It’s always exciting to think about adding a new puppy to your family, and often difficult to resist buying on impulse. But this new pup will be with you for a long time and it’s important to give some thought to choosing the right dog breed for your family, lifestyle or situation.
A bad choice, made on impulse or without proper thought, can mean your ‘puppy love story’ doesn’t have a ‘happy ever after’ ending, and that’s bad news for everyone.
All puppies are adorable, and they all have one thing in common – they grow up to be dogs! However, that’s where the similarities end. Every dog breed belongs to the same species ‘canis familiaris’ (otherwise known as the domesticated dog), but there are over 400 different recognized breeds with more being added all the time.
The enormous diversity between dog breeds isn’t just seen in the wide variety of size, shape and color. Domesticated dogs are divided into several different breed groups, depending upon the original purpose or role they were designed (quite literally!) to fulfil.
The dog breeds within each breed group (such as the Herding Group or the Working Group) share similar characteristics and inborn traits. Maybe a strong desire to herd anything that moves, extremely acute sense of smell or sight, the instinct to guard or protect their owners and property etc.
It pays to understand that, even within the same breed, individual dogs (and families or ‘lines’ of dogs) can vary quite significantly. To top it off, each puppy within a litter is a unique individual and won’t have exactly the same looks or behavior as any of it’s littermates!
So, you can see that choosing the right dog breed is not something to be taken lightly.
Now we’ve got that out of the way, here’s the good news! Choosing the right dog breed, and deciding which would be the best fit for your family, is actually pretty straightforward. If you ask yourself some simple questions, and answer them honestly, it’s fairly straightforward to eliminate certain breeds that are obviously not suitable. Then it’s just a case of choosing from the ones that do fit ‘your puppy profile’! When choosing the right dog breed, here’s the things you need to consider –
Your Activity Level. If you’re an outdoorsy, active kind of person, you need a dog who can keep up. Good choices include the energetic Border Collie, the Siberian Husky or German Shorthaired Pointer. For the moderately athletic perhaps a Jack Russell Terrier or Labrador Retriever would work better.
If you tend towards the couch potato school of athletics, a Beagle or English Bulldog might be perfect.
Whether You Have Children. Children and puppies go together like strawberries and cream, but certain dog breeds are inherently better suited to a family with children than others.
Don’t automatically expect a small dog to be great with kids. Although they’re child-sized they’re not toys and can be snappy and opinionated. Extra-large dogs, even if very gentle and loving, can accidentally hurt a small child by the sheer virtue of their size and strength. An enthusiastic welcome or overly loving approach can be overwhelming.
Dog breeds such as the Labrador Retriever, Golden Retriever, Miniature Poodle, Cocker Spaniel or English Staffordshire Bull Terrier are good options.
Your Home. Whether you live in a city apartment or a rural ranch can have an impact on the breed of dog you choose.
In this case, choosing the right dog breed doesn’t depend entirely on size, as big dogs can be lower-energy and more content to snooze all day than some smaller, highly strung ‘energizer bunny’ breeds.
Dogs from the herding or working groups, really need a job to do. They also require a lot of regular exercise. Some other breeds, such as a Cavalier King Charles Spaniel or Pekingese for example, are more likely to be perfectly happy with a short walk and a cuddle on the sofa.
What You Want From A Dog. If you’re hoping to join organized, dog-related activities such as obedience trials, agility competition, therapy work etc., choose an intelligent, trainable breed such as the German Shepherd, Border Collie, Golden Retriever or Standard Poodle.
Perhaps you just want a friend to watch the game with or snooze on the front porch swing. A Cocker Spaniel, Bichon Frise, Dachshund or Basset Hound might fit the bill perfectly.
NOTE: When you’re thinking about choosing the right dog breed, don’t forget to consider a mix-breed puppy, but do try to find out what breeds seem dominant in his make up. That will give you a rough idea of his character traits and inherited tendencies.