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How to select the right type of dog for you:the common errors to avoid when choosing a new puppy

Updated on September 28, 2014
midget38 profile image

Michelle is a professional freelance writer who loves music, poetry, pets, and the arts. She is a techno-geek as well.

Daschund puppies
Daschund puppies | Source
A samoyed
A samoyed | Source

An unfortunately typical scene. A rolly poly ball of fur stares at us through the transparent window of a pet shop. His large, doe eyes meet ours and we fall in love with him immediately. WIthout much thought, we quickly tell the shop owner to put him in a carrier and happily, we take him home. Just a month later, the puppy is in the enclosed space of an animal shelter, looking for a new home.

Such is unfortunate fate met by many a little dog, sometimes only a week or two after it has been bought. Many of us take him home, find that he is not the one for us and he becomes the victim of our impulsivity and erroneous decision making.

Indeed, a cliched saying though this is, choosing a dog is indeed very different from choosing a toy. There are some mistakes potential dog owners make when choosing a puppy, and their choices usually end up becoming a complete disaster for both themselves and the little dog.

How to choose the right dog for you

Common mistakes people make when taking FIdo home

So what are some of these errors? Being aware of some of them will help to prevent any hasty decisions and hence, another dog heading for the animal shelter.

Schnauzer puppy
Schnauzer puppy | Source

Buying based on emotions

Many potential pet owners take little dogs home based on the feeling that the little creature gives him or her. They give in to the irresistible eyes and cuddly, warm appearance of the little puppy.

However, the little puppy does not remain cute for too long. It does grow up, and loses its youthful appearance just as we do!

Golden Retriever Puppy
Golden Retriever Puppy | Source


Many pet owners do not think about how ready they are to own a dog. Often, they realize only too late that they are unprepared for the ritual of taking the dog for daily walks, cleaning poo or giving him a bath, realizing too late that cuteness is not everything.

I read a post online from a frustrated dog owner which disturbed me. In it, she mentions that she regretted immediately taking the dog home, because the baths, walks and feeding were simply wearing her out. Clearly, she was not ready at all for the responsibilities of dog ownership.

Chow Chow puppy
Chow Chow puppy | Source

Not tailoring to the owner's individual situation

It is all to easy to forget that a little dog is a member of the family and as such considering the overall situation one is in before adopting is imperative.

Firstly, one may not have the time to commit to looking after a pet because of work situations or other family commitments. Though having the best of intentions, it is simply impossible to factor in the time to took after a new dog.

Often, owners overlook the space in which they live and find out too late that the dog may be a bit too big when it grows older. Many also fail to consider that some members of their families may have allergies and thus having a dog might pose a problem.

Some owners fail to factor in the time and cost needed for grooming, If a dog owner has little time for grooming a dog,avoid these breeds:

  • Schnauzers
  • Pekingnese
  • The terrier breeds
  • Poodles
  • Spaniels
  • Old English Sheepdogs
  • Pulis
  • Bearded Collies
  • Chow Chows
  • Shelties


Some owners may prefer a more sedentary dog. Active dog breeds like these, in this case, should be avoided:

  • Jack Russell Terriers
  • Whippets
  • Australian Shepherds
  • Blood hounds
  • Border Collies
  • Dalmatians
  • Chesapeake Bay Retrievers
  • Setters
  • Samoyeds
  • Salukis

Bloodhound puppy
Bloodhound puppy | Source

Forgetting that a puppy has habits

Many forget that a puppy has many “doggy” habits that will require getting used to. Dogs love digging, burrowing, and a good game of chase. Barking is a natural instinct and method of communication. Dogs have quirks too, like finding a piece of “treasure” and suddenly dropping it at your feet. And yes, if not restrained, they eat a ton! These are the little things owners forget that they have to get used to if they want to welcome a puppy into the home.

When the behaviors get a bit annoying, the puppy ends up being sent to a shelter if another home cannot be found for it.

Maltese Puppy
Maltese Puppy | Source

Thinking short term

Situations in the family and at home change periodically, such as having a new birth or moving to a new town or country. If one already has the propensity to move because of job situations or other considerations, it is best not to own a dog.

Many, however, give in to the “puppy look” and buy the dog on impulse. A common situation to come across is a dog being abandoned when the couple finds that it has no room for it because of the new baby, or because of allergies that the baby might develop.

Such things, then should be seriously considered before rushing over to a pet store and bringing the dog home.


Treating the puppy categorically

It is easy to forget that dogs, like human beings, are individuals with different temperaments and needs. Not every terrier will be feisty, nor every Labrador good natured. Similarly, not every Rottweiler is aggressive. Tempers and habits vary from dog to dog and according to the situation they are in.

