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How to Choose the Correct Dog for Your Situation

Jul 23, 2008
When you consider getting a dog either for the first time or whether you have had many dogs and are experienced, you should always consider all the factors involved in pet ownership. Dogs should not be chosen on a whim, you should carefully consider what breed would best fit you and your family from the size to the maintenance if it has a long or short coat, etc.

You should research dog breeds and find a breed that fits the age span you are most interested in. You should also decide if you are interested in a purebred or a "mutt", male or female, puppy or grown, and you should consider the temperament that would best fit your family.

The first we will address is dog breed. If there is a certain breed that you like the look, color, or personality of, you should spend some time researching that breed and talk with people online or in your area who own that breed. Be sure to ask about health problems that run in that particular breed as well as temperament and whether they are good with kids if you plan on having the dog around children. Taking the extra time can save a lot of grief later if you find out the breed you love has health issues that will end up costing you thousands of dollars you don't have.

When choosing the breed, be sure it fits with the size area you have available for your pet. You may love Great Danes, but if you have a 10x10 yard and you don't take long walks several times a day you should consider a smaller dog.

You should also take the dog's coat into consideration. Most dogs shed, but some shed more than others and some breeds don't shed at all, but require special cutting because their coat grows continually.

If the dog requires extra care with its coat or health concerns you should be prepared for the extra costs that will be involved with this pet. Having a dog is a commitment for a lifetime and will reward you for years, but if you cannot care for them properly it is best not to get a dog at all.

If you are not particular about the breed you may consider a "mutt" or a dog that is of two or more breeds that happen to fit the size and other criteria you are looking for in a dog. I have owned both purebred and "mutts" and have found them to be equally responsive, lovable and healthy when chosen correctly.

You should seriously consider whether you want to raise a puppy or whether you want to start with an adult dog. Either way you should at least consider starting at the local shelter in your search. It is nice when we can take in dogs who are in need of a home. This is a great place to find older dogs as well as puppies, but it can have its drawbacks as well. I have found dogs that have been housed at a shelter for any length of time are no longer house trained so you have to start over with that, and they may have been exposed to disease in the close environment of the shelter. If you purchase from a shelter be sure that they have an agreement for providing care or reimbursement if the dog should come down with kennel cough or another common kennel disease.

If you purchase from a breeder be sure to find out if the person is reputable by asking them questions about their breeding practices and their contracts. A reputable breeder will have contracts and will be able to answer any questions you have about how and why they breed and their dog's backgrounds.

Lifespan is another important factor in choosing a dog. If you truly love the large breeds you will have to be prepared to loose them sooner. Medium to small breeds live several years longer than the larger breeds. The larger breeds often have hip and knee problems as well, though some smaller breeds might also, it is more common in the larger dog.

Do you have a preference for male or female dogs? Be sure to keep that in mind when you are looking. Don't just say - "Oh well, we'll settle for this!" This is a decision you live with for many years so consider it carefully.

In some breeds the females bond more with one person and guard and protect them and the males are more territorial and guard and protect their yard, home etc. In your breed research you may want to find out if this is true so that you can choose based on what works best for you.

Last but not least is the dog temperament. You should always consider if that dog breed tends to be hyper and active always running, jumping and playing or if its a more sedentary breed. If you want a lap dog don't choose an active breed. All dogs have more energy as youngsters just like humans, but some breeds are more laid back. You should choose a breed with the traits you are looking for rather than trying to force an active dog to be still or a sedentary dog to run.

If you choose thoughtfully and train with care you will enjoy your dog for many years. Your dog will be a joy for you and your family and all that you come in contact with.
About the Author
Annette owns ACE Barkery which makes and ships a variety of healthy dog treats nationwide. They also offer a FREE Newsletter with dog health and training tips. Visit them at: ACE Barkery
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