If you’re like most dog lovers, you’ve chosen your pets based on appearance and convenience rather than in-depth thought about whether the animal would be a good fit for your family. However, this is a problem that contributes to many of the 780,000 pets who are euthanized in US animal shelters every year. It goes without saying that all puppies are adorable, so looks should be only a minor consideration when it comes to choosing a dog. Here are some of the more pressing factors that should be given serious thought before you add a new puppy to your family, including information about more nocturnal breeds, which dogs are best and worst suited for young families, and much more.
If you’re looking at purebred pups or a “designer dog” such as a goldendoodle or a pyrador from a reputable breeder, you might be tempted to believe that any potential health issues have already been nipped in the bud. After all, the dog will have received its first round of shots, along with flea, tick, and heartworm medications. And that’s not to mention the fact that it was raised in a happy, healthy environment with plenty of opportunities for socialization during the first months of its life. What could go wrong?
As it turns out, purebred animals are prone to just as many health issues as their hybrid counterparts and sometimes even more so, depending on the breed. German shepherds, for example, are wonderful, loyal dogs but they’re also prone to hip dysplasia, which can cause severe discomfort and incontinence even before the dog has reached its senior years. Bulldogs make adorable mascots for your family holiday greeting card, but their respiratory issues can be costly, not to mention extremely noisy. The bottom line? Do your research before deciding on a breed and decide whether the potential health risks are something you’ll be willing to deal with.
Schedule and Lifestyle
Since everyone’s lifestyle and schedule is different, it’s important for you to find a puppy breed that best fits your lifestyle. While most breeds of dogs are active in the early morning, a person who works nights would probably prefer a breed that’s been conditioned to hunt or protect its flocks at night, such as the great pyrenees or an American black and tan coonhound. These dogs can be trained to wait up for you to come home at night, and to sleep in with you the next morning instead of nudging you to go out and throw a ball at sunrise.
Also, certain breeds are better suited to people with more active lifestyles. Consider the vizsla, a handsome and well-tempered dog that’s bred for hunting and exercise. This is one example of a pup that won’t do well if it’s left alone for long periods of time it requires a ton of attention and interactive play; otherwise, it will likely destroy everything it can get its snout and paws on.
Finally, if you have a young family, you’ll want to look for a breed that’s typically easygoing, gentle and friendly. Golden retrievers, beagles, and Irish setters fit all these criteria, and the former two can also make excellent hunting partners for Mom or Dad. Labradors and cocker spaniels are certainly friendly, but sometimes their enthusiasm can be a bit much for smaller children.
On the other end of the spectrum, high-strung breeds like dalmatians and chows make adorable puppies, but their strong personalities make better companions for grown people than for young ones.
Grooming and Care
Before you put a deposit down on that gorgeous English sheepdog puppy, remember that sweet puff of fur is going to expand at least tenfold by the time the dog reaches adulthood. Ditto for other long-haired breeds like the Irish wolfhound, Newfoundland, and border collie. Not only will these animals require daily brushing, but they’ll also benefit from frequent visits to the doggie spa as well. This translates into a great deal of time and expense on the part of the owners, so be sure you have the resources to take on the grooming duties that these breeds require.
If you’re looking for a pup that won’t leave a pillow’s worth of fur on the sofa every time it passes through the room, consider a short-haired breed such as a Boston terrier, a dalmatian, or a German pinscher. Keep in mind, though, that while grooming might not be a major issue for these particular dogs, most of them will still require plenty of physical exercise and attention.
As far as the overall care of the dog is concerned, there are breeds that are more low-maintenance than others. Basset hounds, greyhounds, and Chihuahuas tend to be fairly self-sufficient, making them valid options for people who spend a lot of time away from home during the day. While every dog requires some degree of attention, you shouldn’t be deprived of canine companionship simply because you work long hours. As long as you’re willing and able to make time for the dog during the time that you do spend at home, there’s no reason why you shouldn’t consider adopting one of these mellower, self-sufficient breeds.
There are always trade-offs when it comes to choosing a pet you can’t expect any breed to be the “perfect fit” for you and your family. However, with enough forethought and planning, you can come as close as humanly possible and have a wonderful companion to share your lives with. First and foremost, decide which qualities are most important to you when it comes to your animal companions, and which issues you’d be willing to overlook. Make sure every member of the family is involved in the process; it’s much easier to welcome a dog when there are others around to contribute to their care. Finally, consider all aspects of the breed before making a decision. Once you’ve narrowed down your options based on the criteria that are specific to your situation, you’ll be ready to choose a dog that will be a perfect fit for you and your family.
Read this article next: 7 Cutest Puppy Breeds, According to Science
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