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 them, and what you should consider before making any dog the newest member of your family.
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 parent you are, 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? Be realistic about your lifestyle.
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Every dog is an individual, and breed is not a good way to determine any individual's personality. However, some dogs were bred for specific purposes, and these genetics can influence their behavior.
The American Kennel Club categorizes dogs into seven main groups:
- Herding Dogs These dogs were bred to herd animals, as the name implies.
- Hound Group Hounds were bred to aid hunters. Scent hounds have excellent senses of smell, while sighthounds have excellent sight.
- 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 The diverse terrier group was originally bred to hunt vermin.
- Toy Group These tiny dogs might be a good choice for apartment dwellers.
- Working Dogs These dogs were bred to perform such jobs as guarding property, pulling sleds and performing water rescues.
The American Kennel Club also has a dog breed selector tool that can be helpful in determining what breed of dog might be for you.
How to find a dog
There are several different options for adopting a dog:
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.
Adoption apps and websites
If distance, geography, or busy lifestyles prevent you from visiting a shelter, there are many dog adoption apps and websites to help you find the best dog breed for you.
Learn about the dog's 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 staff or volunteer should be able to tell you about the dog's temperament, but their knowledge may be limited, as they likely deal with many dogs every day. When you meet a dog in a shelter or other group setting, the dog will most likely be at least a little bit stressed, so unfortunately, it's difficult to get an idea about their "true" personality.
It's a good idea to learn about dog body language ahead of time, and, if possible, to speak to a qualified dog trainer about what you want out of a dog and how much time you will be able to dedicate to training.
Learn about the dog's medical history
Certain breeds are prone to certain medical conditions. 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, but it helps to be prepared.
In addition to being aware of breed tendencies, ask the rescue group or shelter about the dog's medical history, to the extent they know it. They may not know the dog's entire life, but they can tell you about any medical conditions or known surgeries the dog has had. In addition, they should be able to tell you whether the dog is spayed or neutered. (Most shelters and rescue groups will either do this for you or help you to get the dog spayed or neutered, if they are not already.)
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!