HOW MUCH TIME can I devote to daily exercise?
0 – 15 minutes? 15 – 30 minutes? 30 – 60 minutes? Some breeds don’t require much exercise. Others, like English springer spaniels, are generally very energetic. Even with a large fenced yard, athletic dogs need daily, vigorous exercise (e.g. running or swimming) to get rid of pent-up energy.
HOW MUCH TIME can I devote to weekly grooming?
0 minutes? 30 minutes? 60 minutes? 3 hours?
SHORT COATED BREEDS like Chihuahuas or dalmatians require only occasional toenail trimming, ear cleaning and rubdown with a towel. On the other hand, Afghan hounds and Old English sheepdogs need hours of patient brushing each week to keep their flowing coats beautiful. Outdoorsy folks who enjoy hiking through the woods and muddy fields or who enjoy taking their dog for frequent swims should consider shorthaired breeds that clean up and dry off quickly and don’t attract burrs, twigs and leaves.
CHOOSE A BREED that likes the seasons you do. A husky is generally sluggish in summer; in the winter, a husky is eager to frolic outside whereas a Mexican hairless prefers semi-hibernation in winter and is prone to sunburn in the summer.
DO I LIKE A VOCAL DOG? A good reason to own a dog is so you’ll be alerted to intruders. Some dogs are natural watchdogs while others tend to bark excessively unless trained to be discriminating. If barking annoys you, choose a quiet, laid back breed.
DO I HAVE VISITORS FREQUENTLY? If the answer is yes, look for a non-territorial breed that is accepting of strangers on its property.
HOW MUCH AFFECTION do I want to give? Some dogs are aloof and undemonstrative and others are demanding and want to play all day. The latter is a good choice for considerate children.
AM I OVERLY CONCERNED about the cleanliness of my house? Immaculate housekeepers should choose a very low shedding, beardless breed which doesn’t drool. Even some short coated breeds like Labradors and Shar Peis shed a lot.
WHAT SIZE DOG is compatible with my house? Don’t buy a Newfoundland if you live in cramped quarters. Although they’re docile, 200 pounds of dog will get in the way. Even an active, medium sized dog may be too much in the average sized house. When in doubt, a good rule of thumb is to buy a smaller rather than larger dog. You won’t be sorry because small dogs are easier to live with, pick up after and less physically demanding to groom, train and exercise.
HOW MUCH CAN I AFFORD for veterinary care? Although any dog can be plagued with bad health, some breeds are more prone to disease than others. Read Medical and Genetic Aspects of Purebred Dogs by Ross D. Clark, DVM and Joan R. Stainer (Veterinary Publishing Company) and consult a veterinarian to discuss whether the breed you’re considering is generally hardy.
CAN I AFFORD to feed this dog? Professional foods recommended by many veterinarians are expensive. Before considering a large breed, make sure the food bill fits your budget.
AFTER ANSWERING THESE QUESTIONS, GET PERSONALITY PROFILES of your breeds of interest from the Internet and books. Don’t be impressed by the use of terms such as loyal, trust worthy, devoted, good family dog; and don’t base your selection on glowing, biased descriptions.
Personality profiles should expose favorable and unfavorable traits. To locate a dog, buy a copy of Dog World magazine at a bookstore, check the classified ads, search the Internet, and get references. Write to them for information and ask if they have sold puppies in your area that you may meet. Dog shows are another excellent resource for investigating both common and exotic breeds.