The annual Westminster Dog Show is just around the corner, and an array of magnificent breeds will be on display for the enjoyment of dog lovers everywhere. The pure variety and beauty of these wonderful canines is truly inspiring – so much so that you may even want to bring one home! Whether you are looking to purchase or adopt your first furry friend or add an additional member to your family, there are several important questions to ask before making the big decision.
As dog trainers, we receive all sorts of inquiries from future pet parents about the best breed for them and their families. Unfortunately, there’s no one-size-fits-all answer – a lot depends on your desires, needs, and lifestyle. For example, apartment dwellers should probably stay away from mastiffs; if you are hoping to have a long-distance running buddy, a bulldog wouldn’t be the best choice.
While you cannot predict a dog’s personality solely based on breed, genetics can play a large part in your dog's attitude, health, behavior, and intelligence. Different dog breeds have been bred over hundreds of years to do specific things, which can also have a significant impact on their behavior.
Years of experience have taught us that pet owners should consider the following factors:
Energy. Your activity level should play a significant role in choosing the right breed for you. Many dogs require daily long walks; if you’re not able to meet that requirement, the last thing you’ll want is a high-energy breed – especially because bored dogs tend to become destructive and are more prone to chewing, nipping, and biting. If you do not plan on being active with your dog, consider a breed that is happy relaxing on the couch.
Purpose. Different breeds have been bred for generations to do certain things. Watchdogs guard, retrievers fetch, hounds track, and pointers sniff out birds; meanwhile, companion dogs tend to be more social and people-oriented. Consider what traits you want your dog to possess before falling in love with a specific breed.
Family. Are you expecting a baby? If so, pause for a moment and ask yourself if you have the time and energy to devote to a baby and a dog. We have seen many dogs abandoned to shelters because of the demands placed on parents. If you already have a family, which breed will fit best with their lifestyle? It is not a given that all dogs love kids – especially small children, who can unintentionally annoy a dog.
Other Dogs. Not all sexes or breeds get along well with others. Two neutered male dogs can co-habitate quite nicely if their dog parents treat them as equals, but rivalries begin when siblings are not treated fairly. A male and a female of equal energy levels can get along together – and could even be the best match – if they are of equal size. If one is larger, it should be the male, and the female should be spayed: otherwise, problems may occur if the larger male tries to mate with a smaller female. Lastly, two females can make problematic pairs. Females inevitably want to run the household, and it won’t be long before they test each other.
Allergies. No one enjoys constant sneezing, runny noses, and itchy eyes. Hypoallergenic breeds such as Poodles, Yorkshire Terriers, Shih Tzus, and Maltese are great choices for anyone who loves dogs but suffers from allergies.
Experience. Some breeds may be tougher than others to train and handle. First-time dog owners should choose more sociable and less dominant, stubborn breeds, such as Labradors or Golden Retrievers.
Choosing to become a dog owner is a big (and exciting!) decision. As with any major life choice, it is important to do your homework.
Once you have selected the perfect breed for your lifestyle, Bark Busters is available to train or answer questions about dogs of any breed, size, or age.
Click here to read more about some of our recently Featured Breeds.