how to choose a dog breed | how to choose a puppy | things to know before getting a puppy
How do I choose the right dog for me? 10 questions to ask yourself
There’s no straight answer to the question, as you must consider your lifestyle and expectations of having a dog. Answering these 10 questions might help you decide:
1. How much time I can, and want to spend with my dog?
2. Do I or my relatives have any kind of dog related allergy?
3. Am I comfortable with the idea of hair everywhere in my home, or I would like a dog which doesn’t shed?
4. Am I comfortable with taking my dog to the groomer every 2 to 3 months?
5. Would I like to dress my dog?
6. Would I like a dog who is always willing to obey, or I like more independent ones?
7. Will I be physically fit to take care of this type of dog in 10 or 15 years? Think about carrying your dog in your hands if needed
8. Is my home suitable for this kind of dog when she is old? Think about climbing stairs, walking far to be able to urinate, etc.
9. Are you comfortable with a dog who barks a lot? What about your neighbors?
10. Do you have kids under 10 years old?
Answering these questions, you will be able to determine a breed or a variety of breeds which would be suitable for you. Also, don’t forget the looks – even if that breed matches your lifestyle 100%, it doesn’t necessarily mean you will like the looks. They are also important.
So, speaking about these questions:
1. How much time I can, and want to spend with my dog? If you don’t want to spend too much time training your dog, shepherds should be out of the list (such as German shepherds, border collies, Australian shepherds, etc.) The only shepherds who might still stay in the list are corgis.
2. Do I or my relatives have any kind of dog related allergy? If you are allergic, then there are not too many breeds to choose from. Consider poodles, schnauzers, wirehaired terrier such as fox terrier, water dogs, such as lagotto Romagnolo or a Spanish or Portuguese water dog, also, hairless dogs, such as American hairless terrier, Mexican hairless or Chinese crested. Even if you find out that the breed you are interested in doesn’t cause an allergy, do your best and visit a kennel. Sometimes people have allergies even though theoretically they shouldn’t.
Also, speaking about allergies, so called doodle breeds (labradoodle, for instance) should be avoided. They are not purebred dogs and in many countries are not even recognized as a breed. The thing is that they are bred mixing different breeds and you never know if your pup will end up having the genes which cause allergy or not.
3. Am I comfortable with the idea of hair everywhere in my home, or I would like a dog which doesn’t shed? A funny thing speaking about dog’s hair is that short haired breeds usually shed all the time and it’s difficult to get rid of their hair from all the items you own (and even your food!). Breeds such as Jack Russell terrier (only it’s smooth variety), pug, and French bulldog are shorthaired, but they shed all the time. Breeds which are double coated tend to shed a little bit every day and then a lot twice a year when they change their fur completely. Wirehaired breeds do not shed, but they need constant grooming and trimming. Long Haired breeds tend to shed less. So, the thing is not to look at the length of the coat, but more importantly to the fact whether the dog is double coated or not.
4. Am I comfortable with taking my dog to the groomer every 2 to 3 months? This question is related to wirehaired breeds as most owners decide not to groom their dogs at home and to hire a groomer instead.
5. Would I like to dress my dog? Some people love dressing their dogs while others hate it. Consider the climate of your area and your thoughts on dressing a dog. Double coated breeds don’t need clothes in most cases (unless speaking about extreme temperatures, such as -20C or +35C, as some cloths help to lose heat).
Some people consider it cruel to have a Nordic breed in a very hot area. It depends on you how you decide, but in general we would suggest getting a dog which is able to comfortably live in the climate conditions given.
6. Would I like a dog who is always willing to obey, or I like more independent ones? This question is very important as most people choose a dog by her looks rather than her character. We have hundreds of clients with huskies who struggle to make them more obedient and owner oriented. However, some people love independent dogs. It’s up to you. But if you want a dog who wants to please her owner, then the best match would be to go with shepherds.
7. Will I be physically fit to take care of this type of dog in 10 or 15 years? (Think about carrying your dog in your hands if needed.) This question is usually forgotten until a giant dog gets sick. Small people tend to get huge dogs and they are unable to take care of them later. Even though you are young and strong now, consider your life in 10 or 15 years. Most dog lovers tend to get smaller dogs as they age.
8. Is my home suitable for this kind of dog when she is old? (Think about climbing stairs, walking far to be able to urinate, etc.) Most people think that if they live in a small apartment, they can’t get a big dog. The size of the apartment itself is not a problem. Basically, if you can live there, any dog can, also. The problem is that some dogs are not so good at climbing stairs all the time or not being able to run freely once or twice a week.
9. Are you comfortable with a dog who barks a lot? What about your neighbors? Dog barking might be a problem in most cases, especially if you share at least one wall of your home with a neighbor. Most dogs learn not to bark at every minor sound, but it would be a good idea to research a little bit about your breed of choice and check whether they were used to guard home or inform anyone about visitors. Most dogs instinctively bark, but some breeds are keener than the others.
