Stopping to ask yourself and your family a few basic questions before bringing home your dog or puppy will help you decide what type, breed and size of dog is best for your home, but also help you be completely prepared for the big day. The following questions are the basic questions you will need to answer before getting ready for the new addition to the family.
In order to really understand what type or breed of dog you should consider, take the time to actually write down the answers to these questions, being sure to ask other family members for their input and ideas - especially if they will be taking care of the dog or puppy some of the time. Keep in mind that all dogs or puppies within a breed will have their own unique requirements and characteristics, but most will fall within the particular attributes of the breed.
1. Do you have room for a dog?
All things considered, larger dogs require more exercise space as well as larger living spaces. The opposite is, of course, true for smaller breeds. There are exceptions to the rule, so always complete some research to find out how much space the dog will require for living and exercise. In addition, remember that if you want to travel or transport your dog a lot, a smaller or medium sized breed may be more practical than one of the large or giant breeds.
2. What type of routine does your family have?
Dogs do best with regular human interaction, but some breeds are very needy of human attention, whereas others can tolerate longer periods of time alone. Small and toy dogs typically need a lot of time with people, as they have been specifically bred as companion breeds. Larger breeds often can accept being left alone while the family is at work or school, provided they have regular attention and time with the family when everyone gets home. Puppies do not do well left alone in a house for long periods of time, and will certainly make housetraining or housebreaking more challenging. If at all possible, plan to have someone at home for at least a couple of weeks to help the puppy settle in and become housetrained.
3. What do you want the dog to do?
If you want a watchdog or guard dog, it is important to choose a breed and size that will be appropriate for the task. While small dogs may bark and be excellent watchdogs, they are not usually considered effective guard dogs. Larger breeds may be physically larger, but may have temperaments that are far more friendly than protective. If you wish to keep the dog outdoors, it is important to consider the weather and the location that you can safely house the dog in when outdoors. The dog may also have other functions in the family such as a hunting dog, herding dog or competition dog. Consider all the various tasks or goals you have for the dog, then start researching the breeds you are interested in to see if they match your requirements.
4. Do you want a pet or a show animal?
This is an extremely important consideration for many reasons. One of the biggest issues will be the original price of the puppy or dog. Show quality lines in any breed will be considerably more expensive than purebreds that are not of show lines. In addition, mixed breed or unregistered purebreds may have all the qualities of the more expensive purebred at a fraction of the price. If you want a companion dog, it is not as critical for the dog to be registered, especially if you are not showing the dog or planning on breeding the dog.
5. How much is the budget?
Beyond the initial cost of the dog or puppy, there is an ongoing cost to responsibly owning a dog. Some breeds will require grooming and clipping, typically done by a professional groomer. Large breeds will have additional costs with regards to food, but all dogs will require some weekly food budget. In addition, there will be yearly vaccinations and check-ups, flea medications and emergency medical care bills should this be required.
6. Male or female?
In most breeds, the male tends to be slightly taller, heavier and typically more aggressive towards other dogs. Neutering a male will prevent some of the dog's aggression, and is highly recommended for all dogs unless you are prepared to carefully monitor and control the dog, as well as commit to breeding the dog in a conscientious manner.
Females, while slightly smaller and less aggressive, also have personality changes while they are in heat and may always become pregnant unless they are spayed. As with males, spayed females are typically calmer, less hormonally driven with their behavior and less likely to be aggressive. Caring for an intact female will involve careful monitoring, fencing and preventing contact with males during their estrus cycle.
In some breeds, the female will be more affectionate and less independent than her male counterpart, but in most breeds this difference is minimal.
7. Do you have children or other pets?
There are specific breeds of dogs that are known for their ability to interact with both kids and other pets with few problems or complications. Many dogs can interact with children and other pets simply with good socialization and training.
There are also breeds that are known to be rather intolerant of other pets or kids, and therefore this should be a key consideration. It is always important to choose a breed wisely, based on the composition of the family and household. Remember, a naturally aggressive or dominant breed is not considered a good idea in a house with other dominant dogs, just as a hunting breed may not be an ideal choice for households with cats and other pets.
Thankfully, there are so many different breeds of dogs that it is possible to find the perfect combination of qualities with a bit of research and information finding. Some breeds of dogs are considered appropriate for elderly people, individuals with physical handicaps, or even people with respiratory problems such as asthma or allergies. There will be considerations for housing the dog as well, such as whether it can stay outdoors or needs to be inside - as well as other needs. These will also have to be questioned. Research and find information, and also talk to breeders to find out all the pros and cons of the breeds that you are interested in before you make your final decision.