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Wednesday, September 10, 2014

What Dog Breed is Best for Me?

So, you are thinking of getting a dog? 

On the subject of Thoughtless Thursday - I thought this should be addressed. Don't be Thoughtless when choosing a dog!

That is a huge reason why dogs end up in shelters and given up. 
People are thoughtless.
We were Dante's 3rd home before his 1st birthday. Why? 
Thoughtless people.

He had too much energy, ate too much, had separation anxiety, was an escape artist, and too hard to handle. After we rescued and adopted him all his issues went away through training, hard work, and patience because we were thoughtful and knew he was right for us.

I've heard lots of silly things regarding dogs and people who are looking to get dogs. Please do your research no matter the breed, each different breed has certain tendencies and traits and not all breeds are for all "dog owners". Even if you love dogs not every breed is going to be the best match for you and your family. Some dogs need more experienced owners than others.

Please take the time to research the perfect breed for you, recognize the commitment, evaluate your lifestyle, and make a list of what you are looking for in the "perfect" dog. Consider adopting from your local shelter, or rescue group (remember their are rescue groups for specific breeds if you want a purebred) and saving a life in need. If you want a purebred puppy from a breeder, research/contact your breeder as well as owners who have the breed you are looking at, they can help to answer any questions you may have.

Please consider older dogs, puppies aren't for everyone and older dogs often make great family pets.

Photo Attribution: Nomadic Lass

Things to consider:

*First off - Why do you want a dog?

1. How much time do you spend at home?
Not to say that working full-time is a bad thing, most of us have to in order to afford our lifestyles, families, and even pets! But this is something to think about. If you work 10 hours a day - then a puppy is probably not your best choice, they need constant socialization, exercise, and training. An older dog would be happier in your home as they do tend to sleep quite a bit, but even then breed can play a part in how well the dog will do when left unsupervised for long periods of time. If you must have a dog, and work long days then please consider doggy daycare, or a dog walker to give your pup a chance to stretch their legs.

Regular exercise, mental stimulation, and crate training to reduce anxiety and prevent destruction. Our dogs love daycare!

2. How much exercise do you currently do? 
(Don't think a new dog will get your butt out of that chair! It might for a short period of time, but this isn't true for most people. Make exercise a habit before you get a dog, and the lifestyle will stick better. Or get a less energetic breed that doesn't need you to run a marathon a day.) It's a good idea to get a dog who's energy level is equal to, or lower than your own. This way you know that your dogs personal exercise need's will be met. For example, huskies require lots of exercise! Just jogging isn't going to wear out your dog, he'll need a different activity to have his needs and exercise requirements met. Huskies were born to run...many, many miles. Think of the Iditarod.

Photo Attribution: Frank Kovalchek
3. What kind of personality do you have?
Are you a softie? Or do you have a commanding presence? For example: Mastiff's and other bully breeds require strong leadership, lots of training, socialization, and boundaries. These breeds are not for the first time dog owner. If you aren't going to do basic obedience, enforce household rules, and mentally stimulate these WORKING breeds then they can be destructive, aggressive, and anti-social. Herding, and hunting dog breeds also need lots of stimulation and exercise.
Please do your research before choosing a breed. Know their general behaviors and needs.

4. How much can you afford to spend on a dog each month?
If you are looking into getting a purebred, please once again "Do your Homework." Certain breeds are more prone to certain types of problems like food/seasonal allergies, cancer, hip dysplasia, and blindness. Can you afford to meet the needs of the animal you are adopting? Also consider the costs of food (big dogs eat more), veterinary care, city licensing, pet deposits (if you are a renter), toys/treats, dog beds, training, and things like random accidents or sickness.

Photo Attribution: Paul Roberts
5. What kind of dwelling do you live in?
Some large breeds do just fine in an apartment, Great Danes for example are lazy lugs where if you have to have your big dog would do just fine with apartment living. But other large breeds and working dogs need more room to run. Not so say you can't have a high energy breed in an apartment but depending on your work schedule it might not be the right time, you have to consider your neighbors (Will the dog bark while you are away? Become bored and destroy things?) and the area around you. Will you be able to get your dog the exercise he needs? Are their any parks nearby you can take him for exercise? You can jore, bike and have the dog run, or jog. But remember - not all dogs will get their exercise needs met through your jogging. For example: huskies were bred for pulling sleds long distance, your measly 4 mile run is not much for your husky. They need room to cut loose, play, and get tired.

