Choosing the Right Dog for Your Life

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Ever feel like something is missing from your life -- perhaps a void that can only be filled by a furry best friend? Once you recognize you want a dog, the biggest challenge is selecting the right breed for your specific circumstances.

Of course you want a dog that you like the look of, but there are more factors that go into choosing a dog. Just like people are individuals, dogs have unique personalities too – largely influenced by their breed.

My Dog PeanutMy dog; her name is Peanut.

When selecting a dog, choose a breed compatible with both your personality and lifestyle. If nobody is home from 9 to 5, you need a more independent dog. If you have kids, you need a kind-tempered breed.

In fact, temperament is the first thing to consider. Hunting breeds are driven to explore, so they don’t do as well in urban environments. Guard dogs need strong owners who leave no doubt who the boss is. Lap dogs require lots of attention and love. 

Also, consider the physical characteristics of the breed. Size and space requirements play a major role. Do you live in a house with a yard or a sixth floor apartment? Do some research to find out which breeds absolutely need space to roam and which can live in smaller spaces – as long as they still get plenty of exercise. Afghans, for example need acreage, but Greyhounds, also a large breed, can live happily in an apartment. 

Also, keep in mind the breed’s coat. A Husky’s heavy fur makes it less than ideal for Texas or Florida. It may overheat and therefore be stuck inside with minimal exercise. Conversely, breeds with short coats and little body fat, like Chihuahuas, don’t tolerate cold weather well.

Overwhelmed? Unsure where to begin? Let me give you some examples. 

Let’s say you have a lot of land and a growing family. Perhaps you also have an affinity for hunting. What sort of companion would be a good fit? The Beagle is a hunting breed that needs room to run and explore. They are also very friendly, so they get along great with families.

Maybe your lifestyle is all about the concrete jungle. You have a downtown apartment, so there isn’t much room. A Shih-Tzu might be your perfect match. This breed is small, doesn’t need too much activity and enjoys being spoiled by their owners.

Do you live in the suburbs with a good sized house and yard, maybe a few kids running around? The Golden Retriever may make a great dog for you. They are extremely patient with little ones and rarely bite.

Maybe you want a guard dog to keep an eye on your place while you’re at work, but also a loveable companion. Look into the Bullmastiff. This is a pretty large breed at 110-130 pounds. They were bred as guard dogs, but they don’t bite; they pin their target down. They are calm, docile and patient, so they are good around kids, too. They do, however, slobber quite a bit, so be ready for that!

There are many things to factor in when selecting the best breed to bring home. You also want to make sure they will have a good diet, either wet or dry dog food. (I feed my dog Natural Balance dog food because of special diet issues). You need to understand your dog if you want one. So do your homework. Carefully consider the people, spaces and places that will comprise your new dog’s life -- and then go out and find your new best friend.

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