Professional consultant on selecting a dog breed to fit your checklist of personal preferences.
WHY CHOOSE A PUREBRED DOG?
Your choice of a canine best friend is one of those life decision things and with a purebred puppy you will know his adult size, personality, activity level and the breed's distinct characteristics.
A shelter dog is cheaper and you'll be doing a real kindness? Unless you are an experienced dog owner DO NOT rush to the shelter to adopt a dog, thereby "saving a life" and possibly making your own life miserable.
Don't be misled by the SPCA or Humane Society's TV campaigns. They show those heart-wrenching TV commercials promoting shelters but neither non-profit group supports a shelter anywhere!
Breeders want you to own a carefully bred purebred that fits your lifestyle and enriches your life. And you can do that without feeling the least bit guilty for not having gone to the pound to adopt a dog that has health or behavior problems that caused someone else to reject it.
You came here for truth and expert advice. You got it, now let's help you select a purebred dog that best fits your personality, age, physical limitations if any, your work schedule, property, and purpose.
A thoughtful choice of the best breed and the best individual dog for your needs can make the difference between a rewarding relationship lasting over ten years or a stressful and unpleasant situation ultimately ending up in the dog being relocated or put to death.
I use the term put to death rather than the term “put to sleep” deliberately. These animals are dying, not simply going to sleep. The same as little children are not simply molested, they are raped. By using less painful terminology we can somehow fool ourselves into thinking it is not quite as bad. That is wrong.
The choice of a family pet begins with looks and size
Beginning with looks is fine and that is an important reason to only look at purebred dogs. That way you know that the cuddly 10 pound teddy bear will grow up to be a 100 pound Akita or an even larger St. Bernard. Not suitable for the high rise apartment dweller!
I’ve had many people talk to me as a consultant and say they have been thinking of a Chow, an Afghan, or a Cocker Spaniel. These may all be good choices, but they are three sizes, three different "looks and they are completely different breeds, sizes, and personality! The main similarity is that they all have long hair.
Coat length and grooming must be considered
Will the breed need professional clipping or bathing? Factor in that lifelong cost right now. If you don't like that idea, then decide how much time can you spare for daily or 3 times a week grooming? Not much? Then choose a short coated breed or one with a non-matting coat.
Silky coated pups are darling but the long hair around the anus may need daily washing. Some breeds require daily cleaning of those charming "beards" or you won't be letting him kiss or breathe on you.
Look at photos and read the breed "Standards"
You are at the right place to look at different breeds. To save time and prevent costly mistakes, read this first, then click "Dog Breeds" to see and decide on which breeds best suit you. Pick out all those breeds which appeal to you esthetically. Make a list of these breeds. Most will be in a certain "Group" that are related in type and function.
Next step is to go to the Breed Standard descriptions and determine which breeds are the size to fit into your living space. If you live in a condo or townhouse probably a small to medium dog would be best. I can hear the outcry now. “Uncle Horace had a Great Dane in an apartment and they were both very happy”. That may be true, but if Uncle Horace wasn’t truly committed to properly caring for his big dog it wouldn’t have been a good situation. It is better, if choosing a new pet, to give the animal and the family the very best chance for success by choosing a suitable animal for the situation such as city, suburbs, or country life.
If you have a big house and a large area any size dog is suitable. If you are a family that has very young children or very old members the smaller dogs usually aren’t a good choice. Small children are usually too vigorous for the tiny dogs and little dogs are difficult for seniors to see, especially if the dogs are dark colored or if the house isn’t well lit.
Now look at the breed's history and purpose
This link above gives you the AKC breed "standard" which will also tell you the history. Your list is shorter now so see what the breeds left on your list were bred to do. If your family has hamsters, guinea pigs, or pet snakes and a small to medium sized breed is your choice it would be wise to eliminate those that are bred to kill small varmints. That may mean you don't look for a pet in the Terrier "group".
If you have family members that are somewhat fragile, the breeds that were developed for a vigorous attitude and high activity level aren’t your best choice. If you have a lot of children or strangers coming and going, that would be a situation not suited for one of the guard dog breeds. If you live in a hot and humid climate and the dog will be outside unattended during the day, the short nosed or heavy coated breeds will suffer and may have health problems.
How expensive a dog will be includes lifelong costs
Next we must consider upkeep. This is divided into three parts. Cost of food. Veterinary Cost. Grooming. Always figure the cost of top quality food. Premium foods save you vet costs, are better for the dog and proper food leaves less for you to clean up.
And then there are vet bills. Some breeds are prone to allergy problems. Some are likely to have orthopedic problems, or eye problems. Any of these health problems costs money to care for. Many breeds have breed-related health problems to consider. The sad expression of a Basset Hound or a Bloodhound is endearing but may mean extra eye care. Wrinkles on a Shar Pei or Mastiff are unique but also require extra cleaning. Again, the Breed Gallery will help you learn about breed health-related problems so you can make a wise decision.
Grooming is a two-phase issue. Your labor or paying for labor. Some breeds require clipping or hand stripping. Many require extensive brushing and/or daily combing to prevent costly matting of the coat. Many owners enjoy the bonding that occurs during daily grooming. It's amazing what you can share with your dog that you would never tell your best friend! Check out the health care and grooming requirements of any breeds in which you are interested.
Gallery Of Dog Breeds. Breeds are grouped by type or historical purpose, size, coat type, etc. Learn what makes a Basenji not a Beagle, which breeds are best with kids or for high-rise city living (and why that is not a Border Collie), and get expert information on guard and personal protection breeds.
By the time you have crossed off the list those breeds which are eliminated for size, for purpose, for health or grooming considerations, you are ready to go look at dogs or talk to a breeder.
Valley Pet News Sacramento CA © 1992 reprinted with permission
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