There comes a time for most families to add a four-legged friend to the household. This decision is not one to be taken lightly. Choosing the right breed of dog can be the difference between complete happiness and absolute terror in your home. I have outlined the steps I walk through prior to bringing a dog into my home and I recommend these steps to my friends and family.
A good topic to discuss first is how much hair you are willing to put up with. You are going to have to deal with your dog’s hair in some fashion. He will either shed or require grooming. It’s a time vs. money question. You can always take the middle ground, though, and find a dog that sheds minimally a couple of times a year.
The next thing to consider is how much time you have to devote to walks and playtime? Some breeds require a great deal of daily exercise. Without it, they can become very destructive. Choosing a breed with an energy level that fits your family’s time commitment can avoid a lot of behavioral problems.
Do you prefer a small or large dog? When considering the size of the dog you must really think about the cost of maintaining the dog. It costs a great deal more to feed a St. Bernard than it does a Chihuahua. Medical expenses requiring anesthesia will also be greater as physicians charge by weight. Boarding kennels and groomers may charge by weight as well. The general rule is, the larger the dog, the more expensive it will be to care for him.
What type of temperament are you looking for? If you have kids, you will want to choose a breed that has a reputation for being good with children. If you want a good watchdog, choose a breed that has a natural guard instinct.
After answering these questions, you can look through any dog breed book and start comparing the qualities you’re looking for to the breeds listed. Write down at least 5 breeds that fit your needs. The next step is to research reputable breeders in your area (I recommend calling your local veterinarian first) and make contact with at least 3 for each breed. Yes, this will take time. But it is worth it to get the right dog. Interview each breeder thoroughly and share with them your list of qualities. Ask them if they would recommend their breed to you and if so, why. If not, why not? The breeder will be the expert on their breed and can prove to be a very valuable resource.
Once you have completed your research for all breeds, you will have a much clearer picture of which breed is right for you and your family. And, you have already interviewed breeders, so you should have found at least one that you feel comfortable purchasing a dog from. If you don’t want a puppy, please consider going through a breed rescue organization or your local animal shelter. There are so many great dogs of all ages and breed type in desperate need of good homes. Your home may just be the perfect match!
I hope you find these tips helpful in your journey to finding the perfect dog. Take your time, do your research, and you will find the companion best suited for your family. Best of luck!