10. Do you have kids under 10 years old? Most parents want their children to grow up with a dog. It would be a good idea not to get a dog and a baby at the same time. At least 1 year and a half difference between both events is advised. Also, if you have children under 10 years old (sure, it depends on the child, also), don’t rush to get a small puppy for them. Most young children are not good at handling dogs softly, so make sure to first educate your child and only then consider having a dog. Also, don’t buy a dog for your child. Anyone who is underage legally cannot be an owner of a dog. You should get a dog only if all adults in your family agree on that.
Additional 4 questions to consider:
Is it better to get a male or female dog?
This decision should be based on your lifestyle as the differences in a dog’s character are difficult to point out – they depend on each dog.
In most cases, males are stronger and more self-confident. At the same time, they are more sexually active, are usually more aggressive toward other dogs. They might run away if they smelled a female in heat. Males are more likely to mark their territory. Usually, males mature a little bit slower than the females. They don’t have a heat cycle as the females do, but they might feel too aroused when there’s a female in heat nearby.
Females typically twice a year go in heat which results in more cleaning around your home (if the female doesn’t clean herself). Also, you must make sure to manage her surroundings, so no adult males would approach her while in heat. Some females are affected by their heat, and they feel unsure or unhappy during that period. Also, longhaired breed females tend to lose a lot of fur after their heat. In most cases, it’s a little bit easier to housetrain a female dog.
If you have no plans about breeding your male or female dog, you might want to consider spaying or neutering. As it depends on your dog’s age, size, medical conditions, and other factors, to decide we suggest contacting your veterinarian. Spayed and neutered dogs’ behaviors are not so strongly affected by hormones.
Should I get a small or big dog?
Well, the perfect size of your future dog depends on your personal likes and dislikes. Also, consider your lifestyle and physical strength.
If you travel a lot, a small dog might be a good option, as it’s easier to get a small dog on board. Tiny dogs can travel with you as hand luggage in a plane. Also, it’s easier to hop on a train or bus, as some companies urge you to put a dog in a crate, so it wouldn’t be that comfortable with a large breed.
If you feel you wouldn’t be able to handle a large dog when things go wrong (let’s say, your dog panics or a dog fight happens), then it’s better to opt for a smaller breed. One should feel safe walking their dog.
If you live in a small apartment, don’t refrain yourself from getting a big dog. Dogs don’t need big spaces to live with you. Just make sure to have enough space to place your dog’s crate or bed comfortably.
We don’t recommend tiny dogs if you have children under the age of 10 as they might injure the dog unintentionally.
If you want a dog with a long lifespan, it’s better to opt for medium sized or small breeds.
There is no “correct” size of a dog, however. Choose the one that meets your needs and the one you would feel comfortable having next to you.
Is it better to get a dog or a puppy?
Most people, when thinking about getting a dog, consider only young puppies. There’s no problem with that, if you have enough time to housetrain a young puppy and you don’t feel overwhelmed with your new pup biting everything around.
However, if you feel that housetraining is not your best skill and you don’t want to tackle all those young dog problems, getting an adult dog might be a good choice for you. This way you get a pet who already has passed the biting and chewing episode of her life. Also, in most cases an adult dog is already housetrained or at least it’s easier to housetrain her. One can be sure about an adult’s character as it doesn’t change too much when a dog is mature. However, it might take a little bit longer to overcome some habits you don’t like. It’s possible to train an adult dog without any problem, especially when they change their home (most problems come not from the dog, but from the owner’s behavior). So, don’t worry about tackling an adult dog’s problems.
Getting a puppy has its perks, too. You get to see how your puppy grows (quickly!) into an adult dog. You get to tackle all those sometimes cute, sometimes annoying puppy problems. Sure, there’s a little bit more cleaning to do and more early morning wake ups than one would like to have. However, seeing a puppy grow is rewarding.
Speaking about “it’s how you raise them”, it’s not entirely true. Dogs come with their instincts and genetic code. Some things cannot be altered because they are already there. It’s possible to retrain a dog despite her age. Therefore, organizations, such as police, may buy adult dogs who are already trained elsewhere and use them for their own needs. In most cases, dogs don’t mind changing owners, if their needs are met.
When getting a new dog – a puppy or an adult – training starts more or less the same. A new dog has to be socialized in her new environment, housetrained (if it is not already), trained to walk nicely and behave well at home.
Is it okay to keep dogs outside the house?
While we would love to have all the dogs living inside, in some regions and situations it's common to have a dog living outside the owner’s house.
It doesn’t matter too much where the dog sleeps – inside or outside, if she gets enough physical and mental stimulation. Being left in a kennel outside for a night is not a problem for a dog, if she is properly introduced to it. However, the problem is that most people tend to pay less attention to their dogs, if they are left outside. Therefore, we encourage having a dog inside your home. This way you will feel more responsible for taking your dog out several times per day. It’s important not only for your dog to urinate or defecate outside, but because of socialization.
None of these extremes is good – either a dog, who never goes for a walk outside her kennel or yard, neither a dog who is always inside, nor does her business on a puppy pad. A healthy dog should walk 2 a day as a bare minimum.