Five Tips to Help You Choose the Right Dog for Your Family
Working within the pet industry over the years has exposed me to all kinds of fascinating dog breeds and crazy mutts, to say nothing of their two-legged companions. Just when I think I’ve seen every random, obscure breed out there, I stumble across an ‘Otterhound’ at the local dog-park or a ‘Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retriever ‘ retrieving gluten-free muffins on the patio of a local bakery.
For instance, I recently learned that a BUHUND is not the newest shelving system available at IKEA but actually a registered breed (herding group) with the American Kennel Club (AKC). The lesser-known 'Lab-fro-doodle,' at right, sadly was not accepted into the AKC.
How ‘bout a Pom-a-doodle, King Charles Froodle or a Pug-a-poo? A Buhund?
One of the most frequent questions I receive from friends and prospective pet parents is, "What dog breed is best for me and how do I choose the right dog?” Regardless of who is asking, I always answer their question with a question: What is your lifestyle?
Your lifestyle and ability to spend time with your pet is of the utmost importance when considering whether to even welcome a dog into your family. Herewith are five handy tips to helping you decide what type of dog is best for you if you decide to take the leap:
1) What kind of companion are you looking for?
Do you want a lounge lizard or an athlete? Forrest Gump or Einstein? Do you want quiet and reserved or outspoken? Some smaller dogs get enough exercise following you around the house while others need to get their ya-ya’s out at the dog park at least three times a day. What realistically makes the most sense for you?
2) What kind of dog personality is most appealing to you?
Are you attracted to a dog that is friendly to everyone he meets, or one that is loyal to family but aloof toward strangers? Some breeds are extremely needy (like my velcro-Vizsla) and demand a lot of attention to prevent him from becoming bored and destructive, while others are content to be left alone for periods of time during the day.
3) Do you have a high or low threshold for dog hair?
Most dogs will shed and all dogs need to be groomed regularly to stay healthy and clean. Some dogs shed profusely all year round and others shed only a little bit. Dogs with fancy trims may need professional grooming. What makes the most sense for you given your lifestyle and resources? Decide how much dog hair you're willing to put up with, and how much time and energy you can afford, when you're deciding which breed is right for you.
4) What kind of yard do you have?
Many active breeds require a fair amount of exercise and love to run free outdoors. Is your yard big enough to meet his or her needs or will you be able to take them on frequent walks or to the park? While small in stature, some little dogs still need lots of room to run around and burn off energy. Certain breeds are known for skillful digging, so you might want to keep that in mind if you have a prized garden of treasured plants in the backyard.
5) Are you a sucker or are you strict?
Are you a disciplinarian or a chump? Some breeds are more difficult to train than others and will require much more discipline and patience than other breeds. No matter the breed, all dogs need consistent training but some need more than others. Be sure to match the breed’s temperament and training needs to your level of patience and available time for training.
So that’s it! Answering these questions can help you narrow your choices in finding the best dog for your lifestyle. Please consider starting your search with your local shelters. If you are specifically looking for a purebred, many purebred puppies and dogs can often be found in shelters or through rescue organizations. For example, I found Zazou my handsome Vizsla, at right, through Southern California Vizsla Rescue. It was kismet.
Visit Petfinder.com to find the names and numbers of local rescue groups dedicated to your desired breed and good luck!