How To Choose Your Dog

by Valentina Bellicova - Date: 2007-01-28 - Word Count: 830 Share This!

So you've decided to grow your family. Chance meetings with dogs are on the increase. At the magazine stand a friendly pooch stares out of the pages at you. Late night reruns are suddenly awash with dogs - from Turner and Hooch to 101 Dalmatians! Even your friends are gushing about their new furred family addition! Your heart has been played and a dog it is. Now what? Where do you go to get a dog and how do you select one?

Your options are many and may be as simple as accepting a puppy as a gift from a friend who's just been blessed with a new litter. Chances are this is not going to be the case. Your choice should be governed by several considerations. Lets go over some of the logistics:

1. Have dogs always been part of your life? If so you can proceed with a slightly higher degree of certainty and comfort as to what you are looking for. More than likely you will want a dog of similar size, breed and temperament as the one you grew up with. If you've never owned a dog before, you may want to do some homework first.

2. Do you live in a house with a yard, a townhouse or a condominium? Although I have seen big dogs on city streets it is my opinion that they are best suited for a house with a yard. All dogs like to be played with but a big dog is best played with out in the yard where there is more room for him to romp around and run without having to be careful about furniture and furnishings. Small dogs on the other hand can play tug of war and other games in the house without disrupting your décor.

3. If the dog will be joining a family with young children you need to consider its temperament. It is no wonder that the Labrador and the Golden Retriever are a favored breed with families - they are at once protective, gentle and indulgent of small humans and incredibly forgiving of the prying and prodding of their tiny hands!

If on the other hand you and dog will form a family of two, you can opt for all kinds of other considerations. You probably have a breed in mind. If you want a purebred, go to a dog show or twol. Not only will you see some fine dogs of your preferred breed, but you can also compare them to other breeds of similar size. I remember when we were looking for a dog but were not sure whether we wanted a Rotweiler or a Weimeraner, we attended such a show and absolutely fell in love with an English Mastiff! I would never trade him! Ok. Big difference in size but it's a breed we would not have even thought of had we not seen one at a dog show.

4. Purebred or mutt? The advantage of a purebred is that you know what the puppy will grow up to look like and you know what its main characteristics are. A sheltie is a herding dog and very protective. A Shepherd or a Doberman make for good guard dogs. A mutt on the other hand, unless already grown, is more of a mystery. Of indeterminate breed(s), that cute little ball of fur may end up growing into quite a large dog with who knows what characteristics. A mutt, I have heard it said, is the true original dog - it is one of a kind, a true designer dog! A truly rare pedigree!

5. Breeder or the animal shelter? Definitely, if you have settled on a purebred, you want to get your puppy from a reputable breeder. There is probably a local breeder that you can visit. Your visit will tell you a lot about both the breeder and the dog you will bring home. Make sure the facilities are clean, the dogs well cared for and it would be good if you could have a reference or two.

Our animal shelters are overcrowded. Mostly mistakes, sometimes abandoned or just given up, these dogs make for excellent companions. Once again, if this dog is coming home to a family with young children, a puppy would probably be a better choice. If on the other hand, the children are older or its just you, an adult dog will give you just as much pleasure and joy. The advantage here is that it is probably already house trained and there are no surprises as to what it will look like when it is grown! Pound mutts come with a pedigree all their own and are much lighter on the wallet too!

Whatever your choice remember that this is a lifetime commitment. Bringing a dog into your life is not a spur of the moment decision. A dog is a life, it needs nurturing and loving, caring and giving. You'll be rewarded with sloppy kisses, adoration and unconditional love. Happiness is a two way street.

Related Tags: dog, breeder, animal shelter, sheltie, shepherd, choose dog, family dog, purebred dog, pound mutt, guard dog

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