Having a doggo companion by your side can be heart-warming and fun. However, there are so many dog breeds in the world; each has its own unique traits and characteristics. There have been many cases in which owners have to give up their dogs since they cannot handle the breed. So if you are looking for a dog friend, it is necessary to take research and see which breed suits you best. And with no further ado, let’s jump into the wonder world of doggos and answer the question: “Which dog breed is right for me?”
Before we answer the question of choosing the right dog breed for us, we should consider this one first: “Should I get a dog?” Specifically, there are certain elements needed to be concern: our personal life and preferences, our family, and our home environment.
Our personal preferences and life
Domestic dogs or not, they are still pack animal. They always need to stay with their pack, in this case, us human. For that reason, the first thing we should consider is whether we can stay home and take care of a dog or not. People who usually stay at home, or able to spend lots of time at home, should have no problem in this regard. But if you have to be away home most of the day, then you probably need to reconsider the idea of having a dog.
Finance is another important aspect since raising a dog will definitely require certain expands from food, treats, to healthcare payment. According to American Kennel Club, the cost of raising a dog in first year is approx. $3085. And the total cost of raising a dog in a life time can be about $23,410 (keep in mind that this doesn’t include cost for training classes and other training equipments).
Next, we will need to consider our personal preferences and daily life. For example:
- What kind of dog do you seek (e.g. guard dog, companion dog, or toy dog)?
- How active the dog should be (e.g. being active, or “couch potato”? – AND – How active are you?
- How much time will you spend to train/play with the dog every day?
- Do you prefer small, medium, or big dog?
- Do you prefer a puppy or a grown dog?
- And more…
By saying “personal preference”, it is not something like “I love Shiba Inu therefore I want to have one.” In fact, if you already have a favorite dog breed in mind, it is even more important to consider the questions above, plus, research about that particular breed. As mentioned, many owners had to give up their pooches just because turned out they could not raise them. And definitely you don’t want to encounter the same fate.
Aside from personal preference and life, we will also need to consider our family and home environment.
Family can be both good thing… and bad thing when it comes to having a pooch. For better visualization, let’s consider the following 3 scenarios:
- Living alone: The plus side of living alone is that you have all the free time you want to take care of the dog, especially if you have a house. But in case you are living in an apartment, you will have to consider the rules of the place you’re living in. Certain apartment may even abandon pets so… guess we have to give up our dog dream.
- Living with our parents: It will be extremely lucky if our parents do not have any problem with pets, especially if our mother/father usually stays at home. When we’re away, our parents can pay attention to the dog instead. So it is a win-win situation. But if our parents do not allow pet, well either we have to convince them… somehow, or give up.
- Living with our wife/husband, and children: Now this tends to be more complicated due to children, especially babies and young children. Children normally do not know how to play or take care of dog. Therefore, we have to teach our children to prevent potential danger to both the dog and the child. With times and proper teaching, we can entrust our children with the dog.
Overall, it is always the best when our family happily approve of having a dog companion. In such case, it is not just us who will 100% take responsibility. Our entire family will join in raising the pooch, which is always a great thing for a healthy doggo, both physically and mentally. But if our family does not approve, or feel contempt with the idea, it is time to reconsider or patiently wait for the best time.
Our home environment
Certain home environment elements include: apartment, small house or big house, house with small garden or big garden, and law of the place we’re living in.
Living in an apartment is kind of uncomfortable since the space is limited and there is no personal garden. But that should be fine as long as we can bring our dog outdoor every day. The most problematic part though is probably the apartment’s rule. Certain apartments completely forbid pet owning and as the result, you will need to move to a new house if you really, really want to have a dog.
On the other hand, living in our own house is more pleasant for both us and our dog, especially when we have personal garden at home. If you have a small house with small, or without garden, you may want to consider small or medium-sized dog rather than big dog. If you have larger house with larger garden, it will probably be the best case scenario since the dog will have lots of space, both indoor and outdoor, to live and exercise.
Lastly, there is a small thing which many people tend to forget: the law of the place they’re living in. Certain cities or states will forbid or restrict certain dog breeds, for example: Alaskan Malamute and Siberian Husky is forbidden/restricted in Iowa, Louisiana, and Michigan.
If you are 100% confident that you can raise a dog, it is time to know the breeds:
There are about 300+ dog breed around the world and each breed has its own unique traits, characteristics, and temperaments. For that reason, let’s ask ourselves again some questions:
- What kinds of dog do we want (e.g. guard dog, companion dog, or toy dog)?
- Which dog’s size do you want?
- How active do you want your dog is? – And – How active are you?
- Do you want female or male dog?
- Do you prefer purebred or hybrid dog?
- What kind of temperament your desired dog should be (e.g. being energetic and playful, or calm and friendly)?
- Do you want to raise a puppy or a grown dog?
- And more…
And while answering those questions, let’s check out main dog breed groups recognized by American Kennel Club (AKC):
Sporting dogs are naturally active and alert. These dogs were originally trained to work with hunter for locating, retrieving. They are divided into 4 types: spaniels, pointers, retrievers and setters. Since they are so used to work, be ready to give them trainings and exercises.
- Example sporting dogs: American Water Spaniel, Boykin Spaniel, Cocker Spaniel.
Hound dogs, as you can guess, are mostly originated from their hunting ancestors. As the result, most hound dogs are pretty energetic. Some possess tremendous stamina for prolonged running, others possess innate ability to scent. And some dogs even develop peculiar sound called as baying. That said, there are so many hound dog breeds that we will need to take a look at individual breed, rather than generalize all of them.
