I think choosing a dog is an exciting event, especially for kids. The supply and variation of dogs is so large it will seem endless once you get started!
When you do finally find that perfect match just made for you and your lifestyle, I hope you will know what to do and what not to do to build a wonderful future of trust and love with your new companion. Digesting the information on this site will take care of that.
Before choosing a dog though, please be SURE you’re ready to jump all the way in and take on the responsibility. Ask yourself, should I get a dog NOW?
There are people who like dogs but shouldn’t have one for a number of reasons.
Choosing a dog comes after you decide you are ready and capable of bringing a new life into your home.
Do you know exactly what kind of dog best fits your needs now and 14 years from now? Not sure?
Visit your local animal shelter, SPCA or Humane Society. Look around. Talk to the staff and explain your situation in life. Let them guide you. Ask questions if you see a dog that’s of interest. Tell them you are choosing a dog and need help. They’re experts at choosing dogs. Come back next week or month. Shelters have a constant turnover of dogs.
Shelter Puppy or Mature Shelter Dog?
The Humane Society, SPCA and local rescue kennels often turn up with a litter puppies from a raid on an illegal breeder or a dog hoarder or who knows what. The puppies may be purebreds or might be mixed breeds.
You first have to decide if you REALLY want a puppy or if a more mature dog is better for you at your stage in life. This is an important decision because getting a puppy is a huge obligation and you really need to be prepared for the event.
If you decide on a puppy, make sure you get all the information you can from the kennel staff about the background of the puppy and the name of the breeder if possible. It’s going to be important to find out about the parents of the puppy and their health, and how well the pup was socialized if possible.
The Good About Puppies From Shelters:
- The puppy will not have had a chance to have been mistreated.
- The puppy will not have wandered the streets, as far as we know.
- The puppy will only cost you maximum $150 for shelter fees . (The same puppy could cost $500 to $2000 from a breeder)
Big Dogs vs. Small Dogs
When choosing a dog, size does matter in certain circumstances. Small dogs cost less than big dogs but big dogs offer better protection to you and your property. It just depends on what you need. Here are some pluses and minuses to help you with choosing a dog.
What’s Good and Bad about Big Breeds
Big dogs generally require more of everything. Big dogs need more space to play in, so you (sometimes) need a bigger yard. Big dogs need longer walks and they poop more so you need to carry a bigger scoop and shovel.
- Big dogs eat more food and need more flea and tick medicine.
- They are more expensive at the vet for routine checkups.
- Big dogs have a shorter lifespan than small dogs.
- Big dogs are often much better watch and guard dogs than small dogs. They are far more intimidating with 42 big teeth glistening at you accompanied by a snarling growl.
- A big dog can also be a status symbol. If you own a large, gated estate, choosing a dog the size of a Great Dane or a pair of 190 pound Mastiff’s will definitely set you apart.
What’s Good and Bad About Small Breeds
Small dogs, obviously, don’t require as much space, can play in a smaller area and can be walked a shorter distance than a big dog.
Smaller dogs can curl up on your lap or can sleep at the end of your bed.
Small dogs tend to be highly affectionate and are able to show it by snuggling and curling up in your lap.
Many small dogs need professional grooming, an extra expense.
Small dogs cost less to feed. that offsets some of the savings you realize in the reduced amount of food they eat.
Small dogs generally do better in apartments and condos than some big dogs.
Small dogs are easier to take on road trips. They are easier to handle and get in and out of elevators.
Small dogs live longer than big dogs.
Small dogs are not generally as easy to train. Many of the small dogs tend to be feisty, independent and stubborn, making training difficult.
Male or Female Puppy?
A male dog tends to be more aggressive, territorial and protective of his family, house and property.
He’s more likely to run away, chasing some other dog or small animal down the street.
He can be a great companion, but he will always have that “protective” instinct and “roaming” desire.
Male dogs cost less to neuter than females cost to spay.
Make dogs urinate a little here, a little there, all along the walk, as they “scent-mark” their way down the trail. It can become frustrating to the human.
Male dogs bore quickly. When they get bored they bark and many dig, chew on things they shouldn’t and run in circles.
Male dogs are more territorial and as such, more likely to “mark” territory in the house if not potty trained properly.
Male dogs tend to be strong, active and alert and sometimes very aggressive. Be sure they always have plenty of chew toys and plenty to do.
The female dog tends to be more calm, quiet and a bit less protective of their people.
Females generally urinate all at once in one spot.
The female dog has a“nurturing” quality that makes her a bit less independent. A female will lie down in the back of the car and sleep. Not a male!
The female dog is often more affectionate. Ir’s the “mother” instinct.
Females are less likely to roam or wander away from home, although breeds such as herding and sporting do tend to chase small animals.
Females cost more to spay than males cost to neuter. If you don’t spay the female, she’ll mess up the whole house and car with blood when she goes into heat. Never mind diapers – we’ve tried that and it doesn’t work.
Non-spayed females are in for serious medical “female” problems including cancer as they age.
Some females are less likely to be good watchdogs than their male counterparts.
Mixed Breed Dogs
When choosing a dog from a kennel, the most common one you’ll find is the mixed breed dog. They are most commonly found at the SPCA, Humane Society and local animal shelters. Mixed breed dogs are number one in popularity in the world according to a survey taken recently.
A mixed breed dog is simply a combination of breeds mixed together. Example: I currently have a Yorkshire Terrier who has had a father who was bred with a Miniature Schnauzer who was bred with a Cocker Spaniel. All this breeding was done out on sidewalks and vacant lots somewhere. I doubt anyone did it on purpose.
This gives me a 16.5 pound Yorkie, Schnauzer, Cocker MIX… and he is simply the greatest little guy you can imagine.
Choosing a dog, especially a mixed breed, should be done at one of the major kennels where dogs are temperament tested when they come in.
Many of the dogs I have had over the years have been mixed breed dogs and frankly, they have ALL been great dogs with long, healthy lives, easy to train and fun to live with.
The chance of getting a “bad” dog from a kennel is remote. The Humane Society and SPCA and other humane groups screen incoming animals and will tell you in advance if a dog has issues. They usually remove problem dogs from the adoption line before you get there. That’s, “usually.”
Real problem dogs with issues that can’t be reversed are generally euthanized or put out to pasture somewhere by the kennel staff. The large, reputable kennels take a lot of the guesswork out of choosing a dog because they give you plenty of professional help.
Other Advantages of Mixed Breeds
They live longer than purebreds. This is well documented.
Have fewer health problems than purebreds. Apparently, close inbreeding has an effect on the health of the purebred dogs that is not found in mixed breeds.I won’t go into this because I don’t know enough about it. All I know is mixed breed dogs seem to have longer, healthier lives.
Tend to be easy to train. For some reason, mix breeds learn faster than purebreds in many cases.
If you live alone and are the fearful type, you would likely be choosing a dog such as a larger male that would at least bark like crazy if someone tried to stop you on the street. Consider a Collie, German Sheppard, Rottweiler, or Doberman Pinscher. If you want a small dog, get a Yorkie — they bark at everything and their tiny bite stings!
If fear is not your thing, look for a great companion dog. Maybe a laid back female like a Golden Retriever, a Greyhound, Pug, Bulldog or Mini Schnauzer. They’ll keep you company when the nights are long!
When visiting kennels and choosing a dog, remember to look for a dog that matches your style of living. If you are a couch potato who prefers to sit at home and watch TV, don’t choose a dog from the “hunting” or “sporting” groups that need to run and jog for exercise. You want a quiet, laid-back dog with fewer exercise needs.