How To Pick A Puppy That Is Right For You

Once you've made the decision to add a dog to your family, the first step is typically to start sizing up puppies. Sadly, far too many puppies end up in shelters or the pound because people go about selecting them in the wrong way. With this in mind, let's take a look at how to pick a puppy that is right for you now and in the future. 
 
So CutePicking a puppy that is right for you
 
"Oh, she's so cute!"
 
If you or one of the family members says this when looking at puppies…it is time to hit the brakes and take a deep breath. The single biggest reason people give up dogs is they pick puppies based on looks instead of breed characteristics. This usually results in a bad long term match. 
 
Let's consider an example. A Border Collie puppy is to die for. We are talking the very definition of cute, the kind of dog you will just want to snuggle with the rest of your life. You can't help but buy one on first site…which usually leads to major problems down the road.  
 
The problem is the Border Collie is one of the smartest and most energetic dogs we have. 
It needs mental and physical stimulation every day and a lot of it. Without such stimulation, the dog can become annoying and destructive. 
 
Does this mean there is something wrong with the dog? No. It does suggest, however, that only people pursuing very active lifestyles should pick a Border Collie puppy for their family. 
 
Taking Inventory
 
The correct first step to take when considering a puppy is to ascertain if you are really ready to add a dog to your life. Ask yourself a few questions.
 
1. Are you ready to make a 15 year commitment to caring for the dog?
2. Are you ready to sped $500 to $750 a year on vet bills?
3. How about $600 or so on dog food?
4. Are you ready to walk and play with the dog every day?
5. What about costs associated with kenneling the dog while you travel?
6. Are you ready to commit to grooming the dog as required for the particular breed?
 
If the answer to any of these questions is no or you are hesitant in answering, then you may not be ready for a dog at this time. If the answers are all in the affirmative, then it is time to proceed to the next step of the analysis. 
 
Lifestyle
 
The world "dog" is much like the word "car". It is a catch all term that describes a general thing, but that is about it. The difference between a Toyota RAV and Ferrari, for example, is pretty obvious and you would buy one or the other vehicles for very specific needs. If you were to purchase one with the expectation, say a Ferrari to haul the kids around, you would end up disappointed. 
 
The same idea translates to dogs. Certain dogs make great jogging companions while others can literally die if they are forced to run anything more than surprisingly short distances. The anatomies and genetics of breeds are simply different, so your task is to objectively evaluate your lifestyle to develop an objective profile of your activity level, expectations and living situation. This profile will then be matched to different dog groups so you know which groups of breeds is likely to be best for you. 
 
To develop your lifestyle profile, write down and answer the following questions.
 
1. What are your 5 favorite hobbies?
2. How often do you go for a walk or jog outdoors every week?
3. How often do you travel?
4. How long are your work days outside of the home?
5. Why do you want a dog?
6. What type of residence do you live in – apartment, home or rural?
7. What type of personality do you want in the dog?
8. How active do you want the dog to be?
9. How much training can you give the dog? 
10. How much attention can you give the dog?
11. What are the average temperatures in your area throughout the year?
 
The answers to these questions should provide you with a fairly accurate profile you can use to pick the perfect puppy for your situation. The next step is to match this profile up to the various breed groups.
 
Puppy Matches
 
The key to picking the perfect puppy is not to look at individual breeds. Doing so runs the risk of suffering through an "oh, he's so cute" moment that will lead to a poor choice. The better approach is to focus on the different breed groups first so you can identify the type of dogs that match your profile best. Then, and only then, do you start looking at individual breeds. The general dog breed groups are as follows:
 
  • Hunting Dogs – Hunting dogs may sound intimidating, but they happen to be the most popular choices for pets. The dogs are generally midsized, energetic, friendly, but not particularly intelligent. The classic hunting dogs include Golden Retrievers, Labrador Retrievers and Cocker Spaniels.
  • Companion Dogs – These pups tend to be smaller with plenty of personality and energy. They are often great dogs for apartments, but can require significant grooming commitments. Breed examples include Lhasa Apso, Miniature Schnauzers and Shih Tzu.
  • Guard Dogs – As the name suggests, these are bigger dogs bred to act as guards for flocks and families. They tend to be smart, big and can be aggressive. They also tend to need less personal attention. Breed examples include Rottweilers, Doberman Pinchers, and Komondors
  • Terriers – Terriers are smaller dogs that are very intelligent and feisty. They were used in many cases to hunt rats and vermin through history, so they are brave and have a tendency to dig. Examples include the Border Terrier, Cairn Terrier and Rat Terrier.
  • Herding Dogs – As the name suggests, these pups were workers on farms and with livestock. They tend to be very smart with lots of energy, but don't do well when cooped up. Breed examples include Australian Shepherds, Border Collies and Australian Cattle Dogs
  • Cold Climate Dogs – Technically known as Spitz dogs, these pups are working dogs used to living in cold climates. They can be very independent, but need a lot of exercise. Huskies, for instance, are known to run 100 kilometers at a time behind snowmobiles in Siberia without blinking an eye. [See "The Happy People" documentary for examples.] Breed examples include the Siberian Husky, Malamute and Akita
 
We highly recommend you read a more detailed explination of each breed group to get a feel for the characteristics found in each of them.
 
How do you use this information? By matching the characteristics of your lifestyle with the various breed groups. For example, a jogger is going to want to focus on dogs in the herding or hunting groups while avoiding breeds in the terrier, companion and cold climate groups. A person living in an apartment will also want to be very careful about identifying the breed groups that can happily live in smaller places and so on. 
 
Puppy Match App
 
If you prefer to get a quick look at potential matches for you and your family, we offer a free puppy match app on our home page. [Click here.] It is not as exacting as the procedure described in this article, but is sufficiently in depth to give you a solid start on picking a puppy that will be a great companion for the next 15 years. Feel free to try it out. 
 
Final Thoughts
 
When considering how to pick a puppy that is right for you, what is our first lesson? Right – don't pick a puppy based on looks no matter how cute that little beastie is. It will usually lead to a bad owner-dog match. Instead, focus on the procedure described in this article. Doing so is likely to lead you to a pup that will enrich your life now and in the future. 
 
 

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