A Breed to Match Your Personality
So you've decided to get a dog. Great! Now comes the real work. Selecting which breed of dog fits your personality, lifestyle and family situation is key to making sure that both you and your new companion are healthy and happy.
I'm a believer in research, research, research. So, when I decided to get my first dog after college I did some brainstorming and came up with several categories that needed my consideration before contacting any breeders. These categories were size, activity level, personality, training difficulty, shedding volume, and breeder or shelter.
The size of the dog is usually something that people already have in mind when deciding to get a dog. Usually this includes the basic question, "Do I want a lap dog?" For me the answer to this question is yes and no. I wanted a dog that could sit on the couch with me to watch football games and sleep at the foot of my bed, but I also wanted a dog that I could take out running.
Activity requirements are different between almost every breed of dog. Some dogs have lots of energy, like terriers, while others love to lay around the house all day with only little outdoor activity needed, like bulldogs. Now I know you're thinking that all dogs need exercise, and you're correct, but some dogs need much more exercise than others. Without the proper amount these furry friends can turn into household demolition experts.
Personality is really a toss-up and can vary widely between breeds and within breeds. For this reason personality plays a part in picking out the breed and picking out the puppy. My dad always told me to look for the active puppies in the litter when picking out a pup. Making sure you pick out a puppy that's interested in you from day one can indicate a dog that will always follow you around. From my fathers perspective this was also a key indicator of a trainable puppy.
Whether you want to train your future companion to just sit and shake hands or fetch your slippers from the closet, you need to understand the dogs trainability and your own. If you are a first time dog owners you'll want to make sure you stay away from dogs that need a strong pack leader. I like to get this information from other people who have owned the breed of canine that I'm interested researching. You can find online forums to get people's opinions, but be cautious because I tend to find that typically a lover of the breed will leave a forum post where as those with negative opinions tend to not be surfing those types of sites. These sites can also have good information about contacting breeders.
Deciding whether to go with a breeder or a rescue shelter is a personal choice and if you're unsure stop by a few breeders and shelters to figure out which one feels right. I've had dogs from breeders and shelters in my family and they were all great dogs. However, if you choose to rescue from a shelter you need to understand the living situation that the dog came from so the transition is easier on both of you.
The last characteristic that I think is important is shedding. Shedding is something that all dogs do no matter how many times I read the opposite on the internet. The degree of shedding is what changes between breeds. If you have family members who have allergies it's best to stay with breeds that shed very little. Personally I'm not a big fan of walking into a house and seeing lots of dog hair around the baseboard. So, since I'm not the best at cleaning on a frequent basis I chose to look for dogs that shed very little. Although I've found out that if you can make it a point to comb your dog once every other day the random shedding will be much less.
For more information, think about what you're looking for in your dog and do some research. I've found that the American Kennel Club (AKC) does a great job of breaking down the information by canine breed, plus they give you breeder contact information and pictures.
In case you're wondering what canine breed I chose, here were my requirements.
- Weight under 25 lbs.
- Built to be a running partner.
- Sheds very little.
- Needs a dominant and experienced trainer.
- Great with kids.
- Family oriented.
- Friendly to other dogs and strangers.
- Not excessively vocal.
After some research I narrowed my list down to a Beagle, Miniature Schnauzer, or Fox Terrier. Can you guess which one I chose........the Miniature Schnauzer. Maximus was the best dog I've ever owned! Unfortunately after three years with my family he was diagnosed with bone cancer. I miss that little guy all the time and wouldn't take back any of the decision I made which lead him to us. Having a dog is an exciting, stressful, happy, and all around wonderful experience. Happy researching!