Picking the right dog is more important than you may think. If you go to any shelter, you will see countless cases of dogs that ended up there because they were a bad fit for their family, or because their family underestimated the level of responsibility or financial impact a dog would have.
The decision to get a dog should not be taken lightly. Dogs are a significant investment of your time, money and emotions. Before you decide to get a dog you need to ask yourself these questions: Do you have time for a dog? Do you have enough room or space for a dog? Can you afford to properly care for them? Are you prepared to take on this responsibility for the life of the dog, which could be 10-14 years? If you answered yes to all of these questions, then the next step is to decide which type of dog is best for you. In order to find the right dog, I recommend people think about these things: size, coat, and activity level and temperment.
First it is imprtant to think about size. Would a big dog or small dog fit best in your family? Big dogs require more space, eat more, and need to be properly trained. Can you afford to feed a 150 lb. Great Dane? Do you have kids or elderly people that may not tolerate a big dog jumping on them? These are some of the things you need to consider when deciding what type of dog would be best for your family. Remember if you get a puppy they won't always be small, so again think about size before you decide.
Once you decide the best size dog for your family, think about the coat or hair you prefer. This may sound like it's a beauty preference but really this is about grooming and maintenance. Long hair dogs need to be brushed regularly. Many dogs like Scotties or Poodles need regular professional grooming. Are you willing to do this? Or would a short hair, lower maintenance dog be better for you? Keep in mind grooming doesn’t just involve routine baths and brushing, certain breeds like Bulldogs and Frenchies also require regular facial fold cleaning to prevent skin infections. If you can’t imagine doing this, a Bulldog or French Bulldog might not be the best dog for you.
Lastly people need to think about the activity level of the type of dog. That means you have to look at your own life. Are you a couch potato? Or a marathon runner? It helps to pick a dog that matches your level of activity. Weimaraners and Vizslas are high energy dogs that love to run and need to run. They do best in active families. Bulldogs, on the other hand, are unable to exercise much and are heat-intolerant. Bulldogs are pretty sedentary dogs that tend to be happy just hanging out with the family. If you pick an active dog and don’t exercise them enough, you are waiting for a disaster. Bored dogs become frustrated and often become destructive and chew up furniture, shoes, etc. Likewise, you don’t want to pick a Bulldog if you’re looking for a running partner.
Take the time to think about your lifestyle and don’t get a dog impulsively. Do your homework and research breeds so that when you look for a dog at the shelter, you know what to look for. There are several books and websites that can help people look up breed traits and give questionnaires to help them find the perfect match!