Finding the Right Match
Bella with her new owner Jennifer. Bella was rescued from the North Central Animal Shelter with mange
Now that you are certain that you are ready to open your home and heart to a new dog, it is time to carefully choose the right dog for you and your family. You will want to choose a dog with characteristics that match your personal preferences and lifestyle. Every dog is different in terms of feeding, behavior, energy level, cost, housing and demands on your time. When you know what you’re getting into, you are more likely to have a happy dog, a good relationship with your dog, and an easier time dealing with any challenges that may arise.
A few things to consider...
Do you want a dog that is active, or subdued? A dog that is easily trained or strong-willed? A friendly dog who loves everyone he meets? Or one that is loyal to family but aloof to strangers? Do you have the time to give to a dog that needs lots of attention and activity? Or would a dog that is content to be left alone for periods of time during the day be a better match for you?
Are you looking for a jogging partner, or a lap dog to snuggle with on the couch? Active, tireless breeds, such as the australian shepherd, border collie or dalmatian, do best with active, outdoor loving people. If you are a contented couch potato, or have health issues that limit how active and athletic you can be, you do not want a high energy, athletic dog.
Puppy vs. Adult Dog
Adopting a puppy requires a huge commitment. Puppies must be housebroken, your home must be puppy-proofed, and they cannot be left alone for any extended period of time. They will also need plenty of time outdoors, not only for potty time but also to let go of all that puppy energy! Puppies thrive on attention, and if they do not receive enough love, attention, playtime, and socialization they can become shy and fearful.
A dog that is a bit older is usually easier to care for. Older dogs will need less time outside and they are past the teething, chewing, and destructive stage. In addition, older dogs may know some basic commands and/or have been through obedience training. They may also be housebroken, and will generally have slowed a bit in their energy levels.
Purebred vs. Mixed Breed
Did you know that 25% of all the dogs coming from animal shelters are purebred? It will help you to learn which breeds have the traits that you are looking for. Although you cannot exactly predict the personality, temperament and trainability of any given dog, you can predict what is typical of that breed. When you adopt a mixed breed, you can enjoy the combined traits of two (or more) breeds. Mixed breed dogs tend to live longer, healthier lives than purebred dogs. Purebred dogs are often more susceptible to genetic health problems because of the over-breeding that can occur.
Knowing the traits of the breeds involved can help you determine if this dog will fit your lifestyle. For breed information, you can check out Next Day Pets. Or, you can take a customized dog breed selector quiz.
Long Hair vs. Short Hair
If you love big, shaggy dogs, do you have extra time for daily grooming? All dogs need some regular grooming like brushing, dental care, bathing, and nail trimming to keep them comfortable and in top condition. However, the amount of grooming depends on the type of coat. If you do not have time for daily brushing and lots of grooming, you might look for a dog with a short, sleek coat.
Is anyone in your family allergic to dog hair? While no breed is completely hypoallergenic, there are several breeds that seem to cause fewer problems for people with allergies such as poodles, shih tzus, bichon frises and certain terriers.
If you live in a small apartment, a large, active, high energy dog might not be a good choice for you. On the other hand, a large inactive dog might do better in a small apartment than a smaller but boisterous canine bundle of energy. If you are renting, please check with the owners regarding dog size. Even in dog-friendly rental situations, there are often restrictions as to size of dogs allowed.
Children in the home
If you have small children, you definitely want a gentle breed with good temperament. Labs and golden retriever mixes are generally very good with children. But size is important as well. Small children (and elderly parents) can be knocked over by large, playful, friendly dogs. Many of the smaller breeds, such as chihuahuas and cocker spaniels are not usually good with small children. Smaller dogs can be intimidated by active children and tend to nip or bite out of fear.
Male vs. Female Dog
In general, there is no significant difference in temperament between male and female dogs. Neutered males and spayed females make equally good pets and loving companions.