So you want a dog. Now how do you choose? So many different breeds, so many different sizes. Your friend down the street has a Doberman you admire; your cousin and his family have a Golden Retriever you adore. What about the St. Bernard in Beethoven, or that American Bulldog in The Incredible Journey? Before you rush off to the breeders or the SPCA, let's take a minute to examine your lifestyle.
Are you the type who lives by the saying 'live hard play hard'? Do you have endless amounts of energy, which you expel by jogging every day, hiking on the weekends, and long bike rides. What could be better than a faithful companion who would match your outgoing, energetic lifestyle? Many breeds demand that you spend lots of time with them exercising, running off leash, playing ball, or working as they were intended to. You may enjoy the active breeds such as the Doberman, German Shepherd, English or Welsh Springer Spaniel, or the Border Collie.
Are you more relaxed, more laid back? Are walks around the neighbourhood and long leisurely strolls in the park more your style? You would probably live comfortably with some of the more easy-going breeds that would love to just hang out with you. Some examples are the Akita, Standard Poodle, Basset Hound, Beagle, and Airedale.
Do you have children who dream of having a dog? One of the most crucial questions is whether you have the time, patience, and energy for a puppy. Maybe an older dog would adapt better. Consider the ages of your children. Toddlers can be hard on dogs, pulling their ears, their fur, poking their eyes, and generally playing too rough. Some of the bigger breeds are able to endure more than their smaller counterparts; however, bigger breeds can accidentally knock over a toddler in a moment of exuberance. You may want to consider a medium sized extrovert like a Corgi, Labrador Retriever, Golden Retriever, or the Samoyed.
If your children are older and can appreciate the proper way to treat a dog, your options are less limited. Many breeds would love to run and play with children for hours on end. Perhaps the medium to large dogs such as the Boxer, Bouvier des Flandres, Siberian Husky, or Soft-Coated Wheaten Terrier would compliment your family.
Are you a member of our older population? Your running days are over, but you walk every day, and you want to share your retirement years with a dedicated companion. Many smaller breeds love their daily walks, and still retain the original purpose for which they were bred. They may be more suitable for the visits from the grandchildren as well. The Shetland Sheepdog, West Highland White, Basenji, Miniature Schnauzer, or Cairn Terrier are great examples. If you are more limited in your lifestyle, you can certainly look at the Toy Group. Obviously the Toy breeds were designed to look beautiful and soak up all the love you can possibly shower upon them. Some Toys include the Shih Tzu, Pug, Japanese Chin, Pekingese, and of course the Toy Poodle. They require little exercise and can easily adapt to small accommodations.
Once you have examined your lifestyle, you still need to realistically consider some other important points. Do you have the time or interest required to maintain the look of the breed. Are you disciplined enough to bathe and brush your dog, or shave or strip it on a regular basis. If not, do you mind the added expense of sending your dog off to the groomers? Can you offer a swimming breed the opportunity to swim? If not some of these breeds will be unhappy. Do you mind the ever-present dog hair, or would you be more content with a non-shedding breed. Many non-shedding dogs live alongside people with allergies and/or asthma. What about the doggy smell. Some breeds smell more than others do. While some people love this smell, others are turned off. And lastly, are you firm enough? Although it is important for all dogs to have obedience training, some breeds require experienced owners who are comfortable delivering firm and consistent commands.
I cannot stress enough the importance of matching a dog to your lifestyle. Bringing a dog into your life should be the beginning of a lifelong relationship. Please do your research before choosing your companion. There is an endless number of books in the library and the bookstores which clearly outline the breeds' original purpose, amount of exercise required, any grooming details, and whether they are suited to a family environment. It always helps to remember that some breeds are simply meant to be admired.
Choosing the Right Breed
written by Zena
Zena and her dog Ziggy the Giant Schnauzer, are regular contributors to DogBreedz.com. Be sure to check out her Ask Zena section, where she answers your dog questions.