Choosing a dog breed can be difficult! The easy solution? Read this how-to!
Consider whether you should really get a dog. Dogs are a huge commitment – for ten to sixteen years of your life, you’ll be caring for this animal. If you’re underage, ask your parents if they’ll be okay with paying for vet and food bills – you can’t afford it yourself! If you’re older, remember that the costs of caring for a dog can climb very quickly with little encouragement.
Evaluate your lifestyle. Are you busy, and always on-the-go? A energetic breed like a Irish Setter or German Shepherd would fit. Or do you like to sofa surf? Perhaps a English Bulldog or English Mastiff would like to join you. Are you looking for a guard dog? A Pit Bull isn’t going to fit the bill, as when treated well they’re very friendly with people. Do you have multiple dogs? Maybe that Chow Chow wouldn’t fit in that well. Research breeds and their needs on dogbreedinfo.com.
Pick a dog whose needs you can keep up with. Sure, that Standard Poodle’s gorgeous, but his coat will cost up to a few hundred to groom professionally. And, even if you do like to laze, an English Mastiff won’t fit the bill if you can’t afford all the food. German Shepherds might look good, but they need at least two hours of exercise a day. Did you know that white Boxers tend to go blind, and could you care for a blind dog?
Research dogs and their care thoroughly. You can find information from websites (akc.org, dogbreedinfo.com), books (‘The Art of Raising a Puppy’ and ‘How to Be Your Dog’s Best Friend’ by the Monks of New Skete), TV shows (Dogs 101, The Dog Whisperer), and experienced dog owners.
Think about what size dog your family can handle. If you have small children, you probably shouldn’t pick a breed such as a Great Dane or Irish Wolfhound. For small children, a medium-sized dog would be best. If you have older, mature children, you may be able to work with a small dog. If you don’t have children, then focus on your needs – and your significant other’s if you have a boyfriend/girlfriend or husband/wife.
Decide the desired approximate size and activity level of your ideal dog. If your family is active, getting out of the house and going on family outings every weekend, then you should look at dogs that have a high activity level, like Australian Shepherds or Border Collies. What if you have a laid-back lifestyle, and you like to relax at home and watch TV? In that case, then you should consider a more mellow breed of dog, like a Bulldog or Basset Hound. Another breed that requires very little activity is the Chihuahua, but do be careful as they do not do well with small children.
Decide what type of temperament to look for in a dog. If you have children, you definitely need to look at only the breeds that are good with kids, meaning they don’t tend to snap, bite, nip, etc. If you have other pets, you may want to look at breeds that are good with other animals as well. You probably wouldn’t want a one-person-dog either if you have pets or children, since they only stick to one person, and don’t take well to other animals and/or children – usually. Thoroughly look through the breeds and evaluate their temperaments to make sure you choose the best possible one. Now, every dog is different, so the temperaments that are described for each breed are in general, that doesn’t mean every single dog of that breed acts in that way.
Remember never, under any circumstances, to rush into a decision. You don’t want to learn that English Bulldogs are one of the most unhealthy breeds of all after you’ve bought that cute puppy at the pet store. Talk with a responsible breeder who can help you and provide you with a puppy, or visit a shelter a few times and see if the right dog for you comes along. Don’t be afraid to ask questions!
Enjoy your dog! I wish you and your Labrador Retriever, Irish Setter, English Bulldog, Old English Mastiff, Beagle, American Pit Bull Terrier, Bichon Frise, Miniature Schnauzer, Australian Cattle Dog, Keeshond, Greyhound, or other dog breed the best of luck!