle? Do I prefer an active dog or a couch potato? Do I prefer an attentive extrovert or an aloof loner?
  • What are the attention requirements and emotional needs of the breed? Can my lifestyle accommodate a dog that needs constant companionship, or would a breed that willingly accepts time alone be more suitable?
  • Do I prefer an adult dog or a puppy? Am I prepared for the additional training needs, time commitment, and cleaning that a puppy requires?
  • Does the breed have any special dietary or health concerns? Can I manage those special concerns if necessary?
  • What are the grooming requirements of the breed? How much time am I willing to commit to grooming? Will excessive shedding be a problem for me?
  • What are the training requirements of the breed? Do they match my level of skill and experience? How much time am I willing to commit to training?
  • Do I prefer a particular gender? In some breeds, the females tend to be smaller. Unless responsible breeding or conformation showing are part of your future plans, your new canine companion should be spayed or neutered. If your female dog is not spayed, are you prepared to deal with her biannual heat and ensure that she does not come into contact with unaltered male dogs during that time?
  • What are the feelings and attitude of others in your household? Are there young children in the household? Some breeds are naturally more tolerant of the attentions of energetic young children.
  • What are your plans for the time that your new canine companion must spend alone? Will he or she be in a crate? A yard? A confined area within your house? Running free?
  • What are the financial requirements of the breed? Financial requirements include veterinary bills, food, obedience and training classes, an annual dog license, toys, leashes, collars, and more.
  • How protective is the breed? Does the breed have good watchdog abilities? While some breeds have both watchdog (alerting you to the presence of strangers or potential dangers) and guardian (actively protecting home and family from a perceived threat) instincts, some may have only one or the other, and some of course have neither.
There are many sources of information available to research the attributes of the different breeds. Attending an all breed dog show will let you see, and possibly interact, with many different breeds and allow you to meet many knowledgeable breeders, owners, and other canine enthusiasts. Possible resources include:
  • Responsible and reputable breeders.
  • Local or national breed organizations.
  • All types of dog shows, including confirmation shows, obedience trials, and others.
  • Books.
  • Web sites (however it is important to remember that breed selectors on web sites are provided mainly for entertainment purposes and are not a replacement for investigation and consideration by you).
Once you believe you have narrowed down the possibilities to a few breeds, a reputable breeder of that breed should be able to talk to you and help to decide whether that breed is actually the right breed for you, and which individual dog is best suited to you and your lifestyle.
 
 

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