When you are going to pick out a new pup for the family it is important to consider several things…

  1. Do you want a puppy or an adult dog?
  2. What is your energy level?
  3. How much experience have you had working with dogs?

Before you even begin to look it is extremely important to consider these questions. Keep in mind that you may get to the shelter or breeder’s home and fall in love with this adorable face but that does not mean that the face you are looking at is attached to a dog that is meant for you.

Take a look at the first question…

Puppies are very time consuming and may be tiring. There will be long nights of lack of sleep while housebreaking and periods of inappropriate behaviors such as chewing, nipping, and jumping. Puppies have lots of energy. On average a puppy should have a minimum of two, forty-five minute sessions of exercise a day with several smaller sessions of play or activity in between. Are you up for the challenge? If so, thats wonderful!

If you’re questioning the experience of “puppy-hood” don’t worry. Adult dogs can make wonderful pets too. First off many of them have grown out of their bad puppy habits and may have had some training. Also when you adopt an adult mixed breed there is no surprise to how big it will become. Finally if you are worrying about the fact that every memory of the dog’s life will not involve you or that he will never consider you his real family, don’t! Most adopted pets truly appreciate the love and attention you give them and in no time at all you will be their true family.

Please keep in mind that there are plenty of dogs out there in need of a good home. Think about your shelters and rescues before running to the pet store. If you are looking for a specific breed remember there are alway rescues. You’ll be surprised you can find puppies there too!

Now it is time to think about the rest of the questions because your responses will help you answer one major question: What breed is best for you? Are you looking for a dog that wants to go on a ten mile run with you every day or do you want a lap dog who might enjoy a 20 minute walk a few nights a week? Are you going to be home all day and able to provide your dog with lots of enrichment or do you work 50 hours a week? Have you had years of experience with dogs and don’t mind working with a breed that is a little bit stubborn or is this your first dog and you want one that desires to please? All these questions need to be answered before you pick out the breed you desire, whether it ends up being a mix breed or a purebred.

Dogs breeds can broken up into seven categories. Here is some information about each group. Once you think you know which is best for you please do some more research including research about specific breeds. You will notice that there will be different characteristics between breeds within the same category which is why further research is needed.

  • The sporting dog group includes breeds such as pointers, retrievers and setters. Sporting dogs are bred to be hunting dogs and normally work with the hunter to locate, move, or bring back birds. Many have high energy levels and exercise requirements. Without appropriate exercise behavioral problems might occur. Some may be difficult to train as a family pet without the proper mental stimulation. Overall they are active and alert breeds. Sporting dogs are easily distracted. Spaniels and setters can be overly sensitive while retrievers tend to be insensitive and difficult to correct.
  • The hound group includes sight and scent hounds. These dogs are bred to pursue mammalian prey. Because of this many hounds are extremely hard to train since they were bred to be leaders and are easily distracted. The hound group is extremely diverse but many have great stamina. Most hounds howl and bay so please remember this.
  • The working group is bred for the service of humans. They consist of guarding, sledding, carting, and rescue breeds. In general they are intelligent and hardy. Because of their intelligence they are easily trained but many of them are massive in size and may be protective so they must be properly trained. Since they are bred for protection many of them are dominate and need an owner who shows consistent leadership.
  • Terriers were bred for catching rodents and vermin. They consist of both long and short-legged breeds. They are often quick to take offense and are very energetic. Most have a low tolerance for other animals. A terrier owner must be a determined person.
  • The toy breed consist of dogs bred for companionship and delight. Many of these dogs are small versions of other breeds. Keep in mind just because they are small doesn’t mean they are not tough. Some may have very strong personalities. Their small size does make them perfect for apartment living and lap dogs.
  • The non-sporting group consists of a large variety of dogs. They are hard to generalize because most either do not fit in another category or are not bred for a specific function. These dogs differ in size, energy, ability to be trained and personality so please research these breeds on an individual basis.
  • The herding group consists of dogs who desire to control the movement of others. Some breeds herd by gathering while others drive the animals. This can be done by staring and stalking or barking and nipping. Although some will try to herd their owners or children due to natural instincts they are extremely intelligent dogs and in general make great companions. Because of their intelligence level these dogs need lots of mental stimulation to prevent behavioral problems. Since these dogs have a high pack drive they often become overly attached to their owners and have a potential to develop separation anxiety.

Now that you have had a brief overview of the different groups of dogs you can do further research to determine what breed is perfect for you. Please consider the dogs affection level, friendliness towards dogs, other pets, and strangers, as well as the dog’s ease of training, guarding and protection ability and grooming requirements. Remember when at all possible meet both the parents, and/or bring an experienced person with you to help determine the specific dog’s temperament.