What kind of dog should you get? Choosing the right dog for your family might seem a bit daunting given all the choices there are. We have some points to consider to help you make the best decision for your family and your lifestyle.
When you picture your favorite 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, then narrow down from there.
A high-energy dog is best for someone who has an active lifestyle. They need regular exercise and active time with their family to be their best selves – to fit their nature. 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. But 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!
Energetic Breeds: terrier breeds, husky, herding breeds, boxer, weimaraner, dalmatian, some hound breeds, etc.
Living with highly intelligent breeds is similar in nature to high-energy dogs. They need an outlet for their busy minds. Bored dogs and energetic dogs without the activity and stimulation they need are set up for a harder time fitting into a family. Keep their minds busy and bodies active. These guys tend to be very quick to learn new commands and tricks, and they thrive off of interaction.
Most Intelligent Breeds: herding breeds, poodles, retrievers, doberman, rottweiler, bloodhound, etc.
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, though. Sometimes, these breeds have been created to have certain looks and/or functions, but from a medical standpoint, the very thing that makes them distinct can also be what creates potential problems. For example, Dachshunds are famous for having back problems and sometimes requiring surgeries later in life. Several breeds have a high incidence of vision and/or hearing impairment in white dogs, like Great Danes. Heart problems are more common in Boxers. Be sure to research medical needs associated with particular breeds.
Mutts! These guys are often overlooked and underrated. Many veterinarians will agree that mutts are often more hearty than their purebred counterparts. They are a blend of great qualities but with a lower incidence of the aforementioned breed-specific traits. To our knowledge, there are no scientific studies to prove these guys hearty, but experience makes a strong statement. Don’t forget about these dogs when considering your next pet!
Many people 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 and often for a good while after that too. Be sure that the higher energy of a puppy is a good fit and that your family can commit to the consistency and positive reinforcement that is needed to train a puppy. Then have fun with the cuteness!
Adult dogs are wonderful for any type of family, and best of all, they are already old enough to be easily 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 good at just going with the flow.
Where Should I Get A Dog?
Let’s start with where NOT to get a dog. You’ve probably seen incidences of horrible conditions at puppy mills in the news before. Puppy mills are large scale breeding facilities with a reputation for income being given priority over the well-being of the dogs. Sometimes they post ads in the local paper, often they are selling to pet stores, or they are trying to sell their dogs online. These types of businesses are controversial, and they are a hot-button issue in NC. Some cities, like New York City, have banned the sale of animals from puppy mills. Learn more about puppy mills here.
Breeders, Rescues, & Shelters
There is no shortage of breeders, and while some are careful with their bloodlines and health, the unfortunate reality is that most are not. There are reputable, responsible breeders out there, just do some homework to be sure you find one who puts quality over quantity. AKC papers alone do not equal good conformation or a lower risk of congenital issues. They just mean the dog is purebred, and its parents were registered, too. A more responsible breeder will provide health certificates for both parents and puppies, any medical records, will let you see the dogs onsite, etc.
Most people don’t know that about 20% of all dogs in shelters are purebred, and breed-specific rescue groups are abundant. If you want a pure bred dog but don’t care if it comes with papers, this is a great route to go. More than half of all pets that enter U.S. shelters are euthanized there, so the bonus is knowing that you are helping to save a life. Reputable rescues will also provide any medical records they have.