As dog trainers, we are often asked by pet parents what breed of dog they should get. Which is the hardest to raise? The most intelligent? The answer is always the same: it depends. It depends on what type of dog is best for you, your family and your lifestyle. Do you live in a small apartment? You might not want a mastiff. Love to run long distances? Chances are a Shih Tzu isn't going to be able to keep up with you and a bull dog doesn't have the respiratory system to endure long distances!
It is true that you can't judge a dog's behavior solely by its breed, because one Labrador might be very different from another. However, genetics can play a big part in your dog's attitude, health, behavior and intelligence. Different dog breeds have been bred to do certain things over hundreds of years which can dramatically affect its behavior.
Here are some things to consider when choosing a breed:
- Energy. How active are you? Are you able to take the dog for a long walk every day? For instance, if you're a couch potato, you might want to avoid the worker and terrier breeds such as German Shepherds, the Weimaraner and American Pit Bull terriers. The last thing you want is a breed known for its high energy levels if you don't have enough time to exercise it properly every day. What happens with bored dogs? They become destructive and will chew, nip, bite and dog. Instead, consider a good couch companion like a Pug or Shih Tzu.
- Purpose. It is important to remember that certain breeds have been bred to do certain things. Watch dogs guard, retrievers fetch, hounds track, pointers sniff out birds and indicate their location by pointing, while companion dogs tend to be more social and people-oriented. Remember that many dogs have been bred to do one thing and do it well. Consider what you want your dog's purpose to be.
- Family. Expecting a baby? Ask yourself if you have time to devote to a baby and a dog. Bark Busters' trainers have seen too many dogs abandoned to shelters because newborns can be very demanding and the pet parents can no longer handle the responsibility of a dog. Do you know how to introduce the dog and baby? Or if you already have a family, what breed of dog will fit in? Not all dogs love children, especially small children that can poke and annoy the dog.
- Other dogs. Not all dog breeds get along with others or members of the same sex. Two neutered males can cohabit without too many issues if their doggie parents treat them equally and do not display any favoritism. Unequal treatment is usually behind most Sibling Rivalry cases. A male and a female of equal energy can also cohabit - this is the best match of all -- providing that the female and male are equally matched in size. If they are differing sizes, its best that the male is the larger of the two. Make sure that the female is spayed or problems could occur if a large male tries to mate with a smaller female. Two females are not always the perfect pair as females invariably want to rule the household. It won't be long before they test each other and some females won't back down. When you have two females in a household, they both might try to be the boss, which can lead to fights.
- Allergies. If you're allergic you might want to choose a hypoallergenic breed such as a poodle, Yorkshire terrier, Shih Tzu, Maltese, etc.
- Experience. Some breeds may be tougher than others for a first-time dog owner to train and handle. Two I can think of are Rottweilers and Bulldogs because of their stubbornness and dominance. If this is your first dog, consider a sociable breed like the Labrador or Golden Retriever.
It is important to do your homework choosing a breed that best fits in with your lifestyle. Bark Busters features a new breed each month in its "Breed of the Month" column, with our current breeds listed below. Know that we can train any breed, any size, any age.