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Guide to Picking the Dog Breed That’s Right For You

Choosing the right dog – the breed, the size, the temperament, the cost – is the key first step to building a loving, healthy and happy relationship with a pet. Get it right and you’re likely to have a deeply rewarding experience. Get it wrong and you’re facing a potential nightmare.

So what should you do? First, recognize that there are two parties to this relationship – you (and the fellow humans in your household) and the dog. Both sides of the equation have to be compatible, which means that you have to understand as much about yourself as you do about the animal you’re adopting.

Know Thyself

Your lifestyle, habits and personality will guide the type of dog that’s right for you. So before taking a dog in, it’s crucial that you take a personal inventory. Do you live in a small apartment in a city, in a suburban home with a backyard or in the wide-open spaces? Are you an active person or are you a couch potato? Are you looking for a dog for security, as a companion for children, as an exercise partner? Are you a type-A workaholic with little attention to spare, or do you have more leisure time? Are you away from home a great deal or is the house your base of operation? Are you prepared for the expense?

Know Your Dog

While all dogs are individuals (you could find a timid Rottweiler and an aggressive poodle), specific breeds share general characteristics and make similar demands on their human companions. The choices can be dizzying. The American Kennel Club, for example, recognizes over 150 breeds, and the world is blessed with a nearly infinite variety of mixed breeds. Here are some of the major issues to consider in narrowing you choice:

(Actually, if you are really, really busy and away from home an awful lot you should think seriously about not getting any kind of dog! Dogs are very social animals that NEED people and or other dogs around).

Other dogs are calmer and need less exercise. These include the Maltese and the mastiff, which despite his large size and appearance is quite docile.

Novice owners would be well advised to avoid breeds selected for enhanced aggression, such as pit bulls, Rottweilers, chows, shar-peis and akitas.