Choosing the right dog is one of the most important decisions you will ever make as a pet parent. I have researched many dog breeds, and learned a lot about the different qualities that they share. But choosing the right dog breed for your lifestyle can be tricky. Researching dogs before getting one can help prevent sadness and frustration for both you and your dog in the future. Read on to see the steps in choosing the best dog for you. Check out my article onchoosing the right dog breed.
Step 1: See if a Dog is the Right Pet For You
Are you even sure that a dog is the right pet for you? Will you have enough time to care for one? here is an excerpt from my Dog Care Sheet, about what you must do every day to care for a dog.
Once a Day:
Feed 1-2 times
Clean food bowl
Clean water dish
Refil water dish
Walk and have play session
Take it outside when it has to go to the bathroom
Brush longhaired dogs
Every Other Day:
Brush medium haired dogs
Once a Week:
Brush short haired dogs
Once a Year:
Take to the vet for a rabies shot/checkup
Replace chewed up toys or accessories
So, as you can see, dogs take up a lot of time and cost a fair amount of money to care for every year.
Step 2: What Size?
Congratulations! If you are still reading this page you must have decided you could care for a dog and stuff! You are now on the road to getting a dog! Anyways, dogs range in size from 2-lb chihuahuas to 200 lb mastiffs. Which size would you like better? A bigger dog probably won’t live as long, you can’t pick it up, but they tend to be more active. They cost more to spay and neuter, more to feed, and need more exercise in general. Smaller dogs can be picked up, cost less to feed, live longer, but can be more snappy, less active, and easier to injure. A lot of people like medium sized dogs (30-70 lbs) like golden retrievers.
Step 3: Are You Allergic?
Before getting a dog, please visit an animal shelter or be around dogs so you can see if you are allergic to dogs. Anyone else that will bve living around the dog should also come so they can see if they are allergic. If you find that you start to cough, sneeze, or have a runny nose around dogs, there is still a way you can have a dog. Some dogs, like portuguse water dogs, poodles, and many terriers are hypoallergenic. In other words a lot of people allergic to dogs won’t be allergic to them.
Step 4: Exercise Requirements
Are you an avid jogger, or a couch potato? Keep this in mind when choosing a dog. Jack Russell Terriers, Poodles, and German Wirehaired Pointers, for example, need lots fo exercise. Spinone Italianos, Irish Wolfhounds, and Pomeranians need less. Find out the exercise requirements first.
Step 5: Purpose
Are you looking for a hunting dog, a child’s companion, or a dog nice to everyone? Below are the breed categories and the general temperament for each.
Hunting dogs like to chase, hunt, and run free. They ususally need a fair amount of exercise. They can be good with children. Golden Retrievers and Labradors are in this group, and make great family pets.
Toy dogs tend to be more snappy and fragile, but are also devoted companions that are easy to pick up and hold.
Herding dogs like Border Collies need a lot of exercise, try to herd people and children if not trained, but are active, hard working dogs in general.
Working dogs tend to be more protective, which can be good or bad. Many of them are good with children.
Hound breeds, like beagles and basset hounds, are harder to train in general, have good noses, are loving and devoted (especially to food!), and love to bark. They can also be good with children.
Terriers tend to love to hunt, chase, work, dig, bark, and are usually hard to train. They can be fun and mischeivious companions if you have a sense of humor.
Non sporting dogs are kind of the extras, so their temperaments very greatly.
Step 6: Age
Which age of dog do you want? A senior dog will be less active, more calm, altready trained, and you’ll be giving it a nice place to spend the rest of its life. But on the other side of that, you won’t get to spend as long with it, it migth be grumpier, and might hjave health problems. An adult dog will be trained, will be as big as it is going to get, be the temperament it is going to be (for better or worse), and will more calm most likely. They might have behavioral problems though. A puppy is what most people consider the cutest, they are playful, active, and you get to help shape how it will be in the future. But the downside is puppies rip up furnature and items, pee and defecate on the floor until they are potty trained, must be trained, might be unpredictabel in how big it will get, and must be spayed or neutered. An older dog might already be spayed or neutered.
Step 7: Where To Buy
Dogs from animals shelters are all ages, colors, and backgrounds. If you are looking for a senior or adult dog, a mixed breed, or want to help save an animal’s life, a shelter could be the best place.
Classifieds like Petfinder Classified and Craigslist, or newspaper classified could help you find a dog of any age, breed, and price. If you are looking for any type of dog, this is a good resource.
Breeders are good if you are interested in showing your dog, are looking for a specific breed, and want a puppy. Breeders may inbreed their dogs (cauing them health problems and behavioral issues) and be the most expensive. Watch out for puppy mills when doing this. A plus to a breeder is you know how big your dog will grow to be, it might have a health certificate, and you might be able to meet your puppy’s parents.
Pet stores that sell puppies are NEVER a good option. These puppies almost always come from puppy mills. Even Oprah Winifry speaks out about puppy mills.
Step 8: Find a Dog
Look in the classified, post a Want ad in the paper or online, or ask your local vet for good breeder references. When you find a dog, go and meet it (if you have found it though the internet). If the dog likes you and you like it, then prepare to bring home your newest family member! Check out my Dog Care Sheet for a list of supplies you shouldget before bringing home your puppy.
Step 9: Bring Home Doggie!
That wonderful time, when you get to pick your family member, has finally come! Go get your dog and enjoy your life with it, knowing you researched it first and made the right choice! 🙂 Happy Dog Owning!