Choosing a Dog or Puppy

Choosing A Dog Breed

Buying a dog is more like adopting a young child, then a guinea pig or rabbit. A dog will demand involvement and react to everyday situations right along side of you..

* If you’re planning to add a purebred dog to your family it’s important that you consider a suitable breed. Think about what you and your family want and know what the breed was bred to do. There are many breeds registered with the American Kennel Club (AKC), subdivided into seven groups: Sporting, Terrier, Hound, Working, Herding, Non-Sporting and Toy. Each group shares common characteristics: when choosing a breed go beyond what they look like and discover their passions and their adaptability to your lifestyle.

* Have children? Your breed should be relaxed with changes and have a low threshold to excitement. Protective breeds or instinctive reactionary breeds do better in households that have less chaos and fewer comings and goings.

* Love to exercise or Prefer to chill? There are breeds that thrive on activity and others for whom a short outing will satisfy their exercise requirements. Find a dog’s whose energy level matches your own. Sure that muscular Vizsla looks beautiful, but if you’re not able to obligate to daily outings the beauty may wear thin.

* Where are you now, where will you be in five years? When considering a breed consider where you will be in five to ten years. If you’re planning a family or a move remember your dog will need to adapt to these changes too.

For other helpful tips on choosing a breed you can refer to Sarah Hodgson’s book Puppies for Dummies.

More About Dog Breed Groups

Love dogs, but don’t know how to choose or where to start? A little education can go a long way. Dog were originally domesticated to help humans thrive and survive. All over the world dogs were selectively bred to highlight the qualities that were desired: hunters wanted dogs who would retrieve game, farmers wanted dogs who help them herd their flocks. The American Kennel Club (AKC) list dog breeds by seven specialized group. The first thing to discover are the many unique qualities dog breeds possess. Here’s a quick look at the AKC breed groupings:

Sporting Group: Dogs in this group were bred to aid man in hunting fowl (wild birds). Conditioned by nature to retrieve, these dogs can be trained to gather birds from the field or water, or they can simply stay at home and make excellent companions, fetching tennis balls, slippers and the morning paper.
Hound Group: The breeds in the Hound Group like following fast-moving game, and this penchant has made them a big hit in hunting circles. In addition to their keen noses or sharp eyesight, the hounds’ easy-going, at times, stoic personality has endeared them as family pets. The three types of hounds are sight hounds, scent hounds and large game hounds.
Terrier Group: Losing is not in a terrier’s vocabulary. Own a terrier, and one word springs out at you immediately – determination. Terriers take a bite out of life and don’t let go. The two types of terriers are vermin hunters and fighting breeds.
Working Group: This classification needs little explanation. Though more varied in job description than the other groups, the breeds in the Working Group have one thing in common: Throughout the centuries, they have performed specific jobs that have benefited humans. In the Working Group, you find sled/draft dogs, personal protection dogs, rescue dogs and estate guarding dogs.
Herding Group: The function of breeds in the Herding Group is to, well, herd livestock. These dogs are a hard working lot who, in most cases, work under the direction of a shepherd. This group can be broken down into two types: sheepherders and cattle herders.
Non-Sporting Group: Many of the dogs in this group were originally bred for specific, but because dog work is hard to come by these days, these dogs have become companions. Unlike other breed groups, the personalities of the dogs in this group vary widely because they were all originally bred for different tasks. Before considering any of these breeds, consult breed-specific books and speak to a veterinarian to get a truer sense of what the breed you’re looking at is like.
Toy Group: Many of the breeds in this group are miniaturized versions of working hunting dogs. Too small to work, these breeds have perfected the art of being adorable. Needing little exercise (though they definitely need exercise), they are perfect for apartment dwellers and older people. Playful and devoted, they demand constant affection and attention.

Temperament Testing a Puppy

A puppy may be the only relative you can choose! Here are some quick tips to ensure the one you bring home has a temperament and personality to love for a lifetime.

Honest Appraisal Take a quick look at yourself before you peer into a puppy’s eyes. Are you mellow and tolerant—even bemused by a puppy’s normal impulsive antics? A spirited pup might brighten your life tremendously! Are you driven to perfection and want a dog to reflect your vigor and enthusiasm? You’d do best with an intelligent dog who is eager to follow your lead. Are you easily frustrated, or already pinned down with so much responsibility that a low key dog would suit you better? No matter what breed you choose, you find a range of personalities within the very same litter. High drive, sweet and soulful, or laid back—a quick assessment can help you to make the right decision.

Look Before you Leap Watch a puppy or group of puppies in their natural setting before you interact with one. How do they act with each other and with stimulations in their environment. The puppy who is alert and attentive to every noise, stimulation or movement will act similarly in your home. A puppy who enjoys rough play has a different personality then the one content to play alone or who cringes when ambushed. An active puppy will need more direction; a puppy who is content to play with toys while the other puppies jump about may be more laid back in your home, and a sensitive puppy will need more reassurance and attention.

One-on-One Bring your puppy into a quiet room if possible. (If in a new setting, give the puppy a few minutes to sniff about before you engage him.) Spend some time interacting with him. How does the puppy approach you? If excited, does he calm down quickly or start to nip? Offer him a treat- how does he react? Now play with a toy—is he showing interest? Pretend your at home and see how the puppy reacts to normal disruptions…standing apart from the puppy, pretend to trip and fall, shout at someone in the distance, drop your keys… Does the puppy get wild, ignore you or get scared? Copy the chart offered in my Puppies for Dummies book, and take notes. Though your heart may lead you to quick decision, the choice to adopt a puppy is a tremendous one…so consider it wisely!

The rewards of a well thought out decision can enhance your life for a decade, or bring tremendous heart ache. Do your homework ahead of time—you’ll be glad you did!