I found this out with the two Westies that I have owned. My previous, which passed away from old age, was even tempered, though a little grouchy at times, but compliant to any attempts to train him. My present one, Cloudy, is more of a handful and not as amenable to grooming or attempts to train her.

Similarly, I once came across a terrier, originally friendly and even tempered, which became aggressive after many sessions of abusive treatment from the owner. In the end, it was adopted by the owner of the pet store, but still, to this day, growls meanly whenever someone tries to touch it.

Yorkshire Terrier Puppies
Yorkshire Terrier Puppies | Source

Not researching enough into the breed

While I mentioned that each dog develops their temperaments depending on the situation, it is true that different breeds are prone to different dispositions. Terriers have a range of tempers, but most are prone to frolic and are intelligent, responding well to training. Some do, though have an instinct for the hunt, one inherited from their ancestors. If a potential pet owner does not take kindly to his lawn being burrowed or a dog constantly coming to you with little “treasures”, do not get a terrier. Mine, Cloudy, definitely has these tendencies!

Another potentially challenging breed is the Jack Russell Terrier. While playful and happy, it can be a little TOO much so. If one has little time to commit to plenty of activity and hates dogs who dig, a JRT is definitely not the right dog.

For owners looking for a dog which is less of a challenge to own, I recommend labradors and schnauzers. Both breeds are prone to (notice my use of the language) even tempers and are playful, friendly and loyal companions.

Some of the dogs which are more of a challenge to own are:

  • Border Collies
  • Chow Chows
  • Huskies
  • Airedale Terriers
  • German Shepherds
  • Alaskan Malamutes
  • Rottweilers
  • Akitas
  • Pitbulls
  • Irish Wolfhounds

These are not kennel dogs and need a consistent, more experienced owner. They can show aggressive behavior if not managed properly.

Dog breeds not suitable for children

  • Affenpinschers
  • Chihuahuas
  • Pekingnese
  • Basenjis
  • Llhasa Apso
  • Pulis
  • Yorkshire Terriers

If children tend to be a bit rough and tease them, these breeds may exhibit aggressive behavior because they are a little sensitive.

Bichon Frise Puppy
Bichon Frise Puppy | Source

Not buying from the correct breeder

Some breeders may not have socialized the puppies well or introduced them to the “ways of the world” - that is, relating to other people and dogs. If the dog does not respond well to the breeder, it is definitely a strong indication not to get that dog.

I once had a bad experience with a breeder. Being a teen, I was not so aware of how to select a dog properly, though I wanted a Bichon Frise very much indeed. I didn’t note that the little dog I bought was not well socialized. She is still alive, 18 years later, but just as before does not like being around people much and snaps at them randomly, even at my husband. It shows the importance of knowing how the puppies were nurtured at birth, for such nurturing has bearing on how the dog behaves in future.

Labrador Retriever Puppy
Labrador Retriever Puppy | Source

Not observing the puppies

Many people do not spend enough time getting to know the dog well before taking it home.

It is quite natural for an owner to take a dog home when they fall in love with it at the pet shop. Puppies, like humans, will display traits over time. So getting to know them over a period of time is essential.

Returning to the pet shop over a few days would be most advisable for doggy traits to be observed.


Buying a dog is a responsibility and commitment not to be taken lightly. Taking these points into consideration could mean saving another puppy from an unwanted fate an an animal shelter!


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    • midget38 profile imageAUTHOR

      Michelle Liew 

      7 years ago from Singapore

      Ah, my mum has a six year old Maltese too.It's still as cute as when we first got him!

    • midget38 profile imageAUTHOR

      Michelle Liew 

      7 years ago from Singapore

      Thanks, Mary!

    • Victoria Lynn profile image

      Victoria Lynn 

      7 years ago from Arkansas, USA

      Great advice. Everyone looking for a dog should read this. I'm lucky in that my little guy (only 18 lbs) is just as cute to me as when he was a 2 lb pup! LOL. Seriously.

      It really upsets me when people get animals and then get rid of them. Many are impulsive and aren't up to the commitment. Once an animal comes into my home, it is there for life. That must be why I have 6 cats. 3 of them I didn't plan for (poor planning by other people), but they are still here and I love them. :-) Great hub!

    • tillsontitan profile image

      Mary Craig 

      7 years ago from New York

      Always good to remember these facts. Came back to share again.

