June 2, 2011
Picking Your Puppy: How to Find the Perfect Canine Companion
So, you’ve decided to add a new puppy to your household. Congratulations! You’ve made a choice that will bring you years of happiness, laughter, and companionship and we here at DogWatch Hidden Fences couldn’t be happier for you! Now that you’ve made that initial decision, it’s time to make the even bigger decision: what puppy is right for you?
There’s a lot to consider when selecting the right puppy for your household. First and foremost is what breed (or breeds) would fit best with your household’s lifestyle. Every breed has its own unique traits and temperaments. It is important to consider that when choosing your puppy. It’s easy to fall in love with appearances, but if you select a puppy solely based on how it looks, you may bring it home and find that it just doesn’t fit in with your lifestyle, space, time and grooming commitments. For example, you may think a Sheltie puppy is adorable, but then you bring it home and discover that its innate energy level and need to herd things leaves you with a frustrated pup and a disaster of a house, or that you are just not able to keep up with its long, thick coat! Or, you could bring home a totally cute Pug puppy and quickly realize that its breathing difficulties and moderately low energy level and short legs means it’s not quite the jogging companion you had hoped for.
Here are some important things to consider when selecting a breed:
– What energy level am I looking for in a dog? Do I want a dog that needs a lot of exercise, or one that is content to snuggle on the couch most of the time?
– What amount of space am I able to provide for the dog, both inside and outside? Larger dogs are generally not good apartment dwellers, while smaller breeds do fairly well in small spaces. And if your dog will be spending a lot of time out in your yard, don’t forget to have a DogWatch Hidden Fence installed to keep him safe, especially in the puppy years where he’ll be learning and testing his boundaries!
– How long will the dog be alone each day? Lower energy dogs will do better when left alone for long stretches; higher energy dogs will ultimately find a way to get out that pent-up energy, often at the expense of your yard, flowerbeds, furniture, dishes, trash, or other household objects! (Note: At DogWatch, we have an Indoor Boundary system that can help with some of those issues!)
– Am I looking for a particularly affectionate dog that enjoys lots of attention and cuddling, or a more independent dog that needs less attention from me? A dog that does not get the proper attention can become problematic and act out to try to get more attention from you.
– Are there children or other pets in my house? Some breeds do not do well with children and other animals, while others were practically made for a full house.
– Do I want a male or female dog? Don’t go with gender bias on this; both sexes have their own unique traits and temperaments that need to be considered before deciding which gender you’d like.
– How much time and patience do I have to devote to training? Some breeds, such as Chihuahuas, are notoriously difficult to train, while others, like Labs, are training sponges.
– How much time am I willing to devote to grooming? Longer-haired breeds like Collies, Lhasa Apsos, Pekingeses, and Spaniels require a great deal of attention to grooming, while shorter-haired breeds like Corgis, Dobermans, Pit Bulls, and many other terriers require very little grooming.
– Do I, or does anyone in my household, have allergies? Some dogs, like Portuguese Water Dogs, Schnauzers, Bichon Frises, Poodles and all the Poodle mixes (Labradoodles, Goldendoodles, Cockapoos, Schnoodles, etc.) are MUCH better for allergy sufferers, while others could be the allergic’s worst nightmare!
– How do I feel about shedding? Does the prospect of living with or cleaning up dog hair bother me? Does long-hair shedding vs. short-haired shedding make a difference to me? Dogs that are non (or low) shedders (see the low-allergy dogs) have ‘hair’ and it does not shed like ‘fur’ does. The trade-off is that the non-shedding dogs need to have their hair washed and cut so good grooming is important.
– How many potential health issues am I willing to deal with? Some breeds have common health concerns that can become problematic over time, such as respiratory difficulties, hip dysplasia and other joint problems, cataracts and glaucoma, thyroid problems, epilepsy, bloat, tumors, deafness, and heart disease.
This is a lot of amount of information to consider, we know. To help you with your decision, here a few resources to make things slightly less overwhelming!
– Animal Planet’s Dog Breed Selector: Answer these the basic questions to get idea of what dog(s) might be a good fit for you. Also, check out their Dog Breed Directory for more information on individual breeds.
– The American Kennel Club’s Breed Listings: Find the breed(s) you are interested in, and click on them to learn more about that specific type of dog.
– DogBreedInfo.com: A comprehensive site on both purebred and mixed-breed dogs, providing a Breed Selector Quiz, information on dogs that are good for allergy sufferers, notorious droolers, dogs with the highest and lowest energy levels, and more.
Now that you have an idea of what breed might be best for you, you have to decide whether you’d like to go through a breeder or an animal shelter. DogWatch does not advocate one over the other; rather, we prefer you be as informed as possible on the pros and cons of each, so you can make the decision that’s best for you.
With a breeder, you know, to a degree, what you are getting and can have an idea of what to expect from your dog once you’ve seen its parents and the other pups in the litter. However, getting a purebred puppy can be VERY expensive and doesn’t fit into everyone’s budget. Also, it is important to make sure that the breeder is reputable and maintains high and ethical standards in his or her breeding, housing, and rearing strategies. If the breeder is lax in these responsibilities, you could find yourself with an ill-tempered dog with aggression or attachment issues, as well as a slew of health issues due to irresponsible breeding. To find a reputable breeder near you, or a rescue organization for a specific breed, check out the AKC’s Breeder Referral page.
On the other hand, if you go through a shelter, you most likely will not be able to get a thoroughly documented history of your dog’s background. However, shelter volunteers spend hours getting to know each dog and testing them to determine their dominant traits and what type of household will be best for them. Sometimes this is more reliable than just knowing the breed as each dog has its own personality regardless of the general characteristics of the breed. Shelter staff should be able to tell you if a specific dog will be good with other dogs, cats, or children, or if it should be an only pet. They will also let you know of any known health issues with the dog. The cost of adopting a shelter dog is usuallymuch less than that of purchasing a purebred dog, and oftentimes includes initial vaccinations, exams, and neutering or spaying. In addition, you could be saving a dog’s life; many dogs are sadly being euthanized due to overcrowding in shelters and lack of people adopting them. To find a great shelter dog near you, check out Petfinder.com and make sure to check out their guide on how to choose the right dog when you’re at the shelter!
We hope these tips and links help you in your search for the perfect puppy, and we’d love to hear what you’ve decided! Please feel free to comment on your decision and send us pictures of your new addition! And don’t forget to enter your new puppy in our DogWatch Cutest Puppy Facebook Contest!
Photos by (top to bottom):
jeffreyw via Flickr (bottom two photos)