Factors to Consider when Picking out a Dog for your Family
Bringing home a new dog is a momentous occasion. However, the rate at which dogs are rehomed is alarmingly high. Oftentimes the root cause of rehoming a pet is lack of knowledge about the dog’s (and your family’s) needs. Before bringing home a dog, consider the following factors.
Adopt or Shop?
The first consideration that must be made is whether you will adopt your new dog from a shelter or purchase a puppy from a breeder. There is no right or wrong decision, so long as due diligence is performed.
Benefits of Adopting
There are many benefits to adopting a dog. The best reason to adopt is that you will not only be saving lives. There are many misconceptions about adopting, such as that dogs in shelters are “damaged,” untrainable, or unpredictable. The truth is that dogs of all types arrive in shelters for many reasons, very few of which are the dog’s fault.
Benefits of Shopping
Likewise, there are benefits of purchasing a dog from a breeder. For people who would like very specific traits in their pet, purchasing a purebred puppy may be the best option. However, not all breeders are the same. Extensive research should be performed to make sure you are purchasing from an ethical breeder whose dogs have few health problems.
Factors to Consider
In addition to determining whether you will adopt or shop, you should consider the following factors about your lifestyle:
Certain breeds require a larger time commitment than others. If you will be spending a lot of time away from home you should avoid breeds that are commonly prone to separation anxiety such as German Shorthaired Pointers, Siberian Huskies, and Cavalier King Charles Spaniels.
What is your family’s activity level? Whether you prefer to spend weekends on the couch or camping, there is a breed that is right for you. Some breeds, like German Shepherds, require 4+ hours of vigorous physical and mental activity daily. Other breeds, such as Pugs, can thrive on short walks per day. Matching your family’s activity level to your dog’s is an important step for ensuring a happy household. When high-energy dogs do not have their needs met, house destruction is the most common problem.
Another consideration is budget. In general, a small dog will cost its owner less than a large dog, particularly for food, treats, and medicine. Additionally, certain breeds are prone to more health problems than others. For instance, Cavalier King Charles Spaniels, Golden Retrievers, and English Bulldogs typically have higher veterinary bills than other breeds.
How much space you have in your home is another important consideration. While many dogs thrive in small spaces – including large dogs like Great Danes – others require significant room to stretch their legs. In general, dogs that weigh less than 25 lbs are universally able to adapt to apartment dwelling or houses without yards. However, plenty of research should be performed into the space requirements of larger dogs.
Child’s Age / Level of Responsibility
Finally, consider the age and level of responsibility of your children. Certain breeds have herding and nipping tendencies, such as Border Collies, which makes them poor candidates for homes with small children. Other breeds, such as English Bulldogs, have fantastic temperaments for children. Toy breeds might not be a good fit for homes with small children, as they can be easily injured if not handled properly.
Be realistic with your child’s ability to help with your pet. Children under the age of 12 can be given simple chores such as feeding, playing with, grooming, and petting your dog. However, taking the dog for a walk alone should be reserved for children ages 12 and up.
How to Perform Breed Research
Now that you have considered your family’s limitations you can start thinking about what type of dog you would like to bring home. Great resources include your local library, knowledgeable breeders or shelter staff, or websites such as the American Kennel Club. When researching dogs, always consider the following:
- Energy level
- Space requirement
- Training personality (stubborn, eager-to-please, food-motivated, etc.)
- Grooming requirements
- Temperament with children and other animals
- Common health problems
- Life expectancy
Overall, putting in the time and effort to think about your lifestyle and perform breed research can help you make the most informed decision. There is a dog that perfectly fits every lifestyle, it is just matter of finding which breed is best for you!