    • midget38 profile imageAUTHOR

      Michelle Liew 

      8 years ago from Singapore

      Yes, it's always better to take time to choose the right one. Thanks for sharing!

    • DDE profile image

      Devika Primić 

      8 years ago from Dubrovnik, Croatia

      No matter what breed or size they are so adorable choosing the correct puppy can be difficult but this hub explains it all

    • midget38 profile imageAUTHOR

      Michelle Liew 

      8 years ago from Singapore

      Indeed, it's better not to own a dog than to do that and find you've really got no time to look after it, because some, especially the hyper ones need a lot of attention. Thanks for sharing though, and a pleasure to put this together.

    • Rfordin profile image


      8 years ago from Florida

      Hi midget38,

      I must say I have been victim to many a "puppy eyes" in store windows before. Usually my significant other talks me out of it... (or vice versa). We have managed to dodge the bullet for the most part. Our lives are just no conducive to owning a dog at this time. We like to get up and go a lot and also have small children that are very time demanding (although I'm sure they would LOVE a dog). Thanks for taking the time to put this together and sharing it with the many people out here who can benefit from it!


    • midget38 profile imageAUTHOR

      Michelle Liew 

      8 years ago from Singapore

      I had a daschund who was killed in an accident, Pstraubie. :( Was when I was a child. A hit and run accident at that. To me, dascunds are such great creatures, and have an even temper......but can be very playful too. Easy to groom as well. I'd recommend this for owners who like a little fun with their dog, but not too much...that's the daschund!! Intelligent as well.

    • pstraubie48 profile image

      Patricia Scott 

      8 years ago from North Central Florida

      Thank you, midget, for sharing this. I have had several dogs as an adult ( a few as a child as well). My most recent was a little ball of fur that required much grooming and wanted a lot of attention. I was not able to provide either at the time due to illness in my family but had a neighbor who they were a perfect fit.

      I would like to have a dog though. I have a kitty who is the apple of my eye...she is an indoor outdoor kitty by choice. But I would like a little pup---I have had dachshunds in the past..and am thinking of one for now. I did not see them on your list unless my old-gray-mare eyes missed them. What do you have to say about them?? Thanks for your input, ps Sending Angels your way on day 8 of 2013. ps

    • midget38 profile imageAUTHOR

      Michelle Liew 

      8 years ago from Singapore

      Indeed I do, Mary. I think Baby is really the right dog for you! JRTs are active and not meant for everyone. Thanks for sharing and coming by!

    • midget38 profile imageAUTHOR

      Michelle Liew 

      8 years ago from Singapore

      I agree completely, DzyMsLizzy. It's always better to adopt as these animals need good homes. And yes, they are not of inferior quality!! Thanks for sharing!!

    • midget38 profile imageAUTHOR

      Michelle Liew 

      8 years ago from Singapore

      Thanks, Mary! I like the system of caring for pets in your encourages responsible pet ownership! Thanks for sharing and the votes too!!

    • mary615 profile image

      Mary Hyatt 

      8 years ago from Florida

      Well, you know my love of dogs as witnessed by my many Hubs about my Schnauzer, Baby. I think I chose wisely as she and I are the very best of friends, and we get along beautifully. I had a Jack Russell once that drove me nuts. I found him another good home.

      I always enjoy your Hubs about our pets. Good advice here especially with Christmas coming, and people will be out shopping for puppies.

      I voted this UP, and will share.

    • DzyMsLizzy profile image

      Liz Elias 

      8 years ago from Oakley, CA

      Please don't shop--ADOPT! There are plenty of puppies, including purebreds, losing their lives in shelters while puppy mills and backyard breeders pump out ever more "cute puppies" to satisfy only their own desire for more money.

      Unfortunately, too many people have been "conditioned" to erroneously believe that there are no purebreds in shelters; that shelter-housed animals all get adopted; that shelter animals are of inferior quality, and that buying from a breeder is somehow "better." It is not. In fact, most so-called "shelters" are not worthy of having that word in the name of their facility, for they spend more time killing innocent baby animals, cats and dogs both, than they do attempting to find homes for them.

      Please don't buy while shelter dogs die!

    • tillsontitan profile image

      Mary Craig 

      8 years ago from New York

      As always Michelle, you did a great job. When you're picking a companion that will hopefully live with you for ten years or more, you really need to be careful. As you say each breed has its 'tendencies' and these should be used as a guide when selecting a dog.

      We have a range of dogs in my family from my Min Pin to my son's St. Bernard with lots in between. Each family member chose according to their needs and abilities to care for the dog....this hub should be required reading for anyone thinking about getting a dog.

