Choosing a Dog Breed

Choose a Breed of Dog
Choosing Puppies
Different Dog Breeds
Dog Breed Information
Dog Breeds and Classes
Help Choosing a Dog Breed
The Dog Breed Selector


Tip #24: Choose a Dog Breed

Golden retriever

Before you adopt or buy a dog, it is extremely important that you know what type of breed would be best for your lifestyle and family.

From the affenpinscher to the Chesapeake Bay retriever to the whippet, there are approximately 200 breeds of dogs that come in all shapes, colors and sizes. Each was bred for specific traits that appeal to the humans in control of their breeding. If your family has small pets such as hamsters or guinea pigs, a terrier—originally bred to hunt rodents—might not be the best fit in your household.

Information on the traits of different breeds will help you choose the type of dog that will blend with your family and become a lifelong companion and friend. This choice entails a lifetime responsibility, as you will commit yourself to loving and caring for this animal for ten years or more. Use an online dog breed selector to help you find several breeds you like, then read about the breeds in books to learn more.


Tip #25: Choosing Puppies

Chihuahua

Let's face it – puppies are cute, adorable, and hard to resist. However, if you want to choose the right puppy, don't fall in love with the first one you see.

Before you choose a new puppy, take a look at the entire litter and see how they interact. If some of the puppies are excited and others aren't, the more docile ones may actually make the most even-tempered and mellow adults. However, the puppies in the middle, who are neither too aggressive or overly docile, are probably your best bet. When looking at a litter of puppies it may be best to choose the puppy that is friendliest toward you. Do not pick a shy puppy that hangs back or growls at you when approached.

Normally, puppies are trusting, curious, playful and friendly. If the puppies you're looking at aren't, the breeder may not have spent enough time with them, and they may never really fit into a family. Remember, if the puppies don't seem quite right, don't let yourself be talked into taking one anyway. A puppy is a lifetime investment; choosing the wrong one can make you and the puppy unhappy.


Tip #26: Different Dog Breeds

Dalmatian

If you have your heart set on a certain dog breed but feel the dog may be too large or require too much care, consider a miniature dog of the same breed. For example, you may love collies but you simply don't have the room for a dog that size. A sheltie, however, is a smaller breed that closely resembles a collie but doesn't need as much space or grooming as its full-sized cousin.

If your dog breed doesn't have a miniature variety, look at breeds in the same family (such as the herding or toy families) to find other dogs with many of the same characteristics of the dog breed you love. Dog breeds in each family tend to share many characteristics, so chances are you'll find other dog breeds similar to your favorite but more practical for your particular needs and lifestyle.


Tip #27: Dog Breed Information

Labrador retriever puppies

You may be surprised at how many different dog breeds are available today. Before choosing a breed, look for an informative book on dog breeds or Web site to help you determine which one is right for you. Good resources will include helpful facts on dog breeds, including sizes, photographs, personalities and temperaments, and how each breed interacts with other pets and children.

You need this vital dog information to help you choose the right dog for your family. You also need it to understand just what makes your dog behave the way he does. Each breed has different characteristics, and without this information you might choose a dog that doesn't match your lifestyle.

Utilize as many resources as possible before choosing a dog so both of you will ultimately be happy together.


Tip #28: Dog Breeds and Classes

If you've watched any popular dog show on television, you've probably noticed that the dogs are broken down into classes. These classes will help you understand more about dog breeds, and they will make it easier for you to choose the right breed when it's time for a new dog. The classes are:

Great Dane puppy
  • Sporting: Sporting dogs are bred to hunt. They include spaniels, retrievers and pointers.
  • Working: Working dogs were bred to help and serve people. They include the boxer, the Great Dane and the Rotweiller.Toy: These small dogs are often tiny miniatures of larger breeds. The Chihuahua, Maltese, papillon and Yorkshire terrier are all toys.
  • Herding: Members of the herding class were bred to herd animals like sheep and cattle. They are very energetic. This group includes collies, Border collies and Welsh corgis.
  • Terrier: Terriers were bred to kill rodents and other vermin. There is a wide variety of terriers both large and small; the Jack Russell and the Airedale are two of them.
  • Hound: Hounds are one of the oldest groups of dogs, bred to follow and catch prey. They have a remarkable sense of smell. Think of the basset hound, the bloodhound and the beagle for this group.
  • Non-Sporting or Companion: This group can be described as a "leftover" group because most of these dogs were not bred to work but to be social pets. They are not meant to herd or participate in sports. Breeds here include the Boston terrier, the Lhasa apso, and the poodle.

Dogs were initially domesticated to help humans in a variety of ways. The class reflects what the dogs were originally bred for. Use this information to help you choose the dog that is right for you. For example, if you want a good watchdog, choosing a dog from the working group would make the most sense because these dogs were bred to protect their human companions.


Tip #29: Help Choosing a Dog Breed

Rottweiler puppy

If you're not familiar with dog breeds, get help choosing one that's right for you. To form a basic understanding, search the Internet for relevant information on breeds that are interesting to you. If you have a friend or neighbor who owns a breed you like, ask if you can watch them interact with their dog. Observe how the dog behaves with children, friends, strangers and other animals.

Check your local listings and attend a dog show in your area. These events can be really fun. You'll see a myriad breeds in action; if you see one you like, ask the owner for permission and you may be able to pet their dog. Talk to breeders and trainers after the show. Ask questions such as:

  • How much exercise does he need?
  • How is he around kids?
  • Do you have to take him to a professional groomer?
  • Does he need a yard?
  • Has he ever had any health problems?
  • How old is he expected to live?
  • Can you recommend a reputable breeder?

Getting help and asking questions is the best way to understanding dog breeds and deciding which is right for you.


Tip #30: The Dog Breed Selector

Labrador retriever puppies

If you're looking for a new dog but aren't exactly sure what kind of breed you want, use an online dog breed selector to help you decide. Using a dog breed selector couldn't be more simple. You answer several questions about your taste and lifestyle, including topics like how playful you'd like your dog to be and how it interacts with other animals. The dog breed selector will then offer you several choices that match your criteria.

Each dog breed is known for certain characteristics; as you choose from your list of dogs you can find out more about each breed and how it is likely to interact with your family and whether it will fit in with your lifestyle. The dog breed selector will help you make the right choice about the next member of your family.


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