Picking the right dog is an important topic to me as a veterinary professional, and it should be important to the prospective owners as well. An adorable puppy is difficult to resist, but the decision to get a puppy should not be a hasty one. Rather, it should be an informed decision based on research to ascertain if the characteristics of the dog’s breed and personal history suit the owner’s personality. Dogs are surrendered to shelters for many reasons, but one of the most common reasons is that the owners can no longer care for the animal because they simply cannot accept a dog’s behavior and/or energy level. I am hoping this commentary can help you pick the dog that fits perfectly into your lifestyle and gives you an idea of what you should consider when adopting or buying a pet.
I’ll start off by addressing the group of people into which I personally fall; it is what we call the low energy dog owner. Now, by that I do not mean to imply that the people who want a less active dog are lazy by any means. More accurately, this category of owners will usually consist of people who have demanding, full time jobs. These busy owners would do better with a dog that requires less exercise (less, not none being key). For an owner with the aforementioned lifestyle, one should look at breeds in the non-sporting and sometimes toy category. Examples of breeds that do well with a few short walks a day include: shih-tzus, old English bulldogs, chow-chows, lhasa apsos. It may surprise you to know that some larger dogs from other categories fit this lifestyle including the great dane and mastiff.
If owners have a flexible life-style that affords them time to exercise a dog regularly, members of the working and herding dog categories may be more suitable. The herding group in particular is very smart and very active. People looking to compete in agility or even if you are just an active individual who would like a running partner, a more active dog may be a perfect choice. The more active dogs also do better in homes where there is ample space to run, such as a large yard. Examples of high energy dogs include: border collies, Australian shepherds/cattle dogs, labrador retrievers, German shepherds.
Now, that being said, these are just guidelines. Every dog has its own personality and energy level. There are lazy labradors and active great danes. One of the best things you can do is to familiarize yourself with the breed in which you are interested, and research reputable breeders. Do not be afraid to call the breeders and ask them questions about their dogs. They will have raised the puppies in their home and will have knowledge of their individual personalities.
Adoption of a mixed breed is another great way to make sure your personalities mesh with your pet. Even though it may be more difficult to tell what breeds are involved, shelter workers and fosterers have been working with these dogs and can give you insights into which puppy would be a good fit for you. Additionally, social maturity for dogs occurs at 1-2 years of age, so adopting an older animal may be a good option, as they have matured from their active puppy stage, and their personality is unlikely to change. There are tons of calm senior pets in the adoption system that are trained and looking for companionship.
A great resource for information on dog breeds is www.akc.org
If you are looking to adopt in the Monmouth/Ocean county area, please visit the Monmouth County SPCA or Wag On Inn rescue.
Don’t forget about puppy wellness.
Preventative care is so important in maintaining your pet’s health. Each dog is an individual and has different needs when it comes to vaccination and wellness care. We at Atlantic veterinary hospital understand this and offer a variety of customizable wellness packages that include yearly exam visits, heartworm testing, bloodwork, fecal screenings and vaccination protocols catered to your pet’s individual needs.