You've decided to bring a furry friend into your life! But where to begin and how to decide on your dream dog? We got you covered on what kind of dog is right for your lifestyle, where to find it, and what you should consider before making an adorable pup the newest member of your family.
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Find a dog breed that fits your lifestyle
Dogs are as wonderful as they are varied. Finding a new dog that's right for you can take a little bit of research. First up, consider what type of dog owners you are or want to be and what will fit best into your life. Are you active or more of a homebody? Do you have a big yard or a small apartment? Do you want your pooch to protect or snuggle you? The American Kennel Association categorizes dogs into seven main groups.
- Herding Dogs In general, these intelligent dogs make excellent companions and respond well to training.
- Hound Group These pups are known for their signature baying and excellent sense of smell.
- Sporting Group Sporting dogs are ideal for active owners as they require regular, invigorating exercise.
- Non-Sporting Group
These dogs are a varied collection in terms of size, coat, personality, and overall appearance.
- Terrier Group These buddies make engaging pets but require owners with the determination to match their dogs' lively characters.
- Toy Group These dogs make ideal apartment dogs and terrific lap warmers on nippy nights.
- Working Dogs These protective pups were bred to perform such jobs as guarding property, pulling sleds and performing water rescues.
Let's not forget mutts and mixed-breeds which are awesome on so many levels.
Use a dog breed selector to help find your new best friend
The AKC has an online dog breed selector that can be a big help in determining the size dog you want, energy level, how much daily exercise, and other characteristics of dogs so you can find the right dog for you. After you read up on the breed of dog that's right for you, it's time to find your perfect match! There are several ways to go about finding the dog of your dreams, and we recommend visiting your local shelter, rescue, or humane society.
A shelter is an organization, with a physical location, that rescues animals within the community. Your city probably has one or more city-sponsored shelters. Most shelters are at least partially government-funded. If it doesn't matter to you what dog breed you take home, a shelter is a good place to start because they get dogs of all types who just need a loving home.
A rescue group does not necessarily have a physical location (although they sometimes do). They are usually entirely volunteer-run and usually funded by donations and/ or grants. Animals taken in by a rescue group will likely be fostered by a volunteer. While it might be unlikely to find a purebred dog at a shelter or rescue group, it's not unheard of, so if you have your heart set on a certain dog breed, keep checking in.
A humane society is an organization with the broader mission of reducing animal suffering. There is the national Humane Society of the United States and there are also state societies. A humane society may facilitate dog adoptions, but that's far from their only goal, whereas adoption is the primary goal of both shelters and rescue groups.
Adoption fairs are also another great way to find your dream dog because these events usually showcase lots of adoptable pets in any age group, and they often offer discounted adoption fees.
If distance, geography, or busy lifestyles prevent you from visiting a shelter, there are several fantastic dog adoption apps to help you find the best dog breed for you.
WOOF: HOW TO ADOPT A SHELTER DOG
Learn about their personality
Knowing the general characteristics of the dog breed you want is a great first step, up next is learning as much about your specific dog's personality as you can. Ask a ton of questions. The adoption worker will be able to tell you a good amount about the dog's temperament. But also observe for yourself. Dogs can absolutely be trained and certain "bad behaviors" can fade. But more often than not, a barker will always want to bark, a high energy dog will always want to play, small dogs will always need extra warmth (sweaters and jackets), a shy dog will always need a little coaxing, and a feisty dog will likely always get himself into a bit of trouble.
Know their medical history
Lastly, all dogs are prone to certain medical conditions. Of course, it's impossible to know your pup's exact fate, you can know what to prepare for. For example, flat-faced dogs may be prone to breathing problems and a large dog may be prone to suffer from hip dysplasia. It's nothing to be alarmed about, it just helps to know as much as you can going in.
Talk to your veterinarian, because there are some medical conditions that purchasing a high-quality dog food can help prevent. Whether you want a small lap dog or a large guard dog, learning as much as you can about them will help you take the best care of them over time. Once you've narrowed down the pup that's right for you, all that's left to do is choose the perfect name for your dream pup!