Choosing a dog: research, research and more research

So, you have decided to welcome a dog into your heart and home? How wonderful! Keeping in mind that there are hundreds of breeds of dogs to choose from as well as innumerable mixed breeds, your choice can be a wee bit perplexing. No doubt, your decision will be strongly affected by other dogs with whom you have previously shared your life and friends’ or neighbors’ dogs will also have a great influence on your current choice.

However, don’t restrict your choice because of your interactions with a few very special individual dogs. Broaden your horizons and learn about as many options as possible so you have the best possible chance for making a wise choice. Research dog breeds, mixes, and most importantly, individual dogs very carefully. After all, this is going to be a 10 or 15 year commitment to a new family member.

Before you head out the door to begin your canine search, sit down to make a list of all the things you hope for in a dog and just as importantly, all the things you have to offer. Then, compare these two lists to see if you are being realistic or if maybe you need to make some adjustments in your expectations or in your lifestyle. For example, you may admire the agility, energy and smarts of a Border Collie, but if your ‘to offer’ list doesn’t include consistent daily aerobic activity, you might be better suited to a dog with less ‘get up and go’ energy.

Once you have your list in hand, visit your local bookstore and scan a few books about breeds to get more ideas. You can also visit a local shelters and dog shows to check out a few of your favorite breeds and mixes in person. Be cautioned, however, most breed books are written in glowing terms, and most people you meet at a dog show who are involved with a particular breed may be blinded by their love for their breed.

To get a more realistic idea of how your favorite breeds or mixes are likely to turn out, it’s a great idea to go to local dog training classes and dog parks to talk to pet parents about their experiences. Both are much more revealing than reading a book about dog breeds.

Stay tuned for more about Choosing a Dog!

About Andrea Arden

Andrea can be seen on Animal Planet's shows Dogs 101, Cats 101, Pets 101, America's Cutest Dog and America's Cutest Cat. She is the author of numerous best-selling books on animal behavior and training. Andrea is thrilled to be a part of Pets for Patriots' efforts to help its members successfully adopt and share their lives with shelter pets! Read more...