Are you ready to add a tail-wagging member to your family? While you may be inclined to choose the first adorable puppy you see, there are many decisions to carefully consider before making a pooch a part of your household. Whether you’re purchasing from a breeder or adopting from the local animal shelter, the dog you choose will be a part of your life for years to come, so it’s essential to do your research before making the commitment.
Finding a canine companion that is compatible with your lifestyle will set you up to be a successful pet owner and ensure that your pup becomes a well-loved member of the family. But before you start mulling names and buying dog toys, you’ll need to determine which dog will be best for you. Here are some tips for selecting your ideal four-legged companion:
Puppy or Adult?
There are many factors to consider when choosing a pet, but the age of the dog is among the most important. Most animal shelters, rescue organizations and foster care programs offer adult dogs for adoption that are the victims of inadequate training or neglectful treatment.
If you’re willing to provide guidance and loving home, adopting a full-grown pooch may be the right choice. Alternatively, bringing home a puppy offers a clean slate and allows you to witness and experience all the stages of the dog’s life. However, the first six to nine months of a pup’s life require a huge commitment, so be sure your lifestyle and schedule can handle it.
If you’re a runner or fitness enthusiast, it’s important to look for a canine that can keep up with your active lifestyle. Certain breeds make great running companions, such as vizslas, Australian shepherds, German shorthaired pointers and Rhodesian Ridgebacks.
These energetic breeds have natural gaits that enable them to go the distance. Keep in mind that a spritely dog without an outlet for its energy may become destructive when it gets boring, taking a toll on your possessions and furnishings.
If you’re looking for a more sedate dog with which you can be lazy, couch-potato pals, then low-energy canines such the Newfoundland, pug, English bulldog, basset hound or Saint Bernard may be the ideal match for you.
Getting a dog means making a major financial commitment. Over its lifetime, the cost of dog ownership can total as much as $20,000. Expenses include veterinary visits, routine vaccines, teeth cleanings, medical procedures, microchipping, grooming, accessories, and food.
If cost is an issue, consider adopting a canine from a rescue shelter instead of buying a purebred at full price. If you’re a frequent traveler or work long hours, keep in mind the additional costs of kenneling your pup and hiring a dog walker. A furry friend will require a lot of ongoing care, so make sure you can keep up with the expenses.
One of the most basic, yet significant factors in selecting a dog is its size, which includes both weight and height. Larger breeds such as retrievers, German shepherds, and Great Danes require more space, both inside and outside the home. If you live in an apartment, a smaller dog may work better for your lifestyle. However, don’t let the size fool you — smaller breeds need just as much or more stimulation and exercise as larger dogs.
Similarly, apartment occupants should ask themselves if they’re willing to walk up and down the stairs several times a day to take the dog out. If you have young children, consider a family-friendly breed that will be affectionate with your kids.
Bernese mountain dogs are known for their gentle nature with children while terriers offer playfulness and loyalty. Beagles, golden retrievers, poodles, collies and mutts also can make great playmates for youngsters, while also teaching them responsibility, compassion, and cooperation.
Each breed is known for certain traits, but that’s no guarantee of an individual canine’s temperament, intelligence or personality. You’ll have to examine those characteristics for yourself by visiting the puppy before making your choice.
Use your knowledge of typical traits and breed descriptions as a starting point, but let the breeder, dog owner or rescue shelter employee know which traits you’re looking for so you can find your ideal match. Newfoundlands are gentle giants and notably one of the calmest dog breeds, while Australian shepherds, miniature dachshunds, Alaskan huskies, and Samoyeds are more rambunctious.
Calmer pooches can have the ability to form strong bonds and be great companions for children, while other canines are more prone to displaying aggression. If you’re interested in a family pet, easygoing breeds with agreeable temperaments are a better choice.
Temperament characteristics to assess in breeds include:
- Activity level, playfulness, and energy
- Protectiveness and aggression
- Compatibility with other animals
Grooming and Shedding
Another crucial factor in choosing a new dog that will suit your household is coat length. Each breed has different grooming requirements. Heavy shedders that require frequent brushing and maintenance include huskies, Alaskan malamutes, golden retrievers, Great Pyrenees, and Saint Bernards.
Consider if a family member is particularly sensitive to certain types of fur. Individuals that experience allergic reactions around dogs react to the proteins in canine saliva and dander. Hypoallergenic dog breeds do not exist, but certain breeds may cause fewer allergy symptoms than others, such as the poodle, Shih Tzu, and Maltese.
If you want your dog to develop new skills and tricks and exhibit proper behavior for everyday activities such as walking on a leash, you’ll need to dedicate time for training. Breeds that tend to take more readily to training than others include border collies, German shepherds, Labradors, and boxers. Pups that are more stubborn about toeing the mark are basset hounds, beagles, and Dalmatians.
Adding a furry friend to your family is a long-term decision, but it’s also the beginning of a fun and rewarding journey. By evaluating these factors, you can spark a strong bond with your new canine family member that will last for years to come.
Author bio: Stephanie N. Blahut is Director of Digital Marketing and Technology for Figo Pet Insurance. Figo is committed to helping pets and their families enjoy their lives together by fusing innovative technology — the first-of-its-kind Figo Pet Cloud — and the industry’s best pet insurance plans.