- Example hound dogs: Beagle, American Foxhound, Dachshund.
Working dogs are originally trained to perform different task like guarding, pulling sleds, or rescue. These dog breeds are often smart, strong, and watchful. As the results, these dogs require proper training and socialization. They can be awesome companion, but take note that certain dog breeds in this group are not recommended for beginners.
- Example working dogs: Akita Inu, Alaskan Malamute, Doberman Pinscher.
Despite having small/medium sizes, terrier dogs are actually hunters which kill vermin and guard their home or barn. Therefore it is no surprise when these fellas tend to be spirited, energetic, or stubborn even. They can be great pets, but raising them will require patient.
- Example terrier dogs: Australian Terrier, Cairn Terrier, Bull Terrier.
Toy dogs are popular, especially in urban area thanks to their sociable, affectionate, and adaptable nature to surrounding environment. Most of them possess small size but be warned, these guys are actually very smart, active, and protective. But nonetheless, who can hate these cute guys?
- Example toy dogs: Cavalier King Charles Spaniel, Chihuahua, Maltese.
Herding dogs were once a part of working dogs group. But after 1983, they were officially moved to the new category called herding group. The herding dogs were originally trained to herd and protect livestock like sheep. Thanks to their ancestry, these herding dogs are sturdy in nature and they possess herding instinct. So even nowadays many herding dogs don’t have to do herding work anymore, they’re still tend to “herd” their hooman, especially children.
- Example toy dogs: Australian Shepherd, Border Collie, Bearded Collie
It is literally impossible to generalize this dog group since this group consists of various dog breeds with distinct traits, characteristics, and origins. Many popular dogs also belong to this group, including Dalmatian and Poodle.
- Example non-sporting dogs: Dalmatian, Poodle, French Bulldog
Choosing preferred dog breed(s) in mind
So those are the dog groups recognized by AKC. Understanding these dog groups will give us a general background of each dog breed and what we should expect. But of course, we still have to take research about the dog breed we want to have. In case you still don’t have any particular breed in your mind, we suggest taking dog-breed selector quiz, or even better, consult any reputable dog trainer/breeder you know.
Other thing to ponder about again is the dog’s age:
- If you want a puppy, you should only seek puppy which is already at least 8 weeks old (though some place does allow 7 weeks). Puppy is extremely adorable, but be prepared that it will require lots of care and careful training.
- Adult dogs tend to be calmer. They do not need that much work, especially if they’re pre-trained. That said, changing these dogs’ habit will require times and patient since they are so used to the old lifestyle.
- And finally, elderly dogs are not a common choice in normal households with parents and children. In fact, they are more popular choice for elder people. These dogs tend to have health problem, but they will be a great friend for the elders.
And once you got the overall idea of dog breed(s) you prefer, it’s time to visit the pooches.
Currently there are 2 ways to get a dog: adopting a dog/puppy from a shelter, OR, from a breeder. Supposed that you have chosen a breeder/shelter, let’s contact them to set up an appointment and meet all the doggos. There will be a number of works in this part but they are necessary if we want a good result.
First off, it is necessary to interact with all the dogs and observe their behaviors, thus forming a general idea about a dog’s personality. Remember to rush here since the more we spend time with the dogs, the better we will understand them. You probably don’t want to hastily choose a dog, bring it home, and feel regretted with your decision, just because the chosen dog does not fit your preference and your home.
In case of adopting a puppy, remember to only choose puppy with at least 8 weeks old (as mentioned above). If the breeder/shelter owner offers puppy with age less than that 8-week threshold, there is obviously something wrong and we suggest reconsidering this appointment.
While you are interacting with the pooches, you should also ask the breeder/shelter owner about the dogs. Normally a caring breeder/shelter owner should spend lots of time for all the dogs, thus understanding the personality and behavior of each dog. Combining their answers and your observation should give you more concrete information.
It is also suggested not to come into decision right from the first interaction. If you are interested in certain pooch after the first interaction, try to stay a far and observe its behavior. Then come and meet the pooch a second time. The best scenario is when you gently bring your hand close and the pooch feels eager and sniffs your hand. And best to avoid the pooch if it barks, jumps, or lunges towards you.
If you haven’t the right dog, don’t be disappointed. You can always ask the current breeder/shelter owner for a second appointment, OR, look for different breeder/shelter owner. With patient, you will eventually find your fated companion. On side note, if you concern about the infamous “puppy mills” situation, we recommend checking this article.
And when you have found the right doggo, it’s time to introduce the guy to your family.
Sudden change of environment can be overwhelming for a dog. Therefore, time and patience is necessary to allow the dog getting used to its new home. The very first thing we should do is to introduce it to all of our family members. This will help the pooch familiar with the entire family. This is especially important if there are young children at home.
On one hand, young kid may do some annoying stuffs to the dog like pulling its tail or ears. The dog may also be overwhelmed with the kid’s obnoxious noises or rapid movements. In case of dog breeds like herding dog, the dog may develop unwanted behaviors like herding or nipping the child.
It is also recommended to meet the dog’s parents if you adopt it from a breeder. Many breeders actually still have the parents at their place and normally they will allow you to meet them. This will help you to gain more understanding about the breed and also their personality when growing up.
And that’s it folks! Have you made up your mind which dog breed is right for you? Feel free to share with us and for now, thank you and stay tune for more news in the future!
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