How to Choose the Right Dog

Tips For Choosing The Perfect Dog

Choosing the right dog can be harder than it sounds. There are a number of factors to consider, but it’s important to go through the process in order to assure that both you and your new canine companion are happy. If you feel that you’re ready to make the commitment of becoming a pet owner, the tips below will serve as a valuable guide on how to choose the right dog.

Are You Ready For A Dog?

Before you get a dog, it’s important to make sure that you’re ready for such a responsibility. Owning a dog is like having a child, and your animal needs just as much love and attention as a tiny human does. Here are a few questions to ask yourself:

  • Can you afford to feed your dog and take it to the vet when it’s sick?
  • Would you consider yourself a dog lover?
  • If you live in an apartment building, are dogs allowed?
  • Are you allergic to dogs?
  • Are you willing to clean up after your dog?

While nobody likes to clean up dog poop, it is part of the responsibility of owning a pet. If you’re not ready for this, then you might want to reconsider owning a dog.

Dogs are also going to cost money. Besides the initial purchase fees and vaccinations, you’ll need to take your dog to the vet at least once a year (more if they get sick). To top it all off, you’ll need to buy dog food, a collar, chew toys, ID tags and numerous other products. If your dog lives outside, it’s also a good idea to get them a doghouse. Before you buy a dog, make sure you can afford to support him or her.

Picking The Right Age Dog

When considering how to choose the right dog, you should think about what age dog might be right for you. Here are some brief guidelines:

Puppies – They will require the most training and most likely use the bathroom on the floor and chew the furniture. The biggest upside is the bond you’ll have with raising a puppy, and they’ll be around for a long time to come.

Adult Dogs – Dogs that are grown can often quickly make the transition to living with a new family. They can, however, already be set in their ways, and there’s no guarantee that all of them will be trained. While puppies may change in behavior over time, an adult dog is more “what you see is what you get.”

Older Dogs – Many people avoid buying older dogs, but owning one can be just as rewarding an experience as having a puppy. You may be out more money in the short term, as aging dogs may develop health problems. However, older dogs make grateful companions, and they’re ideal for someone looking for a dog which is more mature and less energetic.

What Size Dog Is Best For You?

Something else to consider when looking for the perfect dog is size. If you live in a small apartment, then a large dog may not be a good option. If you live in a busy household full of people, a tiny dog might be in danger of getting stepped on. Consider your space limitations and select your dog accordingly.

High Maintenance Dogs Versus Low Maintenance Dogs

While short-haired dogs don’t require a lot of grooming, breeds with longer hair may need constant combing and clipping. Some dogs tend to drool a lot (such as Mastiffs or Bloodhounds), so take this into consideration before purchasing one. Also note the length of the dog’s ears, as long-eared breeds may be more prone to ear infections (and visits to the vet). If you’re unsure of the maintenance level of different breeds, a check of the Internet should answer all your questions (or you can talk to a vet).

Look For A Dog With A Compatible Personality

Are you a couch potato? If so, you might want to consider a breed such as a Manchester Terrier or Chihuahua. More active dog owners might want a breed which enjoys running and fetching a Frisbee. Dog owners with children might do well with a friendly breed like the Beagle, Golden Retriever or Labrador Retriever.

The American Kennel Club provides a complete list of breeds and their various quirks and personality traits. Mixed breed dogs are a complete grab bag, but many consider them less high-strung than purebred dogs. If possible, it’s a good idea to spend a little time with your prospective dog to see if you “click.”

Where To Buy Your Dog

When buying your dog, you have three major options:

1. Animal Shelter – Buying a dog from the pound can save you a lot of money, plus you also get the satisfaction of saving an animal’s life. The drawback is that some of these dogs may have long-term health or emotional problems (something which you might not know about until you get them home).

In some cases, an adult dog may come with a written history. If this is the case, it can make picking out the right pet much easier. Sometimes, there may even be contact information for the previous owner, but this is usually the exception and not the rule.

2. Breeders – Breeders can be found in classified ads or by calling the American Kennel Club at 1-900-407-PUPS. Dogs sold by breeders will be in good health, but they’re also much more expensive. If you’re looking for a purebred show dog, expect to pay several thousand dollars (while other dogs can be purchased for a few hundred).

3. Pet Stores – The biggest drawback to pet stores is that many obtain their dogs from puppy mills (mass breeding facilities for dogs with horrible conditions). Dogs from a puppy mill often have health and emotional problems, and many stores will even sell you a “purebred” dog with false paperwork.

There are legitimate stores out there, but it’s often hard to known which ones are which. If your only option is a pet store, I would recommend at least searching for information on the Internet before you give them your business (for example, Petland, one of the nation’s largest pet retailers, has been found to buy from puppy mills in a MSNBC report).

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