Selecting a Dog That's Right
For You and Your Family
Selecting a dog is the next natural step after making the decision that owning a dog is right for you and your family.
But before you run out and get the first cute dog you see, there are several important options to consider when you set out to select a dog.
You may feel confident that you already know exactly what type of dog you want to get.
Even if that's the case, please think through each option below before you settle on any particular dog.
Male or Female
When it comes to selecting a dog, some people have a very strong preference here. Perhaps you only had female dogs growing up. This could lead you to only consider females now.
Perhaps you’ve heard some bad things about males that makes you afraid to consider getting one today.
While different breeds can have very different characteristics, it’s generally true that...
- Females demand more attention than males.
- Females are easier to train and to house train (potty train).
- Males are more active and may require more exercise.
- Males are more dominant and can be more aggressive with other dogs. This is particularly true if the males have not been neutered.
- Many of the “negative” traits associated with male dogs go away when they are neutered. They are usually less aggressive, more content to stay at home, and less likely to wander.
Recommendation: In most cases, males have gotten a bad reputation for no reason. A neutered male can be a wonderful companion...equal to any female dog. Breed, environment (how the dog has been treated) and training (or the lack of it) has a lot more to do with a poorly behaved dog, than its gender.
Puppy or Adult?
It's very common for people selecting a dog (especially their first dog) to only consider puppies. After all, everyone loves a puppy! How could you not? But puppies come with issues that many new dog owners aren't prepared to deal with.
Some things to consider before deciding on a puppy:
- Puppies are a blank-slate...much of their nature will be determined by what you do or fail to do with them.
- Puppies are like babies...curious about everything and will get into all kinds of trouble if you’re not careful.
- Puppies are messy and destructive. They will chew and chew and chew anything within reach...shoes, socks, furniture, etc. This is a response to their teething (losing their baby teeth and getting their adult teeth)...they are not being bad.
- Puppies need to be house trained. Depending on how much time you have, this could take a few weeks up to a few months. Until then, you’ll be doing a bit more cleaning in your home.
Some things to consider before deciding on an adult:
- Adults come with a history (good or bad depending mostly on how they have been treated).
- It may take some time and patience to undo bad habits or change undesirable behaviors in an adult dog.
- Adult dogs are often already housetrained and may have some measure of obedience training as well.
- It may take some time for the adult dog to feel completely safe and comfortable in his new home...especially if there was any kind of neglect or abuse in his past.
- Adult dogs are usually spayed or neutered. This is almost always true if you get them from a reputable shelter. This can save you some time and some money.
Recommendation: Don’t get me wrong, puppies are great! It’s easy to understand why everyone wants to get puppy. But...millions of adult dogs are put to sleep each year because no one wants them.
Please, please, please...seriously consider selecting a dog that's grown and giving him a second chance to have a happy, loving home.
Saving an unwanted dog will give you an amazing feeling that you’ll never regret!
Purebred, "Designer breed" or Mixed breed?
For some people this is the hardest decision of all. For others, it’s easy...they’ve always wanted a certain breed of dog and nothing will ever change their mind.
Much about selecting a dog for your family comes down to personal preference, but you should know everything you can about your choice beforehand.
- Produced by crossing 2 dogs of the same breed.
- Because of the careful breeding, you have a good idea what the puppy will look like and how he might act when he’s an adult. But, there's no guarantee.
- Unfortunately, continual breeding within the breed has brought about a higher risk for certain medical conditions. These can include blindness, skin conditions, heart-disease, allergies, and joint problems.
Designer Dogs (or Crossbred dogs):
- Produced by crossing 2 purebred dogs of different breeds.
- An example of this is a Labradoodle...a cross between a Labrador Retriever and a Poodle.
- Careful breeding also provides you with a good idea what the puppy will look like and how he might act as an adult.
- Breeding outside of the breed provides greater variety of genetic material. This reduces the risk of the medical conditions that often plague purebred dogs.
Mixed Breed Dogs (or Mutts):
- Produced by crossing any 2 dogs where at least one of them is not a purebred.
- The various genetic backgrounds in their make-up usually makes them among the healthiest kind of dog to own.
- When selecting a dog that mixed breed, there’s no guarantee of what the puppy will look like. There's also no way of knowing for sure what breed-specific characteristics he will have as an adult.
For example, we had a German Shepard mixed when we were growing up. She was accidentally bred by our neighbor’s purebred Sheepdog. Nine puppies were born and they all looked about the same for the first few weeks.
However, eight of the puppies grew up to look like Sheepdogs, while one had more of the mother’s looks (more like a German Shepard). You just never know.
Recommendation: I guess I’m partial to the Mixed Breed dogs. That was all we owned growing up and I still prefer them today. But my personal preferences aside, Mixed Breed dogs are:
- generally healthier,
- cheaper to own (they cost less to buy and are less likely to have a lot of medical issues),
- abundant to find.
Selecting a dog should be easier now...
By considering the questions above, you should now be able to say that you’re now looking for:
- an adult, mixed breed male dog,
- or, a purebred, female puppy,
- or whatever combination now makes sense to you and your family.
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