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There are thousands of purebred and mixed breed puppies available. But if you just go out and get a cute puppy, you may end up with a dog that does not fit your lifestyle or meet your expectations. This is a common reason why animals are abandoned or surrendered to shelters by their owners and possibly end up being euthanized. So what should you do? In order to choose the best puppy for you and your family, the focus has to be on yourself first. Consider where you live, how you live and what you want from a dog that most likely will be in your life an average of 10-15 years.
Questions to ask yourself before beginning your search:
Do you live in a small apartment or in a house with a big fenced yard?
Are you looking for a low-key companion or an active dog for jogging or exercising outdoors?
Do you want a dog to protect your home and property or just a playmate for the children?
Remember that all breeds of dog were created with a purpose – herding, hunting, sporting, swimming, rescue, protection, etc. Definitely consider what was the original working purpose of the breed you choose because most likely they are going to have the instinct to do what they were meant to do.
You should also take into consideration a dogs physical characteristics:
Big Dog or Small? A big dog that needs exercise is not a good choice for a small apartment. It is more expensive to feed and get medications for a big dog. A small lap dog is not the best choice if you want your dog to jog with you, swim, play fetch, etc.
Purebred or Mixed Breed? It may be easier to predict the characteristics of a purebred dog. But
Type of hair/coat? Some dogs require going to a groomer every 4-6 weeks and you have to add that to your monthly expenses. Grooming fees can go anywhere from $30-$85 depending on the dog’s size and difficulty of the grooming. Also consider that ALL dogs will shed hair but some shed more than others. Can you handle having dog hair everywhere and the additional time it will take to clean it? You will definitely need to invest in a good vacuum cleaner.
Inside or Outside Dog? Obviously, the weather in your area is an important consideration for this question. In Florida, do not assume that keeping a dog outside during the summer in a doghouse or under a tree with a bowl of water is enough to protect him from the heat. In my opinion, dogs that are always kept outside tend to be poorly trained and socialized and feel more isolated with less of a connection to their owners. If you are thinking about getting a dog just to throw some food at it and chain it outside, then stop reading this article… you do not need to get a dog!
Active or Quiet? Do you like to spend your time outside running, sailing, fishing, camping? Or do you like to sit on the couch and watch movies during your spare time? Think of your own activity level.
General health? Become familiar with what type of health issues are more prominent on certain breeds. Does a breed have a tendency to get hip dysplasia? Bloat? Skin problems and ear infections? Eye problems? Cancer? How am I going to deal with these issues if they were to happen? If you get a puppy that tends to have certain health issues, invest on Pet Insurance. You will not regret it!
Here are also some of the personality characteristics to consider:
Social or Dedicated to You? Are you looking for a dog that loves and greets everyone he meets? Do you want a dog that is loyal to just you or the family? Consider this if, for example, you have neighborhood kids coming in and out of your house.
Leader or Follower? No matter which breed you get, no dog is born knowing how to sit, lay down and roll over. All dogs must be trained but some dogs are easier to train than others.
Usually, sporting and herding breeds learn quickly. On the other hand, hound and terrier breeds tend to be more stubborn and it takes them longer to learn. How much effort and money do you want to spend on training your dog?
Without a doubt, if you take the time to do your research and get a dog that will fit you and your family, the new addition to the family will bring nothing but joy and a wonderful, loyal companion for years to come.
Nydia Melissa Perez, DVM