      Voted up, useful, awesome and interesting. Shared too because these points can't be made often enough!

    • midget38 profile imageAUTHOR

      Michelle Liew 

      8 years ago from Singapore

      Epiman, hello! I love cats too, please say hello to yours for me! A dog would be a good addition, though it might take a while to get the cats used to them! Thanks for sharing!!

    • midget38 profile imageAUTHOR

      Michelle Liew 

      8 years ago from Singapore

      Hi Annie! Wow, Gonzo sounds like a little fellow I'd like to get to know, please say hello to him for me. Oh, I have had 2 Malteses. One died of old age, and another is now 7 and a lively fellow. They need extensive grooming, though. Comb their hair with a pin brush to ensure that the hair is not matted. Thanks for coming by and commenting!

    • midget38 profile imageAUTHOR

      Michelle Liew 

      8 years ago from Singapore

      Hi Dianna! I do hope it helps, because it's quite heartbreaking to find abandoned dogs which are victims of careless decisions on the parts of owners. Thanks for sharing!

    • midget38 profile imageAUTHOR

      Michelle Liew 

      8 years ago from Singapore

      Innerspin, thank you!! Like you, I hope that people choose wisely if they get a puppy as a gift-understand the person and his or her lifestyle!! Thanks for sharing!!!

    • midget38 profile imageAUTHOR

      Michelle Liew 

      8 years ago from Singapore

      They are sweet, aren't they? Thanks for coming by and commenting, Nancy!!

    • midget38 profile imageAUTHOR

      Michelle Liew 

      8 years ago from Singapore

      Oh, that is so sweet, Gus!! Glad he wandered into the right place. Terriers are feisty fellows! Thanks very much for coming by nd commenting!!

    • midget38 profile imageAUTHOR

      Michelle Liew 

      8 years ago from Singapore

      Janine, I hope you'll find this useful when the time comes! But, as Julie and Paula said, don't get one from pet stores as they usually get their supplies from puppy mills. Thanks for coming by and sharing, my friend!

    • epigramman profile image


      8 years ago

      ....well I am glad that Amy made it here - I was just about to send her - this is an astonishingly beautiful hub presentation and even though two cats own me - now I want a dog as well - lol - sending you warm wishes and good energy from lake erie ontario canada

    • Healthyannie profile image

      Annie Messeri 

      8 years ago from Spain

      Great hub. Dog ownership is a big responsibility. I have a Yorkshire terrier called Gonzo (small guy with big personality). We are thinking about getting another dog and I am keen on getting a Maltese so I am reading up about the breed at the moment. Thank you for all the great advise. Annie

    • teaches12345 profile image

      Dianna Mendez 

      8 years ago

      After viewing the hub and the adorable puppies, I almost want to run out and adopt one. I am sure this will help many to make a wise decision when looking for the next pet. Very well done and voted up.

    • tobusiness profile image

      Jo Alexis-Hagues 

      8 years ago from Lincolnshire, U.K

      We always go to the RSPCA animal rescue centre, where we are thoroughly vetted, our property is checked and if I remember correctly, we had to make around 6 or 7 visits before the dog was allowed to come home with us. All three of our dogs settled in beautifully. Another useful and informative hub. Voting up and more.

    • Amy Becherer profile image

      Amy Becherer 

      8 years ago from St. Louis, MO

      I adored my beautiful, Scottish Terrier, MacGregor, and miss him terribly. He died just short of 9 years old this July from an aggressive form of bladder cancer, prevalent in Scotties. Many times, pets are prone to certain diseases. My Scotsman required very expensive medication (Atopica) for his severe allergic skin disease, common in the breed. There are many things to consider in taking on guardenship for a pet, as your excellent, timely piece relays. Though they are cute as a button and hard to resist, the responsibilities for any living animal are far-reaching and don't stop with feeding and walking. I hope to have another Scottie someday, when my grief is less acute and my life circumstances are conductive to the responsibilities of caring for a pet, with the same attention and diligence I would give a baby. They deserve no less.

    • innerspin profile image

      Kim Kennedy 

      8 years ago from uk

      Good timing for this hub, just before Christmas. Let's hope people think twice before buying a pup at this time of year. We did make a boo boo years ago, buying a farm bred collie. She was lovely, a dream to train, walked anywhere with us, but hated all other people. As she was born in a barn, she simply wasn't used to humans. I took her to dog training and she loved it. You're so right, choosing a dog is a responsibility.

    • Lipnancy profile image

      Nancy Yager 

      8 years ago from Hamburg, New York

      I just want them all! You chose the best pictures.

