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Choosing the right dog for your family might seem a bit daunting at first given the variety of dogs available. It’s an important decision, though, because as pet owners we need to be sure we’re setting up our families and the new dog for success. This means committing to positive-reinforcement training, consistency of long-term care, and being realistic about what our eyes like versus what our lifestyles are more suited for. There are many factors to consider from breed traits to individual personality that will help you to make the best choice for your family and your lifestyle. So what kind of dog should you get? Let’s look at some broad considerations.
When you picture your favorite dog breed, what is it that draws you to them? Their looks? Athleticism? Intelligence? Above anything else, you have to start with your own family lifestyle, and then narrow down from there.
A high-energy dog is not a great match for someone who doesn’t have an active lifestyle. Sometimes people make the mistake of thinking that time outside in a yard equates to active time for these dogs, and that just isn’t the case. They usually need more than just sniffing around their yard to release energy. If you are active, would love to take your dog for long walks or hiking, or have regular exercise time outdoors, this could be a great fit!
Dealing with highly intelligent breeds is similar in nature to high-energy breeds. They need an outlet for their busy minds. Bored or energetic dogs are set up for a harder time fitting into a family without the activity they need. Keep their minds busy and their bodies active. These guys tend to be very quick to learn new commands and tricks, and they thrive off of interaction.
Not very active? You might be surprised at some of the breeds on this list.
Many people are also drawn to certain physical traits: short-noses, particular sizes, colors, or coats. It’s wise to consider any possible medical issues associated with those traits. Often, these breeds have been created to have certain looks, but from a medical standpoint, the very thing that makes them attractive is also what creates potential problems. For example, Dachshunds are famous for having back problems and sometimes requiring surgeries later in life. Cocker spaniels have those beautiful, silky, hairy ears that commonly have recurring infections in them. Several breeds have a high incidence of vision and/or hearing impairment in white dogs, like Great Danes. Mast cell tumors are more common in Boxers than other breeds. Be sure to research medical needs associated with particular breeds, and always stay current with your pet’s wellness exams!
Many veterinarians will agree that mutts are often more hearty and longer-living than their purebred counterparts. They are a blend of wonderful qualities but with a lower incidence of the aforementioned breed-specific traits. To our knowledge, there are no studies to prove any of this, but experience makes a strong statement. Don’t forget about these dogs when considering your next pet! What kind of dog should you get? Maybe the question is what kind of mutt you should get!
People often want to go straight for a puppy when getting a new, furry family member. Puppies are adorable, goofy fun. We get it! We love them too! Puppies are also a lot of work for the first year of life especially, and often for a good while after that. Be sure that the higher energy of a puppy is a good fit for your family and also that you can commit to the consistency and positive-reinforcement training techniques that are needed to train a puppy.
Adult dogs are wonderful for any type of family, and best of all, they are already old enough to be house-trained and are less likely to use chewing as their way of exploring the world like many puppies. And contrary to that famous idiom, you CAN teach an old dog new tricks.
Speaking of old dogs, the seniors are almost always the easiest dogs to have in your home yet the least likely to find a new family who wants them. These guys are great because they know when it’s time to relax and cuddle, are often very trustworthy in the house when left alone, and are generally good at just going with the flow.