Choosing the Right Dog Breed – A Step By Step Guide
Did you know that there are several hundred dog breeds? With that large number of breeds to choose from, how do people manage to decide which breed is right for them? Luckily, you can narrow down the choices and find the right dog breed by following a few simple steps.
First, consider your available space. Do you live in an apartment? If so, you will want to rule out large dogs. Look for dogs in the Toy group, such as Yorkshire Terriers, or some of the smaller dogs in the Terrier group, like the Miniature Schnauzer.
If you have children, you will want to consider the size of your dog, as well. Very small dogs, such as Chihuahuas or Maltese, can be very delicate and are often accidentally injured by young children. On the other hand, very large dogs, such as Boxers or Saint Bernards, can be overly boisterous as puppies and can accidentally turn your child into a human bowling pin. Consider medium-sized breeds, such as Fox Terriers or Lhasa Apsos, instead.
Next, consider how much exercise you can give your dog. If you have a home with a fenced yard, your dog will be able to get some exercise on his own. However, dog breeds in the Sporting, Hound, and Herding groups are very high energy animals and you will need to have enough time to provide them with more intensive exercise. Plan to take a lot of long walks with your dog or go for a daily romp in the park. After all, these dog breeds were bred to work hard and don't do well unless they have a job to do or a way to burn off excess energy.
Finally, don't forget to consider grooming needs. Some dog breeds only need a half-hour or so of grooming a week, while others need to be groomed for an hour a day. If you are short on time, don't buy a Standard Poodle or a Maltese, unless, of course, you plan to take your dog to a groom. Breeds like Boston Terriers or Whippets are good choices for people who don't have time to do a lot of grooming.
Once you decide which breed of dog you want, you will need to consider the age of the dog. Many people opt to buy a cuddly little puppy instead of an older dog. While puppies have not developed any bad habits, it will be up to the new owner to be sure that the puppy becomes housebroken and obedience trained. Older dogs are frequently already housebroken and usually have some obedience training. They are also more likely to be less hyper and less destructive. However, they can have behavioral problems or health problems that prompted the former owner to find them a new home.
Do you want to buy a puppy? If so, you will need to find a reputable dog breeder who has a litter of the breed you are interested in. Often, a good breeder will have a waiting list for puppies. If you aren't the patient sort, you may be tempted to buy a puppy from a pet store. However, many pet store puppies come from puppy mills and have genetic health defects, bad temperaments, or other problems. It is usually safest to buy a puppy directly from the breeder.
If you are interested in an older dog, you may want to visit your local animal shelter or call a breed rescue. These groups evaluate the dogs' health and temperament before adopting them out.
Once you've narrowed down the breed choices and have decided which dog is right for you, don't get too relaxed. After all, you still have one more important decision to make, what to name your new companion!