8 tips to find the right dog breed for you, your family and home
It is commonly agreed that all dogs are good dogs. However, not every dog is a good fit for you. Domesticated dogs were bred for specific uses, thus imparting certain characteristics to the breeds. These characteristics are carried by those breeds even today when we bring them into our homes as companion animals.
Therefore, along with researching the origins of the domesticated dog, you must find out where your particular dog comes from and understand the characteristics and requirements of the breed. In addition to this, you should evaluate why you are getting a dog. Do you need a dog for security, companionship, or for some other reason, like a guide or therapy dog?
This will help you set realistic expectations and provide well for your dog. If you have a mixed-breed dog, you should read up on both or all the breeds, with particular attention to the dominant breed.
Before choosing amongst a labrador, german shepherd, beagle, golden retriever or an indie puppy, consider the things listed below about the dog breed you’re going to bring home.
1. Breed traits
Some traits are hard-wired into the dog. While training can subdue them, it can never take away the result of centuries of breeding. For instance, someone may claim a Pitbull type is good around children because she is not touch-shy, but the dog was bred for fighting another dog in a pit.
It will start practicing this instinct at home by bullying the humans around and can eventually be fatal to other dogs. Similarly, some Indies are deathly afraid of humans because of generations of keeping away from them; forcing such a dog to live with what it fears the most is cruel. Guarding breeds will bark and be suspicious of humans or not like being hugged or kissed.
This behavior can be disappointing for a family that loves physical displays of affection. On the other hand, some breeds, such as the Golden Retriever or Labrador, were bred for congeniality. They love being around human families, are friendly and are forgiving of rough handling.
2. Country of origin
Knowing this will give you an idea of the climate that the breed is accustomed to. This helps determine how well the dog can adjust to your local climate. It will also indicate whether or not you will need to invest in cooling or heating solutions for your home to maintain your dog’s health. Dogs that live in climate regions vastly different from theirs can experience frequent health issues. They may have a poor quality of life and a shorter lifespan.
3. Life Span
On average, the lifespan of a purebred dog is 11-12 years (mix breeds and mongrels are known to live up to 14 years or more). This varies by breed, so if you know your dog’s breed, you can find out a more accurate lifespan for your dog. If you’re planning to make a savings plan to fund your dog’s older years, this information can be valuable. As a pet parent, it’s also good to generally know how long you’ll have your dog with you, just so that your expectations are realistic.
4. Weight/ Size/ Nutrition requirements
Dogs come in all sizes, from fits-in-a-tea-cup to can’t-fit-in-a-car! Once you have evaluated your living space, you can use the breed’s size to determine whether or not it will be a good fit for you. Larger dogs weigh more, so they’re difficult to carry once fully grown. Compared to smaller dogs, they require larger beds and crates, more food, and bigger cars, which drive up the monthly expenditure. Keep these factors in mind while deciding on the right dog for you.
5. Grooming Requirements
The dog’s breed determines the coat length and thickness. This will give you an idea of how often you need to brush the dog, the grooming tools and products that the dog needs, and the frequency of trips to the groomers. A dog’s breed can also be an indicator of any predisposition to skin issues or sensitivity.
Details that are helpful to know beforehand, especially if you have an asthmatic, someone with respiratory disorders or someone allergic to dog hair at home. Side note: Dander causes the allergy, not the fur, so there are no ‘hypo-allergenic dogs, per se.
Most dog parents put their dogs through at least basic obedience training. This not only makes having the dog as a companion more manageable but also makes it safe for your dog to be outside, among other dogs and people. While all dogs can be trained, how dogs have been bred allows certain breeds to learn specific commands more easily than others.
The breed is also a factor in determining the intelligence of the dog. For instance, the Beagle was bred to chase the fox on hunts, while the humans followed on horse-back or feet. So recall and leash-walking are difficult for the beagle to follow once he’s focused on a scent.
7. Activity Levels
Breeds can be high energy or low energy, and through pretty straightforward logic, high energy dogs require more exercise and stimulation than low energy ones. A dog’s energy needs going unfulfilled, especially during younger years, may result in destructive behavior.
Giving your dog the job/ role they were bred for makes their life fulfilling. Keep this in mind when exercising the dog. Retrievers such as the Labrador and Golden are happiest in water. Hounds love treks, as much as Indies like a good climb. Herding breeds like the German Shepherd or Rottweiler will need to channel their instinct in some way to thrive.
As they age, high-energy dogs may require lesser exercise, or their stimulation requirements might change based on mobility or health. Even within the same breeds, dogs may be calm or active. So while breed cannot give you a highly accurate number for the hours your dog should be exercised, it is useful in gauging the level of activity you are signing up for when you get the dog home.
8. Common health issues
Nobody likes to see their dog unwell and reading up on the common health issues your dog’s breed faces can help you prevent many of them. General issues can affect any dog, but certain breeds have a predisposition to issues that vary from mild to life-threatening.
This is usually because of the breed’s anatomy. Certain breeds may have dietary restrictions, or may not be allowed on particular modes of transportation, and this knowledge should be obtained before you decide on your dog.
As mentioned in the previous blog, a dog is at least a decade-long commitment. This can be a smooth-sailing decade if you research the breed and set realistic expectations both from the dog as well as from yourself. Oh, and while you’re doing that, do not forget to read about the common misconceptions regarding the breed. It is best to consult an expert to ensure that you are getting the right information.Some breeds get a bad rap simply because people do not handle them well; one of those may just be the perfect fit for you!