Adopting the right dog for you

So you’re thinking about getting a dog? Adopting a dog means you are adding a new member to your family for life, so the type of breed you choose is extremely important. What kind of dog might be right for you?

Do you live in an apartment or condo?

Although you may have always wanted to have a Golden Retriever or Great Dane, large breeds may not be the right choice for you if you live in a confined area. Large dogs need room to romp during the day: unless you are committed to being home or hiring a dog walker, these kinds of dogs are happier when they have access to a yard. Besides, it’s unrealistic to ask a large dog to “hold it” all day till you get home. Many condominium complexes have weight restriction covenants on the kinds of dogs that may live there, and nearly all apartments require a pet deposit for any kind of furry friend.

If dogs are allowed and you have paid your deposit, it would probably be best to choose a breed whose adult weight is 15 pounds or less: miniature Poodle, Papillon, Chihuahua, Shih Tzu, Pug, Bichon Frisee, Dachshund, and any of the small terriers are all good choices.

Do you have a job for the dog to do?

Working and herding breeds such as Border Collies and Australian Cattledogs are popular dogs for families because they are just the right size: not so small that they are delicate and not so big that they take up a lot of room. However, these types of dogs are extremely active and are always looking for a “job” to do, be it rounding up sheep or chasing a Frisbee. Unless you are prepared to spend a lot of time playing actively with your dog, or unless you live on a farm, you would be wise to choose another type of dog. Sedentary families and active breeds make a poor combination, and both parties will be frustrated by the other.

Are you away from home a lot?

Certain breeds are famous for suffering from “separation anxiety.” Samoyeds and American Eskimo dogs are notoriously neurotic when their people are away at work. If they are left in the house, they are very likely to literally eat furniture or tear up woodwork due to stress. When left alone in the yard for significant periods of time, Basset Hounds and Beagles will howl and disturb the neighbors, which could result in problems with your local Animal Control department!

Does anyone in your family have allergies?

The only sure-fire common anti-allergen breed is the Chinese Crested because they have very little fur and dander at all! However, most of the other non-shedding breeds will do for those with moderate allergies to fur and dander (discarded skin particles). Choose: any size Poodle; double coated Terriers such as the Norwich, Westie, or Airdale; Portuguese Water Dog; first generation Labradoodle or Goldendoodle. Don’t assume that because a dog has short hair, he doesn’t shed: in fact, the reverse is true! Short hair dogs such as Beagles, Dalmatians, and Labs are the very worst shedders.

Don’t automatically go for a purebred

Mutts make the best family pets, hand down. Every purebred breed has certain neuroses and undesirable qualities. Mutts tend to take the best of whatever breeds they are “made of” and leave the bad behind. Shelters are full of wonderful mutts looking for great homes.