The American Kennel Club (AKC) recognizes 184 different breeds of dog (as of this writing). There are other organizations, however, which recognize additional breeds that are not accepted by the AKC. What does this all mean? When it comes to choosing a dog breed, you have a lot of options. So how do you know which breed is right for you? If you are thinking about buying a dog, but you do not know what breed to choose, take the time to consider the following questions.
One of the most important questions you need to ask yourself is what size dog do you want. If you live in a small urban apartment, you do not want to bring home a giant Great Dane. However, if space is not an issue for you, consider the size of your family members. Dog breeds can be broken down into groups by size, with very small, or toy breeds, weighing less than fifteen pounds and very large, or giant breeds, standing 25 inches tall or more, weighing over 110 pounds. Determining how much space you actually have to accommodate a dog in your home comfortably will help you to narrow down your options. If you want a pet that you can carry around in your purse, think about a toy breed like a Toy Poodle or a Shih Tzu. If you are looking for a dog big enough for your kids to romp around in the yard with, think about a Golden Retriever or a Labrador.
What Kind of Coat?
Dog breeds come with all kinds of different coats. Some of them are short and curly (think Poodle or Airedale Terrier) while others are long and wavy (think German Shepherd or Akita). Short-haired breeds tend to shed less than long-haired breeds and some breeds shed very little at all. If you are concerned with having to brush or groom your dog frequently, stick with a breed that has a short- or medium-length coat. If you do not have a preference for the length of your dog’s coat, you may still have a particular “look” in mind. Terriers tend to have shorter, harsher coats while Spitz-type breeds (think Siberian Husky or Pomeranian) have thick double coats.
Even more important than the appearance of your dog is his personality. Different breeds of dog were developed to perform specific functions and, as such, each breed has its own unique personality. Herding breeds like Border Collies and Australian Shepherds tend to be very high-energy – they are also incredibly intelligent, so they need a lot of mental stimulation in addition to exercise. If you are looking for a guard dog, something like a Rottweiler or a Bull-mastiff might be a good option. Toy and miniature breeds like Pomeranians and Chihuahuas can be a little high-strung and they often have high needs for human interaction, while low-energy breeds like the Bulldog and the Saint Bernard might be content to lounge around the house all day.
Breed Related Conditions
Another important consideration is that many pure breed dogs are predisposed to certain conditions / illnesses. For example, Boxer dogs commonly develop a heart condition called cardiomyopathy, English (British) Bulldogs commonly have brachycephalic syndrome and hip dysplasia, and Dalmatians are prone to bladder stones. When choosing a purebred dog it is important to get information on the family line from the breeder. Your safest bet for a dog at low risk for disease is a trusty mutt.
In addition to considering what size, coat type and personality you want in a dog, you also need to think about how much time you have to devote to the care of your new dog. If you have a demanding job that keeps you away from home most of the day, you may not have the time to care for a dog. Unless you can provide for your dog’s basic needs for exercise, attention, and a healthy diet, you may want to consider another type of pet.