Choosing The Right Breed/Breed Mix


Photo by Sue Collura Studio |

Whether you are buying from a breeder or adopting from a shelter/rescue group, you need to do a good bit of research on what breed or breed mix of dog you are looking for. The wrong pet in a family situation can be stressful on everyone.

Pre-Selection To-Do List

  1. Do research online about dog breeds and what to expect in terms of size, shedding, temperament, common health problems, and longevity.
  2. Talk to people who have a dog that is the breed or breed mix you are interested in.
  3. Do not get a dog whose breed’s energy level or temperament is incompatible with your lifestyle.

Should you consider a working breed dog?
Working breeds like Border Collies and German Shepherds are beautiful, intelligent, and are popular pets, but they may not be the best fit for your family.

  • Working breeds tend to be high energy and require a higher level of physical and mental stimulation.
  • If left unattended for long hours or understimulated, many working breed dogs can become destructive, anxious, or aggressive.
  • Herding breed dogs, especially those that do not receive regular exercise, can become nippy and 'herd' members of their human family.
  • If you are going to bring home a working breed dog, be prepared to give the dog a 'job'—unemployed working dogs are often miserable.

What other factors should I consider in a breed or breed mix?

  • How big will the dog be when full grown?
  • How much does the breed typically shed?
  • What is the typical energy level of the breed?
  • What was the breed originally bred to do?
  • What is the typical prey drive level of this breed?
  • Is this breed typically good with children and strangers?

Beware of Breed Generalizations
It is important to be aware of breed characteristics, but don't fall into the trap of assuming every generalization you've heard about a certain breed is true. For example, many people assume pit bull type dogs do not make good pets, but they can be some of the most loyal, loving companions in the dog world.

Bottom Line
You can save yourself a good deal of stress by doing your research about your new dog before taking a trip to a shelter or breeder. Know what you are looking for in advance, and you are less likely to bring home a dog that is not a good fit for your family.

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