With hundreds of different types of dog breeds, how can you possibly know which one is right for you? Just like you, I asked myself this very question over-and-over again, before finally settling on both of my rescue dogs.
At the end of the day, the breed really didn’t matter to me and my family, and in a way, our dogs chose us. The only thing that we were really sure of was that we were ready for a dog, but beyond the breed, there were so many other things to consider.
First, we began by making a short list of what was most important to us. From there, we conducted a little research to narrow down the type of dog that would best fit us based on what was most important. That list and subsequent research is what led to our developing sort of “guide” on how to select the perfect dog.
While reading this post may not ultimately end up providing you with the exact breed that is perfect for you, hopefully you will learn from how we went about our selection process and then be able to apply that to your own unique situation in determining which dog is right for you.
Things to Take Into Consideration
When picking out the perfect dog, there are many things that you should take into consideration beyond how cute and cuddly a particular dog may be. Just like humans, every breed and even the dogs within that breed, are unique and quite different.
Below are just a few of the things that we took into consideration throughout our process:
1. Size Matters
When it comes to selecting a dog, size does matter, and it was one of the first things that we took into consideration. At the time we rescued our first dog (Khalesi), we were living in a three bedroom apartment while in the early stages of planning for a new home to be built.
We quickly learned that if you live in a condo or an apartment there are typically both breed restrictions and weight limitations, and these restrictions have very little flexibility regardless of how long you are going to be there, or when your forever home is going to be completed.
Dogs that are labeled with some of the more “aggressive” personalities such as Rottweilers, Doberman Pinschers and German Shepherds were absolutely not allowed. Moreover, our apartment complex had also imposed a maximum 50 lb. weight restriction.
In addition to the size and breed restrictions we faced, we also had to consider walkability. Not sure if that is a word, but if it wasn’t before, it is now! It’s goes without saying that the larger the dog, the stronger and more difficult to handle that dog will be.
Ask yourself, are you willing and/or able to take that 100-pound dog for a walk as many as 3-5 times a day? Better yet, are you ready for the possibility that your dog may be the one walking you?
Take it from someone who once owned two Huskies, genetically predisposed to pulling a sled and weighing more than 100 pounds each, it’s not as easy as you think.
With that being said, really take the time to gain some clarity on the size of dog that you are seeking. Once you can establish whether you want a small, medium or larger sized dog, it will quickly eliminate over two-thirds of dog breeds, which in turn will make your decision that much easier.
2. Time Matters
When we were preparing to pick out our dog, my girlfriend and I had to consider the fact that we are both working professionals, and we each have loads of responsibility. In the mornings, we are both out of the door no later than 7:30 a.m., and neither of us is usually home before 6 p.m. Therefore, we had to really consider how much time we could actually dedicate to a dog.
In addition to our working schedules, we each have a child in elementary school. What this means are lots of school activities, functions, responsibilities and extracurricular activities, such as basketball, football and soccer practice and games.
One of the best pieces of advice I could offer to someone when it comes to picking the perfect dog for is to honestly assess how much extra time you have.
You have to keep in mind that some breeds are more needy than others and will require more of your time. Some of the more needy dogs will actually experience separation anxiety when their owner is gone for long periods of time.
When it comes to taking on the responsibility of a pet, you must really be honest and realistic when assessing your time. If you can’t set aside 3-4 hours per day to just be with your dog, don’t select a breed that needs more quality time regardless of how precious it is.
Moreover, if you can’t dedicate the appropriate amount of time to a dog, then please just don’t get one.
The best approach is to write out and thoroughly analyze your schedule. Figure out exactly how much “free” time you truly have throughout your day, and on weekends.
As part of your schedule analysis, remember to take into consideration how many vacations you like to take, and consider what you will do with your dog when you go on vacation. Add up the time and then you will be able to make an educated decision as to which dog breeds need more attention, and which ones can be a little more self-sufficient.
3. Temperament Matters
Having two young children in our household (Kadence is 7 and Brant is 8), the temperament of the dog that my girlfriend and I chose was every bit as important as the size.