Dante my boy for example - needs room to run, he has to get outside or he goes stir crazy! Last winter I got sick and stayed home, our two story house was not enough room for Dante - he became crazy, then he began to mope and become depressed because I was too sick to take him out regularly and it was too cold to leave him out for any period of time.

6. Does your city have any breed specific laws? Insurance Coverage Problems?
This topic is close to my heart because both of my pups are bullies, unfortunately for us they fall under the large and terrible umbrella term "Pit Bulls". This means we cannot move to certain cities, or even visit them with our dogs for fear of our dogs being confiscated/potentially euthanized. Just to recap: Their is no such breed as a "Pit Bull", it is simply a body description. Dog that fall in this category are: Boxers, American Pit Bull Terriers, American Bullies, American Staffordshire Terriers, Boston Terries, American Bulldogs, Cane Corso's, Dogo Argentino's, means short hair, boxy head, wide set eyes, short muzzle, muscular body.

Is this fair? No. But bully breed advocates are working to change it. In the meantime however - know where you live and where you might be moving to avoid the sad stories of owners forced to get rid of loving family members simply because of the title and misconception regarding "Pit Bulls".

Also in this category is homeowners insurance - not all insurance companies accept every breed, do your research! Some companies have breeds that they won't cover such as "pit bulls", German Shepard's, Doberman Pinscher's, Rottweilers, Dogo Argentino's, Presa Canario's, Cane Corso's, etc..

Presa Canario. Photo Attribution: ReyGladiador
7. What kind of climate do you live in?
Huskies have thick hair meant for the cold, bullies have short hair and cannot stand the cold. And if you think shaving your husky just so that you can have your cold weather breed in the desert is a good option - think again! Breeders say don't do it, you'll mess up their coats. Good hot weather breeds are Dachsunds, Grey Hounds, Danes, Terriers, and Spaniels.

Photo Attribution: Jon Hurd
8. Who will be the Primary Caretaker? Do you have, or are you planning on having kids?
Who will be the primary caretaker of your dog? In my house my husband and I try to split this as equally as possible. Keep your spouse in mind and have your whole family on board before bringing in a dog.

Are you planning on having kids? Don't forget your dog! Your pup will need to adjust to the new baby, remember you had your pup first and he still requires exercise and training even when you're tired.

How old are your children? Senior dogs can be hurt by children climbing all over them, they can also become agitated and potentially bite a small child if they are worried about being harmed. Younger and high energy breeds can be hard to slow down and knock over a small child - this also goes for certain large breeds.
All breeds should be supervised when with small children. Older kids on the other hand could better keep up with a high energy dog, or even a puppy and they can help with exercise, training, and learn responsible pet ownership.

9. Do you have other pets?
Certain breeds are more prone to prey drive than others. If you have cats or small "prey animals" like rabbits or guinea pigs then a terrier/hunting breed for example, would be a potentially disastrous choice. Remember though this is not true of all individual dogs within a breed, and younger dogs can learn to accept your smaller family pets more easily than an older dog with high prey drive.

One thing to keep in mind - squeaky toys encourage prey drive, the squeak is to your dog's ears the sound of an animal dying. Keep that in mind. Every time Fluffy chomps down on that squeaker she's killing something in her mind.
Squeaky Toys Encourage Prey Drive
Dante is an American Staffordshire Terrier, normally he would have a high prey drive however he grew up with cats so he like's them. But he will chase cats and other small animals if they run.

Ziva is an American Pit Bull Terrier, she has an incredibly high prey drive. Because she was young when we got her we were able to train her to accept our house cats as part of the family pack. But other small animals and cats she sees as "fair game", she hasn't killed anything yet but in order to keep her record clean we have to constantly be monitoring and working on her prey drive issues through training and desensitization.

Ziva guardian of the foster kitten.
10. Are you ready for the responsibility involved in a dog?
Naughty puppy!
Certain breeds can live 10+ years, when you adopt/purchase a dog you are welcoming another member into your family. Do your homework, read up or sign up for training classes with your new dog, know about behavior issues you may run into, consider if you travel often (can the dog go with you?). Do you have a back up person? Dog sitter?

Remember a new dog will need some time to adjust, be prepared for things to be eaten/destroyed during this phase and don't give up!

