Getting a new dog or puppy is so exciting! What dog you bring into your home can make the difference between being the best decision you have ever made or being a nightmare. Many people base this huge decision on how cute the dog is, how affection it is at the first meet and greet, and how many kisses he or she gives. To know if a particular dog is right for a household, it takes a little investigating and some basic dog knowledge. I am going to give you some guidelines on how the breed of dog can work for or against your idea of the perfect pet and if it is the right dog for you and your family.
THE BREED OF DOG MAKES A BIG DIFFERENCE – LITERALLY
At birth, most puppies are within a few pounds of each other. Taking it to extremes, at 4 weeks old a Yorkshire Terrier will weigh between half a pound and a pound and a half while a Great Dane will weigh between 5-8 pounds at the same age. Sounds like a big difference, but their adult size differences are even more enormous! An adult Yorkie will weigh in at about 4-7 pounds, while the adult Great Dane will weigh in at about 100-200 pounds!
Knowing at least the basics about the breed you choose will help solve many future problems. Size is obviously one very important factor. If you have a small apartment in the city, living on the 5th floor, you probably don’t want a St. Bernard! Although a St. Bernard does not usually need a lot of exercise, you certainly wouldn’t want him using puppy pads to go to the bathroom.
There are many dog breeds between these 2 extremes. The American Kennel Club recognizes 167 breeds of dogs, while the World Canine Organization recognizes 340 breeds. So many to choose from! And they all have their own positives and negatives.
Size is not the only factor in a breed that can make a big difference between a happy home and a frustrated home. The shedding and drooling, the barking and compatibility, child friendliness and trainability, are all factors to consider in the breed you choose.
Do your research on the dog breed you are considering and take all these attributes into consideration. There are very few puppies I would not consider adorable. I melt just like anyone. But they only stay puppies such a short time. Discover what the dog will be like for the next 7-12 years to come.
DECIDE WHAT YOU EXPECT FROM YOUR DOG – KEEP IN MIND THE LIFESTYLE YOU LIVE
If you are a couch potato looking for a snuggle bug, you probably don’t want to be looking at a Jack Russell Terrier. If you love to run and hike, then a Chow Chow probably isn’t the dog for you. Choose a breed that has the energy level that fits your lifestyle. Otherwise, one of you (or both) will end up frustrated and exhausted.
Although most dogs can be trained to respect, if not outright love, strangers and guests, some breeds are notorious for being distrusting of strangers and/or aloof. If you love to socialize and throw parties and have friends over for dinner, make sure the dog you choose is going to want to be part of the party, not the party pooper.
If you already have another dog in the house or plan to get one, consider whether the breed of dog you are considering is generally a dog friendly breed. This too can be trained and managed, but it makes it easier if the sociability of the breed is already part of the DNA.
Do you have small children in the house? Some breeds are much better and tolerant than others. There are several breeds that could be dangerous to have around in a family with small children, even if it is only because of their size, not their temperament.
Some breeds do not do well with chaotic and loud environments. Others do not handle change very well. Others require a great deal more time to train or have frequent health issues that will require more frequent visits to the vet. And then there are the breeds that want to be the center of attention or require a lot of time. If you were hoping for an easy pet to just look cute and greet you when you come home, make sure the breed you choose is not from one of the dog groups that are highly active.
Have a clear idea of how you expect your dog to fit in your family, and what you expect the dog’s role will be. Make sure the breed you choose will provide you with what you are looking for.
WHERE YOU BUY THE DOG CAN AFFECT TRAINING – AMONG OTHER THINGS
How much is that doggy in the window? Many times, the cost of the dog in a pet store is much greater than the price tag assigned to it. 99% of puppies in pet stores come from puppy mills. I won’t get into a debate on puppy mills, but I will say that puppies that are born in puppy mills come with health problems that may not be seen until years down the road.
The dogs from these mills are much harder to train because of their living conditions before they were sent to the pet store, and after. These dogs spend most of their time in cages, learning to urinate and defecate where they sleep, which makes potty training a much more difficult feat than with a puppy not born in these conditions.
Find a reputable breeder, ask for references, ask if they have a return policy. Go see where the puppy is born, where it spent its first 2 months and ask to see the puppy’s parents. Make sure the conditions are sanitary and that the dogs are treated like pets, not commodities. These things will help to ensure you get a quality, healthy pet who will give you the best chances of having a new best friend.
CUTE, CUDDLY AND JUST WHAT YOU ALWAYS WANTED!
So, don’t fall for the first cute furry face you see. Get to know the dog’s history and what they were originally bred for. Buying a puppy is not like buying a house. If you don’t really love it, you can’t sell it in a few years. And when you finally choose your puppy, start the training! (That will be another post to be coming soon!)