What Breed of Dog Should I Get?

Choosing a dog can be exciting and nerve-wracking at the same time. After all, you're committing to care for a living, breathing being who will depend on you his entire life! When choosing a new dog, so many questions run through your mind: "What kind of dog should I get?" "What's the best dog breed for me?" "Will he be a good fit with my family?"

The first step to being a responsible dog owner begins before you even bring home a dog. Thoughtfully and seriously assess your needs before making a decision, and you'll live long, happy lives together. It is a vital piece of the puzzle but merely because you pick out a breed with some qualities you desire does not automatically mean you will end up with your "perfect dog". What it does mean is that you will probably discover a breed of dog which is compatible to you and has the potential to be everything you had hoped for.

Some Questions To Ask Yourself

What size of dog breed do you favor? Size does matter but it doesn't necessarily mean that a big dog needs a big yard and a small dog breed is suited to apartment living. Some large breeds like the docile Greyhound are perfectly suited and easy to manage in a smallish yard.

Can you handle a dog that sheds heavily? Almost all dogs shed to some degree but some like Golden Retrievers, Pugs and Dalmatians are shedding machines! Unless you are prepared to allocate some dog grooming time each day you may be better off with a breed that sheds minimally.

Is it important that your dog is good with children? Do some research to discover which dog breeds are best for children - there's lots of great options.

How important is it for your dog to be well trained? Some breeds are more suited, willing and capable if you plan to get involved in advanced obedience training - does this apply to you?

Will your dog be living with other animals and dogs? Many breeds find it difficult to happily coexist with other animals, while there are some dogs that love the company of others.

What energy level should your dog have? Do you long for a dog who lounges around on the couch with you or one who continually drops a ball at your feet looking for a game? It's important for the human-dog relationship that you share a similar level of energy to your dog. Please note that energy level comes down to each individual dog rather than by breed.

Is affordability an issue for you? Think not only of the initial purchase price but also feeding, grooming and health care - with some dogs the list goes on and on....

Is it likely that your lifestyle, commitments or requirements will change drastically in the next 12-15 years? Choosing a dog breed is an important long term decision - it pays to look ahead for the wellbeing of the dog.

Will your dog be left home alone for long periods? Many dog breeds (such as Golden Retrievers and Chihuahuas) suffer badly from separation anxiety if left alone and bored for long periods. If your career demands a lot of your time you'll need to consider your choice of breed carefully - you may even want to reconsider your decision to get a dog at all.

Will your dog be an inside dog, an outside dog or a bit of both? Some breeds are simply not suited to being kept outside and it's not fair to enforce this upon them.

Will your climate present any problems to your chosen breed? Dogs that were bred for specific purposes and in one part of the world will often find it hard to climatize into other areas.

Does the breed you are interested in have any breed specific health problems? Again this is just a matter of doing some research and talking to people who would know. Common breed specific problems are hip dysplasia, various eye problems and skin conditions.

How much and what kind of exercise are you prepared to give on a daily basis? This is an important one, if you are not prepared to properly exercise your dog the dog's energy will come out in other, destructive ways. Some dogs don't require much exercise at all - they'd rather curl up with you on the couch.

Will you be able to get your chosen breed in your area? It's no good falling in love with a certain breed only to find out that you cannot source a puppy in your area.

What is your level of experience with dogs? Some dog breeds are not recommended for first time dog owners - they will walk all over you!

What was the breed originally bred for? Many breeds still retain the strong drives and instincts which they were bred for. For this reason if you enjoy having a nice and tidy flower garden you may want to avoid some of the terrier breeds (they love to dig!).

Do you suffer from any dog related allergies? Hypoallergenic dog breeds such as Poodles, Bichon Frise and the Bedlington Terrier have a decreased tendency to cause allergic reactions.

The above questions are designed to make the process of choosing a dog breed a clear and straight forward process - if answered truthfully! As soon as your new dog arrives home is the time when your hard work begings. You will be responsible for shaping his/her character and behavior habits and helping him to thrive in our human society.

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