So, you're thinking of getting a dog!
Great! A dog can be an amazing addition to your life. People who own a dog are, on the whole, less depressed, have less stress, and get more exercise. Since it's such an important step, it's worth doing your homework to figure out what dog you should get.
When you adopt a dog, you're committing to taking care of them for the rest of their life. Make sure the one you choose fits your lifestyle, temperament and needs. Below are seven questions you should consider in order to find the dog that is just right for you.
Who is in your family?
The first thing to think about when choosing a dog is your household.
Do you have kids? If so, you will want to avoid small, delicate dogs like chihuahuas, as well as breeds with an aggressive guarding instinct, such as rottweilers.
You will be better off with a friendly breed, such as golden retrievers or Labradors, or a calm dog like the famously laid back bulldog. On the other hand, if you're single, consider a German shepherd! They are loyal and intelligent and make excellent watchdogs.
Do you live in a house or an apartment?
If you have a house out in the country with a huge yard, then any dog will do. However, if you live in an apartment in the city, you'll want to be more selective.
Luckily, there are a number of breeds that are suitable for apartment living.
Try a small dog, like a bichon frise or a dachshund. Alternately, if you're looking for a bigger dog, the greyhound is surprisingly good for city-dwellers. Their need for speed can be satisfied with a jog or a trip to the dog park, while the rest of the time they're quiet and low-energy.
How much time do you have to devote to a dog?
Some breeds require more time and attention than others. When selecting a dog, you'll want to take these three things into account:
- Separation anxiety;
Some dogs, such as those bred for working or hunting, can't deal with being left alone for long periods of time. If you work away from home and don't want to pay for doggy day care, consider a dog that is likely to sleep most of the day, such as a basset hound or a greyhound.
Older dogs are also more able to spend the day alone.
Short haired dogs might never need grooming. Others, like those with long and/or fluffy hair, can be extremely high maintenance. If you're thinking of a fancy-looking dog, make sure you're up for devoting time to brushing, washing, and trimming.
- Medical attention;
There are certain breeds that are more susceptible to medical issues. Bulldogs, for instance, are more likely to have skin and respiratory issues. However, if you are willing to take care of a dog with health problems, consider adopting a dog that has been abandoned because its previous owners couldn't afford proper care.
Do you have allergies?
While short-haired or non-shedding dogs are sometimes touted as hypoallergenic, most people are actually allergic to dog dander or saliva. If you might be allergic to dogs, avoid dogs with dry skin, such as German shepherds, or slobbery breeds like Saint Bernards.
Do you want to train your dog?
While all dogs can be trained to some degree, some are easier to train than others. If you want to teach your dog to be obedient and to roll over on command, you might prefer a more intelligent and responsive breed, such as a poodle. However, if you want a challenge, try a bloodhound, who are famously known to be all nose and no brain.
Do you want to travel with your dog?
Many people enjoy bringing their canine companion with them on vacation. A good travel dog is one that is sociable with strangers, can tolerate rides in cars or planes, and can adapt to changing locations and schedule variations. Spaniels, collies, and poodles are all good choices.
Do you want to get a puppy or an older dog?
First things first: adopt a dog instead of buying one. There are thousands of great dogs out there looking for homes, and puppy mills are pretty much as bad as they sound.
That said, both puppies and older dogs can be found at animal shelters. Which should you choose? Puppies are adorable, and you can train them from the beginning, increasing the chance of a tight bond.
On the other hand, house training a puppy can be a frustrating (and messy!) experience, and puppies will chew on everything, from shoes to toys to furniture to linoleum.
On the other hand, an older dog will have left those puppy downsides behind, and is more likely to be even-tempered and lower energy. Older dogs also have more trouble being adopted, so you would be giving a home to an animal in desperate need of one.
So, what dog should you get? It might be a complicated question to answer. Keep in mind, however, that choosing the right dog for you can lead to many years of happy companionship for both you and your dog-to-be. Good luck!