Best Dog Breed: Choosing the Right Puppy for You and Your Family
The decision has been made and soon there will be an addition to your family. Before you take the plunge and bring home your new canine companion, give some careful thought in selecting the right dog for you and your family.
The first and most important decision to make is to identify the best dog breed for you. The breed of a dog will determine it's size, temperament, energy level, grooming requirements, cost, and how well suited he/she will be to your home and lifestyle. Talk to friends, extended family members, and co-workers about what they like or what the challenges were with their dogs, and consider the dogs you see being walked in your neighbourhood. Take some time to complete a few different online Breed Selector Tools. Answering the questions truthfully will help you find the dog best suited to your family.
Dogs and Your Lifestyle
Why are you getting a dog? Are you looking for a companion to spend time with at home during the day? A running buddy? A pal for your children? Each dog breed comes with certain traits and characteristics that may make it more or less suitable for you and your family's lifestyle. A breed such as a Border Collie or a Labrador Retriever makes an excellent family pet as they are known for being great with children, but at the same time they can be high energy and require daily walks of at least 30 minutes. If you enjoy a more sedentary lifestyle, seek out a dog which requires much less exercise.
Another thing to keep in mind when choosing your new dog is how often you travel. Will you take your dog with you when you go to your in-laws? What about to the cottage? Or camping? How often do you go away on business? Who will look after your dog when you are away? Is there a reputable boarding kennel nearby, or will you call your parents? Not everyone is as thrilled with grandpuppies as they are with grandchildren!
Should I Get a Big or Small Dog?
Think carefully about the size of dog you would like to get. Keep the following in mind:
- How big is your living space? If you live in a studio apartment, consider a Daschund or a Yorkie instead of a Great Dane.
- Large dogs will eat more, therefore you will spend more than if you had a small dog. You will also need to store a large bag of dog food, so consider your pantry/storage situation.
- Large dogs also defacate in larger quantities! If you live in the city or suburbs, be prepared to "scoop the poop".
- You should be able to comfortably lift your dog into a car, onto a veterinarian's examining table, or into a bathtub or a laundry tub. You must also be strong enough to control your dog when he/she is on a leash in public.
- The Canadian Kennel Club
The CKC has links to summaries and descriptions of dog breeds and registered breeders.
- American Kennel Club
- UK Kennel Club
- Burlington Humane Society
- CFHS - The Canadian Federation of Humane Societies
The Canadian Federation of Humane Societies
- Dog Rescue Organizations and Shelters - Canada's Guide to Dogs
Dog Rescue Organizations and Shelters from across Canada.
- Welcome to the Humane Society of Canada - Humane Society
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City Dogs, Country Dogs, and Suburban Dogs
Whether you live in the city, the country, or the suburbs, there are dog breeds that are suitable for almost all environments. Popular dogs for apartments include the small dogs such as Daschunds, Yorkshire Terriers, Cairn Terriers, Chihuahuas,Pugs, and Schi Tzus. These dogs are easy to carry in elevators and apartment buildings, don"t need a lot of exercise, and are well suited to city life.
Where Can I Get a Dog?
- Animal Shelters, Dog Pounds, or SPCAs
- Dog Rescue Organizations
- Newspaper ads, classifieds, online ads
- Pet Stores
Where you get your dog can go hand-in-hand with breed selection. If you have made the decision to get a pure-bred puppy, check your national kennel club website (see sidebar) for reputable breeders. If you have decided that your family will adopt one of the thousands of dogs in animal shelters, dog pounds, and SPCAs (Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals), you may have to wait longer and act quickly if you are looking for a particular canine breed. Most of the animals up for adoption are of mixed breeds, and are adult dogs. When you adopt a dog from a shelter, you must accept that you don't know the dog's physical, emotional, or training history. While a thorough vet examination can answer most questions regarding the physical fitness of your dog, the rest will remain a mystery that you will have to work on unravelling once you get home. Newspaper and online classified ads are another popular way to find dogs for sale or for adoption, but extreme caution must be used at all times in finding your new dog this way! It is just as easy for an unscrupulous breeder or puppy mill operator to place an advertisement online as it is for a reputable breeder or family. My advice here is to check and cross-check references for anyone offering a dog if you do not know them. The same goes for pet stores - exercise caution if you are getting a puppy from a pet store, as there have been countless stories of puppy mills supplying pet stores in urban and suburban centres.
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Should I Get An Adult Dog or a Puppy?
Get an Adult Dog
- it will likely already be housebroken
- it has reached it's full size - no surprises
- it has (hopefully) already been spayed, neutered, and had it's most expensive shots
- it has (hopefully) had some training
- it has (hopefully) grown out of it's puppy mischievousness (such as chewing on shoes)
- it has (hopefully) been crate trained
Get a Puppy
- you will be able to train it the way you want to to avoid annoying habits
- you will have to housetrain it on your own
- you will be able to bond with him/her right from the start
- you will know your dog's physical, mental, emotional, and training history
- you will be able to ensure your puppy receives the care that you want
How Much Will a Dog Cost?
The cost of your new dog will depend on what kind of dog and/or where you get him/her from. Most humane societies, animal shelters, and rescue organizations charge an adoption fee, which usually includes deworming, microchipping, and administering any vaccinations. These fees can range from $200 to $400 depending on where you live, and the age of the dog. Some organizations will refund a portion of the fee upon proof of spaying/neutering or completion of a dog obedience course.
Should you choose to get your dog from a recognized, reputable breeder, the costs can be much higher. They will depend on the type of breed and whether you are looking for a companion dog, or a show or competitive animal. The prices can vary greatly, so be sure to do your homework. For example, when we were looking at labrador retriever pups with papers from Canadian Kennel Club breeders, we found prices in Ontario ranging from $600 to $1500 per puppy.
In addition to the initial cost of your puppy or dog, be prepared for vet bills. Vaccinations, heartworm medication, spaying/neutering, dental work (particularly for older and/or rescue dogs) can easily range from $600 to $1600 in the first year that you bring your dog home. Research pet medical insurance in your area to decide if this is an option for you and your family.
Don't forget the ongoing cost of dog food, dog treats, dog supplies such as toys, leashes, grooming items, etc. any prescription medication, boarding kennels, and annual licensing for your city/municipality.
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