Choosing the Right Dog

18 Jan

Yet another question a friend of mine wanted me to write about: What is the right dog for me?

Rule 1: You don’t want a puppy. You may THINK you want a puppy, but really, you don’t.
Rule 2: The more purebred the dog, the less you want the dog. You think you want a purebred, but believe me when I say…you DON’T.
Rule 3: You love labs. They are like the coolest dog ever. And you’ll walk them 6 times a day! But no, really, you won’t. And they are okay, but you don’t want a lab.

What is the point that I am making?

Owning a pet seems like rainbows and butterflies, but it is a LOT of work, and if you don’t choose the right breed or mix for your lifestyle (as well as think realistically), you will feel overwhelmed and may regret your choice.

First of all, loving a specific breed of dog is usually equivalent to thinking a breed of dog is pretty. Pretty will get you nowhere. Any potential dog owner needs to assess their lifestyle to get any sort of idea what kind of dog they would like. Active folks can do really well with high-energy breeds, but if you aren’t planning on playing fetch for an hour, or taking you dog on 3 walks a day, you can’t keep up with a lab. That is when you see problem behaviors arise. I see a lot of Boxers, German Shepherds, and breeds like Aussies and Cattle Dogs come into the shelter for breed-typical behavior. German Shepherd eats cats and the Aussie is herding and nipping the children, and all I can think is you didn’t see this coming? Training and socialization can do wonders, but not if you aren’t anticipating your problems before they start.

Small dogs? Good for someone who doesn’t have small kids, and leads an active lifestyle. Big dogs? Well-suited to apartments, as long as your willing to give some play time. Labs, pitties, border collies? Only good for people willing to put in the time to stimulate mentally and physically. Like I said, pretty won’t get you anywhere if your dog needs to go for a walk, but you’re too lazy to give him one. As for me, I think Great Danes are gorgeous, but do I own one? No.  Because I don’t make enough money to feed one, or pay for end of life medical costs because purebred dogs always have major health problems. Which brings me to my second point…

Do you want your dog to live 7 years? Or would you rather have your companion for a ripe old 15? Purebred dogs typically live for a shorter length of time than mixes, and have many more health problems because of the inbreeding taken to keep the breed “pure”. Danes have leg problems, labs get cancer, pugs can’t breathe…and it keeps going. By simply diluting those genes a little you will have a much healthier dog.

And finally. The puppy. Most of the people I met don’t actually want to put in the time to properly potty train, socialize, and train manners to a puppy. It takes a lot of hours, and still then you might not get it right. They are high energy, they like to bite and bark and whine, they have to go out so often, and they pee and poop in your house if you don’t figure it out soon enough. What people really want is something small, fluffy, and adorable that they don’t have to put any work into.

What kind of dog do you want, and how does that fit into your lifestyle? Have you ever acquired a pet, and then regretted your decision?

3 Responses to “Choosing the Right Dog”

  1. buddy71 January 18, 2015 at 9:23 pm #

    i will answer the second question first…no.
    you have to do your homework if you want a pet, any pet. spontaneous decisions only hurt you and the pet.
    since you asked about dogs, i currently have 3. in the last 15 years i have had a total of 2, counting the current 3. the original 2 were rescues. the male a dalmatian and the female was a possible aussie mix. both were adult dogs about a year old. they stayed outside and were my “watch dogs” when it rained they wore rain coats. when it was cold they wore warm coats. they slept on the covered porch and protected my place and llamas. hey were very smart and fun to be with. though they looked mean, they were very gentle. they lived great lives and had to be put down as they both acquired cancer as they aged. my current 3 are also great dogs. all females and all pretty smart. the first was a rescue and is a mix of some sort, maybe an aussie. the second is also a mix and looks a bit like a greyhound but is not and is also a rescue. the third is a corgi. though a pure breed, she is also kind of a rescue. she was a show dog that a friend said needed to be “rescued”. they all are very good and are inside outside dogs. they sleep in crates at night but are out all day. they have been to herding classes and also participate in luring. all are well behaved and smart and are “family”. they have not only been trained, but trained me too. they all have their own personality and you have to recognize that. getting a pet is a like having a child. you have to work at it and you have to do your research. ig is a commitment not to be taken lightly. you need to match your personality with the dog or pet.
    i think a mutt is better than a pure bred.
    good luck

  2. thecuriousbum January 18, 2015 at 10:53 pm #

    We had cats for all of my childhood and a few hamsters. Some people might think I’m evil or heartless for saying so, but they annoy me, at least when they live in the house. Livestock and outdoor pets are all right. I liked the barn cats and chickens and such.

  3. April January 19, 2015 at 11:29 am #

    Can I just take a moment to repeat: YOU DO NOT WANT A PUPPY!!

    Fred was listed as a Jack Russell Terrier mix. When you get him wet, you see the JR. When he gets excited, you see the JR. Otherwise, whatever else he’s mixed with, seems to have the majority rule, thankfully, and he isn’t as crazy as a pure bred JR. (I did not want a JR and I thought twice when I got the point of signing paperwork for him and found out that that’s what they had listed him as.) MOST of the time, Fred is reserved and relaxed and fits perfectly with our life style. That said, he is high-strung and training has been a PITA because there’s no clear direction to go in/no clear explanation as to WHY he barks and growls and asks like a jerk sometimes. Resource guarding? Only matches about half the time. Separation anxiety? Matches about a third of the time. That other odd fraction of the time? Nothing really matches up; everyone that I’ve talked to about it is confounded. Aurgh!

    I learned from my aunt’s REPEATED mistakes with dogs growing up and haven’t really had a situation where I bit off more than I could chew with a dog. Cats on the other hand…they seem so simple: pet them, feed them, change the litter. Easy peasy! One more wouldn’t be that big of a deal, riiiiight? >.< Presently, we have four cats. Ideally, we wouldn't get another until three of these have passed on to the great kitty beyond, leaving us with a standard two cats. Hubby also thinks he wants a dog sometimes…a puppy…based 110% of the fact that he thinks they're "cute." *shakes head hard 'no'*

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