Choosing Your Perfect Breed
Getting a new pooch is exciting and exhilarating, but can also be stressful, all at the same time.
On one hand you can't wait to get the fur ball home and learn all its personality quirks. (Anyone who’s had a dog knows the joy of reflecting on the memories of those first few days when everyone was first getting to know each other.)
But on the other hand, you're making a commitment to look after and share your life with a special being, a living creature who will rely on you its whole life.
And as such, this kind of commitment requires a good amount of thought and planning. But with so much to think about when looking to get a dog, it’s a little too easy to forget some essential details.
Details like what kind of dog will truly integrate smoothly into your life and home can often be put aside, replaced by an urge to pick a breed and dog which you may view as the most adorable.
While all dogs are wonderful, they're not all created equal, and the decision of what kind of dog to bring into your life is not one to be made lightly.
Straight out the gate the first key to becoming a responsible dog owner is to consider all the relevant factors to picking the right dog, to ensure that you connect with a dog that is a great fit for your home, life and for your family.
When you take your time to make the right decision from the start, you'll be rewarded with a beautiful partnership and a long and happy life together with your special pal.
Why Does the Breed Matter?
You may wonder why the breed of dog matters. While it’s true that every dog has a unique personality, it’s undeniable that different breeds have distinct characteristics.
We have bred dogs with a strong purpose in mind for hundreds of years. You won’t be able to guarantee a particular kind of pet by shopping according to breed, but you’ll definitely increase your chances of a successful match.
This advice applies to anyone getting a dog, even if you’re planning on adopting a mixed breed pet from a rescue. It’s best to educate yourself on the well-known aspects of those breeds before making the commitment.
Suggested Reading ... Top of the Dogs: 30 Popular Dog Breeds and Their Key Facts
What’s Your Home Like?
Your living environment is one of the major factors to consider when researching the ideal breed. Naturally, a larger dog will be more comfortable in a bigger home. You’ll be more comfortable, too!
But having a smaller space doesn’t mean you can’t have a large dog.
Great Danes, for example, often thrive in an apartment space. They have a low energy level, whereas a dog like a Labrador Retriever is sometimes too rambunctious for an apartment. If you have a fenced yard, that makes a smaller living environment more flexible.
Keep in mind how “busy” your home operates. If you have small children, or if people are constantly coming in and out, you’ll want a more tolerant dog. Some breeds, like Chow Chows, are frequently bothered by chaotic households.
If you live in a residential complex, you will probably look at different breeds than someone on a farm property. This can even be a legal requirement.
Townhouses and condos often have restrictions on both the number and size of accepted dogs. Rural accommodations allow for more freedom in both the size and temperament of a dog.
What’s Your Lifestyle?
Take a moment to consider your lifestyle. Your daily routine can be complemented with a suitable pet, but the wrong match will tear it apart. By noting the style of your life, you can make sure a potential dog will mesh well within it.
Some factors to consider include:
What’s Your Previous Experience with Dogs?
The basics of dog ownership and training are universal, but some breeds are just better “first-timer” pets. If you’re new or inexperienced, save yourself a headache by getting a pet with a more forgiving temperament.
Some favored “beginner” dog breeds include the Maltese, Golden Retriever, and Cavalier King Charles Spaniel.
On the other end of the spectrum, some dogs are infamously challenging to train. This doesn’t mean they are “bad” dogs. It just means you might need more advanced tools to cohabitate peacefully with them.
If you’re brand new to dogs, you may want to steer away from these tough pups. Dalmatians and Afghan Hounds are two examples of dogs that can be tricky to work with in the beginning.
How Much Time Do You Want to Spend Grooming?
Grooming might not seem like a big deal, but it can eventually take a significant toll on both your time and finances. Some dogs, such as Chihuahuas, are simple to maintain. They require a little brushing and nail-trimming, but it will not take you long.
Meanwhile, other dogs will have you going to a professional groomer regularly.
Old English Sheepdogs, for example, require consistent grooming. A more extreme example is the Puli, a Hungarian dog with a high-maintenance, corded coat. If you don’t mind spending the necessary time, these are all still tremendous pets to have.
Are You Prone to Allergies?
Speaking of hair, make sure you acknowledge your tolerance to dog hair and dander. If you didn’t grow up around dogs, spend some time with them before getting your own.
You can enlist the help of a dog-owning friend or spend some time at the local shelter. You can also visit an allergist and get a comprehensive test done. The last thing you want is to get your new pal home and discover too late that you are unbearably allergic.
People with only mild allergies can still experience the pleasure of dog ownership, especially after taking precautions. Using an air filter, frequently washing your hands, and minimizing contact with the hair/dander can all help immensely.
You can also talk to your doctor about a prescription medication to ease your symptoms during flare-ups.
If you’re prone to allergies, research the kinds of dogs that are less likely to trigger a reaction. No dog is completely hypoallergenic, but many breeds are better suited to allergy sufferers. Poodles and Poodle crosses are probably the most well-known examples.