Choosing Your Dog – A Friend For Life

Congratulations! You’ve decided to get a dog. What breed, what size, will it shed, long fur or short fur, what type of climate do you live in, do you live in the city or the country, do you have kids, do you have allergies, etc.? With over 150 breeds to choose from, that task can be rather daunting. Owning a dog can sometimes be frustrating. Your typical daily routine will become disturbed when your dog is a puppy and learning the household ropes.

A dog is a living, breathing creature. They have needs, wants and demands, not to mention a lot of love to give. They generally live for anywhere between 10-15 years. Aside from the purchase price, there is the cost of feeding, grooming and veterinary care. A larger breed dog, like a Saint Bernard, will eat more than a Chihuahua. A Samoyed will need weekly, if not daily grooming. A Schnauzer does not shed, but will need the occasional haircut.

Breeds are broken down into groups. Sporting, Hound, Working, Terrier, Toy, Non-Sporting, Herding and Miscellaneous. Each group signifies what the dog does best. For example, a Siberian husky is a member of the Working group. They are used for sled-dog racing because of their amazing endurance. They can run for miles upon miles and never seem to break a sweat. Working dogs (like the Siberian Husky) are often high energy dogs. It takes a lot of activity to tire them out. A toy dog would be perfect if you do not want to break a sweat while watching your dog.

Size is a factor to consider. Do you live an apartment where a smaller dog may be all that’s allowed, or do you own your own home with a big back yard? Age and disposition of the owner are key in helping to determine the size. An elderly person may be a better suit for a Yorkshire terrier than a Labrador. Remember that all dogs start small, but the breed of dog determines the end size. Even a Great Dane starts off small, but very quickly grows into a small horse that needs a large yard and a lot of food.

Owning a good quality vacuum is key if you own a dog with long fur. Samoyeds and Siberian Huskies have double coats that shed profusely. You would need to vacuum a few times weekly. Grooming must become a habit to help deter and control some of the shedding. However, if you don’t want to have to vacuum or remove fur from your clothes, a Schnauzer is great. They don’t shed and only need to be taken in for haircuts every few weeks.

Where do you live? Do you live in Florida or Wisconsin? A Chihuahua would feel very comfortable living in Florida, but not Wisconsin. The opposite would be true for an Alaskan malamute.

Kennels that raise pure-breds are very reliable sources. A professional breeder knows the pedigree of each of their dogs. They breed healthy dogs and will let you know of any health ailments of the parents and what is normal as your dog ages. You can apply to be a member of a dog club specializing in the breed you’re looking at. You can also find more information at national kennel clubs.

Dogs are man’s (and women’s and kid’s) best friend. Your dog will very quickly become a member of your family, so doing research before you buy a dog, will help prevent you from getting a poor-quality dog, or one that’s not right for you. Be sure to have a guarantee in writing from the breeder. That way, if the dog isn’t a fit, you can return it within a certain amount of time. Purchasing a puppy from a breeder allows you to know the dog’s birth-date, shots, registered name and the registration of the sire and dam (Dad and Mom dog).

Good luck to you and your new best friend!

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