The decision to get a dog can be equal parts exciting and nerve-wracking. It’s a huge decision that will change your life for many years, so it’s important to take the time to really think about the breed, size, energy level, and personality that would be the best fit for your family. Of course our team always recommends considering adoption whenever possible, but we still recommend putting lots of thought into the breed – or combination of breeds – that would fit into your home and lifestyle.
Some important questions to consider when looking into dog breeds are below, but remember: each dog has its own unique personality. Also, keep in mind that dogs require a huge amount of time and attention; the best, most well-behaved dogs are those whose families give them lots of attention, training, and exercise.
Should I purchase from a breeder or adopt from a rescue/shelter?
Breeders usually sell purebred dogs who are known to be more predictable, at least in terms of temperament and appearance, whereas you can’t always be certain what breed(s) a rescue dog might be. While there is some breed uncertainty with rescue dogs, they tend to be less susceptible to genetic conditions because of crossbreeding.
Do I want a puppy or an adult dog?
While puppies are adorable, they require a lot of energy. They need to be taken out to potty very regularly and need to be trained to be respectful members of the family. For many families, adopting an adult dog might be an easier option. Adult dogs also tend to have a harder time being adopted than cute, tiny puppies do. When thinking about the age of pup you’d like to adopt, there are several important things to consider:
- Do you have enough time to dedicate to raising and training a puppy?
- Is your lifestyle conducive to raising a dog?
- Do you have children?
- Do you have the means to care for an old and/or ill dog?
Which breed is right for me?
There are lots of stereotypes about dog breeds, but some are grounded in semi-truths. Visit these websites for lots of detailed breed-specific information:
- Breed Information Center (The Kennel Club, UK)
- List of Breeds by Group (The American Kennel Club)
- Breed Comparisons (The AKC)
When considering breeds, think about the following:
- Sex – Keep in mind that males tend to be bigger
- Size – Consider your lifestyle and available physical space in your home
- Temperament – Some dogs are known to have lots of energy and need a “job” whereas others are lazier couch potatoes
- Do you already have pets in your home? Never assume that dogs will easily welcome new pack members into the huddle. It’s critical that you assess the temperament of your existing pets and ask your vet to help you figure out if you really need to add another one to the mix. Owning one dog is far different than owning two. And owning two is far different than owning three or four. More dogs can equal more fun but it also increases the risk for conflict and problems.
- Hair types and grooming requirements – Some dogs shed while others do not. Consider your resources and ability to care for dogs who might need a little extra TLC in the grooming department
We could go on, and on, and on discussing dog breeds because let’s face it, dogs rule our world! But the first and most important question you should ask is: do I really have time to devote to a dog? Then, you should consider your home and lifestyle; are you really able to give a new dog the physical space and training it needs to be a respectful family member?
If the answer to both of these questions is yes, talk to your friends who have dogs and do lots of research before taking the leap. When it comes to adding a new fur baby to your family, no amount of preparation and research is too much. Ask questions, read, and do your due diligence. We promise, you won’t regret it!