Every breed (every dog for that matter) has its own personality. Some are more friendly and social, some are more nervous and skittish, and some are more protective and aggressive. Depending upon the dynamics of your household, temperament is huge consideration, especially when children are involved.
For me, activity level is also part of temperament. Some dogs/breeds require more exercise and activity, and some are just as happy and content with more lap time.
The overall temperament is crucial for immersing and socializing the dog into the family as well as the process for training and development of the dog.
I once adopted a dog that suffered from separation anxiety and required hours of exercise each day. When I adopted him, I had no knowledge of his temperament or activity needs. I just fell in love with the color of his eyes and the fact that he wouldn’t leave my side at the adoption table. I was only at the pet store that day to buy some fish food, and came home with a dog!
Figure out which temperament will best fit your lifestyle. Your new friend is going to require a lot of attention in the beginning, and as its owner, it is your responsibility to provide them with the love and attention they need and deserve.
Whether your future puppy wants to cuddle up in your lap, or run around in circles, you need to be prepared to accommodate and meet those needs.
4. Training Matters
Dogs are EXTREMELY intelligent animals! Just like humans, some are more intelligent than others. Intelligence and obedience are both relevant and important factors to consider, and with just a little research you can gain insight into the intelligence level of the breed or breeds in which you are interested.
Trainability is one of the most critical factors to consider when selecting the perfect dog. Knowing how easy or difficult the training process might be could greatly influence your choice.
Depending upon your schedule, if you don’t have a lot of time to dedicate towards training, you might want to adopt a dog that is more intelligent and considerably easier to train. Again, it doesn’t matter how precious the dog you really want may be. If you can’t dedicate the appropriate time to properly train them, it won’t work out for either of you and you will both end up regretting the choice.
5. Health Matters
Because I did not always think to do the research and properly consider it, one thing that I learned the hard way through past experiences was just how important it is to have an understanding and knowledge of the known health concerns of a particular breed.
Almost all dog breeds have inherent health risks and many are prone to certain physical and health related issues. All of them can cost you money…a lot of money.
For example, one of the more popular dogs in our society today is the Pug. You may not know this, but Pugs are prone to a variety of potential health issues. From skin problems, to breathing problems, to eye problems, to tail problems, Pugs are one of the more high maintenance breeds when it comes to maintaining pet health. In fact, I once knew a woman whose Pug was allergic to grass. She also had to physically expel her Pug’s anal glands about once per month!
So, while some people insist on owning a Pug simply because it is cute and irresistibly adorable, all of these issues can present serious financial hardships if you are not prepared.
When going through the process of picking your dog, please make sure you do the medical research and have a solid understanding as to what potential health risks exists for the breed you are considering.
If you are not willing, able, or prepared to accept the financial burdens of properly caring for your dog and following through with routine visits to the Vet, please do yourself and the dog a favor, consider a pet rock instead.
Your Dog Is Your Baby
Your dog is like a baby in that it is incapable of properly caring for itself. Each dog is very different and will require very different and specific attention every single day.
Whether you are just beginning your quest, or continuing along your journey toward picking out the dog that is right for you, please take all of the above tips and information into consideration. If you can narrow down your choices based on these considerations, you will be that much closer to knowing which dog will be the perfect fit. If nothing else, through the process of elimination, you will at least know which breeds will NOT be the perfect fit.
For my girlfriend and I, we weren’t interested in any one particular breed. It was important to us to rescue an unwanted and abandoned dog, so that we could give her a chance at a good life. After adopting our first dog almost two years ago, we loved her so much that we decided we needed another rescue in our lives and just recently adopted our Cersei about 3 weeks ago.
In both cases, we weren’t breed specific and we were told that they were both “Pit Mixes.” After spending some time with each of them prior to their adoption we had a great feel and comfort level with their temperament. More importantly, we were able to perform research with respect to intelligence, trainability and any potential health issues prior to making our final decision.
I recommend you do the same. After all, your dog is like a baby.