Dogs dogs dogs! They're four legged personalities covered in fur. If you're thinking about adding one to your family - congratulations!
With so many breeds to choose from, deciding on a breed can be a little overwhelming. But before making a decision based on "OMG those dogs are soooooo cute!", it's important to make sure the breed you have your heart set on is the right breed for you. Here's a few things to consider making sure you're a good match for the breed you want.
Matching a breed's energy level to your energy level is of high priority when deciding on a breed. Biting off more than you can chew in this department is one of the top reasons why many dogs end up in shelters - and that's not cool.
So before adding a dog to your household, take a quick inventory of yourself and your habits to help determine which breeds might be best for you.
Are you the type of person that enjoys sitting around watching TV, reading books, scouring the web or social media for hours, relaxing on the evenings and weekends? Do you cringe at the thought of exercise or anything or roll your eyes at anything that interrupts your chill time?
Or are you the type of person that can't sit still? Do you get bored quickly if you're not out and about doing something? Do you enjoy routine exercise and need it in your life to feel complete? Do you engage in physical activities throughout the week and weekends?
Or do you fall somewhere in between?
If you're a sedentary type of person, high energy breeds that require a lot of exercise and mental stimulation to stay happy might not be best suited for you. If you don't give energetic dogs a way to release their energy, many will find ways on their own.
This release can come in the form of destructive behaviors or developing disorders. Boredom can lead to excessive chewing (think furniture), excessive digging, frustrating barking, tail chasing, anxieties etc. Sadly, the dog usually gets blamed in these situations - but, it’s not their fault.
Another mistake that's often made is thinking that a dog is going make you enjoy exercise and activity. If you're a sedentary type of person, getting a dog is going to turn you into an exercise enthusiast anymore than the last 15 January firsts did. If you currently don't enjoy going for walks, having to do it every day in all of mother nature's elements while carrying a bag of poop isn't going to make it any more enjoyable for you.
Also, if you have a fenced in back yard, don't think you can just throw the dog out there and your problems are solved. Dog's love and thrive on attention and interaction with their adored humans. Remember, you're getting a dog because you want a good companion - and a good companionship is a 50/50 relationship. Be prepared to do your share of being a good companion if you want the same in return. Set aside adequate time each day to play with, walk, mentally stimulate, and love your dog.
On the other hand, if you're the type of person that can't sit still and would love to have a dog to pal around with, choose a breed that can keep up with you. An energetic mid-sized agile breed might be the perfect fit for you.
Don't get a Pug and expect it to go for a 3-mile jog with you. Same goes for really large breeds as well. While some exercise is good for all dogs, large breeds can develop painful joint issues with excessive exercise due to their sheer size and weight.
So. first and foremost, take an honest look at yourself and determine your energy level to prevent an uneven match. Doing so can eliminate a lot of headaches.
Dogs come in all shapes and sizes. From the 4 lb. Chihuahua all the way up to the 250 lb. English Mastiff. There's a perfect size for everyone. So which size is best for you?
Be realistic when making your decision. You might love a certain breed - but does that breed fit into your lifestyle? For example. You might LOOOVE English Mastiffs and think they're the cutest things in the world. But if you live in the city in a 500 square foot studio apartment on the 24th floor (and drive a smart car), getting an English Mastiff that's grows to a 200+ lb. behemoth will be life changing for you.
Before making any rash decisions, think of things like...
How big is my home?
How big is my yard?
How big is my car?
Do I travel a lot and would I like to bring my dog everywhere I go?
Am I physically capable of handling a large breed?
Can I afford the costs associated with owning a large dog?
Am I cool with picking up huge poops every day? (Yes, that's a reality)
Whatever the size of dog you want, be sure your head is included in the decision process. Don't just rely on your heart. Size is something to be considered when trying to find the perfect dog for you.
Pros and cons
Ever hear the sound of a giant dog at the foot of your bed licking its crotch at 3 am in the morning? Or how about the sound of an overly excited Yorkie yapping nonstop when you're trying to shake a headache?
What about drool and slobber? Are you cool with having egg whites slung around your house and car? Or how about hair? Ever see the backside of a long-haired breed after it had a runny poop issue? If you have, hopefully you noticed it before your dog scooted along your carpet or furniture (ah the joys).
All dogs are awesome, but each breed comes with its own pros and cons. Be aware of what you're getting into and weigh out the aspects you can live with - and more importantly, the aspects you'd rather live without.
Some breeds shed more than others. Some breeds drool more than others. Some are more energetic than others. Some have higher prey drives than others. Some are more difficult to train than others. Some are more powerful than others. Some require more maintenance than others. And the list goes on.
If you don't know the ins and outs of the breed you're interested in, be sure to do your research. Read about them online. Chat with people who own them. Visit reputable breeders. Gather all the information from reliable sources that you can. What you learn might seal the deal on a specific breed or remove a breed from your list of possibilities.
The more you learn ahead of time, the better prepared you'll be. Always know what you're getting into.
Before pulling the trigger, are you ready for the responsibility of owning a dog?
Can you afford the costs of owning a dog? You know - things like food, training, vet visits, heart worm protection, flea and tick protection, grooming, leashes, collars, harnesses, pup scruffs, beds, toys, etc. All of this adds up. And keep in mind, the larger the dog, the higher the monthly costs.
Are you capable and willing to dedicate your time to a dog? Dogs need love, attention, play, exercise, walks, socialization, and training. All of which takes time, effort, and patience (especially during training). Do have the time in your day for all this? And are you willing to share that time with your new fur person?
Speaking of training. Dogs aren't born with the ability to understand English or read your mind. They need to be trained. Attending group training classes or hiring a professional trainer (both highly recommended) costs money. But a well-trained well-behaved dog rarely ever ends up in a shelter. 99% of the time it's the untrained misbehaved dogs that do...and most of the time they come from owners that "thought" they knew how to properly train a dog. So, avoid adding to the shelter issue and take training seriously. Your dog will love you for it.
Okay, now that you have plenty to think about, it's time to do your homework (and a little soul searching). Consider your energy level, weigh out the pros and cons, and don't forget about size too. Happy dogs = happy owners...so choose a breed that's right for you, and one you know you can make happy.