    • GusTheRedneck profile image

      Gustave Kilthau 

      8 years ago from USA

      Hi Michelle (midget38) - This is a very fine article for those who are out there seeking to obtain a dog or a puppy. We did not have to go to all of that trouble - dog hunting. Our "War Dog" (a feisty little rat terrier) came looking for us. He just sort of wandered in here one day and never left. :-)

      Gus :-)))

    • Janine Huldie profile image

      Janine Huldie 

      8 years ago from New York, New York

      Michelle, great read for those who are thinking of getting a dog for a pet. You really lay out this perfectly with your advice. Someday in the future I will probably be getting a dog (for you know how much Lily already loves them) and will definitely be referring back to your article when that time comes. Great job and have voted way up and shared all over!!

    • midget38 profile imageAUTHOR

      Michelle Liew 

      8 years ago from Singapore

      healthylife, glad you had a great breeder, because that is so important. I had one who didn't socialize the dogs well, and in fact, I found out later had subjected the dog to some silly rituals before selling it off. Thank good ness that today, she is still alive and living with my mum. :-) Thanks for coming by and commenting!

    • profile image


      8 years ago

      Such excellent advice to those considering adopting a puppy! I'm so glad I had a breeder that worked with me and found a dog with the perfect personality for our family.This was our first dog and I did a ton of research but couldn't have found the right puppy or been prepared without the help of my very patient breeder. Sharing this!!

    • midget38 profile imageAUTHOR

      Michelle Liew 

      8 years ago from Singapore

      Thanks for sharing about your little ones there, Sweetsusieg! They sound like fabulous dogs. Your comment proves the point that dogs, though having a tendency to a particular temper do have their individual traits!! Mini Pins are very loyal guard dogs too. So glad that you enjoy their company. Thanks for coming by!

    • Sweetsusieg profile image


      8 years ago from Michigan

      I noticed not on the list are Mini-pins. I have 4 purebred mini's, they are a joy - yet very difficult. 2 are sweet and docile and 2 are fairly aggressive. 3 are very active and 1 is lazy. All are stubborn to a fault. Potty training has been a challenge to say the least - each one likes to point the paw at the other with a 'not me' look. I will say they are great companion dogs though! For those who sleep alone - (ok if you can call sleeping with dogs alone) ... they are fantastic feet, leg and body warmers. Voted Up!!

    • midget38 profile imageAUTHOR

      Michelle Liew 

      8 years ago from Singapore

      Hi Paula! Thanks for coming by and this beautiful sharing as well. I love helping strays as well and am in complete agreement with you and Julie. Buy either from a reputable breeder or adopt, but never from a pet shop as those tend to get their puppies from the mills. And I"ll have to visit your hub on your little boy!! Am getting to that now!

    • midget38 profile imageAUTHOR

      Michelle Liew 

      8 years ago from Singapore

      Oh yes. I know that everyone was positing hubs related to yesterday's incident, and I myself couldn't sleep. Thanks for sharing, Bill!

    • fpherj48 profile image


      8 years ago from Carson City

      First....I SECOND Julie's comment!

      I positively love dogs (and cats).....I especially fold, in the presence of puppies and kittens. I have had to ban myself from visiting the SPCA......I don't think I've ever help a puppy or kitten that I either, didn't take home...or cried because I had to leave it.

      You are so right about the need to choose the right pup for you, your family, home and important.

      This is wonderful information. I really had to laugh when I saw "Border Collie" at the top of the list for dogs that are a "bit more of a CHALLENGE!!" My boy is a challenge to say the least...but beautiful, smarter than most people and loyal as hell!! He's the well worth his high maintenance. I did a hub all about him!...UP++++

    • midget38 profile imageAUTHOR

      Michelle Liew 

      8 years ago from Singapore

      Thanks, Julie! I totally agree. Buying from a pet shop would simply mean giving puppy mills the leeway to do their business. Thanks for sharing!

    • billybuc profile image

      Bill Holland 

      8 years ago from Olympia, WA

      After the events of yesterday, I am grateful for this hub! I think this is a very important hub for anyone considering getting a dog. Excellent suggestions, Michelle. Sharing.

    • Julie DeNeen profile image

      Blurter of Indiscretions 

      8 years ago from Clinton CT

      Excellent article. The only comment I have is that I recommend NEVER buying from a pet shop because it supports the cruel treatment of animals via puppy mills.

    • midget38 profile imageAUTHOR

      Michelle Liew 

      8 years ago from Singapore

      Some of the common mistakes owners make when choosing a puppy and how to avoid them.


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