Photo Attribution: JD Hancock
11. Grooming Needs?
Some dogs are simply more hairy than others...need I say more? If you have a long haired breed they will require regular brushing to keep the knots out. Certain breeds have double coats, others have single coats. And some dogs you should never shave! Like Huskies, if you shave them you will damage their hair growth. Afgan Hounds although beautiful (thanks reader!) require regular brushing, and poodles need regular cuts. Are you willing to learn how to properly cut hair an do the trims yourself? If not then you'll be needing to see a regular groomer and this can get spendy.

If you've done your research and are ready to make the commitment of a full-time family member who will love you forever then Bravo! Time to find that dog!

Finding the right dog for you
Whether you choose to adopt a rescue, or purchase from a reputable breeder make sure you take your time in picking our the right dog. You want to find the right personality and energy level that best matches yours. Energy level is very important when picking out a dog.
I will cover "Choosing the Right Dog" later. In the meantime, do your research, take your time, be patient, meet lots of dogs, and have fun!

How did we pick Dante? Click here for that fun story!
How did we pick Ziva? Click here for her adoption story!

Other Sources:
Pet MD
Cesar's Way
Companion Animal Programs Adviser, Jacque Lynn Shultz, C.P.D.T
Chris Carl - Care2
Dog Informant
Partnership for Animal Welfare

Don't be Thoughtless When picking out a Dog.

Thoughtless Thursday, By Ruckus the Eskie and co-host Love is being owned by a Husky.

Hosted by: 2 Brown Dawgs, and Heart Like A Dog.


  1. This is such an important decision! Thank you for writing about it!

    I've spent the last three years, since getting Zoe, trying to decide on the breed of "next dog". I've spent hours on end researching breeds and speaking to owners and breeders. It's definitely not something I take lightly and I want to make sure I make the best decision for our entire family. I wish other people took it as seriously as we do. :)

    1. That's Awesome! I love hearing about people researching rather than making an impulse buy. :-)

  2. Hi Y'all!

    Great pointers.

    Y'all come by now,
    Hawk aka BrownDog

  3. Such an important decision, it's sad to know that the majority of dogs end up living in more than one household in their lifetimes. It's so easy to forget that dogs have been bred over the years to work with us day after day. It's easy to underestimate how much physical & mental stimulation a dog is going to need to remain happy and well behaved. It's made me wonder why Labs are the #1 dog in America; don't get me wrong I love Labs, they're wonderful. But they are a handful.

    1. I think people just assume that a lab (who are known to love everyone) will be an easy dog, when in fact they are excite-able and kinda crazy. They need work, and they need jobs just like every other dog. :-)

  4. This was a great post! Thanks for sharing on Thoughtless Thursday!
    ღ husky hugz ღ frum our pack at Love is being owned by a husky!

  5. So true! I'm all for people doing research first. Many, many dogs go through home after home because they don't know what to expect. To be honest, we did little research about 'pitbulls' before adopting Barry. We did some research and plus our friends that volunteer at the shelter recommended him for us specifically so we went for it. NOW - if we had really known what we were in for the first month I have a feeling we never would have adopted Barry. So in a way, I'm glad we were slightly unprepared. That being said, we are rare to have stuck it out. My first few posts ever on the blog go through all the stuff we endured. In the end, we had a great network of support and good advice to help us through. I would highly recommend anyone to do their research first because it's doubtful that most people would be as patient and endure through all the issues like we did that first month.

    1. I'm glad that others can learn from your mistakes and that you too have learned for the future, but stuck it out with Barry anyways. He's lucky to have such a great family who isn't going to fail or give up on him. :-)

  6. I love this post! Thank you for adding it to the blog hop. It's so important that people think about what they are doing. Animals (dogs in particular) are a huge commitment and you really do need to take all of these things into consideration. We were lucky with the way we got Delilah (sight unseen) because she and Sampson got along. She was a real wild one in those days and I almost gave her back. Except I didn't want to be another human that failed her. I wish rescues, breeders and shelters would give this post to all potentials. Very well thought out and thought provoking post.

  7. Excellent tips. I would add that if you are going to a reputable breeder, be honest about your lifestyle and what you want in a dog. Sometimes the breeder will be honest and tell you if they do not think their puppy is a fit. That is much better than having to rehome a dog because turns out it wasn't the right fit. Reputable breeders can be a big help. :)

    Thanks so much for joining the Barks and Bytes hop!

  8. Another thing to take into consideration is grooming. Afghans are gorgeous but require constant brushing. Poodles/poodle mixes need regular cuts. Some terriers need to be stripped. Is this something you want to do yourself, or are you going to pay someone to do it? Either way, it takes time and money.


Barks & Howls are always welcome!!

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